Splitting Tomatoes

Reader Contribution by Leah
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I love gardening. It is peaceful, relaxing, exciting, and lots of hard work. Thankfully Greg does the lion’s share of the heavy lifting, and physical labor. I do all of the planning, planting, harvesting, and tedious work. And there is nothing more tedious than splitting tomatoes.

Every year I start my seeds in my mini green house. I use bio-degradable cups and litter pans for trays. I start the seeds in February and by April the pots are crowed with little plants needing some space of their own. If you’ve ever tried to plant just one tomato seed in a pot, you will understand how this happens. I usually wind up with 5-6 seeds together and then have to thin them out.

The books say to choose the best two stems and gently pull out the rest and dispose of them. But I’ve never been able to do that. I’ve planted the seeds, nurtured them, and whooped with excitement when they begin to poke up out of the soil. So I take the pots out to the garden shed and have a go at transplanting all of them.

Greg found me a really nice cast-off work bench so I gather all of my paraphernalia and go to work. First I mix some soil for the new pots. My no fail recipe for tomatoes is adding calcium to the soil. Crushed oyster shells from the feed store meets this need. I mix one scoop shells to two scoops Miracle Grow potting soil. Then I carefully separate the tiny plants and bury each one in a new pot up to the bottom leaves. Tomato stems will put out roots when buried and this gives the plant a really firm root system. When I transfer them into the garden containers, I will again bury them up to the bottom leaves.

This year I planted True Black Brandywine and a free gift from Baker Creek Seeds – Purple Russian Tomatoes. I tried a couple of the True Black Brandywines last year and discovered I like them better than the Purple Cherokees. So now well see how the Russians do. So far all of my little seedlings have survived the split. If they all do well, I will be able to fill all of my containers and then have some left over for friends. And for me, that’s what gardening is really all about. Being able to share plants and produce with friends and family.