Main Production, 2015

This year’s main production will be at my cousin’s property and his neighbor’s, located about 40 miles south in the city of Pleasant Grove.  Total land area in cultivation will be close to one acre.

Still have 1200+ seedlings to go in the ground and another 600 or so hills of melons, squash and cucumbers to plant from seed.  Many more days of toiling in the hot sun still too go – 100°+ weather coming this weekend.  Window of opportunity closing rapidly.  Too exhausted at the moment to post pictures and such.

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Update 6-21-2015

With some great help from family members and relatives, all seedlings are in the ground, but 130+ hills of melons still to plant from seed.  Breakdown of what is planted at all three locations is, ballpark numbers:

Tomatoes: 2,000 of 700 varieties

Peppers: 600 of 150 varieties

Eggplant:  80 of 15 varieties

Cucurbits: 400 of 80 varieties

Lettuce, spinach, corn, beans, herbs etc.: 500+ of 60 varieties

At the base of majestic Mt. Timpanogos:

Pleasant Grove Plot, Mt. Timpanogos A Pleasant Grove Plot 6-16-2015 A

Tomato and Pepper Varieties Growing in 2015

Three weeks of intense planting of seeds into 288-cell plug trays, now in the early stages of potting up into 3-1/2″ trays.  Garage and basement are filling up.  Tally is at:

735 varieties of tomatoes – see list at:  DT Tomatoes 2015

210 varieties of peppers – see list at:  DT Peppers 2015

25 varieties of eggplant, tomatillos, ground cherries, etc.

7,600  = minimum number of seed planted so far.

Melons, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, lettuce, beans, etc. still to be determined.

A few pics of work in progress follow.

Some seedlings on 4-10-2015.  Note how the row of a dwarf variety stands out:

Tomato seedlings, dwarf (Bonsai) C rev

This variety is Bonsai (seeds obtained from Andrey Baranovski of Belarus) and here’s what the ripe fruits look like.

Bonsai (0.046 DT 2013) C rev

Seedlings in progress:

Seedlings 4-14-2015 B Seedlings 4-14-2015 G

Somehow, the weather of March and April have switched this year.  A massive windstorm blew in today, with sustained winds of 49 mph, and gusts as high as 92 mph recorded in the area.  Dust storm leading to virtually zero visibility, semi-trucks blown over, accidents (including fatalities), wildfires, the temperature dropped from 76° down to 35° in less than three hours, it was raining mud (very bizarre…) and it’s snowing now:

Wind and snowstorm 4-14-2015

Next morning:  4″ and still coming down hard:

Wind and snowstorm 4-14-2015 D Wind and snowstorm 4-14-2015 E

Next day –

Storm produced 9″ of snow in this (West Valley) City, local ski resorts up to 42″!  Snowiest April on record – all in one day.  Average temperature for all of March was 49.7°.  Through April 15th, average has been 49.5°.  On rare occasion, procrastination can result in less negative outcomes…

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Update 4-19-2015

Heavy into potting up from 288-cell plug trays:

Seedlings 4-17-2015 B Seedlings 4-17-2015 D

up to 3-1/2″ pots:

Seedlings 4-19-2015 D

This batch is 63 trays (1,134 seedlings) in the recovery room under a 1,000-watt metal halide light.  This is only about 15% of the 7,800+ total seedlings I’ve planted this season.  Space, time, energy, $, and especially my marketing skills are all severely limited.  Still have 18 of these plug trays to pot up and time is very short, but doing what I can and getting some good help!

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Update 4-21-2015

Just finished potting up plug tray number 14, so 12 left to go – all tomatoes.  Recovery room was completely cleared out yesterday morning, but is now jam-packed again, this time with 70 trays (1,260 seedlings).

Here a few pictures of the process –

Following 3 weeks of intensive planting, here are a few of the thousands of seed packets, only 95% organized, though feels like utter chaos.  Imagine what it’s like when a seed packet is badly misfiled!  It will take a couple of days to reorganize and many weeks to update computer inventory.

Seedling Production 4-21-2015 Y

Here are the 12 plug trays of tomato seedlings (3,400 +) left to pot up:

Seedling Production 4-21-2015 G

The main ingredient for potting mix:

Seedling Production 4-21-2015 K Seedling Production 4-21-2015 N

Main amendment is Sustane 4-6-4; also Azomite, Redmond Sea Salt, black mineral residue, bone meal, wood ash and perlite.

