New Lesson: Plant less!

No, not plant-less. Quite the opposite. I have recently come to the undeniable conclusion that I have made a terrible mistake.

I started tomatoes indoors for the first time this year, and I followed the instructions in Steve Solomon’s very sensible Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades. I put 3 seeds into each seed cell, because not all the seeds would germinate, and then I was supposed to thin to the strongest seedling in each cell.

I mostly followed that–but it was hard! Some cells had two (or three) healthy-looking sprouts, and others had none come up at all! And then I had to choose which babies were going to survive, and which ones were going to be snipped! And they were all so pretty!

When they were old enough, I transplanted them into pots. Then I learned the heartbreak of separating some of the twins that I had left together–their roots were all intertwined, and I could hear them rrrip as I tore them apart. I had learned my lesson: I hadn’t done them any favours.

But, surprisingly, all of them seemed to recover, and I can’t tell them all apart health-wise. Which is great.

Now, though, they are all desperate to get out into the garden. They are pot bound and suffering, and I can hear them crying in the night. I have to harden them off and get them out, but the weather is not cooperating, despite the fact that IT’S JUNE! (Steve Solomon warned me about this. But I remain resentful.)

So I’ve been looking around the garden trying to figure out where my tomatoes will be going. (my Steve-Solomon-instructed-garden-planting- plan had to be thrown out when the Skipper picked a nice-looking bed to start planting early potatoes in 🙂 )  And thus did I finally realize the seriousness of my situation.

I have raised more than 75 80 tomato plants.

Can you even picture what that many tomato plants looks like? Here’s an attempt at a photo, but this isn’t all of them.

Too many tomato babies--and this isn't all of them!

I can fit MAYBE 12-15 plants in one of my 4 x 8 raised beds. ALL of my beds will be stuffed full of tomatoes! Where will the cucumbers, the peppers, the endless beans go?  How will I rotate crops next year?! Already I am planning to mix the pole beans with the hops along the fence, and some cherry tomatoes will go in planters on the deck. The bush beans are supposed to be interplanted with the tomatoes and cucumbers–is there room for them all?

I’m having visions of sticking tomatoes ANYwhere I can find room–pull out some weeds and put them next to the roses? Eliminate some paths between beds, mound up some soil and throw them in? Skipper has vounteered to make me some planters, and we have discussed the possibility of moving to a bigger piece of property…

I may need to send some out for adoption give some away, but that my be a hard sell around here. The Skipper is dreaming of canning our own sauce in the fall, and he’s definitely on the “can’t have too much of anything” Dionysian abandon side (I blame his Catholic upbringing that clashes regularly with my Scottish Presbyterian frugal constraint). So I may have to sneak some out the back gate and blame the deer.

Anyone have a birthday coming up? 🙂


3 thoughts on “New Lesson: Plant less!

  1. I would be happy to extend my birthday season. I didn’t plant enough and, even though I won’t be getting my raised beds anytime soon, we have plenty of space for plants in pots.

    Tomatoes are actually pretty sturdy. I had that same problem of planting 2-3 in a cell and then they all germinated. You *can* pull them apart and they do okay. If you recall, last year I planted a bunch of random seeds in my garden, unsure of the viability. When they came up, thinking they were marigolds, I put them all over the place and too close together. As they got older, however, it became apparent that they were in fact tomatoes. So I absolutely encourage you to plant them wherever you can – it will be a good experiment to see where they grow best.

    Btw – I got Solomon’s book from the library. WOW I need to own this book.


    1. Done! I am actually planning to re-pot several of them that simply won’t fit in the garden. The story of running around trying to *find* gallon pots is another story :). I’ll bring you a selection as soon as I can. Happy belated birthday!

      1. And beware of the Solomon book; it’s brilliant and the bible. But it’s all about getting the best yields possible, which is partly what keeps making me feel like I’ve made terrible mistakes :). Thanks for the reminder that life is resilient and hardy. With this many plants, I don’t need to worry about some not making it through!

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