Giant Stars and Tomatoes

Admittedly a huge stretch, but why not?  Reach for the stars, maybe hit the moon…

As I’m working on stabilizing several crosses I’ve made among giant tomato varieties over the years, it’s become time to assign variety names to them.

Here is

RW Cephei

Yes – named after a hyper-giant star, descended from a cross I made on July 27, 2014. This specimen now measures to 3.27 lbs.(185.0 X 146.4 X 116.2 mm, 21.5″ circumference), though I’m going to put my best guess at 2.94 lbs., as most of my giant tomatoes this year have had significant hollowness in most seed locules – why, what causes this I do not know!  Any ideas?  This specimen will go to the local weigh off on October 7th, after which I will post the actual, certified weight. Original cross was between Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy 2013) – the parent of Dan MacCoy’s world record 8.41 MacCoy 2014 – and Brutus Magnum, from 6.25 Meisner 2011.

[Update 10-07-2017: on 10-04-2017, this tomato measured 192.0 X 167.8 X 115.5 mm (L X W X H), which, using formulae described a few years ago here (search “Estimating Tomato Weights”), yields an estimated weight of 3.866 lbs.  It also measures 22.5 inches in circumference.  But because of moderately deep lobing, I’ll estimate 3.65 lbs.  We’ll know for sure in about 12 hours!  There is also a Domingo that ought to just break 3 lbs. – I’ll give it a 3.08]

And

Westerlund 1-26

Westerlund 1-26 (3.698 DT 2015)

Westerlund 1-26 (3.698 DT 2015)

This one is from a cross I made on August 01, 2014 between Bigzarro and Delicious (6.51 Meisner 2011).  Several growers have remarked that this line produces huge, healthy vines with thick stems and many tomatoes in the 2-3 lb. range.  Of course getting to 5+ lbs. requires heavy pruning and thinning, along with special techniques which I largely have not yet employed in my tomato growing.

Several more star names are in queue to use for giant tomato crosses, once they show real promise.

Saturday September 23rd was the first weigh off event of the Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers, which included a new Utah State Record pumpkin (1,974 lbs. by Matt McConkie) and squash (1068.5 lbs. by Gordon Tanner), but not a state record tomato 😦  My submitted tomato, Domingo (2.80 DT 2017)(4.95 Lai 2016), was second to Ralph and Jauna Laub’s Big Zac (2.920 Laub 2017)(5.39 Reinhart).  Full results at: http://www.utahpumpkingrowers.com/2017/results_2017.html

Change of topic, or at least sub-topic –

Today, after more than two months of pedal-to-the metal tomato harvesting and processing for seed saving, I finally feel that I’m over the hump and am in the home stretch.  I only have about 93 varieties left from which I need to save seeds, out of 325 among over 700 vines.

Here is a sample of a day’s work, processing tomatoes for fermentation and seed extraction.

And one of 211 pictures taken:

Slankard’s (1.468 DT 2017)

Slankard’s is just one of dozens of fabulous tasting tomatoes I’ve sampled this year, by the way.  I’ll need to summarize that information within a few weeks, as I still have HUNDREDS of batches of seeds drying on plates – actually every plate I have is full, as I just cannot keep up with packaging this time of year:

Trying to get this 2017 seed saving project finished up as soon as possible – seeds packaged and inventoried, germination tests completed, 5,161 new (2017 to date) pictures named and organized, descriptions transcribed, histories researched and information posted on the website…

So, it rather goes without saying, any support you are able to provide for this massive project of preserving and propagating heirloom seeds from around the world (close to 3,000 total varieties in inventory now, including 2,000 tomato) would be greatly appreciated – something for something at:

http://www.delectationoftomatoes.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html

And of course let your gardening friends in on this excellent source for a wide variety of garden seeds from around the world!

