Grafting Tomatoes

Ok as promised, I’m documenting the process of grafting tomatoes.  I started these from seed on February 4th.   The instruction handout from Territorial (my seed source for all of ’em) said to do the grafting when they have two true leaves and the stems are between 1.5 and 2 mm.  Well, I’m not sure if “two true leaves” means exactly two (as in one set) or two *sets* of true leaves, so we’re right in between that here.  And as for the diameter of the stems, well, the rootstocks are slightly smaller than the scion stock but they’re all around 2mm.

After re-reading the handout, I realized that I’d made a mistake in sowing the rootstock into a tray along with the scion stock as well as some eggplants — after grafting, the recovering seedling are supposed to be kept in a relatively dark place at 80F for a week, and with high humidity.  Uhh.. so I don’t want to do that to the eggplants and the few tomatoes I’m not going to graft.

So, unfortunately, this means I have to transplant/move my rootstocks to a new tray before I graft them.  There will be root disturbance.  But hey! They’re ROOTstocks, so, they oughta be able to handle that, right?  Let’s hope.  Here’s what I’m gonna do… Move 18 of the 19 rootstocks that are ready to graft into the tray on the right.  Then graft.

I’m frickin terrified of this


Ok so I did that.  Since there were only 18 I put them in groups of 6 so I could easily access them to do the actual cutting and pasting.  Root disturbance was variable and honestly, having transplanted approximately five zillion tomatoes over the course of my life I don’t feel like any of them will suffer too greatly.

All moved

Oh and yeah, we’re doing this in the kitchen.  Don’t tell David.  He’s in Astoria tonight playing a gig with KFH so I can make a mess of his kitchen. I’ll clean tomorrow before he gets home.

By the way if you’re curious what I’m using for a rootstock, it’s Supernatural F1 from Territorial.  The packet says it has 20 seeds but it actually contained 19 (unless I lost one?).  I got 100% germination from those 19, but one of them took quite a bit longer than the others, and you can see that little baby in the pic here – it’s the little one in the upper left there.







One down.. This is Sungold

See how the rootstock is smaller diameter than the scion? I think that’ll end up being ok. I mean I hope.

This next one is Black Krim.  The scion has some anthocyanins that make it purple, and easy to differentiate from the rootstock.  I hope this is sufficient..



This is weird and sad, but necessary


all done


Sigh.. this is weird..

Ok, so now that it’s done, where do they go? Hey! It turns out that the top of the T-5 in my little grow-room in my office is a very warm and relatively dark-ish place.  Let’s do that.

It’s 75F up there


Oh yeah, I need to mention the process of labeling.  We like to make diagrams – I’ll just let this picture tell the story.  Here you can also see the carnage of the rootstock plants’ leaves.  Why does this make me feel so strangely sad? I think I’ll order another packet of rootstock seeds, because I’d like to try grafting some of the super-hot peppers my friend Justin wants me to grow, and I want to grow out one rootstock plant just by itself, to see what it’s like.


And then there’s this strange clear-cut, which is both painful and very hopeful.

Scion stock and the tomatoes that won’t get grafted

What’s hopeful (aside from the tomato seedlings here that will get to grow on happily) is that I get some more space in my seeding area to start new things! What should I start now? Flowers? Brassicas? More aubergines? I’ll think on this for a while but if anyone has any brilliant ideas I’m game.

Cross your fingers for these little guys…


See ya ’round!

February 2018 Post-Snowstorm Report

A rather unexpected late-February snowstorm! 5″ of snow and a low of 24F.  I have little to report from my own garden.  In fact, so little that I was considering not posting at all, but since this blog is supposed to serve as a record (at least to myself) of my garden, I figure I better grab a few pics and show them.

Early morning, February 22, 2018

The only thing outside I protected with Reemay was this little group of celery plants.  This pic shows them right after I pulled the Reemay off on Friday morning (3-4 layers).  Looks good! They’ll probably bolt come May but whatever.  I’ll start some new ones this week.

Celery, after 24F with Reemay

Purple sprouting broccoli sailed through it all with zero damage.


