Monday, April 27, 2015

Eight More Seedlings Planted

On Tuesday my wife surprised me by planting four tomato plants -- Blue Boar Berries, Black From Tula, Snow White and Kentucky Beefsteak.

However, I wasn't able to dig any holes for the rest of the week -- I was just too busy with other priorities in the evening.

On Saturday I dug four more holes in the back yard. Yesterday I prepped the dirt and in the evening my wife planted four more tomato plants -- Nyagous, Yellow Perfection, German Orange Strawberry and Pineapple.

Tonight I managed to dig a couple more holes in the back yard and moved around some more compost.

Our seedlings are getting quite large and should have been planted weeks ago. We'll simply do the best we can and leave it at that.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Planted Two More Tomato Plants

On Wednesday I finished off the third hole left from Tuesday and dug a couple more.

Thursday and Friday I didn't do anything about planting tomatoes. If I dig too much my right knee swells and I have to back off. This was a backing off period.

Saturday afternoon I had a little time to spread out some of the compost in the back yard, but it was too hot to plant.

Yesterday I worked the TomatoMania event at Flora Gardens in Ojai. Not only was it turning dark by the time I got home, I brought home some more seedlings. I went to bed early...

...and I got up early. But I did spend time before dawn prepping the dug dirt piles for planting. Also, I added compost to all of our seedlings not yet planted.

Tonight we got two more planted: Momotaro and Aunt Ruby's German Green. Afterwards I placed compost in the spaces between the planted tomatoes.

So the short term goal is to plant tomatoes in the six remaining holes and then move more compost around the areas recently planted. Then it's dig, dig, dig more holes in the back yard. When my wife pins back the sweet peas growing in the "koi pond" in the front yard, I can dig there as well.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dug Three More Holes This Evening

I got two more holes dug in the back yard after work and started on a third when it was time for dinner. Not very exciting, is it?

I can tell, however, that I'm digging in areas not planted before. I've been hitting too much broken asphalt in the ground. This evening one of the holes produced a small blue button. One thing about this neighborhood -- they buried their mistakes...

Last night I dealt with an accounting issue that I put off for about seven weeks. Tonight I caught up with the ironing. Tomorrow I have a couple of other niggling items I'll try to get done. Slowly but surely.

Tomorrow we are planning to plant tomatoes in the evening after work. But at this pace we won't get caught up with planting until June...

Monday, April 13, 2015

Moved Some Compost

We got some compost delivered on Thursday.

I spent Thursday through Sunday moving the compost off the driveway. We needed the driveway to park our cars. I worked furiously and was wiped out by Sunday afternoon. Note, we don't have the compost in place, we just got it off the driveway.

I did manage to dig three holes Sunday afternoon. Two of them were in the southeast raised bed. Both holes were "rooty", I assume from the ponderosa pine tree. I was able to pull out a half of a brick from the second hole.

The one hole I dug in the back yard growing area had the bottom of a glass jar within the dirt.

There was no time this evening to do anything about the compost. I worked late and had other things to catch up on.

The plants we planted are doing well. But I need to find time to move the compost to where it's needed and of course, plant more tomatoes.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Planted 5 Tomato Seedlings; Catching Up (somewhat)...

Yesterday we planted Hungarian Heart, Black Krim, Pink Berkeley Tie Dye, Dr. Wyche's Yellow and Blue Beauty in the back yard.

So where have we been for the last few months? Well, we've been around. Silent, but we've been around.

Here's a partial explanation...on October 17, 2014 my wife and I formally adopted our son, Tony. He was two weeks shy of two years old at the time of adoption and as two year old boys are wont to do, he is increasingly active. We've had less time for soil preparation this year (As in, none.). Tony takes first priority.

During the last six or seven weeks we've all been under the weather in one form or another. In fact, Tony has had two febrile seizures during this period. Tony will be fine and will outgrow his febrile seizures, but it has been a somewhat scary time while these occur.

The first occurred in late February on a Thursday while at a restaurant. We called 911 immediately and got him to a hospital. That was quite scary and concerning for us. However, he was released several hours later with no ill effects.

The second febrile seizure during this period was again on a Thursday night in March. In this instance we drove him to the hospital, anticipating the upcoming seizure. He was seizing while he was brought into the hospital. This time, however, he was kept in the hospital for three days. Again, he will be fine but through it all we've learned to be acutely aware of any potential fevers he may have and "get out in front of it" if necessary.

The second seizure was the night before the main TomatoMania Encino event. Because Tony was in the hospital for three days, my wife and I missed the event.

We get a lot of tomato plants from the TomatoMania Encino event, and volunteer to help during the three day extravaganza. But not this year.