Fertilizers BSeedling Production 4-22-2015 F

Seedling Production 4-22-2015 ESeedling Production 4-22-2015 I  Seedling Production 4-22-2015 GSeedling Production 4-22-2015 K

Preparing pots and trays:

Seedling Production 4-22-2015 NSeedling Production 4-22-2015 O Seedling Production 4-22-2015 M

Blending customized potting mix in an old concrete mixer:

Seedling Production 4-22-2015 B Seedling Production 4-22-2015 L

Potting mix in pots ready for soaking up water:

Seedling Production 4-21-2015 E Seedling Production 4-21-2015 F

Rain water heated to 90° F with an aquarium heat, then a 1/2 dose of Alaska Fish Fertilizer and a tablespoon of Sea Magic dried seaweed.

Seedling Production 4-21-2015 H Seedling Production 4-21-2015 I Seedling Production 4-21-2015 T

Inventory must be done with care in advance of preparing labels and plant tags:

Seedling Production 4-22-2015 R Seedling Production 4-22-2015 S

Last tray of pepper seedlings ready for potting up:

Seedling Production 4-21-2015 U

Tags and labels in preparation (someday I’ll have a thermal imaging printer so I can print right on plastic tags…):

Seedling Production 4-21-2015 R Seedling Production 4-21-2015 D

Plug extractor, dibble and work station

Seedling Production 4-21-2015 C Seedling Production 4-21-2015 A

Production 4-24-2015 AProduction 4-24-2015 B Production 4-24-2015 D  Production 4-24-2015 E Production 4-24-2015 F Production 4-24-2015 MProduction 4-24-2015 J Production 4-24-2015 L

First room full outside under shade cloth to prevent sun scald of leaves:

Seedling Production 4-21-2015 P

Seedling recovery room, round three:

Seedlings 4-19-2015 D

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Update 4-29-2015

Finally getting around to “Fall cleanup” of the high tunnel last Thursday morning:

Seedling Production 4-23-2015 A

Thursday afternoon:

Production 4-23-2015 C

Thursday evening:

Production 4-23-2015 F

Monday – seedlings getting leggy,

Seedling Production 4-27-2015 B

and round 4 in recovery room:

Seedling Production 4-27-2015 A

Today, final surge to get tomato seedlings potted up – 58 trays with potting mix (see    DT Starts page for list of ingredients) in 3-1/2″ pots, watered fish/sea/rainwater mixture, and in place ready to go:

Seedling Production 4-29-2015 A

Round 5 in recovery room:

Seedling Production 4-29-2015 E

All need to be taken upstairs and outside to make room for the final 58.

Then it’s on to cucumbers, melons and squash – and someday soon perhaps getting around to prepping my own garden plots??

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Finally, more than one week later than I had hoped, all 6,000 plus seedlings – from nearly 8,000 seeds planted and of nearly 1,000 total varieties – are potted up.  Wow, this is NOT what is meant, in the jargon of economics, as “Economy of Scale”.  Quite the opposite.

The last few seedlings:

Seedling Production 5-2-2015 A

Round #6 in recovery room for a another 2-3 days, depending upon weather:

Seedling Production 5-2-2015 F

Here’s the light source, a 1,000 Watt Metal Halide light:

Seedling Production 5-2-2015 C

From about 15″ or closer, intensity registers brighter than noon day sunlight on a light meter!  Really not the best choice for growing plants.  An array of 400 Watt bulbs, spaced about 4′ apart, would be better.  For anyone who might be curious, here’s a summary from a bit of research I did into light vs. energy consumption:

Another way to compare light sources is to consider efficiency, that is, lumens of light output per watt of energy consumption.  Here’s a brief overview:

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

BULB TYPE               LUMENS/WATT

Incandescent, 100 W              14

Compact fluorescent               54

T-12 fluorescent                      60

LED                                         82

T-5 fluorescent                       104

Metal halide                            115

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Now on to the cucurbits…

 

 

 

 

 

Giant Tomato Project 2015

Nearly 400 varieties and lineages of tomatoes made the first cut for inclusion in this year’s Giant Tomato Project.  Narrowed down to the following 72 varieties and crosses; seeds planted today, 3-21-2015, the first day of Spring:

