Well! Despite good intentions to write regularly, there’s been a slight two-year hiatus since the last time I wrote about our Seeds of Plenty patch. When I last wrote about our garden back in March 2021, Melbourne was still midway through a long series of lockdowns and our small patch was limited to the space in my backyard. So many good things have happened since that time. Not only can we now leave our homes and visit friends. But opportunities arose enabling us to expand our growing capacity by almost 1000%.
Our Extended Patch
As I mentioned back in 2021, we were limited to growing in my backyard. At the time we had around 13 raised beds and approximately 100 planter bags which gave us enough room to grow about 250 plants. Fast forward 2 years and we now have an expanded backyard with about 23 raised beds and 100 planter bags. There’s another patch in Yarrambat (Melbourne) with 800 planter bags and a plot under development in Research (Melbourne) where we have field space and 3 greenhouses with a capacity for 850 large planter bags. The total growing capacity next summer should be somewhere near 2000 plants. (That’s a lot of Tomatoes!)
The other exciting outcome of having 3 greenhouses is that we now have a significant space where we can grow our own seedlings with the long-term goal being to sell seedlings in Spring through our site and at local farmers markets around Melbourne.
Our Season in Review
Well, it’s really been two seasons since I last wrote. The one before last (2021/22) was quite the learning curve for me. I killed a few plants with neglect but killed a heap more through overwatering. Combining my mistakes with a difficult summer, the results that year could have been better. However, it was a learning year and mistakes are opportunities to learn. Last season (2022/23) I was a lot better prepared and kinder to my plants, and they repaid me with a lot more tomatoes and capsicums.
As you might be able to tell, I am a big fan of Dwarf Tomatoes. A lot of the initial breeding of these newish tomato varieties was done in Australia, but import restrictions for tomato seeds tightened over the last 15 years and most Dwarf Tomato varieties were no longer available for sale in Australia. With a great deal of time and expense, we were able to import starter seed for a lot of these lost varieties and over the last season and the next couple we hope to make many new Dwarf Tomato varieties available in Australia.
What’s New This Season?
All up, we will introduce 19 new Dwarf Tomato varieties this year. Some that I am particularly proud of are the Dwarf Bendigo Series of Tomatoes which is a series of 5 indeterminate cherry tomato varieties. That keep to about 4 feet tall and offer sweet fruits in Yellow, Red and Pink. You won’t be surprised to know that these beauties were initially bred and named in Australia. When I asked Patrina Nuske-Small (The Australian Co-founder of the Dwarf Tomato Project) which dwarf tomatoes she thought I should try to acquire and bring back to Australia. The Bendigo series was at the top of her list.
This year we also grew about 6 new Micro Dwarf varieties that only grow to about 30 cm tall. IOn the other end of the spectrum, we’ve obtained some amazing-looking indeterminate vining tomatoes that were developed by renowned Canadian breeder Karen Oliver. My favourite is an enormous yellow and orange heart shaped tomato called Midnight Sun.
Here is the list of the new varieties which will all be available on our site by the end of June 2023.
|Karma Purple Multiflora
We also grew a few Capsicum varieties that we hadn’t been able to get from local growers including Chocolate Beauty, Manganji, Sweet Banana, White Diamond and Bulls Horn. All of which are already online. If you are curious as to how much seed we got out of about 1000 plants this year my rough estimate is about 1500 g of Tomato seed and 900 g of Capsicum which is about 50% better than the 2021/22 season with plenty of scope for improvement next year.
What’s Coming Up This Year?
My goal is to make Seeds of Plenty the go-to place for tomato seeds in Australia and over time I hope to have the largest range of tomato seed available in Australia and to keep offering new and interesting tomato varieties year after year.
This year we’re continuing our love affair with planter bags. The soil in Nillumbik (Our area of Melbourne) Is just too poor for reliably growing tomatoes in the field. At our new patch, instead of 25 litre grow bags we are upscaling to 75 litre bags. These are better suited for larger plants and should give us capacity to grow more vining tomatoes and maybe a few enormous hot chilli plants. 75 litres x 850 bags equals a lot of soil to move, and I’ve told my Personal Trainer that I might not need his services over the next few weeks.
All going well setting up the greenhouses, we will hopefully start selling seedlings at local farmers markets in late September until early November. Not sure exactly which markets yet, but we will be specialising in Tomato seedlings and hope to offer a mix of people’s favourite heirlooms as well as some of our newer offerings. Growing plants for sale is not something that I have done before so I am excited to see how we do.
Thanks again for your continued support and taking the time to read this article. There have been a lot of changes at Seeds of Plenty over the last couple of years and perhaps now I feel like we have moved on from that difficult time in 2021 and will be able to write more regularly.
Happy Gardening Everyone.
12/07/2023 Additional Changes
Well as fate would have it. A week after I wrote this article, we were advised that our site in Yarrambat couldn’t be used next season. To cut a long story short we ended up moving our whole plot of 800 planter bags to our new site in Research. (My arms are still recovering)
So now at our new site in Research we have about 1400 planter bags of various sizes. Whilst we still have our original patch at my place which will grow about 300 plants. All up about 1700 plants this season with the first seedlings being sown next Monday.