Greenhouse Seedling Update: The April 2010 Edition

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

My greenhouse grown plants are coming along and at the rate we’re going weather-wise this spring, a few of these babies could be out the door before the typical May 24 planting weekend in this region. I’ve become more cautious than I used to be as we’ve had some fluke cold snaps and hail storms in the past that have sent me running to cover everything with a blanket or bring a thousand pots into my living room. But things have been so consistently mild this spring, I’m feeling daring.

Now if only the whipping winds would settle down.

The ‘Variegated’ tomatoes (above) are really starting to show their colours now. I’m particularly pleased with this one and pleased that I decided to grow them again. As I mentioned in a previous post, the tomatoes themselves aren’t much to write home about, but what’s fascinating is that they do start out variegated just like the plant, and ripen to red. It’s quite a visual treat. I’m hopeful that the year I grew them previously was just a bad year for this variety and the tomatoes will surprise me this time around.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

This tomato plant looks really big already but is a ‘Black Seaman,’ a determinate (bushing) variety that grows nicely-sized slicing tomatoes if you give it a big pot. I’ve gone as small as a foot-deep but a bigger pot, if you’ve got it, will grow a bigger plant. My first experience with this variety was wishy-washy but it has since gone on to become a favourite. I never go a year without growing one and I always recommend it to container gardeners.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

Remember when the naranjilla were teeny, tiny little things? They’ve had a slow start, but the seedlings are starting to come along to a decent size. They are very hairy now and you can see the beginnings of little thorns that will eventually turn into nasty rose-like thorns at maturity. Here’s a reminder of what it looks like at full size. Ouch.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved
The naranjilla’s cousin, Morelle de Balbis (Solanum sisymbrifolium) is also beginning to put out thorns. I have allergies to some hairy plants in the garden including beans (just the plants), sunflowers, and globe thistle. If I rub against these plants with wet arms, I break out in hives. Even at this tiny size the Morelle de Balbis is proving to be a hazard. I’ve felt some minor itches when accidentally brushing against it’s teeny little thorns. You can bet I’ll be exercising caution when this thing reaches full size and maximum thorniness.

It should make an excellent, although purely ornamental candidate for the street garden.

p.s. I took all of these photos with my cellphone; hence the weirdness.

What about you? How are your seedlings coming along?

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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17 thoughts on “Greenhouse Seedling Update: The April 2010 Edition

  1. Very nice! I didn’t start any seedlings indoors this year (long story), but what I’ve planted outdoors seems to be ok so far.

  2. They look so healthy and strong! My hot peppers plants – although planted before Christmas – are still pretty small but the tomatoes plants are growing every day. However, something strange happened last week. One of the healthier tomato plants died in less than 4 days! I have no idea what happened since it was right next to the other plants and they look fine. Now I am a bit scared that the same might happen to the other tomatoes.

  3. This is my first year trying seedlings. I’m using toilet rolls as containers but now as I finally start to see little peeps of seedlings coming up, there’s mold growing on the sides of the tubes :( .. did I over water them?

    Do you think I can transfer them to new containers or should I just start over?

  4. I always start my seedlings too early indoors – this year I started almost a full month later than last year & as usual, things aren’t doing so hot. I tend to overwater the poor things & put them outside too early. It’s still a learning process…

    But my tomatoes did great & are planted in the greenhouse now, just waiting for some warm weather!

  5. Gayla, when did you plant your tomatoes? Mine are still pretty tiny (planted March 22). Yours look great!

  6. Freaky, fun nightshades! As I’m sure you know, a lot of people have a reaction to their leaves and stems, and besides the edible bits, these plants are well-known to be quite unfriendly (to people).

    Our indoor seedlings are up, but I have no recent pics. I’ll try to get one up today… this is a couple of weeks old already:

    P.S. This may be an old wives’ thing (which makes me an old wife?) but I water tiny seedlings with chamomile tea the first few times. Just brew up a big pitcher of it for them (unsweetened!). Also, bottom watering only; self-watering is best of all.

  7. Ciao Gayla-

    Yeah, some members of the nightshade family are truly scary-looking. There’s a conservatory/greenhouse in Niagara fairly close to the falls themselves and they have some wild and wacky ones to check out. Imagine an eggplant TREE with scary long thorns as long as one of your fingers and leaves as wide as you can stretch your arms out. It made me feel like I was in Honey I Shrunk The Kids. I was too intimidated to get in there and crawl around to see if I could find the tag for it. I’m sure a little sleuthing with Google Images and you’d find it.

  8. My seedlings are poor looking this year. I found a nice fine coir this year and was excited to use it instead of peat moss, but I’m wondering if it is the problem. A friend reported poor results with using coir with perlite and vermiculite for seed starting. My tomatoes should be a jungle, but have barely more than seed leaves still. Everything else seems stunted too.

  9. There are some very cute coir pots out, I was thinking of using them for repotting the seedlings.

    I started seeds late this year, but they’re doing well. I did the toilet roll thing and some of them have gone very moldy! Did anyone else have that problem? The seedlings still look fine in their moldy casings…

  10. Oooh, those plants are big. Somebody’s gonna have a lot of tomatoes this summer.
    Never saw the variegated tomatoes before. Hoping for later pics too.
    Don’t have much space to start seedlings. I mostly live through other bloggers with their pics. Just a few more weeks and I can buy and plant seedlings though. My fingers are itching.


  11. Ashley: I planted my tomatoes are different times. The earliest in late Feb and several through March. Growing in a hot greenhouse like this really accelerates the growth more than growing at home.

  12. Jennifer in MamaLand: I think chamomile tea works. I don’t consider it folklore. Bottom watering, etc are all good practices with delicate, new seedlings.

  13. Sorellina: I have been there but it was YEARS ago. They didn’t have anything like that then. I will make a point to visit the next time we go to Niagara Falls.

  14. Erin: Regarding coir… I haven’t experienced problems with seedlings but I am not using coir with the plants shown here. I used a bag of seed starting soil I got for free.

    There are other factors that can stunt growth like warmth, light, lack of nutrition, moisture (too much, inconsistent, etc), cramped quarters (too many seedlings in one pot)… I would also consider those other factors if you haven’t already.

  15. Suzanne: Some of those toilet roll seedlings do go moldy depending on what’s in there and how much air circulation you get around them. I find it doesn’t affect the plants.

    Annelie: I have no idea where these tomatoes are going. So much is up in the air. But I grow them just in case, and give them away if I can’t keep them all.

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