Thursday, April 14, 2011

Learning Curve

Both of us were so excited- seeing the tomato seeds we had waited on, planted and cheered for- were finally growing. Out of the 70 seeds we planted we had 2or 3 of each variety pop up, so roughly 23 seedlings.... then something happend. Not sure what but the  seedlings aren't doing so great. Utter disappointment.
We are trying to do a ( 8-10 customers small) CSA this year. We have the space and we love to be in the garden. We shared a load of produce last year with friends and neighbors and after doing re-search this winter, we decided to try our hands at this new  project. So we picked the seeds we wanted very carefully.
And now to have this tomato issue crop up has taught us - maybe we need to stick to buying tomato plants. We can grow everything else from seed- but we are not tomato growers. So now I'm online hunting, making phone calls trying to find heirloom variety tomato plants. I've found 5 of the 8 varieties we had picked. Praying we can get them all ordered and here soon. We have people counting on us this year for their tomato needs, plus our own. We shall see. Ben and I are not easy people to give up and give in. We take each challenge as it comes deal with it and move on. On a positive note - radishes, peas, carrots and lettuce are coming up. Chard, kale and other greens are planted. Herbs are in and we are still excited. Happy Gardening.

1 comment:

  1. Ok... describe what happened and maybe I can help you figure out what went amiss.

    7 varieties.. of which you had around 20% germination. As they are newly purchased seed.. that does give a few clues.

    Were they started in "seed starting mix"? Were the containers/ trays/ tools clean? How wet was the medium? Did you see any mold in the substrate?

    Many heirloom strains are rather finicky, especially as seedlings.

    This is just a guess as I don't have much information to go off of from what you have said so far but.. here it goes..

    It sounds like damping off. It can attack seedlings, but as well it can rot the seedlings just as they emerge. I'd look at moisture levels to start with.. and then I'd be looking at content of the starting mix.

    Damping off generally is fungal.. and it spreads like wildfire. It also can remain dormant on tools, containers, trays, etc.

    Not all seed starting mixes are good either. The most problems I have encountered are mixes using shredded wood fiber (aside from quickly becoming hydrophobic.. when moistened and then covered.. POOF mold galore). Shredded wood fiber sucks.

    The reason for using starter mix is the substrate is supposed to be sterile and minimal on nutrients. (Reason being many fungi and bacteria feed off of the same nutrients.) Cool temps and too moist is the perfect conditions for damping off.. where as tomatoes are heat lovers.

    Something I noticed as well.. all of the Baker Creek tomato seeds I have gotten.. if you look close.. they are fuzzy. This tells you a few things.. that first off they weren't treated, at least not by using several methods commonly used (while treating seeds can impact viability.. it is done to remove pathogens. The only ones unable to be removed are several viral diseases that infect the embryo in the seed.)

    Before I would suspect the seed though, I would first look at the set up. 7 varieties all being effected, the problem lies in the surroundings.