I am a murderer.
After planting my tomato seeds on April 6, I underestimated the growing power of an electric blanket and failed to notice that they had all sprouted within four days. I left the entire tray covered with a sheet of plastic wrap to keep in moisture, but the low ceiling inspired funky growth patterns in my cute little seedlings. I figured this was just a temporary flaw that would be fixed by nature, but it didn’t seem to go away even after days of even exposure to sunlight.
Beginning of Week 2, with funky growth patterns
But at least my plants were still alive. They didn’t look too pretty, but at they were standing upright and that’s more than I can say for them today. Am I using bad soil? Am I not watering them enough? Am I watering them too much? Am I depriving them of real sunlight? Well, maybe I was a bit of an overprotective parent but I kept my little seedlings inside because it’s dangerous out there in my Brooklyn backyard. We have one of the only yards in the area and apparently it’s the only place the wind can hang out because it turns into a tornado anytime there’s a light breeze. I was afraid the gusts would funk up my prized plants so I kept them inside. Little did I realize that depriving young seedlings of sunlight was as much a death sentence as I could give them, but I caught the mistake just in the nick of time.
Last year’s crop was probably too big for me to handle so maybe it’s good that some plants didn’t make it so I can concentrate on the strong few who did. These vines will compete for sunlight and the last thing I want to do is let them cramp eachother’s style. I only have room for four plants in my designated tomato zone, so it would be unnecessary to grow more than that. The remaining six tomato plants aren’t going to win any beauty contests but they were alive and that’s all I want.
Survivors - week 6
I can see that these wee lads are maturing because they are growing their first real leaves. This is an important step in every young tomato plant’s life because it shows some true characteristics of a mature vine. One day, they will be transplanted and only these mature leaves will show. It will be their triumph as the lonely survivors of the Class of 2011. I have to admit that it does make sense. Most of these seedlings were hatched from seeds I brought back from a tomato I found on the train tracks at Capua. The seeds survived the dangerous railroad, a long flight home, a close call with customs, and a good week or two of sunlight deprivation. They truly are fit for survival.
Mature leaves at week 6
If all goes according to plan, these little guys will go into the ground at the end of May. I have my soil mixed with fresh compost and covered with a sheet of black plastic. This will protect the soil from weeds while absorbing heat to warm soil in preparation for my brave soldiers.
So it all comes down to this. My seedlings have just over 2 weeks to show me they’re serious before they hit real outdoor soil. Today I caught myself looking at photos of last year’s tomatoes, hoping and dreaming that this year will be an improvement. It looks like I’m off to a rocky start, but I believe in the magic of tomatoes.
Tomato bed, made from a scavenged bookshelf, is ready for action