Heirloom Tomato Seeds: Day Two

After this morning's events, I had to post a sign!

After this morning’s events, I had to post a sign!

February 21, 2013

The twenty-four seeds I placed in Granny’s dish last night seemed to love their water bath.  Early this morning, I touched a few of them and I could not believe how the life seemed to swell in their tiny shells.  Some were still dry to the touch and cupped in a listless state, but others had that life force surge feeling I first noticed when I held Granny’s long-stored bean seeds.  I dare to hope these tomatoes will germinate, thrive and produce fruit that will yield seeds to save for next year’s planting.  Such is the life of a gardener: the life cycle is clarified and the end of one season means there is time to plan for the next.

After a quick survey of the soaked seeds, I made coffee for Richard and me and mentally began planting.  The seed cell tray was at the ready and, with a good sprinkle of water, hopefully, these babies would continue their living production.  I spread a coffee filter to receive the soaked seeds, in order for them to dry before placing them in potting soil.  That was when I noticed a problem.  The dish holding the seeds had been moved, splashing the water inside across the granite countertop and scattering seeds.  Panicked, I began to retrieve the seeds and slip them back into the bath.  I counted.  Seventeen.  I found a few in the kitchen sink.  Horrors!  I shook the kitchen towel hanging between the sinks and found two more seeds.  My final tally was twenty-two, which meant two seeds were lost.  Probably washed down the sink.  Since I had not shared my “soaking bath” plan with Richard, he did not understand my frantic search for escaped seeds and I berated myself for not placing the dish in a safer location.  I quickly removed the soaked seeds from the bath and put them on the coffee filter to dry.  After a few hours, they were ready to transfer to their new home.

Trays labeled for Granny's seeds.

Trays labeled for Granny’s seeds.

After trying several labeling methods, I find that duct tape is perfect for attaching to plastic trays.  I also use it on tomato cages and garden stakes.  I use a permanent Sharpie marker to write on the tape (I prefer Shurtape, manufactured right here in NC!) and the label will withstand the elemental forces of nature for an entire season.  Using my pinkie fingernail, I carefully picked up each seed and placed it in a cell, filled with potting soil and indented to receive the seed.

Using my pinkie fingernail, I carefully lift each seed to move to the potting tray cells.

Using my pinkie fingernail, I carefully lift each seed to move to the potting tray cells.

Since I prepared twenty-four cells for planting and only had twenty-two seeds, I decided to take two more from the precious bottle stored in my freezer.  I marked the two cells housing these babies with a duct tape “x” and covered all the seeds.  I gave the entire bunch a good drink and then sprayed them with a light coating of fresh water.  I prefer to use rain water with seedlings, but had to resort to tap water today, since I did not have stored rain water at the ready.

A tiny tomato seed waits to be covered with potting soil.

A tiny tomato seed waits to be covered with potting soil.

"x" marks the cells where seeds are planted that have not been soaked.

“x” marks the cells where seeds are planted that have not been soaked.

As I do with any of my grandmothers’ seeds, I prayed as I planted them today.  I asked for blessings upon these tiny seeds and help to make them germinate, thrive and produce beautiful fruit.  I asked for guidance in my work and expressed gratitude for those who saved these seeds.  As I placed the plastic covering on the tray, I decided to take advantage of bright sunshine and placed the covered tray on a picnic table on my southern-exposed deck.  After a few hours, I moved the tray to my “birthing chamber” rolling cart and turned on the grow lights.

Twenty-four seeds are ready for the next step in their life cycle: germination.

Twenty-four seeds are ready for the next step in their life cycle: germination.

Twenty-four more seeds are soaking in tonight’s bath.  Tomorrow morning, I will prepare them for planting and can’t wait to feel that life force surge in their tiny pods.