Tag Archives: fitting more plants into a crowded garden

Leftover Seedlings

This year I have a problem. Unlike most years I have leftover seedlings.

Seed catalogs have such a variety of tomato seeds and all are tempting. Stores offer only a few kinds; the kinds that sell well. So I try to raise my own.

leftover seedlings
Seeds want to grow into plants. Unfortunately there were more seedlings this year than there was garden space. I suppose commercial nurseries toss the extras. These were great seedlings. My garden is packed. I looked for a corner somewhere to plant these tomato seedlings.

Without a greenhouse or special lights, my seedlings are started late and often turn out spindly affairs. They do grow fast in the garden and produce tasty tomatoes. Leftover seedlings don’t exist.

My usual method is to fill a dozen Styrofoam cups with potting mix, water and two seeds each. If I’m lucky, one comes up in half of them.

big leftover seedlings need special planting method
Big tomato seedlings can be planted straight down but need a deep hole. It’s much easier to dig a shallow trench twice as deep as the root ball and two thirds the height of the seedling. Lay the seedling down in the trench. Carefully back fill the dirt around the roots and stem.

This year the temperatures moderated. The seeds germinated in most of the cups, both of them in a third of the cups.

Warm sun let me set the trays of cups out on the front porch. The seedlings grew. They thrived.

I had ordered three varieties: Speckled Roman, a paste tomato; St. Pierre, a red tomato; and Pineapple, a yellow and orange striped tomato. This was to result in eighteen plants in the garden, plenty for two people as there are always volunteer cherry tomatoes for snacking.

specially planted leftover seedlings
Dirt fills in over the root ball and stems of the tomato seedling. Since this is an indeterminate variety, the buried stems will put out roots to help support and grow the plant.

Then I came across a packet of Abe Lincoln tomatoes, a red variety I had wanted to try. The seed company sent a complimentary packet of Russian Blue tomatoes. A friend added two Paul Robeson red tomatoes. Another friend added a Lime green tomato.

Gardens are finite in size. Mine is packed with bell peppers, summer and winter squash, potatoes, beans, various greens, garlic and onions. There were four areas designated for tomatoes.

protecting leftover seedlings
This corner of my garden was covered with grass and other weeds. There are lots of weed seeds in the dirt waiting for a chance to grow. The cardboard will block the most of the weeds. It will break down and enrich the soil later.

As of now a pepper section has the cherry tomatoes and the Lime tomato. Another section has ten red tomatoes planted. One side of the shade house has six Speckled Roman with Pineapple on the other side. A side bed has six, many double, Russian Blue plants.

I have sold and given away tomato seedlings. And I still have leftover seedlings. They are tall and need planting out soon.

One solution would be to yank them out and toss them on the compost heap. Maybe I am too soft-hearted. They are trying so hard to grow.

tomato seedling in mulch
The two garden spots I found were recently covered with weeds. More weed seeds were germinating. Mulch helps keep the weeds at bay.

I scoured the garden for any holes big enough for some tomato plants. There are two much less than ideal spots. My leftover seedlings will have a chance to grow.