Friday, June 19, 2009

Harvested Two New Tomatoes Today!

My wife watered the back yard earlier today. That's quite a chore – it took her around two hours for all the plants, vegetables and flowers.

Today we harvested 5 Yellow Perfection, 2 SunSugar, 2 Sweet Olive, Red Grape and two new tomatoes: Beaverlodge Plum and (yesterday's) Cherokee Purple!

We tried the Beaverlodge Plum and we both thought was okay. I called it a “support” tomato (one that belongs in a sandwich or a salad). My wife called it a sauce tomato because there appeared to be very few seeds. But this is a determinate container plant so I just don't think there will be enough of these tomatoes for a sauce. Nevertheless I see her point.

I didn't get a chance to mention that we tried Yellow Perfection yesterday and while we both liked it, my wife loved it. It's a typical yellow tomato, somewhat smooth with little or no acid taste. As mentioned in the last paragraph I think of this as a “support” tomato. I had it in my sandwich and it worked great. If we find it I'm sure we'll continue to grow this one year after year.

In looking over the 2007 spreadsheet I'd say we're comparably behind by 2 – 3 weeks. Projecting based on the 2007 numbers means we'll be harvesting 100 tomatoes in about three weeks, around July 10.

A dozen tomatoes isn't worth getting excited, but harvesting from six different tomato plants is a good early sign.

Replanted Marz Round Green!

We put Marz Round Green in the front yard yesterday evening. Apparently the plant immediately went into shock but after watering it was fine. I looked at it again this morning and all is well.

I'll be surprised if we see any tomatoes on this plant as it's so late in the season.

For those just joining in, Marz Round Green was planted in the back yard. It didn't grow. After a few weeks we replaced the plant with another and just for the heck of it we decided to put it in a pot as opposed to simply throwing it out. At that point I pretty much forgot about it.

Liz and Ricardo came over for the first of several visits to work on the patio frame. To make the frame, we had to move all the potted plants near the back of the house, including Marz Round Green. At that point this tomato plant was the same height as when it was originally planted in the ground. This pot was moved south and again forgotten...until one day, hey! Marz Round Green is growing! And it continued to grow.

It wouldn't surprise me for this plant to continue to grow and become full size but whether or not it produces tomatoes is another story. It'll probably be too hot for fruit to set on the branches. But we'll try!

Two years ago yesterday we harvested 52 tomatoes among seven plants. Coincidentally, last year we harvested 52 tomatoes among three plants (46 of them were tiny Red Currants). Yesterday we planted a tomato.

Speaking of tomatoes, Early Annie and the first Green Zebra have new tomatoes. We have only three plants missing tomatoes and one of them was planted yesterday. Things are looking good!

Yesterday our harvest consisted of 2 Sweet 100, 2 Yellow Perfection, Sweet Olive, Red Grape and SunSugar tomatoes, for a total of 7 tomatoes among 5 plants. That will give you an idea as to how far we lag behind the prior years and last year was a bad year.

We also picked about a four ounce Cherokee Purple but I think it wasn't quite ripe enough to be included in yesterday's totals. That tomato will be added to today's harvest.

It is my hope that we've traded June tomatoes for August tomatoes – but time will tell.

My wife finished watering the front yard.

I did more tomato taping in the “koi pond” this morning.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Finished The Tomato Chores!

Yesterday's harvest consisted of Jaune Flamme, SunSugar and a Sweet 100 tomato.

I spent a good amount of time trimming and staking the last of the tomato plants in the “koi pond”. It took a lot longer than expected. After about an hour I stopped as I was getting too hot. I went in the back yard and added primer to the exposed areas of the patio cover. Then dinner, which included tomatoes from our garden (I recognized the Patio and the just picked Jaune Flamme tomato) as well as squash, green beans and zucchini and lettuce from the farmer's market. Then back out to the “koi pond” to finish the job on the tomato plants. Then in the setting sun I used the last of the tomato tape to corral a few plants in the back yard. I did more of that this morning.

I picked a Yellow Perfection this morning. I thought it was ripe yesterday but my wife disagreed, so we left it on the vine. I picked it this morning before the Manchester Terrier found it. If it's ready we'll count it in today's harvest.

Some random notes: We have the makings of a very good year, tomato wise. The numbers are well behind the prior years pace by far but that is due to vandalism. The later plants have caught up with the others (such as Babywine) or are catching up.

In 2007, Snow White got to nearly seven feet tall and cranked out over 1700 tomatoes. Currently, Snow White 2009 is about 5 ½ feet tall, thick, bushy with lots of tomatoes. Garden Peach 2007 was really two plants that took over “Alongi Row”, getting at least 6 ½ feet tall but more importantly, about 7 feet wide. There were ripening tomatoes in the middle of the plant that I couldn't reach. Those two plants cranked out nearly 1200 tomatoes. Garden Peach 2009 is “only” one plant but I spent about a half hour yesterday on that plant alone, trimming, corralling, staking and whatnot. Yellow Perfection has hundreds of ping pong sized tomatoes on it. Quedlinburger Fruehe Liebe has recovered while Jaune Coeur de Pigeon continues to recover.

With the weather heating up again (should be around 90 for the high today – hot, but not hot enough to be an issue for the plants) these plants will go into overdrive, ripen the growing tomatoes and crank out new ones.

In my opinion, something would have to go wrong if we're not harvesting at least 200 tomatoes a day this time next month.

My wife watered a portion of the front yard yesterday.

