Changing Seasons and Circumstances

Continuous change is standard procedure for outdoor endeavors on a planet that is tilted 23.5° with respect to its source of light and heat.  Big snowstorm this week:

Apparently the harvest season is over, though there was a lot I did not get harvested for seed saving – lettuce, flowers, radishes, some peppers and more.

Over the past month, focus has been on reducing some 70 boxes of containers of tomatoes, melons, corn, beans, etc. –

down to a less overwhelming 20 boxes or so:

Stacks and stacks of plates with drying seeds –

So I am still a couple of weeks away from managing the time to package and inventory all of these.  Only then can a compile and publish lists and getting back to listing which seeds are available here:

https://www.delectationoftomatoes.com/seeds.html

In addition to seriously less-than-super-human abilities, much time recently has been spent looking at moving with Delectation of Tomatoes.  Many options are under consideration.  Several properties visited.  Dreams considered, expounded, multiplied, blossomed, withered and died; or at least dying due to limiting resources.

So many possibilities, even at high elevation, with the right equipment, greenhouse designs, geothermal heat exchange technologies, and time…

Trying to strike a balance between visions, ambitions, idealism and the harsh realities of a competitive world ruled by dollars rather than ideas.

One of these days I really need to make the time to describe what I envision for growing fresh garden vegetables year-round, and permaculture, sustainable off-grid living, etc.  But for now, it’s back to seed processing.

 

 

 

 

 

Seeds from 2019 Growing Season

Regrettably, seeds from the 2019 growing season are not ready yet – only about 300 hours of seed processing left to do, then packaging, drying and inventory 😵  So hopefully by early December I can post the list that I wish I could post here today.

At last count, over 67,100 photographs taken for Delectation of Tomatoes, with more than 20,000 still to be named.  I’ll post a couple of newer ones here, at least.

Super cold, record cold, the past few days.  Only 7° F yesterday morning where I grow, and an amazing – 45° at Peter Sinks, Utah yesterday morning!

I harvested a really good crop of Glass Gem Corn (a popcorn) over the past few days, including these beauties:

Ears of several additional varieties of corn are in processing for seeds.  More to come – not succeeding very well at keeping up this season.  Just returned from the last farmers market of the season, so that should free up about 40 hours per week, meaning I should be able to get back on track soon.  Except for that “must move by the end of the year” looming – yikes!

 

Short Growing Season

Frost last night shortened the 2019 growing season to 113 days, which is 74 days shorter than what I was accustomed to a few years ago in West Valley City.

It has not been devastating frost yet, as there are still many tomato vines still alive and producing where weeds and corn stalks have protected them.  The prediction is for even colder temperatures tonight.

A number of the tomato vines have yet to produce their first ripe tomato.  And it’s been a very tough year for hot peppers, eggplant, okra and melons which prefer hot weather.  There were a few weeks of hot weather in July and August, but it has been unusually cool, overall, for the past five months.

So far, I have saved seeds from 20% of the tomato varieties planned for 2019, and I am an estimated 300 hours behind schedule with this massive project.  Here’s the first sizeable batch of tomatoes processing for seeds: dwarf varieties on August 31st.

The “missing” 300 hours has been more than taken up with participation in two local farmers markets every week:

Saturday the 28th was the Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers’ annual weighoff event.  (Let’s not talk about the pumpkin I reluctantly submitted…)  The winner weighed 1,608 lbs.!

This one might be the most interesting of the lot:

The giant tomato contest was extremely close.  The winner was a 2.18 lb. Big Zac, still hard green.  My largest submission was a 2.16 lb. Domingo:

This was the first ripe tomato of the season on this vine.  At least it, and another Domingo off the same vine, topped 2 lbs. – something I didn’t manage to do in 2018!

 

 

Cruel and Cold-hearted Mother Nature

Quite unusual Spring weather here along the Wasatch Front: cold and wet for nearly a month in May, including several late frost events which had me covering thousands of seedlings several and delaying planting for several weeks.

I thought I was being prudent and clever by waiting and waiting some more.