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First Ripe Tomatoes of 2017

 

Now that the dust has settled from the spring and early summer planting season, my tally shows that I have planted 878 tomato vines of 426 varieties in 6 locations.  My goal, some day soon, is to plant in only one location, and also to LIVE at that location.  This itinerant farmer business is SO inefficient…

In spite of a number of setbacks this Spring (including the death of more than 700 tomato seedlings), tomatoes are finally starting to ripen in Utah County.  I am becoming convinced that advertised DTM’s (Days to Maturity) are only ballpark estimates, and are perhaps valid only under nearly ideal conditions:

  • Roots of seedlings are never allowed to be restrained, as happens in plug trays or when left in small pots for more than two weeks
  • Soil temperature is never allowed to fall below 55° F or so
  • Daytime temperatures include at least 6-8 hours in the 70-85° range every day; nothing over 93° though
  • NO sitting in cold, wet water
  • Excellent soil – good tilth, lots of organic matter, trace minerals, good nutrition, proper pH (6.5 range, give or take a few tenths)
  • Appropriate watering – roots need oxygen, so not too much water; and around here, well and irrigation water are often too alkaline for top performance

Some formula for cumulative heat at the root level might be a very good prediction of DTM, still dependent upon variety, of course.  A well managed greenhouse or high tunnel would be an excellent strategy for getting early tomatoes.  Some day…

Anyhow, here are the earliest ripening varieties of 2017

60 days: Maddeline’s Vine Candy, Orange Bourgoin, Утёнок (Utyonok)

61 days: Black Cherry, Hagan Little Yellow, Малина Трестон  (Malina Treston)

69 days: Голубой лес (Goluboy Les), Gladiator (hybrid), Indigo Black Shadow, Канары  (Kanary), Маршал Победа (Marshal Pobeda), Скуби (Skubi), Слава Молдовы (Slava Moldovy)

70 days:  Tomatoberry, Sub Arctic 2, Aussie Drops

74 days: Jaune Flammee, Китайский обсыпной малыш (Kitayskyi Obsypnoy Malysh), Командор фортуна (Komandor Fortuna), Низкорослый сверхранний (Nizkoroslyi Sverkhrannyi)

I am not at the farm every day, so these are just estimates.  Lots more to come.  There are several thousands blossoms that have recently set fruit, following a few days of cooler weather (highs below 95°) and storms 7-12 days ago.

Orange Bourgoin:

Goluboy Les:

Indigo Black Shadow:

Perhaps the most unusual blossoms I have ever seen on a Monica (F2) plant.  This is a determinate, Roma-style tomato, and I’ve been trying for four years to get this stubborn variety to produce seeds.  Blossoms seem to have leaf tissue for sepals, and the sepals are mostly fused.  The reproductive parts are tiny, not at all like a typical tomato.  Oddly, there are a couple of fruits growing on this vine.  But I don’t see how most of these blossoms could possibly get pollinated.

To date, the most impressive megabloom has not been from among the 48 tomato vines that are part of the 2017 giant tomato project in the high tunnel.  It’s from one of my new acquisitions from Russia, Серебрянный ключ. which transliterates to Serebryanyi Klyuch and translates to Silver Key.  All I know about this variety so far is that it has regular leaves and my source reports, “Medium tall vines, fruits are large, red, round and flattened with thick; meaty and tasty flesh.”

It remains to be seen whether this impressive 8X (or more) megabloom can set fruit in hot weather and nobody there to hand pollinate it several times.  (PS – blossom dead four days after this photo)

One megabloom that DID set fruit was a 4X on a Ранняя любовь (Rannyaya Lyubov, First Love) vine:

And another 7X blossom that is in the process of setting fruit on a Tamara vine:

4 days later:

Tamara 7X 8-02-2017 D rev

Updates about the 2017 Giant Tomato Project will be made to that Blog post shortly:

https://delectationoftomatoes.wordpress.com/2017/06/09/giant-tomato-project-2017/

I spent several days tying up tomato vines that were, in some rows, a solid jungle-like tangle of tomato vines.  With recent rains, many of the vines had put down roots in the pathways – variety shown here is Joe’s Plum, but there were many more:

And anyone who has gone swimming in tomato vines knows how dirty your hands can get.  I use a rough rock for scrubbing my hands under running water to remove the glue-like tomato vine residue.  Loop ties on wrist are known as “Tu-It Ties” from the Klipon company in New Zealand.

