Delectation of Tomatoes was established in February, 2011 with no expectation that it would transform from a hobby shared with others into an all-consuming passion in one decade!
Poverty, instability and deaths have resulted in moving the business five times since August, 2015. A (hopefully) final move happened one year ago. This past week, I made some significant progress towards getting seeds organized — you can scarcely imagine the chaos, the frustration! Here’s a short video update:
This project has put me a couple of days behind with filling seed orders; but with seeds much better organized now, I hope to be able to catch up very soon.
A month ago I placed the pots containing chunks of purple sweet potato (variety Stokes Purple) on a heat mat. They did finally sprout and I now have about 25 slips from a single tuber!
Now what to do with them? Sweet potatoes like hot weather; but sub-zero temperatures are in the forecast this week. Besides, it will take many weeks of work to get a garden established here.
Likely they will end up in cellar, where all the pepper plants are pretty much dead:
Aphids + cold nights + benign neglect, and my hope to have 20 pepper plants survive the winter are pretty well dashed. But, where the watermelon and cucumber vines died, I planted some onion bulbs —
I tried this last spring. The onions grew fine and flowered well. But I got not a single seed – there just were not any pollinators! I hope to make significant improvements in the pollination realm this year by improving the habitat and planting lots of attractive plants and wildflowers.
Here is one last Muncher cucumber, grown in the cellar, that I broke open on January 8th – still no seeds:
And a tiny, golf ball-sized watermelon (variety New Hampshire Midget) that was picked very immature on October 20th, 2020. Just out of curiosity, I wanted to see if it would produce viable seeds.
Surprisingly, this tiny watermelon produced 11 seeds which look viable! I’ve documented this phenomenon with tomatoes as well: small, hard green fruits, can ripen indoors over several weeks or months and still manage to produce viable seeds. The fruits remain alive, and continue to metabolize and perform their evolutionary duty: produce viable seeds for the next generation.
This does NOT seem to work for most other vegetable varieties, however: peppers, cucumbers, squash and many more. With those, fruits need to be fully mature or over mature and wrinkled before harvest.
Just moments ago, I decided to cut open one of the Straight Eight Cucumbers I mentioned in my last blog. Here’s what I got:
About 13 viable seeds after 3-1/2 months of waiting since harvest. Not surprisingly, the flesh was bitter, tough and rather dry. At this rate, I would need to grow 20 hills of cucumbers for every variety in order to be able to collect enough seeds to offer on the website. Very likely, pollination was a problem, as it was for most tomato and pepper varieties also in 2020.
Here is a link to several files I have developed and shared over the years:
- The Big Tomato List
- List of Extra Early Varieties
- List of Very Productive Varieties
And so on.
Here’s the link for purchasing seeds:
So, what have I done with this business, and what have I learned in the past ten years? Well, I don’t have time to write a 1,000-page tome, and nobody would want to read it. But a few highlights might be informative.
- People come first. Respect others, communicate well, provide a quality product. This all seems like common sense, common decency to me. With no budget or time for advertising, I depend upon my colleagues, my fellow gardeners, to let others know about the seeds, seedlings, and fresh garden produce that I have available. If this were only about the money, I would have quit years ago! I have been horribly disrespected by others in my life, and it hurts. So being respectful has become second-nature. Even if that means spending up to 10 hours per day responding to emails. I am no more important than any other gardener or small farmer.
- Keep hands and fingers moving as fast as possible every waking minute. It’s called “manual labor” for a reason. Always strive for increasing efficiency. I operate Delectation of Tomatoes like an artisan craftsman, pre-Industrial Age, aside from computers, printers and the Internet. No machine labor, no mass production, no economy of scale here! Just good, old-fashioned, one person at a time service.
- Most people don’t want to work fast, especially for very low wages; thus, I have no helpers. Yes, I have tried…
[More to come here, maybe, if I can manage the time]