The tomatoes are way ahead of me

The Tomato Chronicles, part 3

So, I lost a few weeks of posting time…the offline world wanted me. And meanwhile those heirloom seedlings grew, and grew, and grew. (They were a part of the offline world that was demanding my attention.) Let’s try to get up to date, okay?

When last heard of, the seedlings were growing like mad, trying to get close enough to the light. Their stems were a little thicker than a hair, and they were spiraling around one another like well-tangled spaghetti. Then I learned that they needed light, light, light, LIGHT. Unfortunately, the only grow light I had available was very wobbly and kept wanting to fall on top of the seedlings.

A tangle of tomato seedlings with long fragile stems

Little tomato plants searching everywhere for light


They wound up on a windowsill. And most of them got sturdier and healthier, and before very long they started to grow fancy leaves. Real leaves. You see, when tomatoes first sprout, they have two false leaves – cotyledons – which were once two halves of the seed. As they grow, they start to form real tomato-leaf shaped leaves. And then it’s time to transplant them.

That took over a week. I started by potting – no, plastic cupping – the biggest, thickest-stemmed plants. Many of them had to be put way down in the bottom of their cups so I could pile soil  around their long, long stems and they could grow roots out of the buried stems.  Day after day I stuck more seedlings into potting soil, and spilled soil everywhere – you wouldn’t have wanted to walk into my powder room while that was going on. I finished just about the time we got one precious 80-degree day sandwiched between a lot of cold, raw, miserable February-in-April weeks, so I took the babies outside to play in the sun for an hour. Don’t they look happy?

A few of my little heirloom tomatoes enjoying life outdoors

But then they had to come back inside. All sixty-one of them. (I’m sorry, Sue. I know you told me to cull the ones that weren’t growing well, but I didn’t have the heart. So yes, there were sixty-one.) I had tomatoes on windowsills everywhere. Well, not in the attic. But that’s only because there are no windows in the attic. And they grew, and they grew, and they started to smell like tomato plants – that unforgettable sharp summer smell that you know if you’ve ever had a vegetable garden.

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