When winter storms are still threatening the northeast, Mico gets planting. Nurturing seeds indoors through the cold final months of winter and early spring ensures that Mico will have ripe tomatoes by mid-July. The first and most exciting stage is germination. Will the seeds take or won’t they?
Mico’s always do, of course. He is a farming wizard. Years ago, I came home from college to see a large tree in front of the house that I hadn’t noticed before. It was a thriving chestnut tree. I asked my Dad where it came from. He said, in his typical modest fashion, “I threw a chestnut in the ground and the tree grew.” Huh. I’m not sure that works for everyone.
Back to the tomatoes – Mico’s methods are proven. Year after year, Mico has an incredible tomato harvest. He collects so many tomatoes from his productive garden that even after giving loads away, Mico has enough tomatoes to store in 100 bottles or more!
What are his secrets? Here are a few:
- He starts with good seeds. Mico saves his seeds year after year so that each season’s tomato crop builds on the success of prior seasons. Each February, he takes the seeds he saved from last year’s harvest and plants them in small planters.
- He gives them a wrap. Mico adds water and covers the planters with plastic wrap. The plastic wrap keeps the seeds moist, critical for germination.
- He boiler plates them. Because the seeds need some heat to get them going, Mico places the planters on his boiler in the basement! That’s right, his boiler in the basement. Warmth is another key ingredient for germination.
- He sips some coffee. The next step is waiting. I’m sure Mico is tinkering with other plants while he checks on his seeds and waits, but I like to picture him sitting in his chair with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. Mico’s seeds typically germinate in 4-5 days.
- He chases the sun. Now comes the hard part. Once the seeds have sprouted, it’s time to get them off the boiler and into the light. Mico moves the planters from room to room in his house to wherever the sun is strongest. He may move the planters several times a day to maximize light exposure.
Right now, most of Mico’s tomato seedlings are about 2 weeks old and 4 inches high. He also has one tomato plant that germinated in January and is now over a foot tall and has a few baby tomatoes! Looks like Mico might have some tomatoes earlier than usual this year.
Did you start your seedlings yet? What are you planting? I would love to hear your garden updates. Drop me a line or comment below.