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Veggie starts for sale!

April 20, 2012

For risk of sounding like a crazy person, I’m just going to come right out and say it. Thanks to Linda’s ultimate greenhouse that my friend Bubba and I leased together this spring, I am now in possession of something like 600 beautiful, strong, lush, green tomato starts.

We will likely plant about 350, which also makes us a little on the crazy side, but really, who can’t use more tomatoes? All this to say is that we will have starts. LOTS of them. For sale (or trade!).

With Pacha’s help, I started pulling them out of the greenhouse today, about 100 at a time. In about 3-4 days, they should be hardened off enough to come home with you, although we aren’t planning to put OUR 350 babies in the ground until the beginning of May, since our plots are sort of like wet cement these days with all this rain we’ve been having. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have some raised beds or big pots for your porch… and you can plant these now.

So before I detail the list of varieties, with links to pictures and descriptions, I want to just tell you a little bit about my biggest irritation with the nursery industry. Have you ever seen those giant gallon pots of veggie starts that begin popping up in garden supply stores in March? These are designed to FOOL you into thinking it is gardening season… so you go and buy the luscious looking starts, dreaming of all of the bounty you’ll get from them in just a few months… only to watch them languish and die in a few weeks. (This has happened to me… loads of times.)

Well, it’s not your fault.

To get those veggies to be all big and beautiful, nurseries fertilize heavily so that they look perfect when you’re browsing them in the store. The more Nitrogen in a greenhouse-grown seedling, the more tender it is, and the more difficult it is for them to “harden off” (get acclimated to the cold, cruel world). So the more pumped up your veggie start is when you buy it, the more likely it is that it will wither and die when exposed to the elements when you plant it outside… the more likely it will be attacked by slugs, aphids, flea beetles or whatever pest, too. The part that is irritating about this whole process, is that nurseries KNOW that these enormous starts are gorgeous and irresistible and that you will buy them. And they know you’ll blame yourself when they don’t thrive in your backyard… since they were so obviously perfect in their capable hands. They get you to come back and buy MORE starts to try again, and again. It’s a scam, and they know it.

Miracle-gro? More like Miracle-if-they-survive.

After years of being disappointed with nursery starts, I decided to grow all of my own. The selection is better, and I trust the seeds more than I trust the nurseries and their wily tricks.

The trick is to time your seeding with when you’ll likely be ready to plant… not allowing the roots to get pot bound, and not allowing the plant to get so big that it needs fertilizer to keep growing in the pot. Seeds have all of the nutrition and energy they need for the first few weeks of life… when they run out of reserves, it’s time to get them into the soil!  Fertilize those babies AFTER you plant them, not before. Preferably just by using some good compost that you’ve already dug into the soil, and maybe a spritz or two of nettle or kelp tea. But go light on the Nitrogen … tomatoes with too much N will yield lots and lots of green tomatoes, and there’s definitely a limit to what you can do with green tomatoes.

Anyway, we have more than just tomato starts, but to get you excited and dreaming of summer… here are the varieties we have for sale. $3 each, or choose 4 for $10:

We have a few more varieties, too… but I may plant all of them for our lovely CSA members, only.   I’ll repost in early May if there are extras.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Rachel permalink
    April 20, 2012 4:43 am

    Tell it, sister!
    We MAY have gone a little overboard ourselves this year, but that won’t stop me from buying a few of those Frazier’s Gems.

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