Filling up

I’ve moved the 12 tomato “seedlings” that comprise the “Huge Plant” portion of my giant tomato growing experiment from under metal halide lights to the small hoop house.  They take up nearly half of the structure.  I’m more than two weeks behind getting these into their permanent home for this growing season.

The tallest of these 12 is Big Zac (4.20 Diaz 2011) at 53″, while the shortest is Delicious (4.46 Marley 2011) at 25″.

One backup Delicious (6.51 Meisner 2011) seedling which was way behind schedule germinating back in December is now in the ground.  This one also had a 3X (or more) megabloom which I left on the vine and attempted to pollinate.  Obviously I pruned off leaves very heavily and buried the plant deeply.  I’m concerned that the soil may be too strong, as it has a distinct smell of chicken manure.

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Warming up

High temperature was around 64°.  Predictably I worked outside, completing a 14’X32′ high tunnel and restoring the 16’X7′ hoop house constructed about 1 year ago:

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I’ll be using these structures more as greenhouses for seedlings rather than as season extenders.

The smaller structure has a two layers of shade cloth sandwiched between two layers of plastic.  The shade cloth is to protect virgin (no exposure to natural sunlight yet) plants.  A small, thermostatically controlled electric heater will be used to protect from frost.  This hoophouse is already filling up quickly.

 

Winter has finally arrived

The most significant snowstorm of the season:

Yet there are still reminders of Fall –

Reverend Morrow’s Long Keeper, still firm and in decent shape 128 days after harvesting.  And after being handled by numerous people at three separate gardening events.  For many years Merlyn Neidens of Illinois selected this variety for its staying power.  It’s not real pretty, but it’s still more tempting to me than those “perfect”, round, forced-red, oh-so-boring hothouse tomatoes from the grocery store.

Do I give up on seeing how long it will really keep so that I can extract seeds to grow this season, or shall I continue to test it’s durability?

I trust the calendar is accurate when it tells me that Spring is just 17 days away.  Wow, there’s a lot to do.  I haven’t even started digging the beds for the giant tomato project yet.  I had hoped to get them in the ground by now.  They are managing ok in 4-gallon pots indoors under metal halide lights.

The tallest plant is about 40″ tall, Big Zac (4.20 Diaz 2011) , while the shortest is 26″, Delicious (4.46 Marley 2011).  Here’s a nice looking megabloom pruned off of Delicious (6.51 Meisner 2011):

Pinching off promising looking megablooms runs contrary to my nature, but I need to stick to the plan.  I intend to grow these plants very large before allowing any fruit to set.  These blossoms are 5 months ahead of schedule!

Chimeric cherry tomato project –

I’ve switched methods from grafting clips (I had 0% success with them) to Super Glue.  Using glue is SO much easier and faster.  We’ll see if they take.  I’ve only managed 6 attempts at grafting so far.  I need to get busy and try many more.

Hundreds of seedlings are growing under artificial lights now.  The fungus gnat population continues to increase.  When will I ever learn to NEVER bring soil or plants from outside into the house?  I’ve ordered an organic BTI biological larvicide for use as a soil drench.  Lettuce seedlings seem to be suffering the most.