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It’s Almost Time to Sow Tomato and Pepper Seeds!

If you are concerned that you’re late in sowing your tomato and pepper seeds, relax. Many gardeners sow these seeds too soon, resulting in plants that are too tall or ‘leggy’ when it’s finally time to transplant them outdoors. Tomato seeds should be sown six to eight weeks before you are ready to transplant after you normally experience your last frost. Pepper seeds take a little longer, but they should not be sown until eight to ten weeks before transplanting outdoors.

Each variety of our vast selection of tomato and pepper seeds remains in stock. If you haven’t already ordered, now is a good time to place your order before we start running low on some of the most popular items over the next couple of weeks.

While peppers remain extremely popular, tomatoes remain ‘king’ of the home vegetable garden. There continue to be contests among top local growers to see who can harvest the earliest and who can grow the largest tomatoes, and this spirited competition is likely to continue as a part of home gardening forever. There’s just something about growing tomatoes that seems compulsory if you want to gain any official accreditation in the ranks of home gardening, and most of us simply can’t resist that urge! Even gardeners who don’t normally plant and grow their own vegetables seem to find space amongst the shrubs of the home landscape to plant tomatoes. So we heartily recommend that your favorite tomato seeds be at the top of your 2017 order form.

On those hot summer days of our youth, our favorite lunch menu often consisted of just one item—the “plain” tomato sandwich—which featured the simplest of ingredients: two slices of whole-grain bread, real mayonnaise, salt and pepper, and enough juicy-ripe tomato slices to drip out all around the edges and soak through the bread. In our way of thinking about Southern cuisine, it didn’t get any better than this! We tended to favor our dependable gigantic heirloom Pink Brandywine for sandwiches and burgers, as one thick slice was all that was needed to more than cover the bread. But then again, we could be equally content with the likes of Beefsteak, German Pink, Mortgage Lifter, and many other popular heirlooms.

We always preferred to have several different larger varieties each year for fresh eating, canning and freezing. Variety diversity helps protect against a bad year for one or more varieties to ensure that you still have plenty of fruits to harvest and preserve. In addition to our very large heirloom specimens, we also grew mid-to-large-sized varieties like Better Boy and Big Boy for fresh eating, and the meaty Roma for our sauces and salsas. Then we always enjoyed the “grape, cherry and pear” smaller sizes for salads or to eat like candy right off the plant. Here again a diverse mixture of the tried-and-true heirlooms together with the latest hybrids makes for a more dependable harvest.

As always, tomatoes continue to be ‘king’ in our 2017 seed catalog, with nearly 200 varieties offered, including our featured and improved Early Blue Ribbon Hybrid for those of you planning to grow the earliest fruits in your neighborhood. For those wishing to choose other varieties for the first vine-ripened fruit, we have at least a dozen possibilities to choose from, with the addition of our New Girl Hybrid. We also have extensive variety listings for many of the “old-timey heirlooms with old-fashioned flavor,” including popular Georgia Streak, Mrs. Maxwell’s Big Italian, Buckbee’s Abraham Lincoln and Black Pineapple (Ananas Noire), and to balance the diversity, we have the best of our more modern hybrids with naturally-bred pest and weather resistance, with the addition of Heirloom Marriage Perfect Flame Hybrid and Mountain Magic Hybrid this year.

To cater to our gourmet chefs out there, we feature the Artisan Series of cherry tomatoes, especially bred for “big, pure-tomato flavor and delivered in unusual shapes and unique colors.” Choose the Bumble Bee Mix for round cherries or Tiger Mix for striped, elongated, cherry-sized fruits, all crack-resistant on indeterminate plants that bear prolifically for the extended growing season. If you want to grow some of both strains, simply order a packet of Artisan Mix, and we think you’ll agree that these are some of the “prettiest tomatoes ever” to complete that perfect plate presentation, coupled with an award-winning taste. For beautiful, mid to large-sized gourmet hybrid fruits, we invite you to plant all members of our exclusive Blue Ribbon Hybrid Series, which includes improved Early Blue Ribbon Hybrid VFF, Original Blue Ribbon Hybrid VFF, Bush Blue Ribbon Hybrid VFF and Sunny Blue Ribbon Hybrid VFNT.

We also feature the 100% ORGANIC SEEDS of modern tomato breeder Brad Gates’ Wild Boar Series, which he personally chooses “based on exceptional flavor and stunning appearance,” his preference being bi-colors and stripes. Several of his “weather-resistant” varieties have been featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine. We offer five of his most recent indeterminate introductions, including large-fruited Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye (wine-red with bright green stripes) and Beauty King (red and orange bi-color), Pork Chop (lemon yellow), medium-sized Solar Flare (classic red with subtle green stripes) and small, pear-shaped Mint Julep or Michael Pollan (green and yellow bi-color) with yields up to 5 gallons per plant. We’re betting you’ll want to try all five!

We’ve mentioned by name just a few of our most popular tomato varieties. But there are hundreds more! So let us suggest you review our full line-up on our website or in our catalog and choose your own favorite varieties! While supplies are in good shape right now, that’s sure to change as we get deeper into February. So order now and you won’t be disappointed!

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