Now that the “tomato chores” are completely caught up, it doesn't mean I stop. I never stop staking and corralling but so long as I work at it every day it should be just a maintenance issue.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Two New Tomatoes Harvested!

Yesterday we harvested two new tomatoes, Patio and Red Grape! We also harvested 4 Sweet Olive and a Sweet 100 tomato.

We tried the Red Grape on the spot. My wife really liked it. I was okay with it. It tasted a little bit crunchy for lack of a better term. They'll be more of these to harvest so I'll get a better idea then.

We tried yesterday's Jaune Flamme. We both decided that we should have tried it the day before as it was a tad watery (overripe). However, we tried another slice with salt on it and that helped bring out the smooth flavor.

My wife remade the “moats” in the “koi pond"! She mentioned how difficult it is to maneuver inside the fence. That's where the rest of the tomato taping comes into play. She also did some trimming of the undergrowth.

As for me, I did only about five minutes of work on the tomatoes. A bit of taping and a bit of training but that's all.

A Cherokee Purple tomato is definitely maturing.

The gloom of the past three weeks or so may have finally gone away. We did experience more gloom from about noon Monday to the late afternoon Tuesday. Right now it's hazy sun outside.

The two plants most negatively affected by the June gloom are Jeff Davis and White Currant. However, many late plants have had time to catch up without the strain of a hot sun.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Harvested First Front Yard Tomato!

We harvested our first front yard tomato at lunch yesterday, Jaune Flamme! This is also the first non-container tomato harvested this year. Also harvested yesterday were 4 Sweet Olive and 2 SunSugar tomatoes. My wife claims that one of the SunSugar tomatoes made it into the dinner salad but I never saw it.

I forgot to mention that Red Grape (previously misidentified as Red Cherry – on line documents and blog has been fixed) has at least two tomatoes maturing. There are hundreds of tomatoes on the vines so I hope they're good!

Last night I began working on the “koi pond”, cutting away low vines and using tomato tape where needed. Snow White needed a lot of work to control the growing vines and I was only partially successful. The downside of putting plants inside a wire fence like we have it is that it's tough to maneuver inside the fence without stepping on things you shouldn't.

I got through about half of the tomatoes. My wife said she'd take care of the “moats” but if I get through the rest of the tomatoes in the “koi pond”, I'll do it.

I need more six foot stakes. The trouble is...they're somewhat expensive. But we need them now and we'll need more in the future. I'll try to remember to get some over the weekend.

One of the plants I fixed up was Cherokee Purple. The growth on the plant is stunted for some reason, being only about three feet tall. But there's several large tomatoes on it and one of them appears to be maturing. I'll keep an eye on it.

I did some minor tomato training in the back yard this morning.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Back Yard Tomato Work Caught Up!

On Saturday my wife and I went to a graduation celebration out in Murrieta. That took all day, so no harvesting or tomato work of any kind.

On Sunday there was a lot done. First, we picked 7 Sweet Olive and a Sweet 100 tomato.

I began working on the three chores on the back yard tomatoes but I quickly ran out of tomato twine used to obstruct the Manchester Terrier from nosing in the plant. I continued on, getting through all of the back yard tomato plants in the ground.

I added paper mulch to White Currant and the new Patio Princess.

I began to do the same work in the front yard “corner office”, but began having a sneezing fit and soon had to stop. After my sinuses settled down about an hour later, I finished up the “corner office”. Also, I did a lot of tomato taping in that area in order to make paths just to reach the other plants.

While this was going on my wife watered the back yard (noting that Orange Blossom was looking particularly weak), including the tomato plants in the back. Jeff Davis was only watered lightly.

While working in the “corner office” I noticed that Jaune Flamme has a maturing tomato! On the one hand this is good news but on another front, bad news. I've noticed that damaged plants tend to mature faster than normal and I think that's what is going on here. This should be ready to pick in a day or so.

I fertilized the container plants as well as most (but not all) of the plants in the ground, both front and back yards, that didn't get their second round of fertilizer.

In the afternoon Liz and Ricardo came over to finish off the patio cover frame. Soon my wife and Liz went out for supplies and I helped with Ricardo when needed. In between those times I tomato taped many of the back yard tomato plants as needed, as well as adding stakes to several others. For instance, Black Cherry had grown so much that it was leaning in one direction and actually pulling the cage out of the ground. I ran out of tomato tape for a while but after a half hour or so found another roll.

By that time the women had come back and my wife had bought additional tomato twine. During the construction I used the twine on the rest of the cages in the ground in the back yard.

German Orange Strawberry is now the tallest tomato plant. Not only is the plant over six feet high, it has tomato blooms over six feet high. What will be funny is that in a month the plant will have grown even more, but not be as tall. Why? The branches at the top will get heavier and fall in one direction or another. I'll be able to tape them together for a period of time but soon they'll get too heavy and naturally droop, also due to growing fruit on the vines.

So the back yard is completely caught up with the tomato chores – moats remade, loose branches taped up, twine used to obstruct the Manchester Terrier from below, low branches growing into the dirt removed.

All that is left is to clean up the “koi pond” before the hot weather hits.

Speaking of which, we experienced something on Sunday that we hadn't experienced in quite a while. The sun! The sun came out for most of the day yesterday though it did cloud up a bit in the afternoon.

By evening, Jeff Davis looked a bit better. We're guessing that Jeff Davis is being watered too much (because the plant is also in the range of the sprinklers that go off twice a week, including today) and not enough sun. We'll monitor Jeff Davis to see if it improves.