I end up talking about tomatoes a lot this time of year. They have a long growing life, so they're always the first thing we get started for the year. Plus, we have many rounds of plantings so we have tomatoes at different stages to go into the high tunnels and then outside into the ground after Derby.
We start the tomatoes in our basement near the wood stove. They like to stay warm and cozy. Tomato seeds take about a week of living in damp warm conditions before it bursts its shell and becomes a tiny plant.
After it germinates, it stays in our basement till it gets tall enough to be transplanted. At that point, we make larger soil blocks to transplant the tomatoes in so the roots have more room to grow. Check out the two plants below: They are both the same type of tomato, but in a different stage of growth. They have been in the same tray, but one took off, taking up all the room. So they both need more room. The larger one will continue to grow and the smaller one will finally get some room to spread its wings so to speak!
The transplanted tomatoes take up a lot more space, so it's time to fire up the greenhouse, literally. We have a rocket mass heater in the greenhouse, which means it's a special small fire that gets really hot... hot enough to burn up the gasses the fire makes, so it burns really clean. The heat from this hot fire gets directed through a series of pipes that are buried under rock and mud ... the mass. The mass heats up and holds the heat, and releases it slowly over time.
On cold nights like last night, Adam started the fire about 4 pm, kept it going and heating up the mass till about midnight, and then went to bed. This morning, the fire was out, but that was expected. The large mass table that the tomatoes were sitting on was still warm, and the tomatoes were doing fine. So at least tomatoes don't wake up at 3 am wanting to be fed, but they do require consistent checking on and staying up late to be sure they are going to be ok through the night. To see our facebook video from last year that explains the rocket mass heater, check out this post.
This is the beginning of the tomato journey! Much more to come.