I had to run into our local retail store yesterday to purchase a 9-volt battery. The one in my soap making scale finally died and I just don't trust making soaps that I sell at market without measuring precisely. But oh, how I do wish there was some way to make those darned batteries last longer! Is there a precision scale that doesn't require batteries or electricity?
Okay, I am straying from my own topic. While I was in the store, I of course had to take a few minutes to see what new plants they might have gotten in in the garden section. I am on the search for a German Johnson tomato to try. They didn't have any, yet, but they did have the Bradley and the Mr. Stripey heirloom tomatoes. They look yummy and I really want to try them. I tried them last year, but our extreme heat and drought zapped them before they ever really got started, so I am going to try them again.
I also found a mini White Eggplant that looked interesting. I have yet to find an eggplant that I like, but they are so pretty that I still like growing them. I especially like the blooms.... they make a beautiful flower, even if you don't like the veggie that follows, and you can always find someone that wants the veggie part. But this one said that the skin stayed tender and it never got bitter. Wow! Those are the two things that I don't like about an eggplant. I like it when I first bite into one, but I don't like the toughness and I especially don't like the bitter whang. So I got one to try.
So.... how do I pick my plants, you might wonder? Of course, I want the most for my money ... so I fumble around all the plants to find the ones that have the most in them, especially the tomatoes as they are easiest to separate and promote new root growth.
I don't remember how much, exactly, the eggplants were, I think around $2.99. Yes, a bit much, but it is really getting too late to start them from seeds and I managed to find a pot that had 4 plants in it. So that is less than a dollar a plant, MUCH better than that price for just one annual plant! (I am hoping they separate easily. I have never tried to separate any before). Although that still sounds a bit pricey, if I can save the seeds from them (hoping they come back true), that will be the only time I purchase them. Since seeds for specialty plants run around that much, and these are already up and growing, I figure it is still a pretty good deal.
Then there were the two tomatoes. They were in the $1 plants (actually they said 98¢ but rang up at the register as $1). They were all one plant to a pot. But I was determined to find one with more than one plant, so I took my time, gently inspecting all the pots (I am sure those behind the surveillance cameras got a kick). There use to be several plants to EVERY pot, but the growers are much more careful about it now, snipping off all the excess plants (such a waste!!!) to be sure and keep those sales up, because people like me will only buy one if we can find one with several in it. Actually, I would still only buy one, but I prefer one with more if I can find it, stretching my dollar as far as it will go. And, as luck had it, I found what I was looking for on both tomatoes. Tucked away in the back, hiding up under all the larger leaves, was one of each of the two types of tomatoes with 4 plants each in them! Yea!!!
Those tomatoes look really close together and impossible to separate, but they aren't, really. You do have to separate them carefully, and you will lose some roots, but tomato plants put on new roots (further up the stem) fairly easily. As long as they have quite a bit of roots on them, it works great. Once they are separated out (may have to use a knife tip to gently help separate them), you remove any lower stems there might be (pinch them off), plant the the plants half-way or more up their stem leaving at least one leaf set above the ground, and new roots will form all along the buried portion of the stem, creating a very strong plant. So, with 4 plants in each $1 pot, that is only 25¢ per plant! I think that is pretty good!
But it gets even better. Those two tomato plants are heirlooms (Bradley and Mr. Stripey), meaning that any seeds from them will come back true. So if I can be sure to successfully save seeds from both of them (assuming the heat doesn't get them again), I will not have to purchase this variety of tomatoes again. I will have all the future tomatoes of these varieties for as long as I garden, for just $2. The plants are already up, growing good, and even better, their cost is much less than the price of a package of seeds. *whew... takes a breath* So, where some people might see three plants sitting there in that pic, I see not only a full row, but many, many future rows full! And to carry this one final step further, my savings will be even greater if, at some future date, I can swap seeds from these for seeds of varieties I don't have. What a wonderful bounty!!!