"Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so." --Genesis 1:29-30
Well, it's finally that time of year...time to start the tomato plants! I'm in Zone 5, so tomato planting usually happens in the last half of May. Starting them now will give them plenty of room to grow and strengthen before I start acclimating them to the outdoors. Last year, I kept seeds from an heirloom cherry plant that I purchased at a local greenhouse with the intention of growing them into new plants this year. My husband loved these cherry tomatoes, so I kept as many seeds as I could. From what I have heard and read, you really only want to keep seeds from heirloom plants, because if you go to the grocery store and save the seeds from, say, a regular green pepper, and then attempt to grow a new plant from those seeds, you really won't know what might come up. The fruits and veggies at the grocery store are most likely genetically modified in some way, and also likely a hybrid of other plants, and therefore can't be expected to grow like a normal plant in normal conditions and normal soil. If you purchase seeds to start your own plants, and want to reuse the seeds again next year, be sure to purchase heirloom seeds or plants, as these are most likely to be untouched by modern science and fairly reliable in growth and yield each year.
Last fall, I separated the tomato seeds from the slimy goo inside of the tomatoes and rinsed them well (by the way, I'm not a fan of eating tomatoes raw. I'm slooowly coming around to eating chunks of tomato in food dishes. I do, however, love tomato-based foods like ketchup and salsa! Weird, huh?). Then I let them air dry on the counter for several days, placed them in a resealable baggie, and stuck them in the freezer for the winter. Now they are in their new home of warm moist dirt, near a heating register and in the sunniest window we have. Here come the tomatoes! I'd love to invest in a heating pad for the seeds, but we just don't have room for a little greenhouse rack right now. I have successfully started plants like this before, though, so I'm not too concerned. Depending on how many come up, some might even be headed to new homes in the months ahead.
It's pretty inexpensive to start seeds--much cheaper than going to the greenhouse and purchasing the plants that you want to grow. It depends on how much you want to grow, but you might spend a total of $5-$10 to start seeds, whereas if you purchase the plants from a greenhouse, you'll spend at least twice that amount. Granted, the work's been done for you, so to speak, and all you have to do is plant them, but starting from seeds is more fun, less expensive, and much more satisfying! I'm only starting tomatoes inside, so I decided to make my own little greenhouse out of some old carry-out boxes that I kept specifically for that purpose. It's much smaller and space-friendly than the larger greenhouse boxes that I have previously purchased and used. I used peat pellets that I had on hand to start the little seeds, then I added some starter soil that I bought on clearance last fall for when they need more soil to keep growing. Fall is a great time to stock up on clearanced items that you can use in the spring for your new planting season.
|I'm going to try and get nine plants from the seeds I saved.|
|I have three seeds in each peat pod. You can see them here before I covered them lightly with the dirt.|
|The carry-out box with the warm, wet pods inside. You can see the condensation on the inside. I only snapped one side closed, to allow for slight air circulation. I'll mist the plants every day or two to keep them wet.|