Monday, March 21, 2016

First Garden Center Trip of the Season

Red Siberian Pole Tomato
Isn't it exciting, the first warm and sunny days in a region that experiences the four seasons? The snow melts away. The sun seems brighter and you begin to notice the white cotton clouds drifting across a cotton candy blue sky.  And it hits you.  



That is what happened to me. I felt the spring bug bite. Even though our first-day-of-spring weekend included rain, gloom, and a few wet snowflakes and it was too early in the year to plant anything, I had to go.  

I drove to the Garden Center in the drizzle. 

Garden Planning

Oh how I wish I was good at planning a garden. I'm not good at it. In fact, I'm terrible at it.  My excuse is that I currently live in a small apartment and only "garden" on a balcony. That's my excuse for not paying attention and being organized.  

Trouble is, I was just as bad at garden planning when I had a huge yard and a sprawling veggie garden.  I need to find ways to be more organized.

I felt the pinch of disorganization a couple of years ago. I had THE most amazing tomato plant on my balcony.  It produced wonderful, round, plum-sized fruit that were the tastiest tomatoes I've ever had.  As the weather turned cold, I brought that plant into my kitchen and used a light bulb to supplement the waning natural light of autumn. That plant produced tomatoes well into November!

Tomato picked on Nov. 18 - small but so tasty!

I saved some seeds and planted them the next year. 

But did not have the same result. How disappointing.  I'm 
not sure if I confused the seeds and planted the wrong ones. 
don't know if my original plant was a hybrid and I got bad results from planting hybrid seeds.  I just don't know.

My goal this year is to find an "heirloom" tomato that I love just as much and then save THOSE seeds successfully.  

Garden Store Trip

My wandering to the garden store, in the rain and cold, was in part to look for suitable tomato seeds. I think if I start them inside (I used a huge, re-purposed fish aquarium to start seeds and small plants) I will have decent sized tomato plants as soon as the balcony is warm enough.

I also needed to think about my herbs and lavender plants. Last fall was a tough time for me in many ways. As a result, I left all of my plants outdoors. And they died.  Typically, I would bring the mint and rosemary to overwinter in the house.  Last winter I also had a hibiscus bush that I overwintered in my bedroom, in front of an east-facing window, and that plant bloomed nearly all winter.  But alas, my poor planning left it to freeze on the balcony also.

I headed out, knowing that I would at least try to find a tomato situation. And with no other plan.

My Purchases

I wandered around the seed packets for so long that I began to think they must think I'm a shoplifter or a vagrant.  A very kind employee came to see if she could help.  I told her of my tomato lament and how much I wanted to have that plant all over again, but that I probably blew any chance of that.

We talked hybrid versus heirloom - and that if I really wanted to try to become a successful seed saving gardener, I need to stay away from hybrids.

She pointed me toward the brands of seeds that she recommends.  Among those brands I found the the Red Siberian pole Tomato by Botanical Interests

The description includes:

"Only an heirloom tomato that came from the climate of Siberia could tolerate the fickle and sometimes cool temperatures that exasperate gardeners in spring!"

I am a little concerned that it is a 6' high pole tomato!  But if I can be creative with attaching it to my rail, this might work out really well.

If you've had experiences with either this tomato or this seed company, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

My garden store treasures


  1. Good luck with your new tomato plant, Dawn Rae. My hubby grew tomatoes in what he called his 'Victory Garden' (a term left over from WWII when his grandfather did the same) and was very successful. Not sure what kind as I've never tried growing tomatoes myself. But sure do love fresh tomatoes. Let me know how yours does.

  2. My parents are responsible for the very best baring tomato plants in our family. They love tomatoes and I think the tomatoes some how know that :) Their plants do survive the weathers. My husband has also grown tomatoes that he said were much tastier than any tomato in the grocery store. Since I don't eat tomatoes, I just have to take his word for that. Sadly, his tomato plant hasn't survived our dogs. I expect any new tomato vines will join my hydrangea in our side yard garden this year.

  3. I've had my first visit to the garden center - just before the weather turned cold, so I'm waiting to actually plant what I got. Happily, the strawberry plants from last year are looking good and the beautiful rosemary survived and thrived through our mild winter. We had wonderful cherry tomatoes last year and I'm hoping for success again this year. Planning pretty herbs with my flowers (or maybe instead of) on the front porch this year. Have fun with your garden. I know I will with mine!