6 Pound Giant (Meisner 2003)
Bear Claw (1.226 DT 2011)
Behemoth King (2.49 Shlomin 2014)
Believe It Or Not (1.332 DT 2011)
Bezrazmernyi (3.364 DT 2014)(1.698 DT 2012)
Bezrazmernyi (1.698 DT 2012) X Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy 2013)(5.07 Bouydo 2010)
Big Beef (0.491 DT 2012)
Big McHenry (Staddon 2013)
Big Ugly (Johnson 2014)
Big Zac (8.41 MacCoy 2014)
Big Zac (7.45 Martin 2014)
Big Zac (7.10 Foss 2014)
Big Zac (6.04 Boudyo 2013)
Big Zac (5.84 Foss 2014)
Big Zac (5.67 Marley 2014)
Big Zac (5.50 Martin 2014)
Big Zac (5.03 Boudyo 2012)
Big Zac (3.756 DT 2014)(2.602 DT 2012)(5.35 Lyons 2010)
Big Zac (3.53 Wellington 2014)
Brandywine, Pink (1.47 Brandyberry 2011)
Brandywine, Sudduth’s (1.322 DT 2011)
Brutus Magnum (2.006 DT 2012)(6.25 Meisner 2011) X Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy 2013)(5.07 Bouydo)
Bulgarischer Rosa Riese (0.840 DT 2013)
Catapano (2.436 DT 2014)
Cuostralée (Humphrey 2014)
DelMar (F1)(Meisner 2014)
DelZac (F1)(Meisner 2014)
Domingo (Domingo 2014)
Domingo (4.647 DT 2014)(4.55 Wahl 2012)
Dutchman (1.148 DT 2011
Frank’s Large Red (Anon.)
German (1.084 DT 2011)(1.804 DT 2010)
Giant Heart Climber (Victory Seeds)
Giant of Siebenburgen (1.492 DT 2011)
Gildo Pietroboni (Kott 2011)
Gold Medal (3.07 Kott 2011)
Hazel Mae (1.548 DT 2012)
Hendershott (1.5 DT 2012)
Hoy (3 Kott 2011) X Delicious (6.51 Meisner 2011)(F1)(2.414 DT 2014)
Italian Heart (1.752 DT 2012)(4.19 Perry 2011)
Italo (Meisner 2005)
Japanese Oxheart (Strickler 2012)
Joe’s Pink Oxheart (1.678 DT 2012)
King Kong (Shlomin 2012)
Magnum (1.546 DT 2012)(1.482 DT 2011)
MegaMarv (4.23 Wahl 2012)(5.51 Meisner 2011)
Mémé Beauce (1.546 DT 2012)
Michael’s Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.602 DT 2012) aka “Bigzarro”
Michael’s Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) X Delicious (6.51 Meisner 2011)(7.33 Hunt 2010)
Michael’s Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) X MegaMarv (4.23 Wahl 2012)(5.51 Meisner 2011)
Mong (Meisner 2005)
Mr. Underwood’s Pink German Giant (1.788 DT 2011)
Peter Glazebrook’s Special (0.680 DT 2013)
Phil’s Fantastic (Minkey 2013)
Pruden’s Purple (1.522 DT 2011)
Purple Brandy (Kouchnareva 2008)
Puszta Kolosz (1.446 DT 2011)
Rebecca Sebastian’s Bull Bag X Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy 2013)(5.07 Bouydo)
Rim (Kulik 2012)
Rose d’Eauze (Kirch 2013)
Serdtse Ameriki (1.924 DT 2014)
Severnyi (Truedsson 2009)
Shuntukski Velikan (1.978 DT 2012) X Big Zac (3.75 Catapano 2007)(4.59 Lyons 2006)
Sibirskiy Velikan Rozovy (2.066 DT 2014)
Supersteak (2.575 Reinhard 2014)
Thunder Creek (Meisner 2005)
Todd County Amish (1.936 DT 2011)
Tuxhorn’s Red And Yellow (1.430 DT 2012)
Virginia Sweets (2.218 DT 2011)
Wes (1.718 DT 2012) X Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy 2013)(5.07 Bouydo 2010)
World’s Largest (SSE 2011)
ZacZilla (Zaccaria 2014)

Not likely to be able to fit all of them in, but we’ll see!  Many of these, I believe, have not yet been given a fair chance to determine their size potential.  By planting them on the property where I live, and applying lessons learned from past years and from others, these should get much better care than they would in the open field with 2,000+ other plants on borrowed land.

And here’s a quote that came with seeds I received yesterday:

Seeds Flowers Tomorrow Quote A

With poignant meaning beyond gardening!

