Tomato Seedlings. 10 varieties to try.

I’m a member of a garden club.

No seriously.  I really am!  Why aren’t you gasping?

Hold on.  It just occurred to me that you probably think it’s perfectly normal that I belong to some sort of garden club.  That it makes perfect sense.  It does not.  As much as I love gardening (and always have) I’m not a “club” kind of person.  I shun clubs.  I’m a club shunner.  I’m more of a Lone Wolf kindda girl, wandering the plains alone with the soundtrack from The Good, The Bad & the Ugly playing in the background.

But last year I became a club person when I joined a local community garden.  I needed room for my paste tomatoes and one of their members kindly agreed to share his plot with me.  Since then I’ve secured my own plot in the community garden and am thusly a member of the garden club.

Like most clubs, they have fundraisers.  I suggested drag racing, but they were worried about noise and pollution and accidents and such. Why they would think a bunch of drag queens would pollute the neighbourhood is beyond me but I’m new to the group so I didn’t question them. And I had to agree a bunch of screaming queens in a foot race would undoubtedly be noisy.  And lead to accidents.

So the club decided to go with the more conventional if somewhat less entertaining, “Plant Sale”.  I gave away a few of my tomato plants last year and people seemed to like them so I was assigned to tomatoes.

I planted 10 different varieties of tomatoes around the end of March and they’re now getting properly upset about being inside.   I planted them all in a single, large plastic bin.  I had no intentions of leaving them in the bin so long, but life got in the way.  They’re tomatoes.  They can take it.  Tomatoes are incredibly resilient but I had literally run out of room for them like this.  The plants were actually touching the fluorescent lights I grow them under.

As you can see they’re 15″ high already. For everyone who speaks in centimetres, that’s about as high as a drag queen’s running heel.


Tomato Seedlings Tall

Their roots weren’t really getting the best chance at developing what with being smashed into the plastic box.
Tomato Seedling Roots


But that’s one of the many great things about tomato plants. When you’re replanting them, whether into new pots or into the ground, you can plant those suckers right up to their top set of leaves if you want. The plant will start to sprout out roots from its stem. Just make sure you pull off the bottom leaves before submerging the stem in soil so the leaves don’t rot in the dirt.

Repotting Tomato Seedlings

So when it comes time for you to plant your seedlings plant them as deep as possible to get a stronger plant with more roots. More roots means more nutrients and guck getting into the plant. Guck is good by the way. It’s my own technical term for the good stuff in compost. Plus worm poo and such.

If you’re looking for a bushier, wider type of plant, you can pinch off the top of your tomato plant which will encourage side shoots.
Repotted Tomato Seedling

For the plant sale I made 70 newspaper pots from a wine bottle and grocery store fliers, then labelled every pot with the variety of tomato inside. By the time the sale comes around each of plants should have developed a tight root system and be ready for outdoor planting.

These are the tomatoes I grew. It’s probably a bit too late for you to to start these now (but not impossible) but if you’re interested in finding any of these tomatoes to grow yourself, keep your eyes peeled for plant sales in your area. I know Linda Crago has an annual tomato sale every spring and many other tomato enthusiasts have sales too.


Before taking these seedlings to the sale I’ll have to spend a week or so hardening off the tomato plants. If you’re new to growing tomato seedlings this year, take a look at how to  harden something off  and why you need to do it.

If you’re a drag queen, you should probably do the same.


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  1. igoretas says:

    If you want to taste a really good tomato, just try the Andes Tomato (maybe you can find it as Andes horn tomato, Peru tomato).

    The last 5 years we have tasted like 50 or 60 kinds and this by far the best one: very sweet, ultra thin skin, not too much seeds, as good for salad as for sauce.

    Every years we try new varieties, but there are three “must to” that we plant every year: andes tomato, green tomato and an old variety from where my parents are living now, on the south west of France

    This SeptemberI’m going to Canada for a month travel and I would like to take back some new seeds from there

  2. Jennifer says:

    Pineapple tomatoes are great tasting (and beautiful)–I tried them once and grow them every year now. But I also wouldn’t be without Mortgage Lifter and Mennonite Orange–both sturdy heirlooms. Mortgage Lifter produces giant red beefsteak tomatoes, and Mennonite Orange (“an Old Order Mennonite heirloom in southern Ontario since 1910, originally from Pennsylvania” according to Tatiana’s Tomatobase, where I get my seeds) prolifically produces large and very flavourful orange fruits. I’m so looking forward to tomato season–come on warmer weather so I can have my BLTs!

