Category Archives: tomatoes

When Can I Start Vegetables for My Garden?



As you can see in the bottom right hand corner of the photo this was of my greenhouse operation that I called Potter’s Dream Greenhouses in May of 2006. By this time 11 years ago, meaning May 9th, I had seeded a few thousand vegetables, including tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, melons and more. You learn very quickly if you want to succeed in the greenhouse business you have to provide the right plant in the desired state of development in the proper time frame.



If you are seeding vegetables for your own enjoyment your schedule can be a little more loose. I have seeded tomatoes in the end of February or maybe a couple of weeks later during my greenhouse career, because I wanted bigger plants by the time the early birds came looking in mid-April when 70 degree days were the norm in the mountains of Virginia. Of course that did not mean we would not get frost up and through mid-May. In fact, during my first growing season in 2002 a late frost actually benefitted me as most of the known growers were sold out of plants following a third week of May freeze killed a lot of previously purchased plants.

This year we waited until the third week of March to seed our tomatoes. Part of this was just not getting to the task due to some other projects, such as cleaning out the greenhouse for the first time in way to long. So you can see the fruits of our efforts I will share some pics.




We decided to plant our tomatoes differently this year. Rather than seed then transplant into single cell trays we are just going to grow them all in one mass plant and separate to bigger containers when the time is right. Here you can see the trays we utilized in planting.


Yes, that is a tree branch in the middle of the left tray, which is actually separating the types of seeds. We chose three varieties originally, Roma, Beefsteak and an heirloom variety called Red-X. Since then I rounded up three more, Better Boy, Celebrity and a Yellow & Red Stripe shared with my father by a friend. I tried something different with these three varieties, adding about a dozen seeds to the bottom of a disposable plastic cup and then adding an ounce or two of water to see if I could accelerate the sprouting process. I will let you know if this works.

We also seeded cucumbers and zucchini on the same day. Tell me what you think about my high tech labeling system.


The main thing to consider when trying to nail down the date for starting vegetables is to know a few of things:

  1. What is the average germination time of my seeds?
  2. Can I provide a sheltered environment so they have the best germinating situation?
  3. Once germinated how long until I can transplant?
  4. How long from transplant until I can plant outside (i.e. when is the frost/freeze danger over)?

Seeding your own plants can be fun as well as rewarding, you just have to understand all the components to successful seeding. Good luck as you take on this task!



Daily Prompt: Construct 12-2-16

via Daily Prompt: Construct I try to find a way to respond frequently to the Daily Prompt one word prompts. Sometimes it is easy, but in other instances it takes some time to decipher a good answer.

Early this spring we decided we needed to approach our gardening differently. For years I have worked up a large patch of soli so we could plant various vegetables such as potatoes, onions, beans, corn, tomatoes and melons. We have enjoyed various amounts of success many times base don the weather or the rodents that choose our garden as their salad bar.

But this year we made the choice to relocate our tomato growing efforts to a raised bed. My wife was the architect of this idea, I just had the task of making it happen. You need to understand how much we love tomatoes to get a sense of how important this new bed would be. Tomatoes are something I look forward to from the time the last is picked in the fall until the first new one is picked to enjoy the next summer.

As I began to think about how to do it I knew I wanted it to be big enough. I had to CONSTRUCT something large enough to provide the tomatoes we would use for soups, spaghetti sauce and to put on sandwiches all summer long. I benefitted from a generous friend who allowed me to borrow a tool that basically extends your truck bed in a way that you can haul longer lumber.

I drove to my local big box hardware store where I bought 4-2x10x16 foot long boards. When cut to twelve foot I had a 12 foot long by four foot wide by 20 inch deep raised bed in which to plant my tomatoes.

Once I got enough composted soil to fill up this large bed I was ready to plan the tomatoes I had been protecting from the elements in my greenhouse for a few weeks while they had a chance to grow larger than they were in the small packs when I bought them.


The raised bed was a huge success as we collected more tomatoes this year than in quite a while. We even collected tomatoes into October, which has never happened before.


This is my response to the Construct Daily Post topic. What’s yours?