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Update 3-30-2015

Nine days after planting, at least one seed has emerged in 58 of 72 cells.  Here’s the breakdown:

Seeds produced by Delectation of Tomatoes:  36 of 36 emergence (100%)

Seeds shared by others:  22 of 36 emergence (61%)

Unfortunately the 14 seeds that have not emerged includes most of the seeds that came from really big ones.  But I’ve leaned to not start worrying about germination until 14 days or so.  It seems that some stubborn seeds simply refuse to germinate until they are exposed to direct, full, natural sunlight.  So I’ll start hardening these off early, if it’s warm enough, with the hope of getting all the rest to germinate.

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Update 4-19-2015

Despite being confined to the garage under metal halide lights for 5 days due to cold and snowy weather, seedlings for this year’s giant tomato project have faired reasonably well and appear set to grow rapidly once the weather warms up.

Seedlings, giant tomatoes 4-19-2015 A

Today I replanted 22 varieties – those with zero germination (11) or that were possibly mixed up with others when I accidently knocked over a tray which unfortunately then landed upside down with several plants getting scrambled (11 varieties).  So these will essentially constitute my staggered planting approach.

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Update 5-5-2015

Transplanted the 7-month old Big McHenry plants that have been languishing in the basement:

Big McHenry, transplanting 5-5-2015 B Big McHenry, transplanting 5-5-2015 F Big McHenry, transplanting 5-5-2015 I rev

That’s some serious pruning and several feet of a potentially new source of roots!

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Update 5-7-2015

Transplanted the “pollinators” into the small (16’X7′) northeast bed.  Seedlings were extremely root-bound and several already had impressive megablooms that set fruit.

Giant pollinators 5-7-2015 A

Most were at least knee-high

Giant pollinators 5-7-2015 B rev

Serious pruning of leaves and application of Mycorrhizal fungi.

Giant pollinators 5-7-2015 E rev Giant pollinators 5-7-2015 H rev

Seedlings for the main tomato project are getting root-bound and some are starting to develop megablooms – when to find the time?  High tunnel is packet with seedlings.

Tomato seedlings 5-7-2015 C

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Update 5-12-2015

Finally managed to organize and plant 40 seedlings for this year’s giant tomato project.

Many seedlings knee-high and rather root-bound:

Giant Tomato Project 5-12-2015 A rev

After several hours of weeding (it was bad, mostly dense Johnson grass) and tilling:

Giant Tomato Project 5-12-2015 C rev

Here are 40 holes in a 33’X7′ bed.  That works out to 28″ spacing:

Giant Tomato Project 5-12-2015 D Giant Tomato Project 5-12-2015 H

Who am I kidding, thinking I can keep these pruned back?  It already looks like a jungle!

Giant Tomato Project 5-12-2015 I

Here’s the list:

6 Pound Giant (Meisner 2003)
Bear Claw (1.226 DT 2011)
Behemoth King (2.49 Shlomin 2014)
Believe It Or Not (1.332 DT 2011)
Bezrazmernyi (3.364 DT 2014)(1.698 DT 2012)
Big Beef (0.491 DT 2012)
Big McHenry (Staddon 2013)
Big Ugly (Johnson 2014)
Big Zac (3.756 DT 2014)(2.602 DT 2012)(5.35 Lyons 2010)
Big Zac (3.53 Wellington 2014)
Brandywine, Pink (1.47 Brandyberry 2011)
Brandywine, Sudduth’s (1.322 DT 2011)
Bulgarischer Rosa Riese (0.840 DT 2013)
Catapano (2.436 DT 2014)
Domingo (Domingo 2014)
Dutchman (1.148 DT 2011
Frank’s Large Red (Anon.)
German (1.084 DT 2011)(1.804 DT 2010)
Giant Heart Climber (Victory Seeds)
Giant of Siebenburgen (1.492 DT 2011)
Gildo Pietroboni (Kott 2011)
Hazel Mae (1.548 DT 2012)
Hendershott (1.5 DT 2012)
Italian Heart (1.752 DT 2012)(4.19 Perry 2011)
Japanese Oxheart (Strickler 2012)
King Kong (Shlomin 2012)
Mr. Underwood’s Pink German Giant (1.788 DT 2011)
Peter Glazebrook’s Special (0.680 DT 2013)
Pruden’s Purple (1.522 DT 2011)
Purple Brandy (Kouchnareva 2008)
Puszta Kolosz (1.446 DT 2011)
Rim (Kulik 2012)
Rose d’Eauze (Kirch 2013)
Serdtse Ameriki (1.924 DT 2014)
Severnyi (Truedsson 2009)
Sibirskiy Velikan Rozovy (2.066 DT 2014)
Supersteak (2.575 Reinhard 2014)
Thunder Creek (Meisner 2005)
Todd County Amish (1.936 DT 2011)
Tuxhorn’s Red And Yellow (1.430 DT 2012)

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Update 5-27-2015
Finally got the primary giant tomato seedlings transplanted into the high tunnel! It took several days to empty it of 3,000+ tomato and peppers seedlings and get those organized and set up for sale.

