Tomato seedlings

Tomato seedlings

I’m so proud of all our little tomato babies! Each pot now has at least one seedling, but most have three or more. The pineapple tomato was the last to sprout. I guess that makes sense, given that it will produce the largest fruit: it takes a lot of energy to build up that kind of momentum!

We’re starting to think about where all of these seedlings – and their many, many friends – will live in our garden. We will likely be digging a new bed or two, as it is time for part of our fenced garden to lay fallow. We’ll be planting that with a nitrogen-fixing cover crop, to help it regenerate some nutrients while ridding the soil of any pests or diseases who might lay in wait for another crop of nightshades. Our food tastes run toward tomatoes, peppers and potatoes – all part of the nightshade family – and these are notorious for both sucking the soil dry of nutrients and attracting pests/fungi that like to live in the soil, waiting for the next season. It’s why gardeners are encouraged to never plant tomatoes in the same place as they were planted the year before. The Colorado potato beetle is the worst of these pests, in my mind. They burrow into the soil for the winter and make their reappearance just as the potato plants are flourishing. One hatch of beetle grubs can clear a plant of leaves. We don’t use pesticides (and I’m not sure they would be all that effective over the years) so I become a one-woman pest control device. At their height, I spend about half an hour every morning and evening, collecting beetles, grubs and leaves in a cup of soapy water. It sounds tedious, but it’s actually incredibly satisfying to have a task that is so immediately effective. It doesn’t make me want to rid our soil of potato beetles any less, though.

We’re still waiting for the first pepper seed to sprout. Coming from such warm climates, hot peppers are a little reluctant to join our cold New England world as seedlings. They thrive in the summer, though, so I just do my best to explain to them that it will eventually be nice and warm. Yes, I talk to the seedlings. We have little relationships, me and the seedlings. I tell them how wonderful they are and how strong they will be, and they make feel hopeful about the gardening season and, ultimately, give me yummy food for the year.

Recommended pairing: Miller High Life, preferably the tiny bottles (kicking it old school today)