As I’ve mentioned before, I have grand plans for a vegetable garden in raised boxes, but I haven’t had time to build the boxes or decided where I’m going to put them. So, I decided to start learning how to grow vegetables in the meantime. When I have the boxes, I’ll start from seed, but these tomatoes started from seedlings.

Tomato Project Part 1
My decision to plant tomatoes was a rather spontaneous one. A member of my gardening meetup scheduled a meetup at Tomatomania. It’s the largest tomato seedling sale in Los Angeles County. They have hundreds and hundreds of seedlings in at least one hundred varieties. Frankly, it was hard to choose, because how different is a stupice from a striped Roman from a bull’s heart? I did opt for heirlooms because I’ve heard that hybrid tomatoes don’t taste as good and the seeds may not be savable.

The week before Tomatomania, I went to Costco to stock up on some supplies. I purchased:

1 2.5 cubic foot bag of potting soil (also needed for other plants)
5-pack of gardening gloves in different styles

I also went to Armstrong Nursery to buy a 1.5 cubic foot bag of planting compost.

I initially planned to put the tomatoes in pots, but that would be expensive, so instead I went to Ace and bought a shovel so I could amend the soil with the planting compost and potting soil.

At Tomatomania, I bought three seedlings: black oxheart, chocolate stripes, and striped Roman.

The next morning, I used the shovel and a trowel to dig a trench in the clay soil near our fence (sunniest part of the yard) and mixed the potting soil and compost into the trench. Then I planted the seedlings about two feet apart and watered them. I was very happy my gardening glove set included heavy-duty leather gloves while I was using the shovel. Even with the shovel, my hands had red marks from the hard work.

A week later, I stopped at Armstrong again to buy Tomato and Vegetable food and then fertilized each plant. So far they’ve each grown three to four inches. They grew at least three of those inches after a nice hard rain last week.

Costs to Date
I’m not necessarily growing my own tomatoes to save money, although I probably will. I’m mostly growing them to have fresh food in my backyard. Nevertheless, I’m tallying the costs.

Compost: 13.14
Potting soil: 13.14
Seedlings: 12.00
Tomato food: 7.66

The compost and potting soil were both used for other projects, though, so I’ll only count half of it for the tomatoes. The gloves and shovels can also be used for other projects, so I didn’t include those in my tally.

The cost of the tomatoes to date is $32.80. I will need to build a support system for them because I plan to force them to grow up rather than become bushes or crawl across the ground. That will be part two of the project.

Are you growing food this year? What have you planted?

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