The Bad Seed

As much as I tell other people to use good, fresh seed, I can’t help trying to start older stuff. Sometimes I’ll toss old seed in the compost, but this year, like many others, I decided to take a chance. But, not one of the Copra yellow storage onions I started came up. So, I dumped the soil out of those two flats worth of six packs, and will likely use that space on my light shelf to start eggplant and peppers in the next day or two.

On a happier note, the leeks and red onions are looking great. I ordered the second batch of tomato seed Saturday and today–I had planned on just ordering one yellow and one orange tomato, but instead (this is the seed company’s fault for not being open on the weekend), perused the catalog one last time and came out with five.  They’re all heirloom or open-pollinated, so I can save seed from the varieties I like best.

Along with the regular slicing and paste tomatoes, I’ve decided to specialize in different kinds of little tomatoes this year. Though many shoppers like to buy slicers for their kitchens–many of the larger truck farmers can set a lower price on their slicers because of their bulk (and because many of them have family members helping them harvest!). My tomatoes for market are mostly all heirlooms and a little more delicate, so I usually charge a bit more.

Still, a lot of families will buy a pint or two of cherry tomatoes for snacking and salads–especially if they’re really pretty. Enter my Red Currant, Red Pear, Sun Gold, and Isis Candy (marbled gold and red) mixed pint and quart boxes. I can generally get a huge amount of those plastic clamshells from friends and customers to save them a trip to the recycling center.

The pain with little tomatoes is, of course, harvesting all of those tiny things. But, with solid trellising, it doesn’t pose a huge problem–at least until the late season when the plants grow up and over the cattle panels in a big, cascading mass, and I have to plunge my entire upper body underneath the crazy overgrowth in order to harvest them (OK, I could prune, but where’s the fun in that?). Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!

But, many of these little tomatoes can also be harvested by clipping their entire fruit cluster off the plant–Red Currant has to be harvested in that way, as they are about the size of a fingertip. Oh, but the flavor!


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