Well, they're in. May 15th is considered our last frost date here in our USDA zone 5/6 garden. Six to eight weeks ahead of that is about right for starting Tomato seeds inside. The ten varieties include a number of new ones for me. If you recall, we had a pretty bad wipe out last year from late blight. I swore to give tomatoes a rest but, here it is, the grief of last year a sad memory; hope rising in my heart no disasters claim this crop. My choices include shorter season plants with stronger disease resistance, some determinate (won't grow so big) and a patio variety. The seed houses are linked to location by clicking on their names.
1. Tangello from Sunshine Farm of Kelowna, organic seed, deep orange color, determinate. Found at a roadside vendor in Mexico, sweet citrus flavour, firm, prolific. Bonus..50 seeds in the package.
2. Black Zebra Cherry, again from Sunshine Farms. The "very rare" is always enticing don't you think! Determinate, heirloom but being very rare, only 25 seeds.
3. Amish Paste, Annapolis Seeds here in Nova Scotia. Reliable, high yields of large plum shaped tomatoes, very dependable in Maritime gardens.
4. Costoluto Genovese, also from Annapolis Seeds, one of my favourite tomatoes. It is an Italian heirloom, and just awesome in flavour.
5. Incas Hybrid from William Dam Seeds, determinate, 65 days, organic, mature all at one time. I am hoping if late blight comes, these will give me early tomatoes. These are like a smaller paste tomato.
6. Granadero, Johnny's Selected Seeds, organic, determinate, have been a good cropper for me previously. A really good paste tomato with strong disease resistance.
7. Mountain Princess, friend supplied, Available at Annapolis Seeds whose catalogue states this is a large and early cropping tomato, perfectly round, red 4 inch fruits produced on 3' plants, an heirloom from West Virginia. Early to beat the blight I hope.
8. Tomato Sub Arctic, Plenty, friend supplied but available at Reimers Seeds and Sustainable Seeds. This is one of the world's earliest tomatoes (beat the blight early or not?) Determinant and disease resistant.
9. Andrina, patio tomato, friend supplied but now I wonder if it is Andryna which isn't patio at all. Stand by! The latter is a big'un.
10. German Gold, my seeds from our tomatoes, indeterminate, delicious, yellow beefstake. I've written about these before here.
So that's the line up. Seeds were planted two days ago; will be watching closely. As soon as they germinate, they go under grow lights inside.
As for outside in the cold frame covered raised bed, photo below. We have first leaves of spinach virflay (one of Niki's Pick's from her book Year Round Vegetable Gardener), and also Lolla Rosa lettuce and a few radish. The mache and tatsoi from last fall have to be harvested as they have leapt ahead, and the tatsoi wants to go to seed. Soon new greens will go in there and I have a few exciting varieties to try. Can't wait.
In the raised bed with the hoop covers, the mizuna (purple and green) have germinated as has the arugula. If you aren't familiar with these greens, they are winter hardy in a cold frame and mildly spicy.
Remember, there is still snow on the ground, and below freezing at night. Today's daytime is about eight degrees Celsius. It's warm under the hoops though. Must put the thermometer in there. Here is a trick I use when starting seeds at anytime outdoors but especially now in the coldframe. I broadcast or plant the seeds in rows, making sure the soil is damp and then cover with a light piece of white fleece. It helps protect the seeds, keeps them a little warmer and also helps keep the soil dampish until germination takes place. Once I see the green leaves, depending on weather, I will remove the fleece. This time of year, this is all taking place under the plastic hoops or cold frame. You would be surprised how much the late winter and early spring sun dries out the top layer of the soil.
If you are considering building a cold frame, do it. Even though ours are plunked like coffins in the garden, I don't know how we did without them. Anyway, great directions for constructing one in The Year Round Vegetable Gardener and also Eliot Coleman's book Four Season Harvest. Mine is a little different, being a raised bed, the cold frame cover came later, and for my age, this is a better option. I wouldn't want to be on my knees, wiping off snow in the winter digging for plants but I expect carrots and root vegetables would do better with that type of cold frame than mine. It's all in what you want to eat through the winter or overwinter I guess. For us, it's greens.