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If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Is there anyone in the world who has not seen “Avatar”? Well, if you haven’t, what I’m going to say is NOT a spoiler. For those of you who have seen it, think of the scene where Sully first sees his avatar in the tank…floating there, in the moisture….happy..peaceful..content…

This photo shows something that is like that…only for growing transplants.

Baby plants need warmth, moisture and light. I have an unheated greenhouse which could provide a heck of a lot of light but sadly..no warmth. So, I transplanted the seedlings into 4 and 6-packs and put the whole deal into a big clear plastic bag, which I closed up with a rubberband. Before I did that, however, I made sure the grow mix was moist and I filled the bag with my breath.

No, this is not some sort of New Wave, Earth Mom, ‘fill them with the breath of life’ thingy.

It’s CO2. In fancy growing operations, they actually have CO2 generators to help the plants get a jump. Aunt Toby has a ferocious set of lungs and a plastic bag.

Actually, the DH last year got clear plastic domes that sat on top of the packs. And they sort of worked, but the seedlings kept drying out, so they were stressed and just did not do very well. And we kept asking ourselves, “How come this technology does not work for us? We never used to have this problem.”

The DH and I used to grow seedlings in plastic milk jugs cut in half length-wise inside a plastic grocery bag with a rubber band at the end. And when they got big enough, we’d transplant them into something bigger and put the plastic grocery bag on top. And after that they were big enough and it was warm enough to put them out in the greenhouse.

The problem with those plastic domes is that they did not snap onto the packs, so the seal was not very good – all the moisture was evaporating. I started seeds this time with that container with the snap-on lid from the grocery store that had salad mix in it.

Worked like the proverbial charm.

So, after I transplanted everything, I put the whole shebang into a big plastic bag, filled it with personal CO2 and sealed it up. Then I started more seeds in the salad mix box. And I put both things back on top of the grid on top of the heating pad.

Oh, and what did I start this time?

Aunt Toby is searching for the Holy Grail of tomatoes. After what happened last summer with Late Blight, I’m almost not caring about taste or texture, just plants that will not give up the ghost if we have a cool, wet summer. So, searching the literature, I planted:
Heiloom Striped German – from Johnny’s Selected Seeds Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Legend – from Tomato Growers Supply Tomato Growers Supply

Additionally, I’m trying to beat the whole business, since this is Late Blight, by growing Early Wonder — 55 days. I figure if I can get them out in the garden early under plastic, then if Late Blight hits in August, it won’t make any difference – I’ll have gotten my tomatoes by then. Source: Tomato Growers Supply

And, in a complete leap of international gardening detente, I got Stupice – 52 days!!! This is from Czechoslovakia and the supplier claims this is an extremely early cold-tolerant tomato. One of the really interesting developments over the past 10 years or so is the availability of tomatoes from such countries as Russia. ‘s cold in Russia and they have what could coyly be referred to as ‘a short growing season’. This is another ‘get it in, get it growing, get it out’ experiment just in case we get another Late Blight thing. Source: Tomato Growers Supply

Now, none of these could possibly be referred to as a paste tomato. Ok, I admit it. I have not been able to find either a really short season paste tomato or a paste tomato that is Late Blight resistant. What I plan to do is start some and put them into grow mix in five gallon buckets on my deck. Blight is in the soil – sometimes you’ve just got to put the plants someplace where they won’t catch the infection.

Another seed I planted (and which I usually don’t bother with, frankly) are peppers. Tomato Growers Supply had some sweet peppers from Romania called Roumanian Rainbow which are 60 days. That’s really short. I usually have poor luck germinating and growing pepper plants, but I figured I would give it a shot and then do the same thing I did last year – grow them in grow mix and compost in plastic milk jugs. Literally the only peppers we got last year were from the ones we treated that way. if I’d put them on the black asphalt driveway, we’d have done even better, I think.

OK – Aunt Toby is already hearing the mumbling from people out there saying, “you’re starting these too early..” Yep. According to the books, I’m starting these much too early. Could not be truer. But one of the tricks we learned a long time ago with tomatoes (and no one can argue me out of doing it) is that we keep transplanting the seedlings into deeper and deeper containers, always right up to the bottom leaves. They grow this big thick underground stem with lots of roots. And when we plant them, we dig a big hole, fill it with compost and water and plant it right up to the bottom leaves. The plants don’t seem to go through so much shock that way and they just take right off, grow fast and we get tomatoes earlier. That’s why I’m starting them now.

So, until the next time…

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