Friday, August 1, 2008

Tomato Analysis For July

July analysis: In short, we were expecting more. Our total of 1629 tomatoes is 74% less than last year's numbers for this period.

In May and June we were looking to buy a freezer to store all the tomato sauce. That urge faded away as the numbers just haven't supported such a purchase.


First, the harvest is simply later this year than last year. All the tomato growers I know are reporting that their harvests are coming in later this year compared to last year.

But that implies we'd get similar harvest numbers later in the year. That just isn't going to happen with our harvest totals this year.

Now mind you, we're still enjoying great tomatoes and have more than we can handle. We're very happy with our harvested tomatoes but the numbers pale in comparison to last year's numbers.

In August 2007 we harvested 2806 tomatoes. I'll estimate we'll do around 900 tomatoes for August 2008.

Last year we harvested 11,000 tomatoes among 34 plants. This year I'll estimate we'll harvest about 4600 tomatoes among the 52 plants (3 pulled).

To repeat, why?

I believe it's simply a confluence of events that won't happen again. We just got a bit unlucky this year.

First, I believe the weather in the winter and spring has been more variable this year compared to last year. On the high side, I seem to remember hitting 90 degree temperatures in April, 100 degree temperatures in May and I know we hit 110 in June. July 2008, though, seems more mild than July 2007. That could bode well for some of our August and September tomatoes.

Second, our seed lady moved last year. She was kind enough to start seeds for us this year and she started the seeds at the same time she did before. Turns out that the new place is foggier, more damp and a bit colder than the prior house. In short, the first batch was started too soon.

The plants acquired from Green Thumb/Green Arrow didn't seem to do very well this year.

The Tomatomania event started a couple of weeks later than usual. That alone would shift the harvest to couple of weeks later.

I've been told after the fact that early season windstorms wiped out a lot (more than half!) of the tomato seedlings. I wished I had known that before picking them. Usually, the seedlings I select look healthy but are a little on the smallish side. But this year's smaller seedlings may have been small from damage created by the wind and cold. Note to self: Ask the grower about how they were raised.

If our generous seed lady grows for us again next year and doesn't move, she'll start between the two start dates for this year.

Third, our seed lady completely surprised us with a second batch of seedlings. We gladly took them but they were planted late in the season.

In short – Bouncing temperatures (not good for the plants), seedlings planted too early, late Tomatomania, seedlings planted too late, late season, and the 110 degree temperatures around the summer solstice burned out a lot of blooms.

In no particular order, here's discussion about some of the tomato plants:

Red Currant – Stunning production, great taste. An absolute winner in 2008.

Blue Fruit, Chocolate Stripes – Grown from first batch of seed. First ripe tomatoes showed up about 115 days after planting. We'll get only a dozen or so tomatoes from Chocolate Stripes, more from Blue Fruit.

Polish Pastel, Painted Ukrainian, Evan's Italian Plum, Kellogg's Breakfast, Olga's Round Yellow Chicken – No harvested tomatoes (except Polish Pastel, which started recently), but there are some on the vines. Evan's Italian Plum may have 50 tomatoes on it. The best is yet to come for these tomatoes

Jeff Davis, Yellow Brandywine – Platfoot Strain – No tomatoes, period. Plants are six feet tall, but no tomatoes.

Garden Peach, Snow White – The absolute busts of 2008. Last year: Garden Peach (which was really two plants): 1197, Snow White: 1771. This year: Garden Peach: 13, Snow White: 4. Everything off of these plants tastes bad and doesn't look like what the tag says they are. Probably ruined by severe wind damage.

Cherokee Chocolate, Stupice – Labels are wrong and we don't know what we have.

Black Krim, Pierce's Pride, Black From Tula, Paul Robeson, Carbon, Blue Fruit – We love dark tomatoes! We have yet to hit a bad dark tomato, and this year is no exception.

Red Yellow Cap – Impressive beefsteak. I'd grow it again. The yellow-red beefsteak tomatoes tend to get bruised and sun scalded, but not this one so far.