High Tunnel 5-24-2015 A

Seedlings for Sale 5-24-2015 D

Spreading compost, manure and peat moss.  After hearing several horror stories from people whose gardens have been destroyed by using manure poisoned with herbicides, I decided to go with the bagged stuff and will apply my own compost on the surface.

High Tunnel Soil Prep 5-25-2015 CCompost, Manure Bag C

After tilling and laying drip hose:

High Tunnel Soil Prep 5-25-2015 G

The 16 older (seed sown on 3-21-2015), larger, and mostly root-bound seedlings which were in gallon pots were transplanted on 5-25-2015. These were planted on the north section to prevent shading out the shorter, younger seedlings.

Giant Tomatoes Ready to Transplant A

The 16 younger (sown between 3/31 and 4/29), smaller seedlings were planted in the south section on 5-27-2015.  Here are all 32, spaced about 34″ apart:

High Tunnel Planted 5-27-2015 B

And this one is the most prized:

High Tunnel Planted 5-27-2015 E rev

Full list in high tunnel:

Brutus Magnum (2.006 DT 2012)(6.25 Meisner 2011) X Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy 2013)(5.07 Bouydo 2010)

Virginia Sweets (2.218 DT 2011)

Domingo (4.647 DT 2014)(4.55 Wahl 2012)

Big Zarro [Michael’s Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.602 DT 2012)]

Big Zac (Johnson_ <6.83 Boudyo)

Wes (1.718 DT 2012) X Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy 2013)(5.07 Bouydo 2010)

Big Zac (5.67 Marley 2014)

Shuntukski Velikan (1.978 DT 2012) X Big Zac (3.75 Catapano 2007)(4.59 Lyons 2006)

Big Zac (5.84 Foss 2014)

Rebecca Sebastian’s Bull Bag X Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy 2013)(5.07 Bouydo 2010)

Big Zac (6.16 Foss 2014)

MegaMarv (4.23 Wahl 2012)(5.51 Meisner 2011)

Big Zac (8.41 MacCoy 2014)

Hoy (3 Kott 2011) X Delicious (6.51 Meisner 2011)(F1)(2.414 DT 2014)

Bezrazmernyi (1.698 DT 2012) X Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy 2013)(5.07 Bouydo 2010)

Phil’s Fantastic (Minkey 2013)

Big Zac? (_ Johnson)(5.46 Zappa)

Mémé Beauce (1.546 DT 2012)

Big Zac (3.756 DT 2014)(2.602 DT 2012)(5.35 Lyons 2010)

Peter Glazebrook Special

Big Zac (2.958 DT 2014)(4.57 MacCoy 2013)

Michael’s Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) X Delicious (6.51 Meisner 2011)(7.33 Hunt 2010)

MegaMarv (2.346 DT 2012)

Big Zac (9.5 MacCoy 2014)

Joe’s Pink Oxheart (1.678 DT 2012)

Big Zac (8.41 MacCoy 2014)

Delicious (3.205 DT 2014)(6.51 Meisner 2011)

Big Zac (4.670 DT 2014)(3.75 Catapano 2007)

Big Zarro [Michael’s Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.602 DT 2012)]

Steakhouse (F1)

Michael’s Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) X  MegaMarv (4.23 Wahl 2012)(5.51 Meisner 2011)

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Update 6-4-2015

Giant tomato bed now with posts and two tiers of baling twine.  Posts are 10′ lengths of double-wall metal pipes, so quite stiff.  I drove them about 3′ deep, leaving 7′ above ground.  Posts are spaced about 16′ apart.  Since I’m pruning to a single stem, I will likely need to add extensions by mid-August.

I’ve developed a modified loop knot system for keeping twine at high tension.  Last year I spaced posts 20′ apart and attached guy wires at the ends of 80′ rows.  This worked quite well to minimized sagging and keep vines up off the ground.

Eye-level tier of twine installed first and tightened firmly.  Lower tiers not tightened as much or they might make the higher tears sag significantly.

Giant Tomato Bed 6-4-2015 A

I use a paper punch to make a hole in the tag through which I can pass a plant loop tie

Giant Tomato Bed 6-4-2015 C

These loop ties are used in the kiwi industry and are imported from New Zealand.

