I've already started some of my seeds this year in the basement.
I plan to be better prepared both in the varieties I grow and the bed they're planted in this year. I've done a lot of research over the winter to increase my production. Now, it's time to put those plans into results.
First, I'll need an area about 10' x 20'. I'd like a larger area, but I want to grow a few other veggies in the potager too. I'll till this bed to at least 12" deep. I'll need to incorporate a lot of composted leaves rather than using it as a mulch like I did last year. I will mix in a fair amount of lime in the form of wood ashes from the heater downstairs. I'll install soaker hoses before I plant anything. And I'll use the Florida Weave for supporting the plants. Straw will be used to mulch after planting. I want to produce enough to can for the winter months when grocery store tomatoes just won't do.
As for varieties, I've got some standards that do well in the South and a few that I have never grown nor tasted.
Beefsteak: Red. 12-16 oz fruit. Indeterminate. 60-90 DTM. Great for slicing and sandwhiches.
Rutgers: Red. 6 oz fruit. Determinate. 75 DTM. For canning. Abundant supply.
San Marzano: Red. 4 oz fruit. Indeterminate. 85 DTM. Best choice for sauces and canning. A Roma style tomato.
Bursztyn: Orange. 8-12 oz fruit. Indeterminate. 69-85 DTM. Slicing, salads, and canning.
Green Zebra: Green with yellow stripes. 6 oz fruit. Indeterminate. 78 DTM. Tart and acidic. Should be good for salads and canning.
Hawaiian Pineapple: Yellow-Orange. 12-16 oz fruits. Indeterminate. 93 DTM. Very sweet.
I've got other varieties as well, but these are my main focus. In addition, there are lots of cherry tomatoes, black cherry, sweet 100s, yellow pear, purple cherry, Italian cherry, and many others. The traders at GardenWeb.com have been extremely generous. One or two plants of each should suffice.
In another week, I should be able to repot the seedlings that have germinated. They'll first go into 20 ounce drink cups. This will allow me to fill in with more soil as the plants grow creating deep, strong roots. I'll use 'supercropping' to bruise the main stems keeping them stronger and shorter until they are planted outside. It's a method developed by a certain herbaceous growing society that hides everything in foil lined closets under very bright lights. Since the two plants are related genetically, whatever works for them should work with tomatoes. I'll go into more detail with that as the last weeks of winter turn to spring.
Enough talk. My mouth is watering just thinking about the sweet, juicy tomatoes I'll be harvesting this summer.
It's 43 degrees, overcast and drizzly. More rain is expected this afternoon with lows tonight just above freezing.