Among the 59 late, small tomato seedlings transplanted on July 7th, only one (Yellow Out Red In) died.  Here’s what this patch looks like, just 25 days after transplanting:

Most of these have blossoms, or at least buds already.  Since I don’t plan on installing supports for these vines, I’m trying a new way to label them – attaching plastic tags directly to the vines using a hole punch and a loop tie:

Coincidently (or not), the most impressive blossom at the smaller garden in Utah County is also on a Serebryanyi Klyuch, a developing 4X megabloom:

This large 2X blossom on an Abkhaziya Rozovaya (Абхазия розовая; Abkhazia pink) vine also shows some promise:

Also on July 29th, I transplanted a late-late batch of 16 tomato seedlings to replace varieties that had perished.

The healthiest among these  is Dark Queen.  This seedling is just 34 days from seed sowing indoors:

Here’s what’s left of my 2017 hot pepper project; hot pepper plants REALLY dislike cool weather:

And a few other items:

Blossoms Anasazi Blend runner beans vines:

Three varieties of corn planted on July 13th; Hopi Purple, Joseph’s Landrace Popcorn, and Seneca Sunrise:

Cucurbits planted on July 13th –

Squash, Hopi Pale Gray:

Squash, Striata d’Italia (yes, this is just 19 days from seed sowing – the warmth and summer rains make a huge difference):

Melon, Yubari King (not expecting $100 per melon, but that would be very nice…):

Watermelon, Klondike:

Watermelon, Densuke did not germinate, but here is a struggling Hokkaido watermelon seedling planted a month earlier, which may be the same variety:

And Japanese Giant Red Mustard greens – very flavorful:

Now poised to have the work of harvesting tomatoes for seed saving dominate my life for the next four months…

 

 

 

Late Start with Replacement Tomato Vines

At least 70 tomato varieties that I planted in March and April perished due to cold weather and inadequate care – mostly damping off disease.

So on May 29th, I replanted two seeds of each of those 70 varieties.  The extreme heat has been just about as rough on them as were the cold and wet conditions of a couple of months ago.  I transplanted one seedling each of those varieties that survived in Cedar City; but the deer and rabbits promptly destroyed about half of those.

So over the weekend, I planted what I had left, 57 varieties, in my sister’s garden in American Fork.

These are laid out in a 6X11 grid, 22″ from neighboring vines – very tight, but that’s all the space that was available.

In the other spots, I planted hills of Densuke watermelon and Yubari King melon seeds.  I’m very curious to see whether they live up to their claim of outstanding flavor!  And I only WISH I could charge $100+ per melon…

At Fumarole Farm, there are some moderate disease and bug problems, but overall, the plants are doing well in the 5-gallon buckets:

Contenders for first ripe tomato of the season include:

Utyonok –

Ditmarsher –

and Forest Fire –

 

 

Plants in the Ground for 2017 Season

Update on Fumarole Farm project

Financially I am not able to install electricity (solar, wind turbine or otherwise), Internet service, greenhouses, a way to filter or distill the extremely hard water, amendments to the dense alkaline and salty clay soil, or protection for my seed inventory out in the harsh desert 30 miles away from where I live.  But this is what I can do for now.

Water barrels, a 275-gallon caged water tank, dozens of 5-gallon plastic buckets, around 60 tomato and pepper seedlings, and transportation of barrels of fresh water from my apartment.

We spent a long time scraping up very old sheep manure from the desert floor several miles away from the hot springs, then mixing it with potting mix that I purchased, filling buckets, and transplanting.

Buckets are inside of a goat corral (minus the goats) with the hope that the fence will keep out some of the local critters, and maybe even dissuade some of the local yahoos (of which there seems to be an abundance) from stealing what is not theirs.

Since Fumarole Farm has turned out to be a very risky place to plant, none of these tomato and pepper varieties is needed for seed production.  The first tomato variety to produce blossoms here was Ditmarsher.