  3. Daria says:

    Washington DC has an annual (high heel) Drag Race every year. :-)

  4. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    OMG..I am so hungry for tomatoes now!!!!..I have always grown Sweet 100’s as my favorite cherry tomato..I think I will try the Sweet Baby Girl now!!

  5. Patti says:

    This is why this is my favorite blog…I kept hearing about hardening off your seedlings before planting outdoors but didn’t know what it meant and was too lazy to google it. I’ve planted 4 different types of zinnias this year and would’ve stuck them directly in the ground and all my efforts would have been for naught. Thank you Karen! And thank you for the paper pots trick, will use that one next year.

  6. Anita says:

    I don’t know what I love more about this post, that you measured in inches or you’ve potted your wares into a homemade upcycled/recyclable newspaper container — genius!!! :-)

  7. Jebberjay says:

    Thanks Karen!! You da best.

  8. SusanR says:

    Pineapple and Black Krim are my favorites. This year I also have Kellogg’s breakfast ( sweet, orange), Paul Robeson, yellow pear, Ukranian purple, black cherry. I really want to try the Mystery Keeper. I couldn’t find them in the seed catalogues online.
    But here in San Diego, my tomato plants have fruit all year. It’s gets sketchier in winter, but there are usually a few all the time.

    I found Moon and Stars watermelon that I’m trying this year. They looked so interesting.

  9. JebberJay says:

    Beauties, all of them! Mmmm. I crave a BLT … with a Caprese salad … with pasta con marinara sauce … with a bowl full of sweet baby girls for snacking. MMMMmmm.

    Quesiton alert — Do you have a recommendation on the type of soil that is best for setting up new garden beds? (my friend is building raised beds for growing veggies). She found a mix of black earth, compost, sand, organic fertilizer and lime. I like lime margaritas. Is peat moss necessary? I don’t like peat maragaritas.

    • Karen says:

      Hi JebberJay – Peat moss isn’t necessary. You can add it if you like because the black earth is going to be very heavy. The peat will lighten the soil and also hold water. Loosening the soil can also be done with some vermiculite or perlite, but you really shouldn’t have to. She doesn’t need to worry about it too much. Most people would just fill their beds up with “dirt”. : ) ~ karen

  10. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    Another interesting, yet humorous post from you Karen, our card carrying garden club girl. You have opened my eyes to heirloom ‘maters! I’m already drooling waiting for my first ‘mater sandwich. Love the newspaper pots! A tutorial perhaps in the future?

  11. jennie says:

    My nephew works on an organic worm poo farm, so I get worm poo FOR CHEAP. Ya, my garden will be rockin’ when my Drag Queens show up for their cut.

  12. Feral Turtle says:

    This post just reminded me how far I am behind. I have a good excuse though, we had another skiff of snow again yesterday. You grow some great looking tomatoes!!

  13. erin says:

    Mmmm…tomatoes. And the best part: I’m the only one in my house who will eat them! More for me, I say. Muahaha.

    I’d love a quick tutorial on making the wine bottle/newspaper pots!

  14. Su says:

    Love the pineapple tomatoes!! I also like Brandywine of the Heirloom variety…. there is absolutely NOTHING better than picking the first ripe tomato out of the garden and eating it right there standing in the sun with the juice dripping and running down your chin. ABSOLUTELY Nothing…. :)
    Your post made me smile at the memories….

  15. Tigersmom says:

    This would be the only type of drag racing I would pay to see and willingly watch.

    The pineapple tomatoes are the ones I like to have in a sandwich with just salt and pepper and tiny bit of mayo to keep the bread from getting soggy. You still have to eat it sort of quick though (and over the sink is recommended), but it’s so good that’s never really a problem. They are also good on their own, cut into chunks with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice (you know, if you’re not alone and have to act civilized). Mmmmmmmm.

    And the little yellow pear ones are wonderful taken by their little built-in handles and dragged though really good bleu cheese dressing or even ranch in a pinch.

