Ten cells of tomatoes in the windowsill greenhouse

Ten cells of tomatoes in the windowsill greenhouse

All of gardening is about amazing transformations.  Personally I’m most in awe of the tiny tomato seed that is as thin as a stamp and no larger in any other dimension than a grain of rice but manages to produce plants that are five feet tall and bear upwards of 10 lb of fruit each.  Today this year’s crop of tomatoes took the first step in the process.

Last year I ordered the Canadian Collection mix of heritage / heirloom tomato seeds from Salt Spring Seeds.  (They’ve re-jigged the mix a bit for 2009.) These, in general, worked out ecellently and will again play a central role in our tomato section.

Because the seeds are open-pollinated, untreated, and a year old I sowed them relatively heavily–two to three per cell–in straight potting soil in the windowsill greenhouse that housed the lettuce.  I gave the soil a good soaking before gently burying the seeds very shallowly (no deeper than 2 – 3 mm).  My understanding is that the seeds should be sown deeply enough so that they don’t dry out in direct sun and so that there is enough soil around their emergent stem to provide support, but shallowly enough that they get enough warmth. 

Salt Spring Seeds' Canadian Collection

Salt Spring Seeds' Canadian Collection

The cultivars are, from left to right: Canabec Rose, Manitoba, Montreal Tasty, Pollock, and Salt Spring Sunrise.  I’ll do individual posts that profile each of these tomato strains because as an  heirloom gardener in Canada I have, at times, found it difficult to track down information on Canadian heirloom strains on the Internet.

Working backwards from a last frost date around the 24th of May, ideally these seeds will produce seedlings that are ready for their first transplant into 4″ pots  in two to three weeks and then into the garden a week after the last frost.  Like the lettuce seeds I’ll be germinating these on the south-facing windowsill in our bedroom.

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