Main Tomato Project

For the main tomato project for seed propagation, more than 600 seedlings died before we could even get them in the ground, or shortly thereafter.  Here is a picture of some of the cenotaphs, so to speak:

These are labels from the 12 prized giant tomato seeds that never emerged – see previous blog post.

Why did so many seedlings die?

  1. I was not personally there to take care of them
  2. I cut corners by adding bagged “top soil” to the potting mix, which may have introduced some disease
  3. We set freshly potted up seedlings in full sunshine when it was 65-70° F rather then moving them back indoors
  4. Seedlings were exposed to cold, wet rainy conditions with soggy cold soil – a perfect recipe for rampant damping-off disease
  5. I was more than a month late getting the high tunnel constructed; but once it was, the losses dropped off dramatically
  6. Pepper seedlings were transplanted directly from plug trays into the south bed of the high tunnel; about 4″ of fresh horse manure (but it was free…) was broadcast and tilled in, leading directly to about 50% mortality of seedlings
  7. In addition to the horse manure, about 1/3 of the pepper seedlings were transplanted directly into raw, fresh, urine-laden goat manure; 100% of those seedlings promptly died.

Note to self: Don’t even THINK about transplanting peppers into the garden until at least the first week of June, and NEVER use fresh, urine-soaked goat manure, at least not at this concentration.

The main tomato patch is located in Pleasant Grove on the same piece of land as the high tunnel and the giant tomato project.  Here are a few pictures showing installation of drip tubing and transplanting.

Many hours of repair work required to get the drip tubing in decent shape again.  The first seedling to produce blossoms in this main project was Biyskiy Rozan ( Бийский розан ):

With the hundreds of lost seedlings, on May 29th I made a final attempt to be able to save seeds from 70 tomato varieties that were no longer represented in the main tomato project.

May 30th:

Yesterday (May 8th), I potted up the 96 seedlings that emerged; hopefully the other 44 will germinate soon.

With warmer weather now, I am hoping for a far better survival rate.  But where to plant them??

I had some extra seedlings that I could not sell, so I potted up about 40 tomato and pepper seedlings into larger pots of various sizes and placed them outside my apartment window.  Here they are on May 27th:

And here they are 13 days later, most of them already outgrowing at least the 1-gallon pots:

The first blossom, as well as the first megabloom of the year, was on Rosella Purple – a dwarf version of Cherokee Purple (and no, I’m not expecting this to become my first 3-pounder of the year):

In a couple of weeks, once I determine which seedlings are likely to survive, I will post an updated list of all the varieties that are going in the ground this year and are likely to produce tomatoes for seed saving and sharing.

 

 

Giant Tomato Project 2017

I have not been able to focus on a Giant Tomato Project since 2014.  Although I got a good start in 2015, I was forced to abandon that in mid-August.

So here we go for 2017!  Not ideal conditions, as I live more than two hours away and will only be able to tend these plants a few days per month; but I can still hope for something in the 4-5 lb. range, as well as plenty of otherwise BIG tomatoes for fresh eating, etc.  Sure, I would love to break the world record (currently at 8.61 lbs.), but given the circumstances, I’m not going to indulge in that delusion.

I will revise and update this particular blog post throughout the growing season with noteworthy developments.

First – where to grow them?  A new high tunnel in Pleasant Grove, dimensions 55′ X 14′.  Here’s the beginning of that, cutting lumber and prepping the ground on April 21st.

The completed high tunnel is shown in a previous post.

Taking a cue from the successes and advice of several other giant tomato growers, I did not start any seeds for this project until the first day of May.  Using 24 one-gallon pots for the more “precious” seeds, I filled pots mostly full with rich potting mix, made a depression, added sterile seed starting mix, some mycorrhizal fungal spores, then more seed starting mix, then the seeds.  The idea is to start seeds in a sterile, nutrient-free medium, but have plenty of nutrition available as the seedlings grow, without the need to pot them up – and thereby disturb tender young roots – prior to transplanting them into the garden.

