Friday, October 23, 2009

Day 68: Some flourish, some not so much

Been a while since the last post, and things seem to be doing pretty well for some of the tomatoes. Others have stepped back from the brink of death, but still not keeping up with their neighbors.

The tops again are flourishing. But the lower leaves are browned or wilted. I've given them plenty of water lately, and they do seem to appreciate that. Not much in the way of fertilizer, although I do use a spray bottle with a little fertilizer in it on them every day or two. Today I applied a bit more fertilizer to the buckets. Hopefully the effect will be positive!

The individual conditions of the plants vary wildly. It's a good opportunity for an assessment of each:
  1. Mortgage Lifter - Largely dead a few weeks ago, this one now shows some light green leaves. I think in time it could recover. But certainly not thriving. Had to stake it because it was leaning dramatically in toward the light. Overall condition: D-
  2. Steak Sandwich Hybrid - Surviving, but not flourishing. this plant has some light green leaves and a few moderately happy looking branches, though the leaves look a bit wilted. But it's a long way from providing a steady stream of tomatoes. This one had to be stakes as well, it was shadowing #3 by leaning it over. Overall condition: D+ 
  3. Burpee's Summer Choice: This plant is really pretty short, like 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the best looking plants. But it looks great. It never suffered as much from the wilting/brown leaves like the other plants. It's really solid, doesn't need staking yet. I think it could hold up a few tomatoes no problem. Although if it's stuck in the shadows of the other plants for much longer things might take a turn for the worse. Overall condition: B-
  4. Big Boy Hybrid: Big Boy is doing pretty good. As with almost all of the plants, the lower leaves have browned and wilted a bit. But the upper leaves look very good. This one has been staked, and the stem looks pretty thick and sturdy. Overall condition: B
  5. Fourth of July Hybrid: Despite being at the edge, with a bit less light, this guy is doing great. It has two large clusters of buds and one small cluster. It's staked with two ties holding it up. The stem is thick and sturdy. Overall condition: B+
  6. Early Girl Hybrid: Boy, I thought this one was dead. But the last few weeks those sickly pale white leaves have turned light green. I think with tender loving care from a skilled farmer, it could turn around. But I can't imagine I could get anything from it. Overall condition: F
  7. San Marzano: This one doesn't look too terrible, but it's not flourishing. The lower leaves are dried up and brown. The uppermost leaves look ok, perhaps a little lighter green than I'd hope for. the plant is staked. Overall condition: C
  8. Super Sweet 100 Hybrid: This is truly the flagship of the fleet. It's the tallest and looks the healthiest. The only measure by which it doesn't surpass it's fellows is the thickness of it's stem - it's not as thick as I'd like. But that doesn't seem to be hampering growth at all. It has one small bud cluster and two larger ones. It's staked and held up with two ties. I think we may get some cherry tomatoes. Overall condition: A-
  9. Red Cherry, Large Fruited: This one is doing fairly well. It's got one small bud cluster and two large bud clusters. It's staked with two ties. The stem is thick and sturdy. Overall condition: B+
  10. Super Beefsteak: This one went pale and white, but it's come back a little, slightly green leaves. But not doing well. Overall condition: F

Today I did some pretty severe pruning. Both suckers (a few on the bigger plants) and dead-ish lower leaves (lots of these). Here's the pile I had for the compost heap once I was done.

I've done a bit of thinking, and I've decided I should cull the worst performing plants (#1, 2, 6 and 10). One of the biggest problems I'm starting to have is that the plants shading each other. If I remove two buckets in each row, that should alleviate this issue fairly well.
What to do with the extra room? Well, maybe I'll try some basil - supposedly tomatoes love being grown near basil. Although I think that may be to keep certain types of bugs away. Bugs have not been an issue for me. Another possibility is green onions. they seem to be doing well in the gutter. That also have the advantage that I like green onions, and they certainly wouldn't go to waste. Carrots might work too. If I'm feeling advanced, maybe sugar snap peas or bush beans. I would have to buy sugar snap peas, but I love them. I could use seeds leftover from the garden for bush beans, but I don't like them quite as well. We were successful growing bush beans in the garden this year but we had to get down at ground level to see them well enough to harvest. I think the outdoor garden will have pole beans next year. The Mrs. is excited by the idea of a Three Sisters garden.

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