Then, just after I got nearly all of my tomato seedlings planted (about 2,000 of them), a freaky late frost came through one week ago (June 9th) and destroyed about 800 of the 1,100+ tomato seedlings which were already in the ground at the Carlisle Farm.  Brief video:

Late frost wipes out tomato seedlings

Replaced with “leftovers” from plug trays for tomato seed saving project:

Tomato seedlings leftovers plug trays_20190606_162015547

 

 

Here is what it looks like, with about 3,400′ of rows of tomato seedlings:

Carlisle farm background mountains snow_20190614_144835627_HDR

And snow-capped mountains in the background, including Lone Peak (11,260′ elevation).

This has lead to even more delays, as replacing those dead seedlings was no quick or easy task.  Although more than 2,000 tomato vines are in the ground and growing, seedlings for my giant tomato project and dwarf tomato project are still in 3-1/2″ pots and getting quite stressed.

But I did finally manage to get my (very stunted) giant pumpkin seedlings in the ground: 5 of them in about 500 square feet of space. Maybe I’ll find the time and motivation to kill squash bugs this year before they kill my pumpkin vines?

Pumpkin, Giant, Atlantic Dill_20190616_161445083 (2)

Lineages of these five pumpkin vines:

1060 Seamons 2015 (1421.5 Stelts X 1832.5 Midthun)
1039 Laub (1985 Miller X Self)
915 McRae 2017 (1386.5 Sadiq X 2261.5 Wallace)
1468 Strickler 2018 (2363 Holland 2017 X Self)
1073.5 Laub 2015 (1817 McConkie X 1526 Menting)

Early Painted Mountain Corn (Alpine Varietal) is tasseling now:

Corn, Painted Mountain_20190615_154955424_HDR

Corn, Painted Mountain_20190615_154941128

And predictably, I remain fascinated by the reproductive parts of a variety of plants:

 

Included above are: Larkspur, Rhubarb, Snapdragon, Feverfew, Comfrey, Mullein, Purple Orach, Rose, Calendula, Dianthus, Onion, Chives and Penstemon.  Then there was this suggestive Sugar Magnolia Snap Pea blossom:

Pea, Sugar Magnolia Snap_20190615_154501253 (2)

Really not so cruel and cold-hearted.  I just need to prepare better for contingencies.  It could be much worse: the severe flooding of many other parts of the country; drought; volcanic eruption blocking most sunlight; goats let loose to rampage like last year; curly top virus; and many other potential setbacks come to mind.  This is definitely not a cushy 9 to 5 job…

There remains much data entry and compilation to determine where we stand with tomato varieties which survived the frost.

 

= = =

 

Oops!  Above was written on June 16, 2019 but apparently I neglected to click on the “Publish” button.  So here it is, July 31st, and much of what I wrote is sort of obsolete.  But it may still be of interest.

Brief update here.

The Carlisle tomato patch on July 3rd after t-post installation –

But now (photo taken July 29th), this is looking much more like a corn patch – very likely tomato production will be greatly reduced.

The first ripe tomatoes in this patch were Gold Nugget on July 29th.  Perhaps 80 tomato vines have been destroyed by curly top virus.

In the backyard garden, Totushka ripened about a week earlier than Red Alert and Moscow, followed roughly a week later by Rose Quartz, Egg Yolk, Sasha’s Altai, Gregori’s Altai, Chocolate Cherry, Bursztyn, Bison, Orange Bourgoin, Rosalie’s Early Orange, Slava Moldovoy, Stupice, Lucinda, Sunsugar, Sweet Apertif, Maddeline’s Vine Candy, Peacevine, Indian Stripe, Alpine, Bellstar, Be My Baby, Auria, and a few others not coming to mind at the moment.

Here’s Gold Nugget – makes quite a tasty little morsel!

At my cousin’s tomato patch, where most of my seed saving plants are, weeds currently predominate and it’s looking like about 40% of the plants will not produce tomatoes due to a combination of factors:  poor soil (dense alkaline clay), problems with the drip hose (mostly fixed, but the system’s a mess…), late start, curly top virus (15-20% loss to date, with more succumbing almost every day), goats got out (7 of them, but I think I caught them in time and did repairs to their pen), and hot weather (6 days over 100° so far).