California poppy seedlings which sprouted in maybe November? are A-OK after getting snowed on.


Feverfew is sort of a special plant to me since it’s one of a very few that my birds don’t eat.  I have lots of this here and there; this one in the pot is probably the most vulnerable and look, it’s just fine:

Tanacetum parthenium

That’s it for marginally hardy stuff that stayed outside.  The only other thing of interest is this – one little flower cluster on my little baby Arctostaphylos x ‘Austin Griffiths’ – so cute!

Arctostaphylos x ‘Austin Griffiths’


So what did I bring in? I’ll tell you:

  • A flat of lettuce and allium seedlings that I sowed in January (they’d been out; just brought them in until it’s above freezing)
  • All the Iris x pacifica that Lance gifted me last fall after he divided his clumps
  • Colocasia ‘Midori Sour’ which had been in the garage most of the winter – I brought it back out during very warm weather in January and now right back in until it’s reliably above 40F at night
  • An ailing Ugni molinae that I nearly killed by letting it dry out and get cold over the last few months.  It might make it…
  • My baby Tetrapanax which has some young leaves I’d like to see it keep – in just for the one night it got down to 24F.

Here are a few of the above hanging out in my kitchen awaiting warmer days.

Colocasia ‘Midori Sour’ , Ugni molinae, and Iris x pacifica


Ok that’s it.  The snow is almost entirely gone and thankfully we didn’t get that cold east wind.  It’s almost as if nothing ever happened.  Whew!

Palm Springs, Part 3: Joshua Tree

Fun facts about Joshua Tree National Park!

  • U2’s album photographs were not from Joshua Tree National Park, but rather the band found this lone Yucca brevifolia out near Darwin, CA along Route 190, which is some 250 miles north of the park.
  • The nearly 800,000-acre National Park is larger than the state of Rhode Island.
  • The whole big place is zone 8a-8b.  Maybe a couple of 9a spots on the fringes (Palm Springs is 9b with a couple 10a micros).

I’ll let you research the rest of what may be of interest; let’s get to pictures.

From where we stayed in Palm Springs it took maybe 45 minutes or so to get to the west entrance of the park.  From there, we drove in (with a couple stops along the way) to Hidden Valley where we took a roughly one-mile hike.

Et voilà.  The park’s namesake, Yucca brevifolia.  And indeed the leaves are indeed shorter than the familiar Y. gloriosa and Y. filamentosa and whatever else we might see more frequently.

I read somewhere that in parts of Joshua Tree, the natural plant combinations can have the look of an intentionally designed and planted garden.  Turns out that’s true! I was immediately drawn to this plant against that plant, time and time again.  It’s like Oudolf was here…

Okay, this next is just one plant but I loved it against the rocks with its excitement of flower stalks.


At one point, I kept noticing a very lovely honey-like fragrance, but I couldn’t see any flowers.  In fact, it seemed to emanate from this dead-looking Senegalia greggii (I think) with all the odd growths on it.

Turns out those growths are indeed a different plant: Phoradendron californicum, one of the many mistletoes native to North America. See the tiny yellow bits? Those are the flowers and they are deliciously fragrant.  It’s a hemiparasitic plant which means that it does its own photosynthesis but it gets water and nutrients from the host plant.


Aside from ubiquitous Yucca brevifolia the creosote bush, Larrea tridentata, is one of the most common shrubs here.  It’s reminiscent of Scotch broom and a tiny-leaved Ceanothus at once.

For some reason I like this growth habit.

Neato black stripes on many of its branches.  Are those scars? Growth “rings”? Is this thing really that old? I have no idea but I like it.

Pinus monophylla made an appearance.

And there was quite a bit of Quercus cornelius-mulleri, a very satisfying evergreen oak which I found was generally shrubby with good form., often growing in very rocky areas.

I’m going to let the rest of this post be a photo essay and not bother you with any more words.


Ok I lied.  I’ll come back and label all of these once I get positive IDs for the plants.

I hope you enjoyed these pics.  Back to the wet, gray Northwest for a while now!