The secrets of growing high quality foods for the homeowner is simple: (1) organics, (2) water and (3) loving care. This particular growing area is inside a test “Grow Haus” with enriched dual beds, a roll up cover for natural rains, and an underground watering run off system. The elevation is 2050 feet, and the date is 06 August 2008.
I made a couple of errors. (1) I underestimated the size of the plants which now have a length of over 7 feet causing too much compactness by virtually the growing together of different varieties. Next year in a different bed I will space the plants 2X further apart, i.e.: 4′ stem to stem. (2) I will prune the plants for better airflow and train the plant straight up a pole vice the cages recommended. The cages, incidentally, were superb, but better suited for peppers, eggplants and shorter plants than these massive tomatoes.
Close inspection will show it is not just nitrogen causing lengthy growth. Note the close internodes and blocky stems. The overall organic balance was good. Shortly we will be discussing the construction of such a bed, and including the recipe for the growing medium.
My master plan was to grow for seeds this year; the lower tomatoes are what we first select for seeds being the earliest ripening fruits and the most perfectly formed. I planted Carpathian Pink, which is considered best tasting. These are a very old variety and one can note the top ridges indicating an older variety selection vice the adjacent Peron tomato, which is a smoother globe shape, draught resident variety, and good in the greenhouse winter months. These are slicing tomatoes. When grown in a winter solar greenhouse they will be average size and slow to grow since tomatoes require a long intense photoperiod. I only search out open pollinated plants.
The Roma paste tomatoes in the bushes are not a new variety. These have an excellent sweet flavor and will be tested for more success in the winter solar greenhouse.
Now is the time to collect your absolutely first growing and best health specimen –ripe tomatoes for seeds. Separate them, obtain a large can and place about two tomatoes in each separate can and write on the can in big bold ink what the variety is. Place the cans inside a garage and cover them. Do not place them in the greenhouse or you will attract undesirable bugs. If left outside the birds will clean you out. In about 3 or 4 weeks they will rot and smell- so much the better as this is the natural process. I will get back to you on how to process the seeds for next year this September.
The Carpathian variety disclosed some “cat facing” at one end of the growing bed that indicated a need for a bit more dolomite limestone. The ones at the other end of the bed did not exhibit this symptom. There was no splitting after the heavy downpours of rain.
Had I been more attentive I would have pruned out the lower stems almost touching the ground as they impede airflow at the base. Too much restrictive airflow in this area promotes whiteflies and mildew, which fortunately did not occur. My marigolds were choked out of course but the blue flowered Borage did compete and make good growth. I like to interplant plant Borage as it deters the tomato hornworm-which make good fish bait.
I want to show my strawberry-growing friends where your plants ought to be by now. The Ozark Beauty variety I recommended is teasing me with some nice fruits, but next season it will be overwhelming.
I am currently constructing a 10′ X 20′ Grow Haus for summer shade herbs and other joys. This will have a different construction from the initial Grow Haus as used above as each proto-type discloses better aspects. Of course while incorporation of better design in this 2nd model has prompted me to improve more on the formal garden area with another design as a true mini-solar greenhouse that many of my garden friends will enjoy for better production in their smaller garden spaces.
Tomato and other seeds may be purchased at: www.totallytomato.com
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COPYRIGHT 2008, Back2theLand, Mark Steel