May 10th, filling in with more potting mix to encourage root grow along stems and moving young seedlings out to sit on the pickup truck to get their first taste of natural sunlight.

Only 12 of 24 seedlings in the gallon pots ever emerged; 11 of the 12 no-shows were all from the same source.

May 18th – young seedlings for this project and preparing the soil with about 4″ of horse manure – that might be too fresh but it was free.

Arrangement of high tunnel:

Two paths, 2′ wide and depressed about 8″.
North bed, 2-1/2 feet wide, planted with melons and cucumbers
South bed, 2-1/2 feet wide, planted with peppers and eggplant
Center bed, 5′ wide, giant tomato project with two rows, seedlings placed 2′ apart along double drip hoses with emitters aligned.

June 2nd, 32 days from seed sowing – prepping and amending soil (organic products only in this business – see OMRI labels), laying out drip hoses and transplanting.  Trenches dug, soil removed and mixed with amendments of peat moss and Ecoscraps Compost.  Additional mycorrhizal fungal spores added at the base of each seedling and trenches eventually filled in with the mixture as well.

I managed to squeeze in 48 seedlings for this giant tomato project of 28 different varieties and/or lineages as follows (20 duplicates not listed):

Anzhela Gigant Ukrainskaya (1.292 DT 2016)
Belmonte X Big Zac (2.962 DT)(1.982 DT 2016)(F2)
Bezrazmernyi (3.364 DT 2014)
Big Zac (2.130 DT 2016)(6.16 Foss)
Big Zac (2.784 DT 2015)(8.41 MacCoy)
Bigzarro (3.754 DT 2014)
Bill Bean Select
Chilo della Garfagnana (3.560 DT 2014)
Chudo Sada (Shlomin 2013)
Church (3.36 Perry 2008)
Delicious (3.205 DT 2014)
Domingo (3.016 Schielke 2014)
Domingo (4.647 DT 2014)
Domingo (4.938 Lai 2016)
Domingo (V. Domingo 2014)
Donskoi (3.108 DT 2014)
Gigantamo (M. Johnson 2016)
Hoy X Delicious (6.51 Meisner)(1.988 DT 2015)(F2)
MegaMarv (4.08 Khilenko 2016)
Megazac (6.13 Konieczny 2016)
Michael’s Portuguese Monster X Delicious (6.51 Meisner)(3.698 DT 2015)(F2)
Michael’s Portuguese Monster X MegaMarv (2.030 DT 2015)(F2)
Rebecca Sebastian’s Bull Bag X Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy)(1.724 DT 2015)(F2)
Russian Oxheart (1.95 Spaziani 2015)
Shuntuski Velikan X Big Zac (3.75 Catapano)(2.174 DT 2015)(F2)
Wes X Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy)(1.542 DT 2014)(F1)
West Virginia Sweetmeat (3.312 DT 2014)
Zaczilla (1.832 DT 2016)

= = = = =

Update June 16, 2017

High tunnel tied open and shade cloth installed just ahead of potentially 100° plus weather:

This setup of shade cloth over a high tunnel was reasonably successful for producing giant tomatoes three years ago, so why not try again?

Plus adjustments made with drip system, as the south row was getting little water.

Healthiest looking seedlings and developing megablooms inside the high tunnel include:

Bezrazmernyi (3.364 DT 2014)
Безразмерный translated to Dimensionless:

Bigzarro (3.754 DT 2014)

Bill Bean Select:

Megazac (6.13 Konieczny 2016):

Michael’s Portuguese Monster X Delicious (6.51 Meisner)(F2), with the largest seedling and most impressive megabloom developing:

Outside the high tunnel in the main tomato patch, a very impressive cluster of flower buds, including a megabloom, is forming on a Russkiy Razmer Rozovyy vine.
Русский размер розовый translates to Russian Size Pink.

— Two photos of this same plant on 7-10-2017:

And the largest vine to date, though without megablooms, is Staroobryadcheskyi; Старообрядческий translates to Old Believers:

= = = = = = = = = =

Update July 9-10, 2017

Returning to the Giant Tomato Project after three weeks absence, I find a high tunnel almost overrun with gangly tomato vines.  I had pruned all of them to 1 or 2 stems, but they have grown like weeds!