Giant Tomato Bed 6-4-2015 D Giant Tomato Bed 6-4-2015 E Giant Tomato Bed 6-4-2015 F

An upclose of the customized knot.

Giant Tomato Bed 6-4-2015 G Giant Tomato Bed 6-4-2015 H Giant Tomato Bed 6-4-2015 I

This tomato vines support system is very cost effective compared to many others.  But vines need to be kept trimmed back to no more than three stems or the tying becomes trying.

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Update 6-21-2015, first day of Summer

High temperatures have been 91-98° F each of the past 7 days, with 5 days of 100+ forecast for this next week.  Inside the high tunnel, it has likely reached 120+, even with it fully open.  Today, much later than should have been done, I finally managed to get shade cloth installed:

High Tunnel 6-21-2015

Plants are wilting even with an abundance of water, and blossoms are shriveling up and dropping by the dozens.  There have been a handful of decent megablooms, and a few set fruit before this heat wave settled in.  But so far, in terms of giant tomato production, 2015 is not looking nearly as good as 2014 was.

I have a hypothesis:  Assuming you are dealing with tomato varieties that have the potential to produce multiple-fused blossoms (megablooms), temperature may have an effect during bud development on that critical first truss as follows:

A) Under moderate conditions (high temperatures in the 70-75° range), bud tissue grows and develops slowly, allowing time for blossoms to fuse during those very early stages – before you can even really see the tiny flower buds.

B) Under warmer conditions (high temperatures in the 85-105° range), plant growth and bud tissue growth occur so quickly that proto-buds develop separately rather than fusing, resulting in impressive flower trusses with 20 or more flowers, with little or no fusing.

Here’s a promising young seedling that I’m mollycoddling – a cutting (sucker) from one of the Big Zac (8.41 McCoy 2014) plants.

Big Zac (8.41 McCoy 2015) 6-21-2015 B

There are lots of nutrients, including trace minerals, as well as several gallons of compost.  I’ll fill it  to the brim with more good stuff as the plant grows.  Unfortunately, it’s been too hot for this one too – there is physiological leaf curl and the first tiny buds are all singles – no fusing.

Pruned off on 5-26, potted up 15 days ago:

Big Zac (8.41 McCoy 2014) seedling sucker B rev Big Zac (8.41 McCoy 2014) seedling sucker C

Giant Tomato Pollinators Get First Sunlight

Record high temperature today 74°!  It’s been the warmest winter I ever remember here.  Except for a couple of minor storms, it seems that all the cold and snow landed well east of the Wasatch mountains.

Giant Tomato Pollinators have been growing well since potted up to 1-gallon pots a couple of weeks ago, and today they got their first taste of natural sunlight and wind.

Giant Tomato Pollinators First Sunlight B rev

It got quite warm in the high tunnel!  I pulled away the deep pile of leaves from the pomegranate shrub (variety Wonderful), found that it survived it’s second winter, and already has some promising young shoots.

Pomegranate survives 2nd winter B rev

Apricot blossoms are just about done, peach blossoms in full bloom, also pleasantly surprised to see first strawberry blossom this early:

Early Strawberry blossom rev

Also, finally started “Fall cleanup” – only 4 months behind schedule this year! (October-December are insanely busy with seed saving and processing…).

Most pepper seeds planted 8 days ago are emerging.  Here’s a link to the list of 126 “new” varieties I’m trying to grow  this year:

DT New Peppers Varieties 2015.

Some of these have quite an interesting history!

Hoping to get my first wave of main crop tomatoes planted this week, but with the weather so warm, I feel like I’m 6 weeks behind schedule!

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Update 3-21-2015

Seedlings growing well, I’m tempted to transplant them outside in the high tunnel, but am guessing there will still be significant cool weather before mid-May.

Here is the latest picture of them getting a drink of rainwater:

Giant Tomato Pollinators 3-21-2015 A rev

The two largest plants are:

Domingo (5.75 Marley 2014), Hoy X Delicious (6.51 Meisner 2011)[2.414 DT 2014]

Two smallest:

Big Zac (Foss 6.16 2014), Big Zac (6.88 MacCoy 2014)

Seedlings are too now big to fit on plant stands under fluorescent  lights, so a metal halide light is on for the first time this season.

