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The Tomatoes Are Sprouting, The Tomatoes Are Sprouting!

March 17, 2012

This week, temperatures reached the low 70s, and most of the tomato seeds we planted sprouted. Since last year was my first year of gardening, I don’t have a lot of information for comparison, but this is about two weeks earlier than they sprouted last year. If the weather reports are accurate, I think they will be okay. The current 10-day forecast is calling for highs in the mid-50s and 60s.

I was especially excited that the seeds that I saved from last year’s crops have sprouted. Last year we grew 7 variaties of tomatoes. At the end of the summer I collected, washed, dried, and stored seeds from 6 of them, and 5 of those varieties have sprouted. Even though I know this is how it is supposed to work, I was still amazed to see them growing.

The story with the 7th variety – the one I accidentally skipped over in my seed saving- is even more amazing. The Tiny Tim Cherry Tomatoes were one of our favorites, and, since it is a dwarf variety, it was the first to fruit. When I went out to winter sow the other seeds in late January, I discovered that there were still some fallen Tiny Tim tomatoes in the garden. I cut open two that, though flattened, still looked relatively good (they basically looked like sun-dried tomatoes) and plopped the seeds right into a winter sowing container. They sprouted, too!

As I didn’t know much about pollination, I was concerned that the different varieties may have cross-pollinated. I have since read, though, that most tomato varieties are inbreeding and so cross-pollination should not be a concern (Ashworth, Seed to Seed).

The new seeds we got this year are doing well, too. Of the new seeds, 6 of the 9 varieties have sprouted.

With the time change last weekend, there is still enough light to check the progress of the garden after work. I try to check every other day to see if anything new has sprouted and make sure that there is condensation in the containers (I haven’t had to water yet). I have a big excel sheet where I keep records of the dates on which the different varieties sprout so that I will have more data to use for comparison and planning in the future.

Last year I transplanted most of the seedlings from their winter sowing containers into their pots on May 1st, about one month after they had sprouted. Until its time for transplanting, I’ll just be keeping an eye out for the last few types that haven’t sprouted yet and watching them grow.

Here are some pictures of the sprouts.

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