Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Plant choices for 2011

Today, the first of March, is the date I have been waiting for to start the greenhouse and garden tomatoes and peppers. The cucumbers will have to wait several more weeks before they are started.

I "bit the bullet" and purchased expensive hybrid greenhouse variety seeds to grow this year: Cobra, Trust and Tropic.

Cobra - A Hybrid Greenhouse Tomato. Cobra has gained strong recognition both in greenhouse and open field production. High yields of uniform glossy fruit. Large, round to oblong, 7 ounce fruit are firm, extremely resistant to cracking with excellent external quality. Tolerance to Tobacco mosaic virus. Start seed indoors 6 weeks before last frost. Maturity is 65-70 days from transplanting.

Trust - This variety has earned its reputation as one of the best greenhouse varieties in America. That is due to its heavy crops of large 8 to 10 oz. tomatoes that ripen to a uniform bright red. Firm fruits hold up well after harvest and plants are highly disease resistant, including protection against leaf molds. Indeterminate. 78 days.

Tropic - Strong vines with multiple disease resistance bear heavy yields of large, firm red fruit. Developed for Florida, it is resistant to gray leaf spot and leaf molds and tolerant to early blight. Well suited for pink harvest. Also used as a greenhouse tomato. Indeterminate. 80 days.

The Cobra and Trust seeds, with shipping, cost more than a dollar per seed. I found the Tropic at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and purchased a lifetime supply for about six dollars. It pays to shop around.

I now have enough AutoPots to completely fill both sides and the back of the greenhouse, so all of the warm season plants will be grown in AutoPots.

As I had great luck with the peppers in my soil garden last year, I decided not to use and drip ring systems in the greenhouse this year, and I will grow the peppers in the garden. Again this year I will be growing Giant Marconi and Corno Di Toro, as we absolutely love these varieties.

Additionally, I have started a few Super Beefsteak and Black Cherry tomato seeds for the soil garden.
If the price of fresh produce continues to rise it might be prudent to hire armed guards to patrol the garden and greenhouse. :-O

Ava and I planted the seeds today in Oasis horticubes moistened with dilute nutrient solution. From germination through the first transplant I will grow them using the 90 watt red/blue/white LED and a sixteen hour lighting cycle. Hopefully, by mid-March, the snow will melt and I will be able to set the seedlings in the greenhouse on sunny days when the temperature is above sixty five in the greenhouse. If we have an extended cool and cloudy period I will place the seedlings indoors under a 400 watt HPS grow light.

I am hoping to be able to plant two crops of tomatoes in the greenhouse this year. I just finished a book on vegetable breeding, and the author, a Ph D. in biology from Harvard, with twenty years experience as a geneticist, questions the hybrid tomato industry, as does another Ph D. plant breeder, as tomatoes are inbreeders. I intend to save and start seeds from these expensive hybrids, and see how the F2 generation grows.

As always, time will tell...

No comments: