Monday, April 18, 2011

More tomato tests.

Like everyone else I am anxious to begin the new gardening season, however, I am starting very slowly this year as the weather has been unpredictable.

The night temperatures have been running in the lower thirties, so I have been bringing the tomato plants into the greenhouse during the day, and returning them to the indoor growing area in the evening.

In spite of my near disaster with damping off; this year's plants are among the best ever. They have developed to the point that I must either plant them in autopots, or transplant them again into larger pots. The plants intended for the garden have already been transplanted to larger pots, but I have been holding off on the greenhouse plants waiting for better weather.

Today I planted a Cobra tomato plant in my home built autopot and filled the reservoir. Drip line valves have been placed in the feed lines so that I can control the flow of nutrients to each of the trays, and I am only running nutrients to this one system. I will risk the elements and leave this one system in the greenhouse at night, as long as there is no danger of a freeze.

This year I will be taking a more conservative approach to nutrient levels, so from transplant to second cluster I will maintain the level between 800 and 1,100 TDS. The reservoir, as it now stands, is at 817 with a pH of 6.1, which is exactly on target. Additionally, I will run two different types of nutrients to determine if nutrients intended strictly for tomatoes produce better results than general purpose nutrients.

The plant in the lower photo is a Burpee Super Beefsteak that I originally intended for the garden. I only planted two of these, and both plants are very very impressive. I intend to grow one of the Super Beefsteak tomato plants in the greenhouse to compare to the high priced hybrids bred for greenhouse growing. As usual, time will tell..

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