Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Heat Wave Harvest Bump Continues

Today's harvest includes 15 Black Cherry, 10 Snow White(2), 8 Garden Peach(2), 7 Snow White(1), 7 Paul Robeson, 7 Yellow Perfection, 4 back yard Husky Cherry Red, 3 Jaune Coeur de Pigeon, 3 Babywine, 3 Turkish Striped Monastery, 2 Green Zebra(1), 2 Oaxacan Jewel(2), 2 Husky Gold, Jaune Flamme, Mong, Red Grape, German Orange Strawberry, Orange Blossom, and Black From Tula for a total of 79 tomatoes.

The only way I can explain this rise in the harvest is that this heat wave is rushing the existing tomatoes toward maturity. Just remember this when I'm picking less than 10 tomatoes at the end of the month.

Yesterday's high was 101 degrees.

It's good to see Black From Tula again! Last time I picked a Black From Tula was exactly one month ago.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Found The First Caterpillar Of The Year

Today's harvest includes 14 Black Cherry, 9 Snow White(1), 7 Babywine, 7 Snow White(2), 7 back yard Husky Cherry Red, 5 Yellow Perfection, 5 Sweet 100, 3 Garden Peach(2), 3 front yard Husky Cherry Red, 2 Turkish Striped Monastery, 2 Vintage Wine, 2 Tiger Paw, Jaune Flamme, Red Currant, Oaxacan Jewel(2), Dr. Wyche's Yellow (10.5 ounces), Jaune Coeur de Pigeon, SunSugar, Italian Ice, German Orange Strawberry, Plum Tigris and Mexico (12.5 ounces) for a total of 76 tomatoes.

I found our first caterpillar of the season! If was about an inch an a quarter long on the White Currant tomato plant. I gave it to our Manchester Terrier to play with.

Yesterday it got up to 102 again at Pierce College.

My guess is that the increased harvest totals are due to the hot temperatures this past week. If that's true we'll have a severe slide in the harvest total in a couple weeks, if not sooner.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Volunteer Has More Growing Tomatoes!

Today's harvest includes 8 Snow White(2), 5 back yard Husky Cherry Red, 5 Black Cherry, 5 Yellow Perfection, 4 Snow White(1), 4 Babywine, 3 Paul Robeson, 3 Jaune Coeur de Pigeon, 2 Japanese Black Trifele, 2 White Currant, 2 Sweet 100, 2 Red Grape, Amazon Chocolate, Green Zebra(1), Garden Peach(2), Turkish Striped Monastery, Tiger Paw, Red Currant, Mong, Jaune Flamme, Vintage Wine, a front yard Husky Cherry Red and Dr. Wyche's Yellow (10 ounces) for a total of 56 tomatoes.

The harvest is getting a bit choppy because it's toward the end of the season, meaning the harvest totals are seesawing. Three days ago, 30, two days ago, 50, yesterday, 31 and today 56 harvested tomatoes. I can't explain it, but it happens.

There was more ash on our cars this morning than at any time over this past week. Again, I can't explain it.

Two days ago the high was 100 degrees. Yesterday it got up to 102 degrees. We're still in a heat wave! And if any current blooms on the tomato plants weren't sterile when it got up to 107, they're sterile now.

Having written that, though, the volunteer has three more growing tomatoes on it! The plant itself is looking quite healthy. It's quite conceivable that we could get a good fall crop (after it grows new blooms!) from this plant.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ranting About The Fire...

Today's harvest includes 6 Yellow Perfection, 4 Snow White(1), 3 Snow White(2), 3 back yard Husky Cherry Red, 2 Turkish Striped Monastery, 2 Black Cherry, 2 White Currant, 2 Babywine, 2 Jaune Flamme, 2 Red Grape, Silvery Fir Tree, Plum Tigris and Garden Peach(1) for a total of 31 tomatoes.

We haven't harvested from the Garden Peach(1) plant in nearly a month.

