Archive for the ‘March’ Category

Killer Grape Tomato Prices!

Posted: March 1, 2015 in March, Seeds, Vegetables

The Grape Tomato Seed Adventure

A criminal/immoral idea that could potentially help you with your grocery and seed buying budget!
Guerilla Gardener wanted for suspected involvement and organization of the famous Tomato Caper of 2015!

Warning-The Grape Tomato Police could be looking for Guerilla Gardeners with ties and possible involvement in the rumored Grape Tomato Capers of 2015!

I love grape tomatoes but the price at the grocery store is killing me and quite frankly paying for them is starting to cut into my seed buying budget. As for the quality of store bought grape tomatoes…..well when they’re good, they’re very good……and when they’re bad, they are simply horrible! Paying for an expensive plastic container of little, tasteless, sour, wrinkled, red rubber balls is usually not what I had in mind when buying grape tomatoes at the supermarket, so whenever possible I try to liberate one out of the container and do a taste test before buying any. Even if they pass the taste test, the lifespan of a store bought grape tomato is so short that it doesn’t take very long before they start to get all wrinkly. After paying top dollar I find this more than a little offensive so I’ve added some grape tomato seeds to my seed buying list.
Since I’m trying to adhere to a self imposed seed budget I tried surfing the internet to try to seek out some deals on grape tomato seeds. As a Guerilla Gardener I was pleasantly surprised to discover that buying seeds in packages wasn’t my only option. Apparently there are some suspected fellow guerilla gardeners out there who have had great success using seeds harvested from store bought grape tomatoes. From a taste point of view, nothing beats the taste of a homegrown tomato and I couldn’t help but think that from a financial point of view this idea could help both my seed and grocery budgets to go just a little bit further.
Now, it just so happens (and I speak from experience) that if you mention this gardening idea to a Master Gardener they will tell you a bunch of technical stuff like it’s a hybrid, it won’t grow true to seed, it won’t taste good, blah, blah, blah.
As a Guerilla Gardener trying to work within the seed budget, my opinion is that if you already bought some good tasting grape tomatoes and there are a few wrinkled ones in the bottom of your refrigerator or rolling around on your counter, what do you have to lose? This especially holds true if you have plans to plant tomatoes on property that does not belong to you.

Tomato Plant hidden between some cedars along the back fence at Strata complex

A tomato plant hidden between some cedars along the back fence at Some-Strata-Property.

The internet consensus on growing grape tomatoes from supermarket varieties is that the Santa Sweets® brand of grape tomatoes (the containers with happy little tomatoes wearing Santa hats on the label) seems to work the best. When I grocery shop and can find this brand of grape tomatoes in the supermarket I usually buy them because they are always very sweet and they always pass the taste test. Now, if you happen to live in the U.S.A you can buy these plants already started from the Santa Sweets® company website but they will cost $32 (plus shipping and handling) for 8 plants. However, even if you had the money to waste, you still could be totally out of luck trying to obtain these plants as the company does not ship live plants to Canada. As a Guerilla Gardener living in Canada, who is always open to new adventures the idea of trying to grow a grape tomato plant from my favorite brand of supermarket tomatoes seemed like a brilliant money saving plan that was going to help me to get the most out of both my grocery and seed budgets. However, there’s a bit of a hitch. Apparently the Master Gardener’s concerns are the least of my problems because it turns out that there may be some criminal/moral issues to this money saving seed plan. It seems that there is some kind of copyright/trademark/patent tomato-rule-thing going on with this particular brand of tomatoes. The Santa Sweets company grows only proprietary varieties of tomatoes such as the Santa Sweets® grape tomatoes. The company boasts that this is an exclusive “100% Pure Santa Variety (F1)®. This simply means that by law they are the only ones allowed to grow them and it has been highly recommended that I find out what kind of fine/legal costs/jail sentences might be incurred before trying to use the seeds from some Santa Sweets® grape tomatoes. After checking all the trademark/copyright/patent information out thoroughly I cannot in good conscience condone or recommend using any store bought tomatoes for seed harvesting, no matter how good an idea I think it may be. As a matter of fact, I am not willing to assume any responsibility or liability for anyone who decides to embark on their own Guerilla Garden Tomato Adventure. Just saying…if you get caught doing this you are on your own.
However….. if you are willing to take the risk of the Grape Tomato Police possibly breaking down your door and are willing to assume all liability, responsibility or legal/financial implications for your own guerilla gardening actions then according to what I’ve read here’s how you would go about embarking upon your own…..

