I have finally sowed some tomato seeds. My blog reveals that last year I did this task on 10th March, and in 2011 I did it on 6th March, but here in 2013 I am doing it in April. To be honest, I have only sowed these seeds because I felt I ought to. The weather - and particularly the light - conditions are still far from ideal, but I felt that if I left it any longer the plants would not have long enough to grow to maturity before the end of Summer. That's if we get any Summer this year...
As an indicator of how serious things are, let me tell you that I had to bring my bag of compost into the garage for filling the pots, because I think I would have died of hypothermia if I had done the task outside. And then I kept the pots in the house for 24 hours before sowing, to let the compost thaw out fully! Well the task is finally complete and I now have 30 recycled Elmlea pots each with two tomato seeds in it.
I always sow two seeds in each pot. If both germinate (they usually do) I pinch out the weakest after a few days.
This year I have sowed the following types:-
Maskotka (6 pots)
Ferline (5 pots)
Orkado (5 pots)
Cherokee Purple (2 pots)
Red Pear (2 pots)
San Marzano (2 pots)
Sungold (2 pots)
Tigerella (2 pots)
Zapotec Ribbed (2 pots)
Black Russian (1 pot)
Sungella (1 pot)
I'm particularly keen to see how the Red Pear ones do. These Franchi seeds were kindly provided for me by Roy Walters of Pushing Up Dandelions, in conjunction with Paolo from Seeds of Italy.
Another variety new to me is the Zapotec Ribbed, which I bought from Victoriana Nursery with the voucher I won in the UK Veg Gardeners' photo competition (kindly sponsored by Stephen Shirley). It is, as the name suggests, a variety that produces deeply-ribbed red fruits - the complete antithesis of the uniformly spherical "supermarket" tomato. Should be good!
Rather than keep the tomato seed-pots on the windowsill, where it would still be quite cold, I have put them in a couple of seed-trays inside large plastic bags, and placed them close to my Grow Light House, where I hope they will benefit from at least a little extra warmth. The plastic bags will promote greater humidity, and prevent draughts. When the tomato seeds germinate I'll shuffle everything round so that most of them get a place directly under the lights.
I know I won't be able to find space to grow 30 tomato plants, but with this many to choose from I should be able to get some decent specimens. I expect I will end up growing about 15 or 16 plants. We'll see...