Piccolo, Black Cherry, Husky Cherry Red, Black Plum Paste, Salisaw Cafe, Green Grape, Jaune Flamme, Red Currant – Cherry sized tomatoes whose best days are in the past (exception: Piccolo, which is cresting right now).

Zhezha (front yard), Micro Tom, Red Robin, Prairie Fire, Taxi, Patio – This year's container plants. I've come full circle on this. I moved all the container plants from the back yard to the front yard so our Manchester Terrier couldn't get them. The problem, though, is that the front yard driveway is simply too hot for container plants and the Manchester Terrier simply eats other tomatoes planted in the ground. We'll move them to the back yard next year and give these plants some respite from the intense heat.

Ooooooh That Dog...Ooooooh Those Birds...

Today's harvest includes 11 Piccolos, 8 Stupices, 6 Kimberlys, 4 Cherokee Chocolates, 3 Red Currants, 3 Green Grapes, 3 Paul Robesons, 3 Salisaw Cafes, 2 Italian Market Wonders, 2 Garden Peaches, 2 Thessalonikis, (one 7 ounces), 2 Black Plum Pastes, White Bush, Snow White, Chocolate Stripes (6 ounces and bird damaged), Sioux, another large and beautiful Red Yellow Cap (16 ounces), Carbon, Jaune Flamme, a very nice looking Black Krim (front yard, 8 ounces) and Husky Cherry Red.

Our now noticeably hefty Manchester Terrier picked off another Aker's Plum. That's around a half dozen that we know about. I've only picked one on my own.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

San Jose Friends Visited...

And today's mighty haul includes 23 Piccolos, 8 Salisaw Cafes, 6 Paul Robesons (sigh, the birds got to two of them), 4 Stupice, 3 Green Grapes, 3 Thessalonikis, 2 Kimberlys, 2 Old Ivory Eggs, 2 Cherokee Chocolates, 2 Polish Pastels, 2 Black Plum Pastes, 2 Husky Cherry Reds, 2 Red Currants, 2 Black Krims (back yard, one a beautiful 12 ounce tomato), 2 Sioux, 2 Carbons (one 8 ounces), Aker's Plum, Italian Market Wonder, Zhezha (back yard), Lime Green Salad (from the “koi pond”), Black Cherry, Pierce's Pride (9 ounces, very nice), Red Yellow Cap (16 ounces, really nice looking) and White Bush.

Our friends from San Jose visited us and we had dinner in the evening. My wife made a typically great meal and a good time was had by all.

We ended up with 1629 tomatoes for the month, slightly surpassing last month's totals of 1538 tomatoes.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Harvested Polish Pastel Today!

And today's haul includes 18 Piccolos, 7 Salisaw Cafes, 6 Green Grapes, 4 Black Plum Pastes, 3 Paul Robesons, 3 Black Cherries, 2 Kimberlys, 2 Lime Green Salads (from the “koi pond”), 2 Red Currants, 2 Husky Cherry Reds, Stupice, a nice looking 7 ounce Blue Fruit, Red Robin, Zhezha (front yard), Jaune Flamme, Italian Market Wonder, Thessaloniki, Black From Tula (6 ounces), Red Yellow Cap (7 ounces), Gregori's Altai, Garden Peach and a new tomato – 2 Polish Pastels!

One of the Polish Pastels was a beautiful looking 10 ounce tomato. It was hidden behind one of the wooden stake supports. Had I noticed it yesterday I would have picked it then.

We finally got around to eating Arkansas Traveler. It's a meaty tomato and we all liked the taste. Also I should mention that we tried Old Ivory Egg a few days ago. We liked it as well - a softer, gentler taste, clearly good for sauces.

I'm having second thoughts about keeping Red Currant around. There are still tiny tomatoes on the plant but they're getting mealy and not lasting very long. I'll keep it around past this weekend but it may be removed a week from Saturday unless I see a change. Nevertheless this has been a wonderful plant and we've been very happy with it.

We just surpassed last month's harvest totals. We'll end up with about 1600 tomatoes harvested for the month of July. Last year, 6154 tomatoes. Quite a difference.