I've decided that Berkeley Tie Dye and the front yard Speckled Roman are ready to be pulled out of the ground. When I get around to it remains to be seen.

My wife watered more of the front yard yesterday.

Last night both my wife and I slept deeply, something we hadn't done in about a week. As mentioned in yesterday's update, there was some moisture in the air in the morning. Later in the day I heard there was a lot of ash falling for people living near the fire, and I think the two are related.

By the way, there has been some concern about the fire from people living outside Los Angeles. Thanks for your concern! But we're 20 miles away from the fire lines, no threat there.

After the fires are out in a few weeks, however, the problems aren't over. Even most people living in Los Angeles do not realize that there is a place in the city limits that's over 5000 feet in elevation (Mt. Lukens) and places in the county of Los Angeles that are nearly 10,000 feet high. Highway 2, the Angeles Crest Highway, gets to an elevation of over 7900 feet high.

The hills and mountains of the Angeles National Forest will be bare. A cool and cloudy day in December for the city of Los Angeles will at the same time have serious snowstorms in the mountains north of us.

Think about the next big rainstorm to hit Los Angeles. Think about in, oh say, March and April, 2010, when the snow melts in the Angeles National Forest. This may be a dramatic thing to write, but it's probable that Los Angeles will lose more houses to spring mudslides than to this fire.

There needs to be some serious planning and preparedness for those northern Los Angeles communities next to the Angeles National Forest. There will be tremendous debris (think mudslides and rockslides) coming down from the rivers and streams fed by this runoff. We have huge debris basins but I think there's no debris basin big enough to handle what will be coming down these mountains. Roads and trails will be washed out. The roads will get swept but who will fix the trails?

We'll be hearing about the effects of this fire for months and years to come.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

August Tomato Analysis, September Estimate

For August, my initial harvest estimate was 2700 tomatoes. This was estimated again in the middle of the month upward to 3500 tomatoes. We ended up at exactly 3250 tomatoes harvested for the month.

Due to the significant drop in harvest numbers at the end of the month, we will not make 10,000 harvested tomatoes this year.

On August 1 we harvested 224 tomatoes. On August 31, 30 tomatoes. Quite a significant drop!

Last year, we harvested 1004 tomatoes in August and 204 in September. The September/August ratio comes out to 20.3% of the August harvest.

Two years ago, we harvested 2806 tomatoes in August and 647 in September. The September/August ratio comes out to 23.0% of the August harvest.

Using those figures as a guide for this year's numbers would make this year's September harvest from 660 tomatoes at the low end to 749 tomatoes at the high end. That would make 700 a reasonable estimate for September's harvest based strictly on numbers.

How about based on what I see? This hot weather will kill any August blooms. But both Snow White tomato plants have new tomatoes on them. Black Cherry still has about 75 tomatoes to ripen and looks strong enough for a second wind if the weather cools down.

But the container plants are basically done, though. White Currant still has a couple dozen growing tomatoes. Red Currant is basically done and I'm not expecting a second wind from that plant. Cherry tomatoes are a “cheap” way to get high harvest totals but outside of the plants mentioned in the last paragraph, we don't have those plants available.

However, there's a lot of tomato plants with 10 or 15 tomatoes on them, ready to ripen. This includes plants we haven't heard from recently, such as Black From Tula or Black Krim or Cuor de Bue. These plants are getting some of their strength back, even in this recent heat.

I can probably see around 400 or so growing tomatoes overall. Based on what I see, 700 harvested tomatoes for September seems like a reasonable estimate.

Harvested Patio Princess Today!

