Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day 73: Blossoms!

So we've finally got blossoms. Quite a number of blossom clusters. Here are some really crummy pictures of a couple of them.

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.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Day 60: Still Hanging On

So the plants are doing ok. A bit better than they were a week or two ago I'd say. #5, 8, and 9 are all over 75 cm tall (29.5 inches, almost 2 and a half feet). The tallest is just shy of a meter. And the foliage at the top of the plants looks great - see below. 

But the lower leaves are looking pretty crummy. Maybe that's not the end of the world. Plants #8 and 9 both have buds forming on them.

Height chart:
  1. 25.4 cm
  2. 34.3 cm
  3. 35.6 cm
  4. 61.0 cm
  5. 78.7 cm
  6. 22.2 cm
  7. 45.7 cm
  8. 91.4 cm
  9. 88.9 cm
  10. 35.6 cm
Actually not too bad. The measurement for #1 and 2 is deceptive, they haven't shrunk, they just need to be staked, they're lolling over toward the middle a bit. Even the near-dead ones have greened up a bit and put on a little height. The rest are putting on some real height, like in the neeighborhood of 50% growth in just two weeks. I suppose they're straining toward the light, which is probably insufficient.

Here's the picture of the whole setup. I had to move the lights up a bit this evening as #8 was almost touching them.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Day 56: Other Experiments

I always told myself not to plant radishes. I don't like radishes. The Mrs. doesn't like radishes. The boys don't like radishes. So today, I planted radishes.

And green onions. And one pepper plant. Not in the basement, in a, well, I guess it's a cold frame. I'd been thinking about a greenhouse lately. Not now, we're not at a point financially where building a greenhouse is a priority. I had in mind something small, to test out some of the ideas. So we built a small plastic covered structure that'll serve as a cold frame. Here's a picture.

So we planted radishes in it, on the theory that they only take 5 weeks to mature, so even if it doesn't work too well, it'll probably keep the frost at bay for 5 weeks. The pepper plant was the Mrs.' idea. They suffered from the same deer attacks that obliterated the tomatoes. So he's got a head start, maybe he'd have a chance to grow something before the cold gets to be too much. And green onions. They take two months, so they probably won't work out too well. But maybe. That'd be nice, we do like green onions.

The underground garden is puttering right along. There are a few buds on a few plants. None of the plants really look like they are thriving, but we may get some tomatoes yet. Everything has sprouted in the green gutter. They seem a little leggy, like they're not getting enough light. Maybe not surprising. We'll see how they do.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Day 51: Revivification

Well, I would never have believed it, but some of the dead plants seem to be doing a little better. Plant #6 that has been white for a long while now has a burst of green at the top. They were looking a little limp, so I hit them with a good dose of water. Also pruned some of the dead branches. I'm still a little doubtful as to how they'll do long term, but they're surviving for now.

The first green onion poked up. The rest of the greens are all up. Hard to say if the fertilizer is having much impact on the greens, I guess we'll know closer to picking time.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Day 49: Looking kind of limp

Still looking pretty ugly down there. I'm still not sure quite what went wrong. Not everything is going south yet, but it's not looking too great. Although there are a few hopeful signs -  I think I may start over shortly and try some different things.

Some thoughts:

  • The plants on the ends did the worst. Maybe try two rows of four instead of five.
  • I'm not sure how much of a difference the potting mixture made. Maybe try four with the mix, four with compost. The outside tomatoes LOVED compost.
  • Should make an effort to get the Plant and Aqurium bulbs, those are the ideal bulbs for plants.
  • Need to be more careful about fertilizing. I felt like I did a reasonable job, but could it be that I'm fertilizing too much? Need to keep track of how much and try fertilizing some more and some less - see what impact that has on growth.
  • Need to try just one type of seed - can't say much about fertilizer levels or compost vs potting soil concoction if I have 8 different types of plants. The Super Sweet 100 Hybrid seems to have done pretty well, maybe try just that kind.
  • Maybe it's time to try a different kind of plant. I'm considering Sugar Snap Peas. Another benefit of sugar snap peas is the fix their own nitrogen from the air, so not only would that eliminate "insufficient nitrogen" as a concern, it would also provide nitrogen in the soil for the next crop I planted.
In other news, the arugula is all up, none of the green onions have sprouted yet, and most of the salad greens are up. The spiky seeds came up a reddish color, they must be the Beet Bull's Blood.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Day 47: New Developments

I noticed the first real sucker today. I left it be. I had just snipped off some of the lower leaves that were looking terrible, I didn't want to do too much pruning in one shot.

I also noticed the first bud! I may get some tomatoes after all. These developments were both on the Super Sweet 100 Hybrid. The plant itself was not looking too spectacular, but it has been growing, and the top foliage looks pretty good.

The healthiest looking plant of all is the Burpees Summer Choice. Although small, it's pretty bushy. I may be deluding myself, but I think the plants overall look a little better since I moved the shop lights up a bit.

The salad greens, arugula and green onions are all poking their heads up a bit. The left hand side seems to be slightly more developed than the right hand side, so I decided to focus the fertilizer on the right hand side. Here's the best picture I could manage of the teeny weeny greens. Kind of looks like a four-leaved clover.




Another height chart of the tomatoes.
  1.  40.6 cm
  2. 43.2 cm
  3. 22.2 cm
  4. 43.2 cm
  5. 57.2 cm
  6. 19.1 cm
  7. 36.2 cm
  8. 67.9 cm
  9. 54.6 cm
  10. 33.0 cm