Saturday, February 14, 2009

Let's Talk Tomatoes

I've already started some of my seeds this year in the basement.


I plan to be better prepared both in the varieties I grow and the bed they're planted in this year. I've done a lot of research over the winter to increase my production. Now, it's time to put those plans into results.

First, I'll need an area about 10' x 20'. I'd like a larger area, but I want to grow a few other veggies in the potager too. I'll till this bed to at least 12" deep. I'll need to incorporate a lot of composted leaves rather than using it as a mulch like I did last year. I will mix in a fair amount of lime in the form of wood ashes from the heater downstairs. I'll install soaker hoses before I plant anything. And I'll use the Florida Weave for supporting the plants. Straw will be used to mulch after planting. I want to produce enough to can for the winter months when grocery store tomatoes just won't do.

As for varieties, I've got some standards that do well in the South and a few that I have never grown nor tasted.

Beefsteak: Red. 12-16 oz fruit. Indeterminate. 60-90 DTM. Great for slicing and sandwhiches.

Rutgers: Red. 6 oz fruit. Determinate. 75 DTM. For canning. Abundant supply.

San Marzano: Red. 4 oz fruit. Indeterminate. 85 DTM. Best choice for sauces and canning. A Roma style tomato.

Bursztyn: Orange. 8-12 oz fruit. Indeterminate. 69-85 DTM. Slicing, salads, and canning.

Green Zebra: Green with yellow stripes. 6 oz fruit. Indeterminate. 78 DTM. Tart and acidic. Should be good for salads and canning.

Hawaiian Pineapple: Yellow-Orange. 12-16 oz fruits. Indeterminate. 93 DTM. Very sweet.

I've got other varieties as well, but these are my main focus. In addition, there are lots of cherry tomatoes, black cherry, sweet 100s, yellow pear, purple cherry, Italian cherry, and many others. The traders at have been extremely generous. One or two plants of each should suffice.

In another week, I should be able to repot the seedlings that have germinated. They'll first go into 20 ounce drink cups. This will allow me to fill in with more soil as the plants grow creating deep, strong roots. I'll use 'supercropping' to bruise the main stems keeping them stronger and shorter until they are planted outside. It's a method developed by a certain herbaceous growing society that hides everything in foil lined closets under very bright lights. Since the two plants are related genetically, whatever works for them should work with tomatoes. I'll go into more detail with that as the last weeks of winter turn to spring.

Enough talk. My mouth is watering just thinking about the sweet, juicy tomatoes I'll be harvesting this summer.

It's 43 degrees, overcast and drizzly. More rain is expected this afternoon with lows tonight just above freezing.


Anonymous said...

Hi Tom,

Shoregrowin from GW here. I picked up a couple packets of Ferry Morse Organic San Marzano seeds recently and was planning on winter sowing them. After seeing those sprouts- I think I'm going to do BOTH! Just went to look for them and oh my Lord, I'm going to have plenty of extra seeds for trade. Since you are canning those bad boys- ($5 for a 1lb. can of San Marzano's at our local grocery) here is an absolutely to die for pasta sauce made with roasted SZ's. It's the bomb, serious!

Good luck with the snow forecast- your sprouts should be just fine, they are tough little buggers!


Machelle said...

very nice. I would like to hear more about this "supercropping" It sound interesting.

Anonymous said...

I am so anxious for spring this year. Last season saw the demise of my entire tomato collection- heirlooms and all sorts of specialties. The blight.

I love the Florida weave. I also plan on more leaf mold and less water on the plant. I might rig up a cover for the plants. I also have blue mulch (it's some ripped blue air mattresses) that is supposed to increase production.

I won't start them as early this year, but will transplant them tons sooner and use pop bottles as little cloches. WS said you can put them out as soon as they sprout if you keep them covered with them.

Please let me now what you are planning for this season. Do you believe in the "tablespoon of bleach, tablespoon of miraclegro" theory when planting the 'maters?

I want a great crop this year.

I just found your blog (courtesy gardenweb) and I too have a house that I am restoring, room by room. I keep finding myself out in the yard though, instead of tackling the leaking water pipes in the bath.