Color me GREEN

Thursday, April 15, 2010

ENVY is thy name. Glad to meet you.

One day after posting up some rather tempting pictures of our little tomato and pepper stater plant grow operation (which I was quite proud of mind you) -- well -- someone just had to pop that balloon.

What a mighty big PIN that was. The air in that balloon? Gone!

Listen -- I know there's some section of the Ten Commandments that says something along the lines of "Shall Not Covet Your Neighbor's Donkey" (among other things) -- but do you think the Good Lord in Heaven would apply that to -- say -- a neighbor's tomato starter plants?

He would? Dang. Major disappointment.

Well then -- I won't "covet." I'll just drool from a distance then. What do you mean by "that's the same thing as "covet?" How about admire? Is that OK?

I can't help but feeling this way after looking at some pictures of the tomato plants that Farmer Fred Hoffman has growing in that great big greenhouse of his. I mean -- we both planted seeds at right about the same time. But my tiny seedlings just do not compare to the California Coastal Redwood starters to the immediate left.

Those suckers are HUGE! Sure -- they're a tad "leggy." Who cares! Look at the stem growth on those things. Anyone who grows starter plants from direct seed would KILL for stem development like that.

Well -- perhaps "kill" is the wrong choice of words here. Drool? No -- I already used that. We'll stick with "admire" then.

So what gives? Why are Fred's starter plants that much larger? That much more lush? Well -- even though I don't have one and can't say for sure -- that nice greenhouse has to play some kind of role here. It's not the only thing -- to be sure. Fred's been at this game a little bit longer than I have -- a little bit longer than most of us.

The last time I spoke with Fred about tomato starter plants? Well -- let's see? It's been at least a month and a half. At that point in time -- many of my seeds had sprouted. Fred indicated that he was having germination problems. So -- at one point -- I was ahead in this game here.

Obviously -- something has changed between "then" and "now." Those pictures are fairly dramatic. As much as I've learned from him -- I also know that I have a long way to go. No -- I don't have a greenhouse. I don't have that advantage yet.

But it's more than "just a greenhouse." It's the expertise that comes with using a greenhouse in the correct matter -- or the right soil solution -- or the right fertilizer. The tomato starter plants in question will send you a message -- telling you what they really need.

It's up to you to "read the leaves."

It's just a guess on my part of course -- but something tells me Fred Hoffman is pretty darn proficient in this langauge.

Am I buttering him up in hopes that he'll cut loose with some starter plants? Of course! I'm not stupid! But it's more than that. In looking at the photos he provided?

I still have a lot to learn.

As we move into the prime tomato growing season that is summer -- a lot of this argument will become moot. Yes -- you can start tomatoes early. But those that are started later invariably catch up to the plants started indoors. In other words -- if you compare the two plants at the end of the summer? It will be tough to tell them apart.

That's why the lovely wife that is Venus and I will be doing a lot of direct seeding this weekend. More on the "direct seed" option in a future post.