The goats’ escape hatch:

And this one’s a head-scratcher: old plastic bags to restrain goats?

Hopefully my repairs will hold through the growing season.

Giant tomato project started very late, in 20-gallon pots filled with decent but not great soil.  Here are the 27 plants on June 26th, right after transplanting completed:

And here they are 33 days later, about 15 of them with fruit set:

Here is this year’s dwarf tomato project, transplanting completed on June 26th.  These are 7-gallon grow bags – 100 of them, though a few are not dwarf varieties.

First giant pumpkin finally pollinated on July 21st:

And so far it looks like it’s taking.

I reneged on my promise never to participate in farmers markets again.  Among the tasks of harvesting, cleaning and packaging produce, travel to and from, setup and breakdown, time at market (4-5 hours), and cleanup afterwords, we’re looking at 8-9 hours of time.

After 4 weeks, I think I’ve finally earned enough to pay for the canopy.  Maybe next week I will start bringing in enough to begin paying for gas, and then vendor fees…

 

 

 

 

 

Delay from Cold, Wet May

Officially the second wettest Spring on record, with 11.18″ of precipitation from March-May, with precipitation on 18 days during May and many low temperatures in the 35-42° range.  Cold and wet is a recipe for disaster for young tomato seedlings, so I’ve kept most seedlings cozy warm in the low tunnel until the past couple of days.  Now it’s catching up time, transplanting directly from 128-cell plug trays into the gardens.

About 1/3 or the way planting out tomatoes seedlings of 802 varieties, assuming I got at least 1 seed to germinate of each variety.  Which is definitely not going to be the case.  Once the dust settles, I will likely have a little over 3,000 tomato seedlings in the ground at 3 locations.  I’ll likely update with the full list once all seedlings are in the ground and growing.

Seedlings in plug trays, destined for seed production.

Seedlings in 3-1/2″ pots, intended for other gardeners, with over 900 not sold, of around 150 varieties.

Seed saving already in progress for several types that survived the winter, such as Brussell’s Sprouts – covered with a mesh of tulle fabric to prevent cross pollination with Kale that is in bloom nearby.

More varieties of flowers blooming, such as this dianthus

Plenty of herbs growing well, such as feverfew:

It has been a great year so far for flowers, herbs, fruit trees and cool-season crops.

More updates once tomatoes are in the ground.  Long days, short nights…

Seedlings Available for 2019

New low tunnel is currently jam packed with pepper and tomato seedlings, most of them looking for a good home for local growers (Wasatch Front area, Utah).  Using three layers to regulate heat and prevent sunscald: greenhouse plastic, shade cloth, and heavy duty frost blanket.

Crazy weather of Spring – some warm and sunny days, and likely light frost tonight.  (update May 2nd: ground covered with frost the past two nights – would have been wiped out without frost blanket!)  Good thing I did not succumb to the temptation to transplant four weeks ahead of schedule!

List of tomato seedlings available:

Tomato Seedlings Growing in 2019

But of the 615 varieties planted for seed saving, I need to replant 88 of them!  A few because the seedlings were eaten by snails; but there were 36 varieties with ZERO germination!  Plus another 46 varieties with only 1 surviving seedling.   That’s a lot of extra time and effort from getting poor quality seeds!!

First ripe tomato of 2019 is again Totushka, discovered on April 24, from seeds planted on December 12, 2018.  That’s 133 days; but I really did not care for them well.  Metal Halide lights, which I did not use this past winter, are far superior for growing tomatoes indoors than are the weak T-12 fluorescent bulbs that I did use.

Other microdwarf varieties which produced ripe fruit at close to the same time include Gold Pearl and Regina:

Other signs of Spring –

A cracked robin egg found on the ground

 

Flowers in abundance:

 

Fruit trees heavily laden with blossoms this year:

Corn – I attempted to plant an extra early patch of Painted Mountain, Alpine Varietal, just to see how early I could get corn.  Seeds planted on April 17; 128 seeds in a plug tray and kept warm indoors.  Seeds began to emerge in less than 3 days, with most of them up within 5 days.  Transplanted outdoors after 8 days, and some seedlings already had taproots that were 8″ long!

