I start my tomatoes in six-packs (the plant kind, not the beer kind), planting two seeds per cell, to ensure I get at least six plants out of each six-pack. And truth is that I probably only need six plants out of each six-pack. Having two plants in a cell gives me the opportunity to cull small or weak plants.
Except that, faced with two perfectly fine plants in a cell, I can’t possibly cull one, so I pot them both up separately. I’m just not very good at being ruthless and culling the plants I don’t need.
Which is how I end up, every year, with nearly twice as many tomatoes as I have space for in the garden. I give away quite a few, and always save some to replace the ones that are inevitably killed by a late frost or the neighbour’s overspray. Still, some years I end up throwing a dozen or more on the compost pile after they’ve languished in their pots unplanted until nearly Christmas.
This year, I purposely planted fewer six-packs than I usually do—if the plants aren’t there, I can’t pot up too many, right? But somehow, I still find myself with over a hundred tomato plants. That’s much better than previous years—I have space for 80 tomato plants—but it’s still probably more than I’ll use, even after losses.
With luck, though, I’ll be able to find homes for all the tomatoes, either here or in someone else’s vegetable garden, and I can avoid the annual cull.