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

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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