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Update 3-31-2015

The 11 seedlings that have survived have all outgrown their 1-gallon pots.  It’s been unusually warm for the past several weeks.  I measured the soil temperature 4″ down where these seedlings are going and was surprised to get a reading of 68° F!  Though there are several nights predicted to be in the 30’s, I’m still very tempted to set them out and give them protection at night.  First megabuds are starting to form!

Here’s what winter and early spring have looked like in terms of temperature:

Mean Monthly Temperatures for Salt Lake City, Utah, Winter of 2014-15
From NWS observed data; temperatures in °F

_________________Normal      Observed     Departure

December 2014          30.3            37.3              +7.0
January 2015              29.5            34.3              +4.8
February 2015            34.2            43.9              +9.7
March 2015                43.6            50.0              +6.4

 

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Update 4-19-2015

Seedlings are loaded with megablooms but very rootbound.  I just haven’t had time to get the ground ready for these yet – and the ground is still saturated and cool from a freak snowstorm which dumped 9″!

Seedlings, giant tomatoes 4-19-2015 B

 

 

Giant Tomato Breeding 2015

The madness has begun!

As mentioned in previous posts, one of my biggest challenges with cross-breeding tomatoes – and even simply trying to get fruit set of massive megablooms – has been an inability to obtain enough viable pollen.  It seems that we don’t usually get ideal weather for growing tomatoes until September and October around here.

So this evening I started a batch of precious seeds from giant tomatoes with the objective of producing large, unpruned vines which will be loaded up with dozens of viable blossoms by the time the production vines start to put out their first megablooms.  In theory, with plenty of good pollen available, the chances of fully pollinating megablooms will be much increased, and full pollination means bigger tomatoes.  We shall see…

Here they are:

Gaint Tomato Seed Starting 1-29-2015 A

Yes, Dan shared seeds of his new World Record with me!!  I started one seed back on 10-04-2014 (call it impatience or insanity).  It emerged but died within two weeks because of (#^%@#$*) fungus gnats.  Hopefully my system of completely bagging the young seedlings, along with keeping moisture levels way down, will help with this attempt.

Gaint Tomato Seed Starting 1-29-2015 B

There are precious few of these seeds left, and this is my last one!  The 7.33 Hunt as produced numerous 5 to 6+ pounders.

Gaint Tomato Seed Starting 1-29-2015 C

Another of Dan McCoy’s amazing achievements in 2014!  This one’s a close relative of the 8.41.

Gaint Tomato Seed Starting 1-29-2015 D

Bill Foss also had a spectacular year in 2014, with his largest coming in at a whopping 7.10 lbs.

Gaint Tomato Seed Starting 1-29-2015 E

Domingo is the new kid on the block.  Steve Marley set a New York state record of 5.75 lbs. in 2014, and Vincenzo Domingo (this is a multi-generational family heirloom from Sicily) grew 4 tomatoes on a singe truss with a combined weight of about 20 lbs.!  Sadly, Vincenzo passed away in December, 2014.  At least this small part of his legacy continues.

Gaint Tomato Seed Starting 1-29-2015 F

Another masterpiece by tomato breeder extraordinaire, Minnie Zaccaria, who brought us Big Zac some 15 years ago.  Zaczilla is said to put out 4-5 lbs. lunkers on every truss – it will be exciting to watch how this new development performs in the hands of the elite growers!

Gaint Tomato Seed Starting 1-29-2015 G

And a few of my own from 2014.  “Bigzarro” is temporary name, a place holder in case this strain of Michael’s Portuguese Monster (MPM) continues to do the bizarre things it did last year: 15+ blossoms fusing into one massive megabloom, suckers growing out of leaves and producing fruits, flower tissue fusing with stem tissue, etc. – traits that are distinctly different from the production line of MPM, or any other tomato variety I’ve grown, for that matter.

Total number of tomato varieties in inventory now tops 1,600.  Not even sure where I will be growing in 2015 – exploring several options.

Glass Gem Corn 2014 and Dakota Black, Tall, Breeder’s Choice, Blue Jade, Strawberry Popcorn

This was a very good year for Glass Gem corn!  Planted on 4-30-2014 in the backyard, fully isolated from other varieties.  Survived a couple of light frosts.   First tassels formed on 7-03; full tassels, pollen and silk on 7-19.  On 7-25-2014 and on 12-11-2014, tallest stalk as 10’3″ tall!

Glass Gem Corn Stalks 10'3in 7-25-2014 E

** NOTE:  all pictures here and on other blog posts are Copyright © – Delectation of Tomatoes:  only pictures of produce I have grown are posted here; unfortunately not everyone shows this same respect for the efforts of others.