    These are examples of the level of complexity I am comfortable with in a recipe. A food item with something on it. ; )

  16. Jody says:

    Glad to hear you got a community garden plot. Didn’t you plant a bunch of veggies in one of sister’s gardens last year? How many tomatoes do you plant in a year by the way?

    • Karen says:

      H Jody – I ended up having too many tomatoes for my sister’s garden last year so that’s when I had to broaden my horizons and find a community plot. I planted 30 tomato plants last year, plus another 5 at my own house. This year I’ll be planting 12. Mainly just to see all the different varieties etc. I give the tomatoes away and when I have extra I make roasted tomatoes and freeze it for a smoky tasting sauce in the winter. ~ karen!

  17. Anita says:

    Mom & I grow the pineapple tomatoes for sauce. It is the meatiest, yummiest one you can use, much better then any plum tomato out there.
    and they grow big. Last year we had 1 that was 3lbs.
    you will love them.

  18. sue says:

    You had me at, tomatoes. It boggles my mind that there are people who don’t like them raw…my son in law, for one. Some of those cherry tomatoes are so good, they would never make it home from the farmer’s market. My Sicilian heritage goes into overdrive when I saw the title of your post. Grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato, basil, oregano, salt and pepper are my sandwich choice in the summer. Oh, and you can splash some olive oil in the pan, just as my Nuni did.
    I think it is wonderful that people are recognizing that old varieties should be preserved. I am in heaven when apple season comes in Maine and there are limited crops of herloom apples to try. Happy growing!

  19. dana studer says:

    Green zebras are my favorite! When I take them to a gathering I have to explain why they are green. My father-in-law would not touch them with a 10 foot pole at a picnic. He is from the Tomatoes Are Supposed To Be Green School. I saw the Green Zebra seeds at Walmart recently which I thought was unusual. Every year I grow heirlooms. They are not the heaviest producers, though. This year I plan to get less heirlooms. Im sure that plan will go out the window when we get to the garden center & my heart starts palpitating & we ring up $50 in tomato plants. I don’t start them from seed because the garden center has them for $.10 a plant. I have grown the pineapple before but was less than thrilled. Because of you I will try it again. I also love Old German and Mr. Stripey.

  20. Grammy says:

    Love Pineapple. Here in California’s Central Valley we have very long, very hot summers, and last year I planted Pineapple for the first time. It was vigorous with excellent yield of large, beautiful, tasty fruit.

    Not so Black Krim — it seemed to not like those hot hot days. Your picture, though, makes me want to give it another try. It’s too late to do so this year, but I’ll put it on my list to try again next year.

    I’ve never had Zebra, but am in love with Michael Pollan. Not the guy, the mutant of Zebra that is named for him and has oval fruit with cute little pointed ends. Prolific performer and outstanding flavor.

    That Aunt Ruby’s German Green is breathtaking. I’m going to hunt it down and give it a place of honor in next summer’s garden. Thank you for the introduction.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Grammy – The Green Zebras are realllyyyy good. They’re “zingy”. :) Everyone who tries them loves them. ~ karen!

      • Grammy says:

        Okay. I’ll get a Zebra, too. I’d like to compare them to their offspring Michael Pollan anyway (to see if the only difference is in the size and shape) so now I’ve got a good excuse: Karen made me do it. 8^)

  21. Noelle says:

    Will you tell us when that sale is?

    • Karen says:

      Private sale just for the gardeners I’m afraid. :( I’ll save you a Pineapple. I have the most of those and they’re supposed to be the BEST. ~ karen

  22. Ella says:

    Cool post! I had no idea you had to harden the plants off!! BTW-I live in Toronto, and have seed potatoes sprouting in my garage. Do you think it’s safe to plant them? Have you planted yours yet?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ella – Seed potatoes can be planted now. You have to cut them into chunks first (see my post on growing potatoes) and let them dry for a few days. Normally I’d plant them on May 1st, but it’s been such a cold, wet, gross, season I won’t be getting them in for probably another week. :( ~ karen!

  23. TucsonPatty says:

    Great bunch of tomatoes! Which I love, BTW, and I’m thinking a Sweet Baby Girl is in my future!!
    I would pay a lot of money to see drag queen racing. Just sayin’!

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