First Megabloom of 2014

Seems like we’re repeating the weather pattern of the past couple of years: skip the 80’s and go straight to the 90’s. Skip Spring, go straight from Winter to Summer. Predicted high of 93° today. I hope this one takes!

MegaMarv (2.678 DT 2012)(5.51 Meisner 2011)

MegaMarv (2.678 DT 2012) blossom A00B rev

Looks like a couple of triples!  Plants are too small to support a big tomato, but after the disaster last year with trying to get blossoms to set in the heat, I may have to take what I can get now.

Seed was planted on 3-25-2014, emerged on 5-30 (5 days – the earliest of all 24 pots of giant tomato seeds; most took 14 days, give or take a few), transplanted on 5-21 (64 days from seed).  If all goes well, this tomato will be ripe on about 7-12.

Three other varieties are all blooming now as well:  Russian, Domingo, Rebecca Sebastian’s Bull Bag.  Planting seeds directly into 1-gallon pots makes a HUGE difference as far as seedling growth and early maturity.  If space, time and $ were not such huge considerations, I would use only these larger pots.  None of the seedlings raised in smaller pots are anywhere close to blooming, except the super early ones like Stupice and Forest Fire.

Winter Survival

Here are a few types which survived the 2013-14 winter.

Pomegranate, Wonderful.  In the high tunnel, completely top-killed, but the roots survived and are putting out vigorous, fresh foliage.  Next winter, a heavy covering of dried leaves or straw is in order to protect this semi-tropical plant.

Pomegranate, Wonderful, Winter survival

Mangelwurzel (giant Mangel Beet), in the high tunnel, now going to seed, leaves decimated by leaf miners.

Beet, Mangelwurzel 5-28-2014


Chives, 5-28-2014

Bunching onions

Onion, bunching 5-28-2014

Kohlrabi, Superschmelz 10-26-2014; soccer ball sized, stored in the garage over the winter, now finished flowering in the tunnel.  Even the big ones of this variety are tender and tasty.  Not likely to produce many viable seeds, as kohlrabi and relatives are self-infertile.

Kohlrabi, Superschmelz 10-26-2014 AKohlrabi, Superschmelz 5-28-2014


Parsley, Triple curled

Parsley, Triple Curled 5-28-2014 B

Orach, self-seeding

Orach, 5-28-2014

Endive, about 30% survival in the open

Endive, 5-28-2014

Korean Mint, nice flavor with a hint of anise

Mint, Korean 5-28-2014

Radicchio, about 20% winter survival in the open

Radicchio, 5-28-2014 A

Parsnip, Hollow Crown, delicious cooked, all winter long.  Plants now over 6′ tall, flowers just starting to open.

Parsnip, Hollow Crown 5-28-2014 A Parsnip, Hollow Crown 5-28-2014 B

Arugula – unstoppable, enjoyed all winter long from the high tunnel.

Arugula, 5-28-2014

Strawberries, transplanted from runners two years ago, looks like we might actually get some decent production this year.

Strawberry, 5-28-2014 A

And our most productive green, enjoyed all winter long, with 100% survival in the high tunnel:  Frisée, a relative of endive and chicory, just starting to bloom like crazy.

Frisée flowering 5-28-2014 BFrisée flowering 5-28-2014 AFrisée flowering 5-28-2014 E rev  Frisée flowering 5-28-2014 A rev

Also surviving or reseeding well: Purple of Sicily Cauliflower, several varieties of radish, hairy vetch, Purple Vienna Kohlrabi, Walking Stick Cabbage, Goji Berry, Cilantro, potato, sunchoke, rhubarb, several varieties of lettuce, Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry (reseeding) tomato (everywhere), and lots more that overwintered as seeds in the compost pile.  It is emotionally challenging for me to discard the volunteers rather than try to find a home for them!

2014 Giant Tomato Bed Planted

On May 22 I got 24 giant tomato plants in the ground:

Giant Tomato Bed 5-22-2014

Giant Tomato Bed 5-22-2014

Here is the list of varieties, with weights (in lbs.) and parentage:

Epstein’s Potato Leaf (? lb. Johnson 2012)

Sumo (1.782 DT 2012)

Chilo della Garfagnana (3.375 Koshykar 2008)

Delicious (6.51 Meisner 2011)

Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy 2013)(5.07 Boudyo 2010)

Domingo (4.55 Wahl 2008)

Big Zac (3.486 DT 2008)

Church (3.208 DT 2008)

MegaMarv (4.23 Wahl 2008)

Brutus Magnum (2.006 DT 2012)

Delicious (4.78 Lorson 2008)

Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2008)

Rebecca Sebastian’s Bull Bag (2.200 DT 2010)

