Posted on 13 May 2008 by

Too Many Tomato Seedlings?


By Kira Hamman

If you’re anything like me, you started just a few too many tomato seeds.

They’re so little, really, and it always seems like an extra flat or two is no big deal.

I somehow manage to ignore the little voice reminding me that an extra flat or two when I sow the seeds translates to, oh, about an extra 300 square feet of garden space and at least that many extra pounds of actual tomatoes.

Then it gets to be the end of April and the plants (now in 4-inch pots) are covering every horizontal surface in my home. My kids have nowhere to do their projects. Or brush their teeth. Or sleep. My husband says it’s him or the tomatoes.

Happily, the same principle of three Rs that every self-respecting environmentalist has memorized applies here, too.

Reduce — give them away. Give them to your family, friends, co-workers, mailman. Whatever. Try taking a tray of tomato seedlings to your next office meeting in lieu of a box of donuts and see what happens. I’ll bet they disappear at least as fast as the donuts do. Sure, some people might think you’re weird, but you don’t want to be friends with them anyway.

Reuse — find new uses for old tomatoes. Put them in places you may not have previously considered vegetable territory. Add a tomato plant to a large pot of flowers or a flower border, for example, and enjoy listening to all your visitors comment on how creative you are. Properly staked, a row of tomato plants makes an excellent deciduous hedge. And, since you’re not babying them into producing food for you, you can be a little more cavalier about things like hardening off and frost dates.

Recycle – compost happens. I know it seems sad, but remember that they’ll become soil for next year’s seedlings, and the great wheel of life keeps turning…

4 Responses to “Too Many Tomato Seedlings?”

  1. deb Says:

    I was read the riot act regarding seedlings on our deck last weekend. I moved them to a garden cart. Still don’t know how I will adopt them all out.

  2. our friend Ben Says:

    Ha! I love the idea of tomatoes as a deciduous hedge. Good thinking!!!

  3. Dani in NC Says:

    I did the same thing. I’ve never really gardened before, so I assumed that you start a bunch of seeds and that only half of them would actually sprout. In my case, 11 out of 12 sprouted! I moved 3 into large containers and put into the ground. Unfortunately, I have no one to take my 4 leftover plants. I hate the thought of putting them in the compost heap, but if I don’t they’ll just end up dying.

  4. Kira Says:

    I sympathize with you, Dani. I always feel like having a moment of silence when I have to compost some of mine. But you’re right, of course – it’s healthier for all of them in the long run. Good luck!

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