Early tomatoes

Garden Now

Stupice  (Solanum lycopersicum)

Still surviving. No growing, But still alive. photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

Still surviving. No growing, But still alive. photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

There are dozens of  little seedlings thriving under the grow lights. Pepper, eggplant, and tomato plants are just a few inches tall here at the Hobson Estate.

Outside, the weather is swinging from cold to cool. It should be at least a month before I plant tomatoes outdoors in containers or in the garden.  I’ve done something that I would never recommend that you do.

Because I started tomatoes from seed, there are more future tomato plants under the grow-lights than the garden can hold.

I planted two tomato plants outside. No kidding. One on April 6 and one  on April 8.  I planted them deep. Deep being relative when it is a plant only 5 inches tall.

I put a quart canning jar over the tomato plant. Perhaps this will work as a mini greenhouse. It will protect the tomato starter plant from colder night-time temps.

It looks like I have planted canning jars in the garden. If only I could talk those tomatoes into canning themselves, I think I could  get a book deal or, at least, a pretty good spot on the TV shopping channel.

Stupice tomatoes are  a small, early producer of red two-inch fruits. Dwarf indeterminate; in the garden it may grow to as much as 5′, in containers the plant will be shorter. Staking is optional.

From the former Czechoslovakia, these compact plants have potato leaf foliage. They are loaded with clusters of 2” fruits. Expect tomatoes 60 days from transplant. Or, in my case, I hope, less than 60 days after the soil as warmed.

 University of Missouri Extension recommends A family interested in having only fresh fruit should plant three to five plants per person. If enough fruit is wanted for processing, then five to 10 plants per person should be planted.

To get best results with only a few plants and minimal trouble, purchase plants from a local greenhouse or nursery at the proper planting time.

Photo from Renee's Garden

Photo from Renee’s Garden

When is the soil warm enough?

Soil is at least 60 degrees in the daytime and at least 50 degrees at night. Tomato plants will not grow until the weather gets warm.

If this little tomato lives, it will be a delightful surprise. Gardeners are always full of surprises.

This little Stupice tomato plant is in a large container, in full sun, Zone 6, SE Missouri.

I bought these seed from Renee’s Garden. They were planted under the grow light March 13, 2013. It was transplanted into the garden container April 6, and another Stupice  tomato plant was planted April 8, 2014.

If we have a freeze, the plants will curl up and die. That is OK, I have plenty more Stupice tomato plants inside thriving under the grow lights. I will plant them when I am supposed to, more than one month later an Mid to late May.

p.s.

five days later , the Stupice tomato plants are thriving and have outgrown their quart jar solariums. So it looks like we will have a week of windy days above 60°. So, I’ll forge ahead with planting the container tomatoes.

Take advantage of the decent weather whenever you can. Garden at every opportunity, because you never know when the next beautiful day is coming. This summer may turn into a scorcher, getting so hot the tomato plants won’t set fruit.

Or, for example, put off mowing one more day, tomorrow and the rest of the week it will be downpours. You will need to cut and bale the grass at your next opportunity.

Wish me luck. I am planting tomatoes a month earlier than I ever have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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