All except two vines (Chilo della Garfagnana and Church) which got hit with Curly Top Virus (as did another 42 in the main tomato patch)

First pruning and tying up on July 10th – all but two stems per vine terminated.

In the high tunnel, where the Giant Tomato Project is, these are the fruits which have developed from megablooms and show some promise for growing large.

Russian Oxheart (4.66 Spaziani 2016), 2X

Zaczilla (1.832 DT 2016), 3X

Michael’s Portuguese Monster X Delicious, 3X

Gigantamo, 2X

Delicious (3.205 DT 2014), 3X

Dozens of blossoms, including megablooms, have burned up in the hot sun – not so surprising considering that 13 of the past 20 days have topped out at 94-105°F

In the main tomato patch, a good-sized double blossom set fruit on a Bukharskoye Bych’ye Serdtse vine:

A couple of megblooms in the main tomato patch:

MegaMarv (Khilenko 2016), 4X – but yellowish tinge indicates it may be headed to aborting.

Rufus Carrigan’s Mexican Pink, 3X

But presently, the best megabloom is a 4X on a Michael’s Portuguese Monster vine in my sister’s garden:

This is from the same seed that produced a 3.754 pound Utah state record largest tomato in 2014. (Note – this blossom withered and died in the heat a few days after this picture was taken)

= = = = = = = = = =

Update July 01, 2017

After tying up and pruning vines, here’s what the giant tomato project looks like 89 days after seed sowing – note that nearly all vines are already past the top tier of twine, with Bill Bean Select topping out with the longest vines.  With 90 days or so of growing remaining, it’s gonna be a jungle in there:

I have thinned off about 60 tomatoes so far, leaving one, the largest or most promising looking tomato per truss.  Here are the three largest fruits so far.

Russian Oxheart (4.66 Spaziani) 2X fruit:

Big Zac (2.784 DT)(8.41MacCoy 2014):

Bezrazmernyi (3.364 DT 2014):

The most promising looking tomato in this project is a very small 4X fruit on a Domingo vine, grown from seeds received directly from Vincenzo Domingo:

As indicated in another blog post, https://delectationoftomatoes.wordpress.com/2017/08/01/first-ripe-tomatoes-of-2017/

At this point, the most impressive megablooms and developing fruits are not even part of the giant tomato project.

Serebryanyi Klyuch:

Tamara:

Rannyaya Lyubov:

New High Tunnel Now Up and Working in Utah County

This one is 55′ long by 14′ wide and is modeled after this “Low Cost High Tunnel” design:

http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1296&context=extension_curall

With these modifications:

• Ribs are spaced 2-1/2″ apart, rather than 3′
• Rebar anchors are 3-1/3′ long, rather than 2′, and protrude 15″ out of the ground
• Purlin is made of 1-1/2″ PVC pipe, rather than 1″
• Purlin is supported every 8-10′ with 1-1/2″ PVC pipe, anchored 2′ into the ground
• Junctions are made with PVC pipe tee’s, knotted baler twine and Gorilla tape
• Tie-down twine is doubled so plastic can be held more securely against ribs

Hopefully these design improvements will help the tunnel withstand high winds and heavy snows without adding much additional cost. Total cost for this tunnel was around $850. Assuming, of course, that labor costs are $0.00 per hour.

 

See prior blog posts for the varieties of tomatoes and peppers that are being grown this year.

Based on advice and very positive results from world-class giant tomato growers, I started seeds for my giant tomato project on May 1st. Here is a list of varieties (including lineage) in the primary batch:

Big Zac (6.88 MacCoy 2014)
Bigzarro (3.754 DT 2014)
Domingo (4.647 DT 2014)
Domingo (4.938 Lai 2016)
Domingo (5.95 Konieczny 2016)
Megadom (5.61 Konieczny 2016)
MegaMarv (4.08 Khilenko 2016)
MegaMutt (D Konieczny 2016)
Megazac (6.13 Konieczny 2016)
Megazac (6.23 Konieczny 2016)
Michael’s Portuguese Monster X Delicious (6.51 Meisner)(F2)
Russian Oxheart (4.66 Spaziani 2016)
Slammer (4.80 Konieczny 2016)

These I started in 6″ (“Gallon”) pots with my usual blend as potting mix, including a 1/2-cup sized depression to which I added mycorrhizal fungal spores and fine seed propogation mix.

