|My tomato patch at the community garden|
This year,back in the depths of winter, I decided to get organised a set up a tomato growing strategy. It started with Bek's call out to help her clear out her seed collection. It was very exciting to receive in the old fashioned post a beautiful envelope containing neatly labelled plastic zip-lock bags with the following selection:
- Ned Kelly
- Big Beef
- New Yorker
- Mortgage Lifter
- (and most intriguingly) Big White Pink Stripe (lets call that BWPS).
To that collection I added two kinds of cherry, Yellow pear and some Mini Roma. The cherry tomatoes included a small sweet tomato I took from the planter garden (variety unknown) and what I refer to as feral cherry- the cherry tomatoes that seem to crop up everywhere around the garden. Unfortunately due to an accident during seed sowing the Mini Roma got tipped into the BWPS so its going to be interesting to see what grows where.
My first step back in July was sowing a few of each into strawberry and tomato punnets. These act as perfect mini greenhouses out on the front porch in the northern winter sun. The punnets were lined up in a kitty litter tray so they could be bought inside and put in front of the heater at night. That technique seems to work and I got excellent germination. Once the plants had their first sets of decent leaves I planted them out into single tubes or two by two into small pots.
Having grown far too many seedlings for my own use (I have kept 2 of each of the standard varieties) I sold seedlings off for a gold coin donation at work and at a little stall I set up for an hour and a half as part of the Garage Sale Trail Day (basically this was an event encouraging everyone to have garage sales that offered me the chance to publicise my sale via a listing on the website). With very little effort, my combined sales of excess chilies, eggplants and capsicum came to $52 which has been donated to Oxfam to help fund local food growing programs in East Timor.
This year with my expansion out into a community garden, I have shifted the focus on my backyard beds leaving only cherry varieties in the backyard. There are numerous cherry plants filling out the various pots and tubs and a row of the 'feral' variety lined up on the back fence. Yellow pears and either mini roma or BWPS are out in the planter boxes and a full plot of standard tomatoes in the community garden plot. Not content with that I have planted out all my left over seedlings in the adjacent plot that seems to have been abandoned. I am hoping with any success the community garden will be so overrun with tomatoes that the crop from that bed can be distributed to one of the many community or refugee groups that could use donations of fresh vegetables. Stay tuned to see how it all works out!