I did work the TomatoMania event the next weekend at Descanso Gardens and got a selection at that time, 5 of which were planted as noted above. I had worked Roger's Gardens about a month ago but passed on tomato seedlings because of the upcoming TomatoMania Encino event...but you know the rest of the story.

As a matter of fact we going to visit relatives yesterday but apparently Tony got a touch of food poisoning Saturday night and that scotched our Sunday plans. So we planted some tomatoes.

I did a couple of speaking events, speaking about tomatoes at the San Fernando Iris Society in early February and Sunday afternoon at the Descanso Gardens TomatoMania event. Both went well but I have to watch how I meander from topic to topic...

Speaking of meandering, I lost the "corner office" to my wife's roses and irises. We're not going to grow as many tomatoes as previously because of that and the fact we're starting later than ever.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

It's Over for 2014

It's over for 2014.

The tomato plants were pulled last Saturday. They were meant to be pulled the prior Saturday but the gardeners didn't show.

I didn't harvest at all during the week but I did pick off a few tomatoes before the plants were pulled last Saturday. Sunchocola, which looked pretty darn good and strong three weeks ago, got the fungal disease. The top of the plant looked like it had spider webs on it. For what it's worth the Sunchocola plant also had a couple of hornworms on it, though that's not related to the fungal disease.

Our total harvest for the year ended up at 6904 tomatoes. Here are our top ten harvest totals for 2014:

Orange Paruche -- 1250
Sunchocola -- 1015
Matt's Wild Cherry -- 683
SunGold -- 666
Sugar Snack -- 333
Husky Cherry Red(2) -- 332
Husky Cherry Red(1) -- 245
Evan's Purple Pear -- 189
Black Cherry -- 153
Indigo Rose -- 139

We added a lot of compost in preparation for this year. The plants started out strong but more importantly we were very pleased with the taste of this year's crop. However, most of the plants "hit the wall" relatively soon. Why?

Well, one never knows. For instance, it could have been a weak year for seedlings...but barring a few tomato plants that didn't seem to be the issue. The soil was prepped moreso than in other years. But there were two factors overriding everything else: This was the hottest year on record and we got very little rain during the prior winter.

This record's record heat is consistent with how our plants seemed to peak and die about two to three weeks earlier than before. That is clear. But what about fall and winter rains? We're warming to the opinion that the rains in the fall/winter affect next year's crop. We're beginning to believe that rain brings worms up to the top of the soil, depositing worm castings where the tomato plants can later use it.

2013 was our worst harvest year on record. In that year we had little rain the prior fall/winter and I did not prepare the soil like I did in the fall of 2013. And it showed. In 2007 I could find plenty of worms in our front yard. This year I don't think I saw a single worm anywhere in our growing area.

Our plans for 2015 will involve prepping the soil similar to what we did late last year. That means we should acquire compost in the near future. But if we have a low rain amount during the next fall and winter, we may not plant tomatoes for 2015. Or we'll scale back and try to not "fight nature" as much as in prior years.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Harvested Over 675 Matt's Wild Cherry Tomatoes This Year!

Wednesday's harvest includes 3 Husky Cherry Red(2), 2 Matt's Wild Cherry and SunGold for a total of 6 tomatoes.

No harvest Thursday. The weather got noticeably warmer, getting up to 95 degrees.

Today's harvest includes 10 Husky Cherry Red(2), 3 Matt's Wild Cherry, SunGold and Husky Cherry Red(1) for a total of 15 tomatoes.

We've now harvested over 675 Matt's Wild Cherry tomatoes this year (677)! Right now it looks like Matt's Wild Cherry will hold off SunGold for third place on the 2014 harvest total. Also, we've now harvested 325 Husky Cherry Red(2) tomatoes this year.

It got down to 54.7 degrees this morning but it is supposed to get hotter than yesterday.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

September 2014 Tomato Analysis

Let's take a look at the September numbers from top to bottom...

2011 -- 768 tomatoes
2010 -- 717 tomatoes
2012 -- 700 tomatoes
2007 -- 647 tomatoes
2014 -- 372 tomatoes
2008 -- 204 tomatoes
2013 -- 199 tomatoes
2009 -- 181 tomatoes

This year was fifth out of eight years. That has been fairly consistent throughout the year.

My original estimate of 550 tomatoes was far enough away to be a miss. The adjusted estimate of 400 was good.

German Orange Strawberry and Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red were pretty productive for the month of September. SunGold started fairly strong while Matt's Wild Cherry got a second wind toward the end of the month.

