Planting in Grow Bags and Status of Seed Saving Project

Weather has continued to present a challenge in June.  This morning (June 30th) the temperature was 45° F.  Between June 3-10, there were several days near or below freezing and some gardeners in the neighborhood lost tomato seedlings to frost.

For several nights I took precautions with overturned pots, frost blankets, electric space heaters and fans.

After transplanting my giant tomato seedlings into 20-gallon pots I posted this video at the YouTube channel for Delectation of Tomatoes:


I finally got around to starting seeds for the tomato seed saving project on May 25th.  Because of time and space constraints, I narrowed down the selection to 97 varieties.  I mollycoddled these early then adapted them to outdoor conditions as soon as possible.  I planted lots of extras, kept them warm, got good germination, and most were up within seven days.

Here they are getting the first taste of direct sunlight and wind on June 2nd.  Note that half of one tray is pepper seeds – most of them took another 4-10 days to germinate.

Here they are potted up on June 7th – kept indoors under lights for several days to keep them out of cold weather.

Here they are on June 24th, just big enough to transplant:

And here they are today (June 30th), finally starting to get them transplanted into 7-gallon grow bags:

With steady, non-distracted work, I can manage about 4 grow bags per hour.  At least half of this effort is screening the native topsoil – there are so many rocks and a LOT of trash accumulated over the years.  After screening, I mix it 50-50 with purchased topsoil (which was NOT cheap…) and add amendments.

Predictably, the giant tomato seedlings in the 20-gallon pots got more of the good stuff:


And they are responding accordingly.  The first megabloom was on Libanaise des Montagnes.  Unfortunately, despite many attempts at pollination, it did not take.

Two current megablooms are on Epstein’s Potato Leaf:

And Giant Belgium:

At least 80 hours of work left to get the rest of the tomato seedlings transplanted into grow bags.  Wish I didn’t need to sleep…

Around 70 total varieties of pepper, eggplant, ground cherry, basil and other seedlings were planted in grow bags between the 20-gallon pots with giant tomato seedlings.  Opal basil, for example:

And Jeremiah the Bullfrog watermelon:

Speaking of melons, I decided to plant cucurbits in the front yard, turning it gradually from a weed patch:

Into a (hopefully productive) patch of squash, melons, cucumbers and watermelons in the yard and beans, sunflowers and peas along the fence.

Melons and squash were planted indoors between June 9-16 and kept very warm on the large heat pad.  They were moved in and out several times to keep them warm but with plenty of direct sunlight.  Here they were on June 20th:

Then they were transplanted into the front yard on June 24th.

It has been extremely windy for much of the month of June; but for the most part, the young plants seem to have handled it well.

Average first fall frost date around here is about October 1st.  So barely 90 days to bring these to seed production…