Russian (2.319 DT 2010)

Big Zac (3.75 Catapano 2007)

Big Zac (5.50 Johnston/Butler 2012)

MegaMarv (2.678 DT 2012)

Omar’s Lebanese (1.724 DT 2010)

Big Zac (~2 Johnson 2013)(7.18 Harp 2010)

Belmonte (1.824 DT 2010)

Leadbeatter’s Lunker (4.905 Leadbeatter 2012)

Rhode Island Giant (1.934 DT 2013)

Church (1.662 DT 2010)(4.48 Perry 2010)

Polish Giant Beefsteak (2.222 DT 2013)


These are spaced about 3′ apart in soil that has LOTS of horse manure and compost – about 6″ new inches of organic matter added this year.

An item of interest:  I had some trouble germinating several of these seeds this year –  something about my potting mix, or drafty, or not warm enough.  On average (median), germination took 14 days, but one seedling [Delicious (4.78 Lorson 2012)] took 45 days!  In fact, until the pots were exposed to warm, natural sunlight, hundreds of tomato seeds just refused to germinate this year!

Also in the backyard high tunnel, on May 23rd I transplanted 32 additional “Giant” varieties, with some duplication:

Chilo della Garfagnana (3.375 Koshykar 2012)

Oxheart Giantissimo (2.294 DT 2012)

Virginia Sweets (2.218 DT 2011)

Catapano (2.2 Catapano 2005)

Mazarini (2.246 DT 2012)

Porterhouse (F2) (2.062 DT 2011)

Shuntukski Velikan (1.978 DT 2012)

Homer’s German Oxheart (1.916 DT 2012)

Donskoi (1.866 DT 2012)

West Virginia Sweetmeat (1.806 DT 2012)

Wes (1.718 DT 2012)

Delicious (1.224 DT 2012)(4th gen. GG)

Big Zac (2.0 Johnson 2013)(5.12 Daho 2012)

Big Zac (2.602 DT 2012)

Big Zac (2.962 DT 2012)

Cleota Pink (2.108 DT 2011)

Big Rainbow (1.888 DT 2011)

Bezrazmernyi (1.698 DT 2012)

Hoy (3 Kott 2011)

Sumo (1.782 DT 2012)

Epstein’s Potato Leaf (2? lb. Johnson 2012)

Rebecca Sebastian’s Bull Bag (1.428 DT 2012)

Russian (2.319 DT 2010)

Big Zac (3.75 Catapano 2007)

Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy 2012)

Omar’s Lebanese (1.724 DT 2010)

Belmonte (1.556 DT 2011)

Leadbeatter’s Lunker (1.644 DT 2012)(4.905 L. 2012)

Church (1.662 DT 2010)

Polish Giant Beefsteak (2.222 DT 2013)

Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012)

Brutus Magnum (2.006 DT 2012)

Church (3.208 DT 2012)

Big Zac (3.486 DT 2012)

Domingo (4.55 Wahl 2012)

Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy 2012)


These are spaced roughly 2′ apart in a double row, so very tight.  I do not expect much in terms of size from these, since our neighbors on both sides have HUGE trees which shade the garden for much of the day.

On the morning of May 14th we had a hard freeze at the county property and lost about 1,380 tomato and pepper seedlings.  The predicted low was 42°.  Not a pleasant sight.

On May 15-16 I helped get about 650 tomato and pepper seedlings transplanted at my cousin’s property in Kanab (southern Utah):

Kanab Garden 5-16-2014

Kanab Garden 5-16-2014


Note how the “soil” is the same color as the sandstone hills in the background.  Lots of amendments needed – very different from the heavy clay soil in the Salt Lake Valley where Lake Bonneville sat for > 15,000 years.  Plant spacing is 3′, with 5′ between rows.  The extra spacing should make it easier to work the area.

Already gophers etc. have claimed 40+ seedlings.  Working on that – flares in the burrows seems to be the most effective control!


More Tomato Seedlings than Planned

All tomato seedlings are now potted up.  Totals:

No. seedlings:  3,056

No. varieties planted:  468 (includes about 30 crosses, off-types and unknowns)

No. varieties with zero germination, even after three attempts:  34

This is about 50% more than I had planned – first round of planting yielded poor germination for many varieties, so I double and triple planted for the second round – then just about everything germinated, even from the first round!  Even though this is way fewer than last year (880 varieties and more than 30,000 seedlings total), it’s still plenty to keep one person busy.

Anyhow, here are about half the seedlings in the high tunnel:

Seedlings High Tunnel 5-8-2014

Forecast shows a few more nights in the 30’s, then hopefully transplanting time in a week or so.