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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The veggie garden 2010-Tomatoes woes

Our woes with the Tomatoes began very early this season. Last year we got started with some 4 heirloom plants that a neighbour gave us. This was our first year of trying to grow Tomatoes from seed.

Pictures of our Tomato plants in 2009

And the post about what went wrong with them in 2009 is here.

With a vow to make amends this year, and as with all other things.... we started off big. I had 11 different types of seeds I had ordered and we happily picked up 4 "Beefsteak" Tomato plants at the CA Master gardener course we went to.

Sometime in late January or early February we started seeing tomato plants on the nursery shelves and began to wonder if we were falling behind in starting seeds. We quickly looked up our master gardener guideline and  scrambled to get our seedlings started. It still bothered me to see 5 inch tall plants on nursery shelves in late January.

I set them out in our sun-room which gets ample sunlight and is quite warm and patiently waited for them to germinate. As luck would have it ...California (the bay area) has had an extended winter this year. We had friends going skiing at Lake Tahoe during memorial day weekend ! We had very poor germination rates and just 2 plants emerged from all the seeds I started (at least 5 of each variety).

So when the heat picked up in June, we started the seeds directly in the raised planter bed we had designated. We neatly put down ice-cream sticks with the names of the types that went in the ground. And...the squirrels and the ravens have been having a field time with the ice-cream sticks digging them out and throwing them all over the yard.

So we had tomato plants coming up all over my planter bed and we have no idea what kind they are. It would matter because we have the "German green" tomatoes that would never turn red or ripen along with red's and black's that would ripen.

We also bought some really sturdy Texas Tomato cages, that were recommended at our master gardener workshop. Plus it was going to be hectic to build 8 more cages like last year. And the sweetest part about these Texas Tomato cages are that they fold away neatly for storage.

The germination rates in the ones planted outside directly have been fabulous, almost every seed we planted seems to have come out. And they have been growing at a pretty rapid pace thanks to the heat that seems to have kick-started it.

This is one of the beds where the seedlings have been a little slow to pick up.

And these are the ones that have really taken off

And we still haven't seen fruits set on any of the flowers, and we had a feeling that the plants didn't receive much light in the first place. We were personally wondering what to do with the Tomato plants and worried they were growing all over the place and out of bounds.

So when we read this article on Tomato pruning that was posted on the FB page of our favourite store (Peaceful valley Farms), it got me thinking. Interestingly, here is another article that argues otherwise. So I went and looked up the UC site for a more tried and tested result. So I am going to go with the UC's line of action.

As I was soaking in all this information, I stumbled on the pollination problem and found this interesting method of electric toothbrush pollination. The part that has been bothering me is that none of the garden books we own mention this technique. We are going to give it a shot on some of the plants and hopefully this does not do much harm.

As this article was being written (over a few days).....we spotted some new developments.......yes little fruits.

And NO....I don't know what kind they are.....I am guessing they are the Cream Sausage Tomato.

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