The ‘Secret Sauce’
I’ll admit it. I love getting compliments about my tomato starter plants. I love getting questions such as “how did you do that?” It’s a lot of fun to not only learn from other people, but also share that knowledge with others.
Done correctly, growing vegetable or tomato plants from seed can be a very rewarding experience. Like anything, it does take work and some dedication, but when the payoff is a vine-ripened tomato in the summer, it’s worth it.
The first time I tried growing tomato plants from seed came in 2005—and I’ll admit it—I had a great deal of “beginner’s luck.” I’m still not sure what I did, but fate smiled upon me that year when I produced the most absolutely gorgeous starter plants I’ve ever seen. Farmer Fred Hoffman even went so far as to proclaim them as “nursery quality stuff,” and I’ll admit, I was pretty darn proud of my accomplishment.
But, upon trying that same feat next year, I struck out. Similar disappointments followed. For whatever reason, I simply could not produce the same kind of plants that I had produced in my very first year of growing tomato plants from seed.
Until now, that is.
I’m not really sure, again, what I’m doing right this year but I’ve been rewarded with starter plants that are of “nursery quality” once again. Could it be the new-fangled fertlizer mix I’m using? The mix I call the “secret sauce?”
It’s not really a secret. In fact—it’s pictured to your immediate left. No it’s not the kegerator. The kegerator is what produces the “secret sauce” for me (and the wife that is Venus). Nope—the REAL “secret sauce” is what’s ON the kegerator. That is a bottle of Omega 666—the good stuff—purchased from Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply in the Nevada County hamlet of Nevada City.
I aquired this stuff completely by accident. I had intended to stop off at Eisley Nursery in Auburn, when Fred Hoffman inquired if I could buy him a bottle of Omega 666 at Peaceful Valley. And then he warned me it “wasn’t cheap.”
I had never heard of the stuff, but since I was going to be in the neighborhood anyway, I’d go ahead and buy it. The wife was in the market for blue and red potatoes anyway, and since Peaceful Valley stocked both varieties she was looking for, I figured I’d kill two birds with one potato…..ah…..stone.
Fred was right. The stuff isn’t cheap. A one gallon bottle will set you back a cool $40—not including tax. But—at the same time—this “all organic” product intrigued me. I’d done some research before visiting Peaceful Valley, and growers just RAVED about this stuff.
I’m not one of those “all organic” growers by the way. In my book it’s “whatever works.” Products with the name “Ortho” stenciled on them do not scare me, nor do I think they “poison the environment.” I’m always willing to try something new, so I decided to give Omega 666 a tryout in the garden.
This was one of those good calls. Combined with another powdered ingredient called “Maxicrop,” all sorts of vegetables starting popping out of raised planter beds. That included potatoes, several varieties of radish seed, peas, baby bok choi, lettuce, spinach, you name it.
At that point, I decided to use a weak solution of Omega 666 on the tomato and pepper seedlings growing in a spare bedroom. I had used fish emulsion fertlizer with limited success some years earlier, so why not Omega 666?
Given a choice—what would I use? Fish Emulsion Fertilizer or Omega 666? That’s a tough call. The economical (see = CHEAP) side of me loves the $3 price for a bottle of Fish Emulsion Fertilizer. Then again, Omega 666 doesn’t leave the spare bedroom smelling like DEAD FISH either. So, I think I’ll choose the non-smelly, expensive stuff.
If this success keeps up, I will again produce tomato plant starters that are of “nursery quality.” The plants that you see here were started from seed the weekend following the Super Bowl. I started twice-weekly feedings of Omega 666 in mid-March, soon after the seedlings were transplanted from peat moss pellets into regular starter cups.
I now have starter plants so lush and large that they’re hitting the tops of my grow lights. Better yet—they have the kind of strong and healthy stems that indoor growers pray for, but rarely see.
I don’t often endorse products on this blog. And I certainly don’t accept any payments. I’d be dragged before a Senate Rules Firing Squad for doing such a thing. But I will reccommend products that I think are useful. And—for me—this “not-so-secret-sauce” packs a punch that my garden really does like.
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