Unexpected Megabloom

Schwarze Sarah (aka Sara Black) is not on my list (and it’s a long one…) of varieties that’s expected to produce giant tomatoes or megablooms.  Yet so far this season, this one sports the most impressive megabloom by far – at least a 7X:

Not to get too excited though – record high temperature yesterday, may get even hotter today, lows in mid 70’s, tomato blossoms burning up and dropping everywhere.  No harm in hoping.

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Summer begins

It took an entire week, but we managed to get 820 additional tomato plants transplanted at the “Oxbow” micro-farm – a 0.84 acre parcel leased from the county – by the first day of Summer.  Here’s what the place looked like the day before we could take possession:

 

 
 

 

I did not have the resources or time to properly prep the ground – we just mowed the weeds, dug holes, put in some amendments, and planted.  We’re using Netafim with emitters spaced every 2 ft.  (Pics to follow…)

The setup seems to be working well so far.  There’s a huge earwig population, but traps seem to be working well.

Also on the first day of Summer, the plastic came off the high tunnel at the house.  With temps predicted to be 100+°, the plastic is counterproductive.

 

 

 

Stupice wins – again

In 2011 I raised 280 tomato varieties.  Among these, I selected the 25 which matured earliest and started an “extra early” batch of seeds on March 13, 2012.  These were very rootbound when I finally got around to transplanting them at “Eyreland” on May 26th.

I picked the first two fully ripe Stupice tomatoes on June 22nd – 101 days from seed and 27 days from transplant.  In 2011, Stupice also won the 2011 race to earliest: 123 days from seed, 21 from transplant, harvested on June 28th.  I’m guessing that if the seedlings were repotted up to bigger pots a couple of times and given premium care, Stupice could produce ripe fruit about 90 days from seed.

Average weight of the two fruits was 0.037 lb. (0.592 oz.).  Flavor was very good – sweeter than expected, with a nice pleasant tomato flavor, only slightly juicy.  Skin was a bit tough.  Well worth eating.

Reverend Morrow’s Long Keeper: 235 days

On October 26, 2011 I picked about 800 pounds of tomatoes, mostly green, ahead of the first hard Fall frost.

One of the green one’s was a Reverend Morrow’s Long Keeper.  Over the past several months, I’ve kept this tomato at room temperature.  It’s been displayed at seed swaps and various meetings and has been handled on numerous occasions.

I did not expect it to last past February, but it remained in good condition (though dried out and wrinkled somewhat) until a couple of days ago when I noticed a brownish spot starting to develop.  So last night, a full 235 days from harvest, I cut it open and harvest the seeds:

The obvious question, “Was it worth eating”?  No – not fresh anyway.  It had a strong tomato flavor but with no sweet at all.  Of course the texture was dry.  I think it would do just fine cooked in a sauce, added to pizza, or maybe in a salad.

It’s a remarkable acheivement by Merlyn Niedens who spent many years developing this variety.  This means, theoretically, that a tomato lover could eat a “fresh” tomato just about every day of the year.

The next question is, “Are the seeds viable”?  That question will be answered in about two weeks.

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P.S., 9-09-2012 – looks like I forgot to follow through on this.  I planted 20 seeds on 6-20-2012.  One of them emerged within 4 days.  Another 13 emerged gradually over the next couple of weeks.  Three more emerged much later.  I have a few plants in pots with small fruit setting, but I’m not sure if they’ll be able to ripen before frost.  Here’s a pick from 7-11-2012.

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P.P.S., 1-05-2013 – Several of the seedlings in the above pic were finally transplanted into an unheated high tunnel on 10-01-2012 – now THAT’s a late start for tomatoes!!  Even so, I managed to pick 3 small, ripening tomatoes on 12-14-2012 which had minimal frost damage.  I’m anxious to see, once again, if one of these can last into summer.  Here’s a pick of the best-looking one today:

Reverend Morrow's Long Keeper (0.072 DT 2012) B

 

 

 

356 Tomato Plants in the Ground

Finally, I got my main crop of tomato plants transplanted – just barely beating June 1st.  Depending upon what one chooses to call a variety, this is about 287.

This includes 32 Big Zac plants, from F1 to F7, 30 of which have known lineages.  I’ll be taking notes and measurements to see if there are any significant differences among these 32 plants and the fruits they bear.  This is part of my little contribution to see whether Big Zac derived from giant tomato lineages can legitimately be refered to as OP (open pollinated).  Judging from these 39-day-old seedlings, there is no discernible difference:

Here is a typical looking Big Zac seedling, just prior to transplanting:

Here’s the pattern I use for planting:

These are double rows with each plant spaced 27″ from its 3 nearest neighbors.  The hollow steel posts (rectangular tubes) are 10′ long and driven 3′ into the ground.  I will be attaching baling twine and tying up the plants to the twine.  Spacing is about 11′ between posts within a row and rows are on 6′ centers.  Irrigation water will be directed in furrows to each of the 14 rows of tomato plants.

Amendments in each hole include:

• Compost (primarily dry leaves and fresh horse manure, composted over the winter)

• Peat moss

• Nutrimulch (a local product, turkey litter blended with wood shavings)

• Eggshells

• Sustane 4-6-4 (turkey litter based)

• Dr. Earth Organic 5

• Azomite

• Redmond sea salt (agricultural grade)

• Wood ashes

• Elemental sulphur

and for just the giant tomato plants (Big Zac, Delicious, etc.)

• Biogrow Endo Plus

For a complete list of tomatoes planted at the microfarm (Eyreland), see:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AvteJL5raChLdEdvaDh0V3BtaE8wTzRUWUlUM1pjanc&output=html

The Delicious (6.51 Meisner 2011) and Brutus Magnum (6.25 Meisner 2011) plants are from cuttings taken on 3-26-2012.  Both plants were in “gallon” pots and had a few blossoms when transplanted.