If you’ve ever neglected to label a tray of seeds, or mixed them, you understand the frustration of not knowing what will come up when.
When you grow tomatoes from seed it's easy to jumble varieties.
If you are growing other vegetables from seed, too, then you might have some real confusion on your hands.
Are those germinating seedlings tomatoes, bell peppers, squash, cucumbers, eggplant, or a mystery vegetable?
Not only are there good reasons to label your tomato seedling trays, but it's really easy to do ... once you have a system.
To know what you’ve got. Mark tomato varieties so you can plant them your pre-chosen spots in the garden, especially when you’ve started more than one or two varieties. Unmarked plants have less of a chance for success in the garden or on the patio.
To care for what you’ve got. Mark tomatoes to increase the likelihood that you’ll care for each variety as it needs. Heirloom tomatoes, for instance, can be more susceptible to diseases and need extra monitoring.
To track performance. Find out what varieties work best in your garden. Use your notes about starting dates, germination, hardening off and planting in the garden to maximize decisions in coming seasons.
What to use
Make free or inexpensive labels from popsicle sticks, plastic sticks cut from used yogurt containers, masking tape, ½” strips cut from aluminum pie pans, or write on the pots themselves (as in the case of plastic or paper cups or recycled cartons). You can also purchase garden labels at very low cost.
Best marking tools
What’s the point in labeling your tomatoes if markings get rubbed off when you handle the pots or rinsed off when you water the plants? Then, mid-summer you wonder which tomato varieties are which, creating all kinds of confusion. Use markers that are long-lasting, like garden marking pens (identified as "non-fading"), industrial strength paint markers, or Sharpie® Industrial pens (regular Sharpies® have been known to fade in 4-6 weeks).
Do it. You’ll be glad you did. Use a small notebook or even a loose sheet of paper. Record the following information:
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