The secondary list for the giant tomato project:

Anzhela Gigant Ukrainskaya (1.292 DT 2016)
Belmonte X Big Zac (2.962 DT)(1.982 DT 2016)(F2)
Bezrazmernyi (3.364 DT 2014)
Bezrazmernyi X Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy)(1.720 DT 2015)(F2)
Big Zac (2.130 DT 2016)(6.16 Foss)
Big Zac (2.784 DT 2015)(8.41 MacCoy)
Bill Bean Select
Brutus Magnum (2.976 DT 2014)
Brutus Magnum X Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy)(1.470 DT 2015)(F2)
Chilo della Garfagnana (3.560 DT 2014)
Chudo Sada (Shlomin 2013)
Church (3.36 Perry 2008)
Delicious (2.868 DT 2014)
Delicious (3.205 DT 2014)
Domingo (3.016 Schielke 2014)
Domingo (3.69 Johnston 2015)
Domingo (V. Domingo 2014)
Donskoi (3.108 DT 2014)
Gigantamo (M. Johnson 2016)
Hoy X Delicious (6.51 Meisner)(F2)
Ispanskiy Gigant (1.632 DT 2016)
Krupnaya Grozd’ (Khilenko 2015)
MegaMarv (2.332 DT 2012)
Michael’s Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012)
Michael’s Portuguese Monster X Delicious (6.51 Meisner)(F2)
Michael’s Portuguese Monster X MegaMarv (2.030 DT 2015)(F2)
Rebecca Sebastian’s Bull Bag X Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy)(1.724 DT 2015)(F2)
Russian Oxheart (1.95 Spaziani 2015)
Shuntuski Velikan X Big Zac (3.75 Catapano)(2.174 DT 2014)(F2)
Smith’s Southern Star (M. Johnson 2016)
Wes X Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy)(1.542 DT 2014)(F1)
West Virginia Sweetmeat (3.312 DT 2014)
Zaczilla (1.832 DT 2016)

These I started in 3-1/2″ pots using the same method and ingredients.

Problem is, I still don’t know where I will be growing these. It’s rather late in the game to be deciding this, but I am an itinerant farmer, after all.

And this morning I went to the local hardware store to pick up a lost part for the tiller; I could not resist purchasing yet another tomato variety, Buffalo (a hybrid):

I was likely in the middle of moving when the seed was planted which produced this large seedling!

 

First Ripe Tomatoes of 2017 – Red Robin

Well, almost ripe anyhow, 129 days from seed, 99 from potting up into 1-gallon pots.  These micro-dwarf tomato plants were grown indoors about 85% of the time, but have been moved in and out many times, as well being transported at least six times.

A couple more cold nights ahead, so once again I moved all seedlings into a small bedroom that is trying to function as a greenhouse:

When outside, this is the best I can manage for a greenhouse/high tunnel:

Gotta keep them away from the many dogs in the neighborhood.  There is no way to get the temperatures up into the 80-90° range, which would make them grow much faster than the mostly cool weather of late.  But they should be relatively hardy, at least.

Oh yes, as posted last week, I did attempt using a domed hoop house at Fumarole Farm for hardening off seedlings.  Disaster –

Pretty well roasted after just one day:

And toast after a week:

Of 72 seedlings in this trial, perhaps two pepper and 5 eggplant seedlings might pull through.  The design is great for growing through the winter, but there is no way to completely open up the plastic when the intense sunshine of this time of year jacks the temperature up to the 130° F range or higher.  Of course it might help if I lived where I grow instead of leaving tender young seedlings to the elements, unattended, for days at a time!