Monday, April 29, 2013

Mail Order Gardening

In the past, when I had fewer children and wasn't officially homeschooling, I started my entire garden from seeds.  I had flats of tomatoes and peppers, yogurt cups with pansy and snapdragon starts.  I spent hours up-potting the starts and my basement living area with the big picture window looked like a messy greenhouse.  I passed out the extra starts to friends and packed some up to deliver to family in Oregon.  Trips down south saw the cup holders in my vehicle filled with baby tomato and viola plants. 

O.K., I am so over growing everything from scratch.  For the second year in a row, I ordered my tomato and pepper plants from Territorial.  I feel a little bad.  Like I am cheating.  But also relieved.  The plants seemed to have magically appeared.  Handed to me by the friendly Fed-Ex driver. 

But why do I need to order them?  Can't I just get them from a local store or nursery?  It turns out it's not that simple.  The garden stores near me do not sell the varieties that I want to grow.  For some reason, they are still stocking the full size long season beefsteak tomatoes, which I know have little chance of ripening in our chilly summer nights.  They may offer some cherry tomatoes, but only indeterminate varieties, which is fine but too many of those would overtake my small space.  They do offer Oregon Spring, but I'd like a little more variety to choose from. Or they offer the hot peppers, which I do not want to eat, or full size, which would take a lot of care to get to ripen before summer's end.  So I spend some late winter days deciding which varieties from Territorial I want to try for the year.  This year, I ordered one each of the following:
Glacier Tomato
Northern Delight Tomato
Stupice Tomato
Sweet Million Cherry Tomato
Golden Honey Bunch Grape Tomato

Miniature Red Pepper

Once out of the box, the plants are a bit wilted and look sad.

So I place them in the sun, give them water, and wait.
I have since potted these new plants in larger containers with potting soil and a bit of Whitney Farms Tomato & Vegetable fertilizer.  They are downstairs near that big picture window.  It's a neat and tidy greenhouse this year.  I'm sure they will be staying inside through May, though I will put them out on mild days to begin hardening them off for their eventual transplant to the great outdoors. 

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