The last couple weeks I have been getting seeds started slowly but surely. The only spring crops I start early are peppers, tomatoes and tobacco. This year we do not need any peppers so I am not starting any but we are going for a super crop of tomatoes and a larger harvest of tobacco this year.
We are running out of tobacco (+/-100 plants) about 4 months early so will need to add approximately 50 more plants to carry us through another 4 months. We are also going to grow some for a friend so will need to add about 50 plants for him and then add another 50 on for good measure because we do not want to run out and have to quit. We all need to have one bad habit don't we?
Today I got our tobacco seeded. I used meat trays with holes poked through the bottom for drainage, filled with soil mix, moistened the soil and then lightly broadcast the tobacco seed. You do not cover tobacco seed when starting,the seeds need the light in order to germinate. The top of the soil then needs to stay damp until the seedlings emerge. Most varieties will germinate in 1-2 weeks some will take up to three.
This year we are going to grow two varieties. The Silkleaf is from seed we saved last season and Kelly Burley is a new to us variety that we will try. We will only save seed this season from the Burley rather than the Silkleaf as we got plenty of seed for probably the rest of our lives last year.
I have been planting tomatoes a little bit for the last couple weeks. A couple funky varieties were seeded over the last 10 days or so and then a couple hybrids last week and today I planted a few heirloom types. All total we are up to about 150 plants, some of which I will kill before they ever make it to transplant stage and then a few more will be poor doers, get broken or just die somewhere along the way between seed and harvest. I will likely plant one or two more small plantings of a couple varieties this week and then take some cuttings off my mother plant to hopefully plant somewhere around 200 tomatoes in all. Hopefully this year we will get a great harvest and replenish all my tomato stocks that we have completed depleted after two years of poor tomato production.
So, not including the funky or hybrid varieties of maters this season, we have planted Rutger's,Brandywine, yellow pear, Henderson's pink, Homestead and Emerald evergreens. Hopefully one or two or all of these varieties will produce a bumper crop of tomatoes this season.
When I plant tomatoes I generally use egg cartons or meat trays and transplant once they are a couple inches tall. I fill my containers most of the way with soil , moisten and lay the seeds on the moist soil. I then take a small handful of soil and barely cover my seeds. Most tomatoes sprout in 7-10 days. At transplant time bury all the way up to the lower leaves to help ensure they grow good healthy strong root systems and stems. Tomatoes actually do well with several transplants if needed. If I notice any of mine getting a bit leggy or spindly I transplant and bury the stem as high as I can.
As of today, all our indoor seed starting has officially been finished. Of course I will add a few of this and that between now and planting time but for the most part we are done. In about 3 weeks we could use a few extra hands to transplant all that tobacco into grow cups though.