The Year of Tomato Troubles

If you’ve been reading this blog for even a little bit, you’ve probably noticed how much we love tomatoes. One of the purest joys of summer is a nearly endless stream of fresh tomatoes, eaten warm from the vine with little to no preparation.

Our favorite food is in jeopardy.

We always start our tomatoes from seed during the winter, and we usually end up repotting them to give them more room to grow before setting them out in the garden. This year, however, our seedlings remained teeny-tiny for weeks. They sprouted quickly but then appeared to be stunted. This is actually one of the biggest ones Kirk set out last weekend:

If you’re thinking that’s too tiny to transplant, you’re probably right, but we did it anyway because they were just wasting away in the seed flats. Our hope was that some would begin to thrive in the richer soil of the actual garden. This looks to be true for the one above and for a handful of others (notably the Paisanos), but we lost a whole lot of tomato seedlings this year.

We’re not really sure why this happened, but our best guess is that our incredibly cold and dreary spring didn’t get that windowsill sunny enough to help these guys out at all. Tomatoes get cranky about cold, damp conditions, and that’s all that was on the menu for the past few months.

So yesterday we hit the local nurseries to replace our lost causes with much healthier transplants:

It is definitely way less work to garden this way, and it’s pretty satisfying to bring home a box of beautiful plants to pop in the dirt for an instant garden. Since we had to shell out a good $100 to replace our tomatoes (and some peppers and eggplant, too — they’re all related, and they’re all unhappy), we took the opportunity to experiment with some different varieties as well. This year we’ll be growing Amish Paste, Paisano, and Roma II for our saucing tomatoes, and we have Rose, Red Brandywine, Black Krim, Green Zebra, Mexico, and Early Girl for our indeterminate varieties. As always, Sungold is our cherry tomato. 

We also replaced a couple bell peppers with California and Baron, and we added a couple decent jalapeños as well. The bright side (there’s always a bright side to experimentation) is that we might discover an even better variety that we otherwise wouldn’t have noticed.


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