Today we had visitors watch me pick the tomato harvest and “talk tomatoes”. More on that later. Also, today is the last day for our on line wedding pictures to be displayed. We had such a great time at our wedding – what a blast!!! Today is the day (I believe) our friends from Florida have their first day living in SoCal again. And a friend of ours from San Jose and her son are driving down to stay in Westwood for five days. There's a lot happening!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Harvested Blue Fruit Today!

And today's harvest includes 9 Black Plum Pastes, 6 Piccolos, 6 Salisaw Cafes, 5 Stupice, 4 Red Currants, 4 Cherokee Chocolates, 3 Green Grapes, Black Krim (back yard, 7 ounces), Aker's Plum, Italian Market Wonder, Arkansas Traveler, Old Ivory Egg, Red Robin, Jaune Flamme, Paul Robeson, Lime Green Salad (from the “koi pond”), Husky Cherry Red and a new tomato: Blue Fruit!

We succeeded in keeping our Manchester Terrier from picking a tomato last night – we were pretty diligent in watching him. However, when I was picking tomatoes in the front yard, he nabbed one.

I almost picked a few tomatoes, including Carbon and Polish Pastel but decided to wait a little longer.

I propped up Evan's Italian Plum, another plant that is tipping over due to the weight of the tomatoes on the vines.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Neighbor's Daughter Likes Our Tomatoes...

And today's harvest includes 11 Black Plum Pastes, 10 Piccolos, 6 Cherokee Chocolates, 4 Salisaw Cafes, 3 Stupice, 3 Husky Cherry Reds, 3 Red Currants, 3 Green Grapes, Jaune Flamme, Old Ivory Egg, Kimberly, a nice looking 9 ounces Pierce's Pride, White Bush and Zhezha (back yard).

My wife watered the front yard and I watered the back yard. While I was watering the back yard, I noticed a ripe Polish Pastel. It was a bit hidden and near the top of the plant, at the highest rung of the cage. I picked it but discovered that it had so much blossom end rot as to be unusable. So I didn't count it. Looking at the plant this morning I noticed that there are several tomatoes ripening on this plant. A couple of Carbons are maturing. Let's hope our Manchester Terrier doesn't knock off the Carbon tomatoes anymore.

Speaking of which, the Manchester Terrier left us another present – he picked another ripening Aker's Plum and deposited it near our back door.

While my wife was watering the front yard, the neighbor's mother and 20 ½ month old daughter came over to visit. Apparently, the daughter picked off a couple of green (unripe) Husky Cherry Reds and ate them! Apparently the skins were too much for her (and who could blame her) but she liked the insides. Later on I brought her in and fed her a ripe Piccolo tomato. She's a good eater!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Harvested Chocolate Stripes and Pierce's Pride!

And today's haul includes 13 Piccolos, 11 Salisaw Cafes, 10 Red Currants, 8 Black Plum Pastes, 7 Cherokee Chocolates, 5 Green Grapes, 4 back yard Black Krims (11.5 ounces, 7.5 ounces, 7 ounces, 10 ounces), 3 Gregori's Altai, 2 Stupice, Zhezha, Jaune Flamme, Kimberly, Sioux and two new tomatoes – a 10 ounce Pierce's Pride and a 7.5 ounce Chocolate Stripes!

Yesterday I put a thick stake into Black Krim but the plant still leaned. It needed more support. With the help of my wife we used two pieces of twine tied to the large stake and metal posts into the ground. This should keep it supported.

Other tomato plants were supported and staked such as Aker's Plum.

Today's totals might be a bit high as I harvested at 2 PM. The totals for tomorrow may be a bit low.

Chocolate Stripes looked great...until I turned it around. Darn it, the birds got it! I weighed it and my wife cut away a generous portion. The tomato looks beautiful on the inside. The birds got to one of the mature Black Plum Pastes as well.

I'm really happy with the harvested Black Krims, Pierce's Pride and the remaining Chocolate Stripes. They're great looking dark tomatoes!

A Polish Pastel may be maturing, but it appears to be maturing unevenly.