Guerilla Garden Grape Tomato Adventure!

Step 1
Look around in your refrigerator or your counter for a spare grape tomato. If you bought a bunch and there’s a wrinkled one be sure to choose it-apparently, they seem to sprout better for some reason.

Step 2
Fill a 10-12” pot with indoor potting soil.

Step 3
Squish the grape tomato with your fingers and try to separate the seeds from the pulp.
Note-Kid’s love this job! Discard the pulp and spread the seeds evenly around on top of the soil and then cover with about 1 inch of dirt.

Step 4
Check your tomatoes everyday for water.
Keep the soil moist (do not let it dry out!) and in a week or two you will see a bunch of seedlings pop up. When they are big enough to grab, separate them and then transplant them into different containers. Note: The Brooklyn Seed Company has a really good tutorial on making self watering containers out of old pop bottles. These work great for those people who are not known to adhere to a strict watering schedule and would rather use their garden budget to buy more plants and seeds than spend it on containers.

Step 5
Harden the plants off and then plant them outside in the garden. Before transplanting to the garden be sure to fill the hole with rotted manure or compost. Tomatoes love this type of crap!

Step 6
Pick and enjoy the taste of your homegrown grape tomatoes. Note-if you used a Santa Sweets® grape tomato you also might want to keep your eyes out for the Grape Tomato Police…..just saying!

Additional Tomato Growing Facts and Tips for Success:
– Start tomato seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last anticipated frost in your growing area. In other words if you live in the Pacific North West and you don’t have some tomatoes started you should be starting them now!
(March 15th is ideal)March Guerilla Gardener-You can also plant tomato seeds directly outdoors in May but your yield will be limited.
-Any tomatoes (not just grape tomatoes) will work using this growing method but organic and heirloom supermarket tomatoes are more likely to grow true to seed. FYI-be aware that some tomato varieties might also have a copyright/trademark/patent tomato-rule-thing, so try this at your own risk.
-Choose the best tasting tomatoes but for a variety of reasons don’t be surprised if the tomatoes that you produce do not look like the ones you bought. Just remember, you’re most likely using tomatoes that you were going to throw out anyways, and as a guerilla gardener you should never look a gift tomato in the mouth.
-Some (but not all) supermarket type tomatoes are indeterminate –in guerilla garden simple speak they don’t usually do well in pots as they can grow quite large so they do best when transplanted directly into the garden. Also be aware that they may need a heavy duty trellis or a fence as a regular tomato cage usually doesn’t stand a chance of holding up most indeterminate tomatoes. Here’s the catch, you will most likely have no way of knowing if they are actually indeterminate. If space is an issue, just remember it’s only a old wrinkled tomato anyways so it’s worth trying to grow it in a large pot.
-When transplanting tomatoes outside (approximately the end of May/early June) place them where they will receive 6 or more hours of sun.
-When watering tomato plants apply water directly to the roots and try to keep water off the leaves. If possible plant under the eves on the southern side of the house to keep the rain off the leaves as well. This lessens your chance of blight.
– Keep your tomato plants well watered. Tomatoes are approximately ninety percent water and if they are not watered enough the tomatoes will end up being shriveled and sour.
-If you don’t see any bees or butterflies around the little yellow tomato flowers then pollination might be an issue. This means that you won’t get very many tomatoes. You can solve this by taking a Q-tip or a small (unused) paint brush and start poking it in all the flowers. This kind of works like artificial insemination for plants. Or if you are like me you can just go all guerilla gardener and grab your tomato plant occasionally and give it a shake to distribute the pollen and then give it a good talking to. Either way pollination will take effect and you will be rewarded with more tomatoes.

My only dilemma now is just what type or brand of tomatoes am I going to buy from the supermarket for my Guerilla Garden Grape Tomato Adventure.