This little patch is covered for the night, with 33° F for predicted low.

Several varieties of lettuce also planted today (April 30, 2019):

Amish Deer Tongue, Jericho, Tennis Ball, Buttercrunch, Summer Bibb, Prizehead, Dark Lollo Rosso, Speckled, Bronze Mignonette, North Pole and Tango – with several more I would like to plant when I can find the time and garden space.

Several varieties of peas are also emerging:

Wando, Super Sugar Snap, Sugar Magnolia, Alderman, Little Marvel, and Amish Snap

Also planted on April 25th: nine large pots with Atlantic Giant Pumpkin seeds.  After five days, no signs of life yet.  Later – after 8 days, 5 have germinated.

LOTS more to come…

Of Spring, Rain, Rainbows, Flowers – and Tomatoes

The clock, the calendar just keep ticking away the seconds and the months.  The first day of Spring has come and gone, still finding me mostly indoors working with seeds and databases.

But I did manage to notice some rain and a double rainbow en route to the post office.

 

The coming and passing of crocuses of promise:

The coming and passing of thought-provoking orchid irises:

The coming and near passing of daffodils of portense:

Fresh new stately hyacinths:

The flaming of forsythia flowers:

With tulips, apricot blossoms, and so much more just around the corner.  What is this fascination with the flamboyant display of the reproductive organs of flowers?  Maybe there is a butterfly or bee deep inside of me.  Reminders of the brevity of life, whether filled with beauty or other things; of connectedness, if we choose to see it.

This weekend I climbed out of my basement cave, out of hibernation, and started doing autumn garden cleanup – yes, the work a conscientious gardener would complete in November.  Oh, what a mess I left!

A short couple of breaths for noticing something else, and suddenly a new season of tomato growing is pressing, pressuring.

Already way out of space on my 4′ X 6′ stand with grow lights, a couple of weeks ago I constructed a makeshift cold frame by using lawn chairs, a double layer of thick row cover, and a small electric space heater.

Birdie Rouge, a microdwarf, putting out a few fruit:

Over the weekend I found this on the ground underneath the pots from the microdwarf tomato project of last year, which were left outside all winter.

This is possibly Florida Petite, but hard to say for sure.  No, I didn’t taste it!  But you guessed it, I’m doing a seed germination test: how well do tomato seeds survive overwintering?

This coming week I will start potting up my first batch of tomato seedlings:

This is about 450 seedlings of extra early tomatoes, mostly for other gardeners and farmers who, like me, hope for fresh ripe tomatoes by early July.  Varieties shown here include these 37:

Amazon Chocolate
Andy Buckflat’s Wonder
Bison
Black Sea Man
Bloody Butcher
Bursztyn
Chocolate Cherry
Dwarf Arctic Rose
Forest Fire
Fourth of July (OP)
Gregori’s Altai
Iditarod
June Pink
Katja
Koralik
Maddeline’s Vine Candy
Marshal Pobeda
Mormon World’s Earliest
Moscow
Orange Bourgoin
Orange Paruche
Red Alert
Rosalie’s Early Orange
Rose
Rose Quartz
Santiam Sunrise
Sasha’s Altai
Siberian
Slava Moldovoy
Sophie’s Choice
Spudakee
Stupice
Sunset’s Red Horizon
Sweet Scarlet Dwarf
Totuska
Tsindao
Utyonok

But where will they go when potted up?

A brand new low tunnel, 6’X36′, large enough to cram in 108 of the 1020 trays if needed.  Temperature regulation is going to be tricky!

About 52 varieties of peppers, plus ground cherries and a number of other types also up and growing.

Seeds of 128 additional varieties have also been planted for other growers.  Send me an email if you would like a copy of the list: dale@gianttomatoseeds.com.  These should be ready by early to mid-May.

Now the BIG task – planting tomato seeds for seed saving this year.  The count currently stands at 872 varieties MUST GROW varieties, with at least 300 additional SHOULD GROW varieties.  Time, space, energy, other resources are so limiting.  But ambition is not!! What to do, what to do…