Saturday, July 12, 2008

Instant Tomatoes

I decided a few days ago to begin growing replacement plants for the tomatoes and cucumbers. My rationale is that if I continue into mid October the original plants might run out of steam.
In addition to starting a few seeds, I cloned the Wayahead, Rutgers and Ugly Ripe tomatoes. In only six days all the cuttings have developed roots and have been potted into four inch pots. Additionally, several of the new plants already have blossoms. I know it says they should have been removed, but nothing ventured nothing gained. They turned out just fine.
I will let them develop in the small pots in a mixture of coco noir and perlite, then move them into the AutoPots when I want to replace the parent plants.
To tell the truth I was completely surprised at how quickly the roots developed in the greenhouse environment, as it normally takes about two weeks under normal conditions.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Early Tomatoes

In my post of April 26, 2008 I included a photo of the two plants above. They were both started from seed on March 24, 2008. The plant on the right was placed in the AutoPot and grown in the greenhouse, while the plant on the left was grown outdoors in the garden. In my post of April 17, 2008, I wrote that by using the AutoPot I hoped to have tomatoes by early July. Well, they arrived on time!!

The variety is Wayahead, which is a heirloom that was introduced in the 1920s. It is supposed to have small to medium size fruit, and that is exactly what I am seeing. The fruit is about the size that you would purchase pre-packaged in the supermarket, however, there the comparison ends. The skin is thin and the fruit is juicy and tasty. We had a supermarket tomato this week, and the skin was about 3/8" thick and the inside was dry and pasty.

There was an article in the local paper this week concerning local farmers competing to harvest the first sweet corn. The winner stated he planted an early variety that only grew three feet tall and had small ears, but it came early. I suppose he was willing to sacrifice size for speed. That is what I think you get when you plant these early tomatoes.

I must admit that they are the best looking tomatoes I have ever grown! Each tomato, on every truss, is absolutely perfectly shaped and blemish free. I have never achieved that outdoors in soil.

We have been picking cucumbers for a few days, and now we have tomatoes, so I guess replacing the swimming pool with the greenhouse was a good move. I sure don't miss the daily chore of maintaining the pool.

The Rutgers tomato in the greenhouse is not even thinking of ripening at this stage, and the fruit is slightly larger than the Wayahead. This is also a hierloom developed in the 1930s for the Campbell Soup Company. I guess I will have to wait awhile to try the "Jersey Tomato". As I have no idea of how long the plants will continue to produce, and it is fairly early in the season, I am cloning both plants to have replacements "standing by" for late season tomatoes.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Oh what a tangled web we weave

These cucumbers, according to the description on the package, were only supposed to need 18" to 24" of space and were bred to grow in containers. Well, the greenhouse is eight feet long, and they are now slightly short of both ends, and three or four feet off the floor. As it is only the first of July, I expect Tarzan, Jane and Cheeta will be living in the upper branches by the middle of August.
Being the first to admit that I have no clue as how to garden in a greenhouse; I decided I needed a book on the subject. The book I selected from the local library is The Complete Book of Greenhouse Gardening by Ian G. Walls. Although the book concerns itself mainly with soil gardening, I thought plants are plants when it comes to light, temperature and humidity. After reading about all the problems that must be addressed in soil gardening in a greenhouse, I wonder why on earth anyone would bother? Who the hell wants to heat soil to almost two hundred degrees to sterilize it? I'll stick to hydroponic gardening any day.
One thing I read got my attention; Mr. Walls wrote that cucumbers should not be pollinated, as it makes them bitter. Information I found from one of the Ag/Tech colleges said they should be pollinated. Who to believe? I decided to be lazy and not pollinate them because I noticed early on that the female flowers already had small fruit before I pollinated them. The information from the Ag/Tech college also advised that they do not need a lot of nitrogen, as it would make them grow more vine than cucumbers. I followed those directions and did not use a lot of nitrogen, and went heavy on potassium and phosphorus. I began to see the bottom leaves turning yellow. Nitrogen is a transferable element, and plants will draw it from the lower leaves and move it to the growing leaves where it is needed. My theory is that because the environment is very conducive to growing, these plants are determined to grow. So, I am adding slightly more nitrogen to the AutoPot reservoir. I am not concerned about any supposed lack of cucumbers, as there are more than we can use right now. I asked my wife to find our crock as the dill in the garden is just about ready and I am thinking Kosher dills, yum..