We're down to five plants now, four in the back yard and Sunchocola in the front yard. Sunchocola is getting a lot of blooms but we're due for a heat wave very soon.

However, I'm getting bored with the remaining plants. I'll keep 'em around for a bit but they may not make it to the end of October. We'll see. Because of that I won't make an estimate for October.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Harvested 650 SunGold Tomatoes This Year!

Last Tuesday's harvest includes 2 Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red, 2 Matt's Wild Cherry, Porkchop(1), SunGold, Husky Cherry Red(1), Husky Cherry Red(2) and Sugar Snack for a total of 9 tomatoes.

Wednesday's harvest includes Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red, Matt's Wild Cherry and Husky Cherry Red(2) for a total of 3 tomatoes.

Thursday's harvest includes 2 Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red, Porkchop(1) and Matt's Wild Cherry for a total of 4 tomatoes.

Friday's harvest includes 2 Matt's Wild Cherry, Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red, Indian Stripe and Husky Cherry Red(1) for a total of 5 tomatoes.

Saturday's harvest includes 8 Matt's Wild Cherry and Husky Cherry Red(1) for a total of 9 tomatoes.

I pulled out Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red, Indian Stripe, Porkchop(1) and Sugar Snack. The gardeners threw them away. I gave the gardeners all of our remaining tomatoes.

We're down to five plants...

No harvest on Sunday.

Monday's harvest includes 4 SunGold and Matt's Wild Cherry for a total of 5 tomatoes.

Today's harvest includes 5 Matt's Wild Cherry, 4 Husky Cherry Red(2) and 3 SunGold for a total of 12 tomatoes.

We've now harvested exactly 650 SunGold tomatoes this year! SunGold still resides in fourth place on the harvest list but could make a comeback.

Some of the Sunchocolas are maturing but look "wobbly" at the moment. We'll see how that goes. Meanwhile, there's another big heat wave coming. That will wipe out the second wave Sunchocola tomato blooms that have been increasingly appearing...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Harvested Over 650 Matt's Wild Cherry Tomatoes This Year!

So let's catch up on things...

No harvest on Tuesday. But Tuesday only got to 100.4 degrees (that's bad enough). The prior three days were over 107 degrees.

Wednesday's harvest includes 5 Michael Pollan, 2 Matt's Wild Cherry, Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red, Porkchop(1), SunGold and Husky Cherry Red(1) for a total of 11 tomatoes.

Thursday's harvest includes 3 SunGold, 2 Matt's Wild Cherry, Sunchocola, Aunt Ruby's German Green, Husky Cherry Red(1) and Michael Pollan for a total of 9 tomatoes.

No harvest on Friday.

Saturday's harvest includes 6 Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red, 5 Matt's Wild Cherry, 3 Michael Pollan, 2 SunGold, Sunchocola, Husky Cherry Red(2) and Sugar Snack for a total of 19 tomatoes.

Sunday's harvest includes 4 Matt's Wild Cherry, 3 Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red, 2 Michael Pollan and Indian Stripe for a total of 10 tomatoes.

I pulled out seven tomato plants on Sunday. These included Michael Pollan, Captain Lucky, Aunt Ruby's German Green, Dr. Wyche's Yellow, Pink Berkeley Tie Dye(1), Pineapple and Speckled Roman(2).

There are nine remaining plants, four in the front yard and five in the back yard. The strongest remaining plant is Sunchocola.

We've now harvested over 650 Matt's Wild Cherry tomatoes (651)! Also, we harvested over 100 Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red tomatoes this year (102).

The Matt's Wild Cherry totals in relation to SunGold have been interesting. Originally, SunGold was out in front but was passed by the hard charging Matt's Wild Cherry. Matt's Wild Cherry was comfortably in third place behind Orange Paruche and Sunchocola but well over 100 tomatoes in front of the fourth place challenger, SunGold.

Then SunGold got a second wind after Matt's Wild Cherry went into recovery mode. Day by day I'd harvest SunGolds while Matt's Wild Cherry lay idle. I'd harvest several SunGolds a day, nothing dramatic. But day after day the SunGold totals began creeping up to where it was approaching the third place total of Matt's Wild Cherry. At that point (a week or two ago) Matt's Wild Cherry appeared to wake up while SunGold was running out of juice. SunGold got to within one tomato of Matt's Wild Cherry (639 to 638) but could not cross into third place. I started harvesting Matt's Wild Cherry again while SunGold appears exhausted. Now Matt's Wild Cherry has a nine tomato lead, 651 to 642 for SunGold.

Today's harvest includes 2 Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red, Matt's Wild Cherry, Husky Cherry Red(2) and Sugar Snack for a total of 4 tomatoes.