PS-I know what you’re thinking;
When it comes to tomatoes
Does she, or doesn’t she?
Well, only my accomplices will know for sure!

GG_water-cart_Grey

Advertisements

Seed Starting

My husband bought me an AeroGarden from Canadian Tire for our anniversary a few years ago. I can no longer buy accessories for it locally so I am going to use it as a grow light to start seeds in the self watering greenhouses I bought. The tray on the left is entirely filled with  Minnesota Midget Mini Melon seeds and the one on the right has Hawaiian Currant Tomato Sweet Sunshine Pepper , and Pomodoro Ciliegia Tomato seeds. I know that it will take a while for the seeds to germinate but I just know that I won’t be able to stop myself from checking everyday.

Salsa&Seeds
Don’t worry Salsa!

I know 15 packets seems like a lot of seeds for someone who lives in a townhouse and rents a few plots at the Sunshine Community Garden, but let’s face it a Guerilla Gardener can never have too many seeds!
I plan to share some seeds with my accomplices and if the germination rate is good then maybe scope out a few neglected spaces in need of some vegetation.

PS-feel free to share this info with the husband type person if he asks

Brenda Dyck
A Guerilla Gardener on an Adventure!

March Guerilla Gardener

Recession vs. Depression

 So what does that mean for this Guerilla Garden Suspect? It means that during this recession if I have to curb my spending on my garden I’m going to go into a deep depression. I mean seriously, gas prices are up, food prices are up, and the company I work for has decided that new hires will be making the same wage (or more) as tenured employees….What’s a Guerilla Garden Suspect to do? Since skipping meals is out (at least that’s the consensus around my house) and siphoning gas is illegal (although if I’m caught, it might just insure me three square meals a day), in order to stay on budget I’m going to have to really think outside of the ‘box’ to fill my garden beds and pots. Fortunately, being a Guerilla Gardener this isn’t hard. Here are a few Guerilla Garden ideas to get you through the recession without going into a depression:

Check the Internet –score cheap or even free stuff for your garden! Be sure to check regularly for deals. Here’s a few to get you started:

Freecyclehttp://www.freecycle.org/

Request and offer all kinds of items, specific to your area by searching with your town’s name.   There are over 1200 members in Chilliwack alone! You need to sign up with an ID and password and the best part of this website is everything is absolutely FREE!

Craigslisthttp://geo.craigslist.org/iso/ca

Check out the free section or if you have a little spare cash check out the gardening section for some great deals.

Dumpster Diving – Recycled bikes, teapots, dish pans, or boots make interesting planters or imaginative focal points in the garden. If anyone tries to make you feel bad about it, just tell them you are saving the planet by recycling. Then make them feel guilty that they are not. After all, they don’t have to know that you are just trying to save money

Yard Sales – Map out a route using Craigslist or your local newspaper. Estate sale and moving sales always have the best stuff, especially if they are in upper class neighborhoods. This applies to thrift stores too!

 Flea Markets –The Abbotsford Flea market runs every Sunday at the Abbotsford Exhibition Park grounds and is well worth the loonie ($1) for admission! You can buy annuals, perennials, and even water plants for unbelievable prices. If you’re not picky and you wait until the end of the day you can pick up a flat of annuals for a song and some change!

 Garden Clubs –Garden clubs usually have the best priced plants, seeds, books etc. and offer workshops as well as garden tours. Be sure to check out your local garden club to find out how much the membership is because it will be money well spent!

Homemade Weed Killer Environmentally friendly, cheap and works great on weeds that grow between paving/cement cracks!
In a gallon jug mix 3/4 gallon white vinegar,  3/4 cup table salt, and 1 tablespoon dishwashing liquid together, close the lid and shake. Transfer it to a spray bottle. Spray it on the weeds in the heat of the full sun but be careful, it will kill whatever you spray it on!

Plant Markers – Cut up plastic mini blinds cut up to make plant markers and then use an indelible felt marker to label them.

Seeds – collect free seeds from existing plants.

 And remember when it comes to pricing timing is everything! The best deals on annuals start about June and for perennials late in September and October.

Brenda Dyck
A Guerilla Gardener on an Adventure