The arrival of the tomato circus

Live plantsBack when the weather was still cold and dreary, I put in a very special order with SeedSavers: a six-pack of heirloom tomato seedlings, scheduled for shipping between May 5 and 7.

On Thursday, the seedlings arrived. I had been a little nervous about ordering them, because I have read on various blogs about the horror of having a live plant arrive, only to discover its been mistreated along the way. While I know I could run out and buy more tomato seedlings somewhere else, I’d been anticipating these particular seedlings for weeks.

I was pleased to note, when they arrived, that they had been certified healthy. Thank you, Robert A. Dahl, Supervisor, Plant Protection. Certified tomato seedlingsYou rule, sir, no matter what anyone else tells you. I thank you for watching out for injurious pests, I thank you for making sure these were produced outside of Japanese beetle season (and I admit that I have no idea when Japanese beetle season is, anyway), and I thank you for walking around a greenhouse in the great state of Wisconsin, looking at tomato seedlings and determining their relative health.

The weather outside could not have been more beautiful, so I took the box right outside and opened it up. There, inside six cardboard tubes, sat my seedlings, each one looking healthier than the next. These were better than any seedling I’d bought last year, and they came from a box rather than a temporary Quonset hut.

Seedling removalThey even smelled like tomato plants, that green, juicy smell tantalizing me with thoughts of the tomatoes to come. This year, I’m starting these bad boys across the yard in a spot where I think they’ll thrive from the beginning. I can’t wait to watch them grow.

I set them in the tray from one of my other pots and watered them enough to get them through the dinner hour. Then, as the sun set over the yard, I planted all six. Stupice. Amish Paste. Brandywine. Gold Medal. Green Zebra. Mexican Midget.

The names sound like the Big Tomato Circus has finally come to town. Trust me…I’ve had my ticket in my pocket since they went on sale.

Photo credit for image of me: Mary Beth Bishop

15 Responses to “The arrival of the tomato circus”


  1. 1 chigiy May 15, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    I love green zebra tomatoes. They taste really yummy and they are really prolific. I have one in my garden at this very moment.
    I can’t wait to see what the Mexican Midget produces.
    Happy tomato circus.

  2. 2 Lydia May 16, 2007 at 4:20 am

    What fun!!! Around here, Memorial Day weekend is the big planting weekend, but I always sneak a few things in the ground early because, well, I just can’t restrain myself. I love the names of your heirloom tomatoes. Amish Paste and Mexican Midget are new to me.

  3. 3 Kalyn May 16, 2007 at 7:22 am

    Can’t wait to hear about your thoughts about the different varieties. Brandywine is one of my absolute favorites, though it sounds like I need to get a green zebra plant if I can find one here. I have room for one more plant in the corner of my garden and then I’m planted for this year. I was looking for a special type of eggplant, but no luck finding it yet.

  4. 4 steven May 16, 2007 at 11:35 am

    Green Zebra makes great salsa!

  5. 5 Sally May 17, 2007 at 7:08 am

    Genie – You do realize that Seed Savers is just up in Decorah, right? Why don’t you and Steve jump in the car and drive up there some Saturday. Road trip!

  6. 6 Katie May 18, 2007 at 9:27 am

    How exciting! I planted my tomatoes before I left, pinched out all of the sucker shoots and thought they would be fine until I got home. They looked like tomato bushes – no height and very fat. I brutally hacked away all of the sucker shoots – that were bigger than the plant. I hope they survive the trauma….sigh – that’s what I get for trying to get a jump on the tomato season.

  7. 7 girlgonegardening May 18, 2007 at 11:37 am

    You’ll love green zebra! Thats my favorite tomato of all time!

  8. 8 inadvertentgardener May 18, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Chigy, Steven and Girlgonegardening, I’m definitely excited about the Green Zebra tomato — that might be the one that’s most thrilling of the six. Can’t wait to see how it turns out. How do you know when they’re ripe and ready, though?

    Lydia, Amish paste just sounds tasty, doesn’t it? I’m looking forward to seeing the difference between the varieties.

    Kalyn, of all six seedlings, the Brandywine looked the least healthy. Now, that’s not saying much — it still looked great. But I’m hoping for some good tomatoes off that plant — I remember being totally envious of your Brandywines last year…

    Sally, I’ve thought about making the SeedSavers road trip, for sure. It’s definitely on the list.

    Katie, I’ll be crossing my fingers for you on surviving the trauma. I hope they do!

  9. 9 cremarie June 6, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    I started to read this post and realized that all the names sounded really familiar – I got all of these in the mail a few weeks ago! I ordered the 6-pack of assorted peppers as well from Seed Savers, so I can’t wait for the harvest. So far, I’m a little concerned about the Brandywine, as it’s looking a little stressed, but the rest of them are thriving!

  10. 10 inadvertentgardener June 6, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    Cremarie, you’ll have to keep me posted on how yours do — I’m very excited about mine! Of the six, the Brandywine looked the weakest when it first came in, but it seems to have rebounded, and I suspect now that I’ve staked it, it’ll do even better. But I am so impressed with the quality of these seedlings — amazing stuff.


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