Monday, May 23, 2022

May Tomato Update

OK, starting with a recap:

The seedlings were planted March 25

and this was the state of things April 28

And here's where we are on May 20

I'm having to train some of the plants up onto the crossbar above because they've topped out the tomato cages I built.

Still shy of "full harvest" the results are a bit mixed right now.

As it was at the previous update, the beefsteak (Yep, miss-spelled in the photo but spelling was never my strong suit - "It's a damn poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word." - Andrew Jackson - and I don't feel like going back now to correct it.) is still lagging behind the others

but it is setting fruit so we'll see how it goes.

Golden Nugget produced a half-dozen early on but seems to have paused production for the time being, though some of the remaining fruit looks to be about ready. (as the name implies it ripens to gold not red)

What did ripen had a moderately robust skin (Acceptable to The Wife who prefers a mild skin and definitely doesn't go for strongly robust skin) and a slightly tangy tomatoey flavor that was fine though I was hoping for something a little stronger - you know, on the tomatoey side of things.

The Sungold also produced one or two ripe fruit early on. These had a very mild skin and about the same level of tomatoeyness as the Golden Nuggets.

Now things seem to be paused here as well. Maybe because our temps have been about 10 degrees above average for three weeks now.

The Sungold isn't showing as many green fruit as the Golden Nugget

but there are plenty of blossoms that could indicate a more bountiful future.

The Juliet is being very prolific, both in plant-size as well as number of fruit set, but a lot of the fruit is suffering from blossom-end rot. Typically this is due to a deficiency of calcium, perhaps exacerbated by the overall prodigious growth.

Since the plant is growing in exactly the same soil (Side dressed with a small handful of Microlife 6-2-4, which is an organic fertilizer full of micro-nutrients and microbes, every three weeks) and conditions as the others which are showing no sign of the problem, rather than fight it I'm inclined to just write this variety off as not suitable for our location so we won't be trying this one again.

 Though it is setting some fruit that aren't showing signs of the rot, so I'm culling the bad fruit at first sign of rot in the hopes that will leave more calcium available to the other fruits.

In fact, this morning I discovered I was getting a little help in the culling department from this guy.

It's a pretty healthy Hornworm and I know I'm supposed to pick it off and squash it, but you're talking about a household that uses live traps and a bug-cup not poisons and a slipper, so I just relocated it a couple of hundred yards to the native underbrush surrounding our place. It won't thrive as well but at least it has a chance to complete its life-cycle. (With those very strong legs with a pretty strong grip, it's easier to just chase it out to the end of a branch then snip the branch off rather than try to pull the poor thing free without damaging its soft body.)

The Italian Ice is robust and setting a lot of fruit.

The issue with this non-reddening variety is telling when it is ripe. It's supposed to turn from green to white but in the plant world white usually has a distinct green tint so I've been trying one of the less-green ones now and then. So far they haven't been bad, but are very meaty with a strong acidic bite. (the description says sugary sweet so I don't think we're there yet.)

When I first planted the seedlings I had the irrigation scheduled for 20 minutes twice a day based on the finger test, (Jam my finger down to the bottom of the tub to see if there's any sign of damp down there.) which is better than the over-flow test, (wait until water is flowing out the bottom of the tubs) which tends to leach nutrients out of the soil, not to mention producing watery and split tomatoes. 

Now the plants are much bigger and obviously require more water.

On top of that we have been "blessed" this May with three weeks of summer-like temps and absolutely no rain. Combine that with the usual feisty spring winds and the water requirements are now up to an astounding 2 hours twice a day. Which, if I was using regular lawns sprinklers would be ridiculously wasteful, but with the small soaker hoses dispensing water drop by drop it's a different story.

In fact the five 3 foot lengths of soaker hose are so stingy that when the valve on the timer closes it takes almost a full hour for the pressure in the irrigation line to drop to zero - which you find out real quick if you crack a fitting open too soon!

In a few days the temps are supposed to drop back down to seasonal for a week or so. We'll see how things go, both on the watering and production fronts.


  1. I have some extra rain I can give you, but you have to come up to get it. You could stop by that now famous motel room here in the city, pay more and sleep where they did. Of course there is a long waiting list for that room now, so probably just get the extra rain and return to you home. :)

    1. I do have a water-cart for supplying the fire-pump that I could drag up there, but first I have to get The Van over for an oil-change and a recall on a recall, get a new eyeglass prescription, (the current one is 8 years old and the glasses are in bad shape) and wrap up a few other odds and ends, so it might be a while.

      As for getting in line with all the other lovers of the dregs of society - no thanks, I think I'll skip the hotel room. We have enough dregs here in Texas. Such as potentially reelecting an AG that's been under a felony indictment for nearly 2 years now, (Claims he wants a speedy trial but keeps coming up with excuses to put it off) a senator who abandons his constituency while they have no power and are dying by going on a winter vacation in Cancun that says he and his wife are "uplifting the dead children by praying for them", and a shit-for-brains Governor that just announced he has 'instructed' various state agencies to work together on the Uvalde school shooting. (he, by the way, was instrumental in making it legal for the 18 year old shooter to obtain and carry all the guns he wanted anywhere he wanted) Like those agencies weren't already on the ground doing exactly that since it's in their charter! The posturing waste of space!

    2. I have no answers for anything going on in this country right now. I can only slap my forehead and mumble words not fit to be seen on your blog. Well since you can't use the extra rain, I'll capture it for future use. Although I don't see us going on water restrictions like out west. (joke)

  2. Your garden looks amazing. Julia just got her tomato plants (from seed) into the ground last week, and then we had a frost warning. They survived, with a few yellowed leaves, but our garden is just getting started.

    Regarding the other, this country is in deep crap from north to south and east to west. I can't even make fun of Georgia anymore when their elected officials have more backbone than the ones from Wisconsin.

    1. Won't be long before the summer heat shuts down plant production around here until next fall. True, our winters are usually pretty easy on us, but the trade-off is that we just can't grow stuff all summer like I when I was a kid in Michigan.

      Given the way things are going I'm just glad that I only have one child (41 this year!) with her head screwed on right (obviously she didn't get ALL my genes!) and no grandchildren to fret over.