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Tomato identification ideas

This year our tomatoes are all mixed up, save for the Eva Purple Balls which are distinct from the other three varieties. Even though I mapped out the plots, it appears things are askew. One year I had found the idea to cut out pieces of aluminum cans and, using a pen and a stack of newspaper underneath, sort of carve the tomato name into the aluminum. I then punched a hole in it and tied with string to the tomato cage. It worked well but was a bit tedious.

What ideas do you have for making variety tags that last a summer? (Note--these are varieties grown from seed, hence no pre-printed tag).

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  1. I possess the blackest of thumbs so it's only because this thread title appeared at the bottom right of the HC page that I am here. Fabric stores sell heavy plastic, and flannel-backed plastic, by the yard. Just buy 1/4 yard and cut into squares.
    You can write on it with magic marker, grease pencil, or paint, and easily punch holes. If you have only a few plants to label, save plastic lids from food containers and write on them. Use as is, or cut rectangles from the round lids.

    1. Use an old white vinyl miniblind. Take it apart and cut up the slats into plant marker lengths. You can probably find a free blind someplace like freecycle. Or cheap at a yard sale or your favorite big box discount store. Easily makes a huge supply of markers that are much better than cutting them out of random plastic lids or bottles. You'll have so many you won't mind marking all your seedlings when you start them, then just stick them in the garden. Just write on them with regular pencil or grease pencil. To reuse clean off with a scrubbie or one of those abrasive sponges.

      1. I make labels from cut up plastic milk bottles (the mini blind method also works well, I hear). But don't use ordinary "magic" markers. Sharpie makes an "Industrial" marker with "super permanent ink" that will stand up to sunshine and weather for the entire season. (I got mine at Staples.) Other manufacturers may have similar products.

        Since it is hard to find a label stuck into the ground when the vines have matured, I often wrap a piece of duct tape around the cage or fence supporting the plant at eye level, leaving a 2" flap, and write the variety name on that as well, using the same markers.

        1. Thanks for your responses. I did use a Sharpie marker on some blank plastic markers similar to those that come with vegetable starts. Didn't last very long before the marker faded from water and sun. I will look for the "industrial" marker and see if that fares better. Thanks!

          5 Replies
          1. re: gourmanda

            Here's another idea, if you can't find the right markers: Make a numbered list of your varieties. Then punch holes or cut slashes into the plastic to correspond to your list, which you can put into a baggie and hang somewhere in the garden, for easy reference.

            1. re: greygarious

              Oh. My. God. You are a genius grey! I could just hang said plastic from the tomato cage or pole.

              Snippet--good to know about the pencil. Whoulda thunk?

            2. re: gourmanda

              That's why I suggested pencil. It seems counter-intuitive, but plain old pencil lasts well. (Maybe not better than the industrial markers - haven't tried that.) It wouldn't have occurred to me but I got the tip (along with the vinyl blind tip) from a garden club presentation I went to.

              1. re: snippet

                I agree that pencil works well on the usual white plastic markers you get from garden stores, and from what you say on mini blinds too. Not so well on milk bottle plastic, which is why I switched to the 'industrial' markers.

                1. re: DonShirer

                  mm yeah, I can see where pencil wouldn't do squat on milk bottle plastic.

            3. Since I plant in grids, I just map it out. Row 1-column A, Row 1-column B, etc. So my paper lists :

              1A-Brandywine
              1B-Brandywine
              1C-Big Boy
              2A-Big Boy
              2B-German Johnson
              2C-Mr. Stripey

              And so on.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Jerseygirl111

                That's what I do -- I plan out the grid, then tape the map to the garage wall.