Amazing, almost unbelievable diversity and combination of colors – click on these miniature pictures to get the full effect:

Corn, Glass Gem (DT 2014) ADS rev Corn, Glass Gem (DT 2014) ADL rev Corn, Glass Gem (DT 2014) ADI revCorn, Glass Gem (DT 2014) ACQ rev  Corn, Glass Gem (DT 2014) ACY rev

Corn, Glass Gem (DT 2014) AAJ rev

Corn, Glass Gem (DT 2014) ACL rev

Corn, Glass Gem (DT 2014) AAP rev2 Corn, Glass Gem (DT 2014) ACG rev

Corn, Glass Gem (DT 2014) AAE rev Corn, Glass Gem (DT 2014) ABV rev Corn, Glass Gem (DT 2014) ABR rev Corn, Glass Gem (DT 2014) ABO rev Corn, Glass Gem (DT 2014) ABJ rev Corn, Glass Gem (DT 2014) ABG rev Corn, Glass Gem (DT 2014) ABC rev Corn, Glass Gem (DT 2014) ABA rev Corn, Glass Gem (DT 2014) AAU rev

I’ve eaten Glass Gem corn at the “milk” stage and it tastes just fine, though a bit tougher than typical sweet corn.  Definitely better as popcorn or flint corn.  Or still on the cob as simply as an incredible holiday decoration!

Speaking of popcorn:

Dakota Black Popcorn also grown in 2014 (though very small harvest) – beautiful in its own right:

Corn, Dakota Black (DT 2014) G rev

Strawberry popcorn:

Corn, Strawberry Popcorn (2013) I rev

Tall Corn, grown for competition, these seeds (from 17′ stalks) were not planted until June 17th, grew to 10’5″, and kernels managed to mature just ahead of hard frost:

Corn, Tall 10-30-2104 D revCorn, Tall, (12' DT 2014) B rev

And still plenty of seeds from 2013 of an excellent variety of yellow sweet corn, Breeder’s Choice (this is an OP version in development, selected for many years in Utah, from a commercial hybrid) – very early, very productive and very tasty corn:

Corn, Breeder's Choice, tall tassel B

And Blue Jade sweet corn still available from 2013 seeds:

Corn, Blue Jade 11-20-2012 A rev

On another topic – already missing sun-ripened tomatoes, here’s the last of ripening tomatoes of the season, including a Homer’s German Oxheart, picked green six weeks ago, which made a perfectly good tomato sandwich!

Final ripe tomatoes 2014 A rev

 

 

Produce and Seeds from Southern Utah

There have been a couple of nights of light frost at the farm in Kanab.  Frantically (well, not quite) harvesting all fruits and vegetables before heavy frost gets a chance to ruin them.  Melons, squash, eggplant, cucumbers, peppers, and of course more tomatoes.

Here’s a teaser, the BIGGEST pepper I’ve ever seen:

Big Bertha (0.900 DT 2014)

Pepper, Big Bertha (0.900 DT 2014) BPepper, Big Bertha (0.900 DT 2014) DPepper, Big Bertha (0.900 DT 2014) G

I did a rough count of photographs I’ve taken for Delectation of Tomatoes in the past four years:

   27,355

Among these, 87% are labeled and about 10% are fully processed.  This leaves almost 3,500 still to be labeled and processed.  And more than two years behind with much of the data entry that needs to be done.  And the website – so much still to do; never a dull moment!

Anyhow, as time permits, I’ll include below more photos and descriptions of some of the wonderful melon, eggplant, etc. varieties we grew this year.

= = = = =

Update 10-28-2014

First significant frost of the season last night in the Salt Lake Valley.  Ahead of this I harvested 17 5-gallon buckets full of tomatoes, melons, squash, etc.  This in addition to the 24 or so buckets full I brought back from Kanab.  Each bucket represents 5-10 hrs. worth of work…

Squash and Melon harvest 10-27-2014 D rev

Seed Processing 10-26-2014 H rev Seed Processing 10-26-2014 G Seed Processing 10-26-2014 F Seed Processing 10-26-2014 E Seed Processing 10-26-2014 C Seed Processing 10-26-2014 B Seed Processing 10-26-2014 A

Here’s a teaser of a cucumber variety processed for seeds today:

Poona Kheera – very tasty, even when mature, and rapidly becoming very popular around here!

Cucumber, Poona Kheera (0.832 DT 2014) E Cucumber, Poona Kheera (0.832 DT 2014) D