San Marzanos – Week 4

Well, it’s been 3+ weeks since I planted the seeds for all my tomato plants for the year, and so far they are doing pretty good.  As you may or may not recall, I decided to try to grow San Marzano tomatoes this year from seed in hopes that I’ll be able to produce enough of the signature Italian sauce tomatoes to last me most of next winter.  I expect the demand for the production of marinara sauce to increase in our household as our daughter grows, so I’m hoping to keep up with her needs throughout next winter with as much of our own tomatoes as possible before dipping into the canned variety.  Not that canned varieties are bad by any means, I just get more satisfaction using our home grown product to produce marinara sauce.

Tomato Seedlings

There’s four San Marzano seedlings presently growing in my seed starter (thanks to a double seed that I must have planted), along with several other varieties of tomatoes including another sauce tomato, the Polish Linguisa.  It’s also well regarded, albeit not as “famous”, and is apparently quite a bit larger in size than the San Marzano.  While a San Marzano tomato will weigh in around 4 ounces (115 grams), the Spanish Linguisa may weigh in around 8 to 10 ounces (225 to 300 grams), making it 2 to 2.5 times larger per fruit.

Some of my seedlings are a bit on the “leggy” side, mostly my fault for not having my grow light finished until a few days after they started sprouting.  Hopefully they’ll pull through OK, and it helps that when you transplant tomato seedlings you bury a few inches of their lower stalk in the ground.  Tomato plants sprout roots from their stalk when buried, which helps them grow better and larger root systems.  When I move these guys from their seed starter to a small pot, I’ll bury a small lower section of them to start this process.  Given the speed they’re growing at (most of them have their second leaves now), I expect to re-pot most of them within the next few days.

Along with the tomatoes, I have seeds planted or seedlings already started of eggplant, sweet peppers, basil, oregano, cilantro, carrots, and beets.  I’ll be planting seeds for cucumbers soon as well.  The sweet peppers and eggplant required more heat to sprout than the others, so I pointed a small heat lamp at them along with the regular fluorescent lights, which seemed to do the trick as within a week or so they have started sprouting.  I have our grow light on a timer that turns them on and off automatically, giving the plants a total of 13 hours of artificial light per day, from 7:00am to 8:00pm.  So far that seems to be working for them and I’ll likely give them more light as the days naturally start to get longer.

Overall, for my first attempt at growing herbs and vegetables from seed, I’m pretty happy so far.  I hope they survive the transplants to larger pots and then to the garden, and produce for us well this year.  In the long run this will save us money, as growing from seed is a cheaper than buying plants each year, all things considered.  One thing that I need to note is last year we had a late frost in early to mid June which destroyed part of our garden, so I’ll be on the look out for those conditions again this year.

I hope you’re enjoying watching these little guys grow as much as I am.  I’ll post more updates as the plants mature further and at every important stage of their development.

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