When do I start my Tomatoes?

Sitting here on rainy day, it’s sorely tempting, but the truth remains that tomatoes need to be timed – at least those started from seed by the home gardener do.

Why would I start tomatoes or any other vegetable from seed you ask, when there are so many cheap seedlings available at grocery and hardware stores by mid May?

Two reasons. The first is that I like different varieties of tomatoes and am even trying some heritage seeds that I hope simulate the plants my grandfather used to grow. And the second reason is that  enjoy the process. I enjoy selecting the seeds, preparing the little pots that get things started. I enjoy transplanting the seedlings to larger pots and shepherding their growth. Then there is the step of bringing everything to the little greenhouse down below where they get taller and stronger, and begin to acclimatize to the outdoors. Of course, the step of planting out is also terribly rewarding, with regular checks to see things are watered, fertilized, free of bugs until flowers appear, fruit set and ripen for harvest. From that stage, I pick and freeze the tomatoes for use through the colder months in stews and fabulous pasta sauces seasoned with garden-grown herbs.

For some it seems like a lot of work, but here it’s a connection to the earth and a simpler way of living, one populated with bees and butterflies, birds, and natural rhythms of sunshine, water, even dirt.

Two weeks from now, (6 weeks from planting out – May long weekend unless it snows) I will start the seeds and begin the cycle. Until then I keep a close eye on which annual flowers are sprouting, and plan how I will arrange baskets, vines, and planters.  I take my morning and evening ambles (the walkabouts) around the property, looking for buds sprouts, and celebrate the appearance of crocus (I have a very early clump of blue striped ones that are blooming – silly little things) or fritillaria, that skunk smelling beautiful early flower.

Now, where’s my raincoat?

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