And today's harvest includes 6 back yard Husky Cherry Red, 5 Snow White(1), 5 Snow White(2), 5 Paul Robeson, 4 Garden Peach(2), 3 Yellow Perfection, 3 front yard Husky Cherry Red, 2 Black Cherry, 2 Turkish Striped Monastery, 2 Red Currant, 2 Jaune Coeur de Pigeon, 2 Babywine, Vintage Wine, Mong, Patio Princess, Red Grape, Mexico (10.5 ounces), White Zebra (6.5 ounces), Tiger Paw, Sweet 100 and a back yard Green Grape for a total of 50 tomatoes.

We finally got a reasonable Patio Princess tomato! We received this plant from Liz and Ricardo a few months back. It got planted in a small green plastic container and took off. However, the confines of this container came back to bite us. The growth was constricted. More importantly, the container would get too hot.

We've actually “harvested” about 20 tomatoes off of this plant but they've had terrible end rot. Unlike Speckled Roman, if a Patio Princess tomato has about 25 percent end rot, it's no good. You can salvage part of a Speckled Roman tomato, but not Patio Princess. And most of the tomatoes had around 50 percent end rot due to the container getting too warm.

This harvested tomato has end rot as well but it isn't bad, maybe 10 percent of the tomato.

The harvested Mexico tomato was a little odd. These oddities occur frequently at the end of the season. One side of the tomato, perhaps 65 percent of the tomato overall, was ripe and if anything, a little too ripe. The rest of the tomato was green. But not just green, a not ripe any time soon green, a “it's still three weeks away, if not more” green. That part will have to be cut away.

My wife watered all of the back yard and parts of the front yard. That's saying something because it got up to 103 degrees yesterday with our bad air from the fires.

There was some humidity and clouds in the air this morning. There's a tropical storm coming up from Baja and I believe we're seeing some moisture from it.

The tomato growing from the volunteer tomato plant also looks like Old Ivory Egg.

Monday, August 31, 2009

It's Still Hot, Dry and Smoky

Today's modest harvest includes 5 Snow White(2), 3 back yard Husky Cherry Red, 3 Yellow Perfection, 3 Turkish Striped Monastery, 2 Jaune Coeur de Pigeon, 2 Red Grape, 2 Paul Robeson, Snow White(1), Garden Peach(2), Orange Blossom, Black Cherry, Plum Tigris, Sweet 100, Jaune Flamme, Red Currant, a front yard Husky Cherry Red and Babywine for a total of 30 tomatoes.

We ended the month harvesting 3250 tomatoes, 1672 from the front yard and 1578 in the back yard.

The second Snow White plant has reached over 200 harvested tomatoes (203).

Saturday the temperature got up to 104 at Pierce College. Yesterday it reached 105 degrees.

We spent most of the afternoon and evening in Monrovia with our friends, Liz and Ricardo. We brought our rototiller (but couldn't get it started), got out of the bad air and heat of the San Fernando Valley and had an enjoyable time.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Harvested Over 4000 Front Yard Tomatoes!

Today's harvest includes 5 Snow White(1), 4 Red Grape, 3 Yellow Perfection, 3 Snow White(2), 3 Black Cherry, 2 Turkish Striped Monastery, 2 White Zebra, 2 Sweet 100, 2 back yard Husky Cherry Red, 2 Italian Ice, 2 Jaune Coeur de Pigeon, 2 Red Currant, Orange Blossom, Mexico (18 ounces), Babywine, a front yard Husky Cherry Red and Oaxacan Jewel(2) for a total of 37 tomatoes.

My wife and I spent most of our afternoon in Thousand Oaks. That got us away from the bad air in the west San Fernando Valley (due to the fires), off to an early dinner in Newbury Park and then to a soccer game in Thousand Oaks where a cousin's daughter was playing soccer. They lost 2-1 and she got red carded. Oh well.

We've now harvested over 4000 tomatoes in the front yard this year! Earlier this month, we had harvested more front yard tomatoes than back yard tomatoes. But the harvest on the two Snow White plants dropped significantly and the back yard harvest total took over once again (4013 – 4093).

This is the first time the air was bad in the morning. The fires must be spreading.