Big Beef is Ready!

I just had to share this photo.  I finally was able to pick my first beefsteak tomato of the season (Big Beef) and it’s gorgeous!  The photo doesn’t give you an indication of size, but it’s a double-handful.  My guess as to weight is just about 1 lb.  You can click the photo for a bigger photo.

Picked This Week

Big Beef TomatoI was able to pick quite a bit this week.  Husky Cherry Red produced quite a few very sweet cherry tomatoes.  I’m afraid they never make it to the house, as I tend to snack on them in the garden!

Juliet also had two ripe grape-shaped tomatoes.  I haven’t tried them as yet, but I am hoping they are more flavorful this year.

Better Bush had several ripe tomatoes this week, and I see more that are ripening.  The plant does look rather sad, but I am waiting until I have all the tomatoes harvested before removing it.  It’s a determinate anyway, so it’s really given me most of this year’s harvest.

The one that I am most excited about – aside from my lovely Big Beef – are my Black Cherry tomatoes.  I picked three of them today and they very much live up to their reputation.  They are very sweet — almost like eating a piece of fruit.  Which is of course appropriate, since technically tomatoes are fruits (berries, actually)

A Funeral This Week, Too

I pulled out one of my Isis Candy Cherry tomato plants — one of the big bushes.  All the sudden it started looking…weird.  It wasn’t the water problem, but I really didn’t like the looks of things.  And since I have several more of the variety planted, I can afford to lose one.

And Coming Up

I have my seedlings for Rapunzel and Indigo Cherry Drops getting ready to go out to my new shade house.  Loxahatchee (which I planted much later) still needs to spend some time under the grow light before I put it out in the shade house (i.e., my former greenhouse).

The shade house is where I will put some of my tomatoes, peppers and orchids.  Part of my problem in my summer garden is that the sun is just way too strong — the plants don’t stand a chance come midday.  The heat is also a problem.  Well, the shade house will help with those problems immensely.

I’ll do some separate posts regarding the shade house and the grow light that I’ve been trying out.  The grow light is rather exciting, because 1) I have never had such beautiful seedlings when growing on a windowsill (even a south-facing one).  And 2) the grow light was really inexpensive, and I didn’t need any special setup.

So, that’s it for now — catch you later with more updates!

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Tomato Garden Update – April 2016

It’s just past the middle of April, and so it’s time for garden updates — and this time, I have a video showing the plants and the tomatoes!  So it’s not just photos, but lights! camera! action!  ;)

Better Bush TomatoesBut first, I said I’d talk about Juliet, Cherokee Purple and Husky Cherry Red (since I didn’t cover them in my last update).

The Good and the Bad

Let’s start off with the bad and work on up to the good.   Cherokee Purple…may you rest in peace!  I’m afraid the salt damage that most of the other plants kind of shrugged off was Cherokee Purple’s death warrant.  Alas, it’s not a variety that can handle excessive sodium well.  I had to just pull it out, and put it out of its misery.

Juliet is next on the list; the plant is not doing great (as you will see in the video), but it’s certainly not at death’s door.  And unfortunately (kind of), it’s still setting tomatoes.  You’ll hear why I say that in the video.

Husky Cherry Red is doing fine, aside from being targeted by birds!  Apparently they love the sweet cherry tomatoes that the plant produces, so I had to wrap the plant up in insect netting.  But at least now I get to eat the tomatoes instead of the birds beating me to them!

As for all the other plants — I’ve had ripe tomatoes to eat this past week — yum!  Not all the plants have had fruits ripen as yet, but it’s mostly the big beefsteak tomatoes that are hold-outs.  Then again, they are growing some really good sized fruit, so they can be somewhat excused.  ;)

Video Walk-Through

So, here’s a video walk-through of the tomatoes.  Keep in mind some of the salt damage that I have had.  We’ve also had some days over 90 degrees Fahrenheit already, and then weather that is somewhat cooler than normal.  I don’t think the tomato plants quite know what to do!

Anyway, hope you enjoy the walk-through.  Meanwhile, my second wave of seedlings (Rapunzel, Indigo Cherry Drops and Loxahatchee) is almost ready to get potted up for the last time before heading out to the garden for their final planting.  More on them later!


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Garden Update – Tomato Explosion!

It’s the end of March, and the tomato plants are growing and blossoming and producing LOTS of tomatoes!  But along with my successes, I’ve had a failure as well.  Come on and let’s take the tour!

Big Beef – Wow!

Big Beef Tomato 2016 03 31My Big Beef tomato plant has gone through some tough times, what with multiple multiple transplantings, an ant invasion and losing some foliage.  It did set a tomato shortly after Big Boy and Early Girl, and it has far outstripped those plants!  It’s got the biggest tomato in the garden, and it is getting bigger every day.

Big Beef is a hybrid tomato, and produces red beefsteak-type fruits.  I can’t wait to taste it when it ripens!

Black Cherry – Finally Hit Its Stride

Black Cherry Tomatoes 2016 03 31My Black Cherry tomato plant took quite awhile to do anything.  For several weeks it just sat in its pot and didn’t grow – not until I gave it a drink of worm compost tea.  That perked it up, and now it’s flowering and producing cherry tomatoes with abandon.  Black Cherry is an open-pollinated tomato plant (although sometimes it’s classed as an heirloom).

I’ve tried growing Black Cherry in the past, but one year almost my whole garden was decimated by hornworms – including Black Cherry.  Another year I got rained out before I really got the plants started — that was my fault for starting so late.  I am very much looking forward to the cherry tomatoes, as they are supposed to taste heavenly!

Better Bush

Better Bush Plant 2016 03 31This is such a pretty plant – I love the rugose foliage and deep green color of the leaves.  Better Bush is a determinate – the only one I have in the garden at the moment.  It’s not a large plant at all, but it’s loaded with fruits.  The tomatoes don’t get to be very large; maybe in the 3 to 4 ounce size range — but they are abundant.  Better Bush is a hybrid.

I’ve  grown this tomato variety in the past and it never fails to give me a nice harvest. It might not look it in the photo, but the plant actually has lots of tomatoes.

Maybe they aren’t the biggest tomatoes, but nevertheless they taste great when fully ripe.  Yum!

Red Beefsteak

Reg Beefsteak North 1 2016 03 31I have two of these open-pollinated tomato plants, and they are gorgeous at the moment — big and lush and full of both tomatoes and blossoms.  One is doing slightly better than the other, but not by much.  Even though they are container-grown, these should give me some 12 ounce to maybe a pound beefsteak-type red tomatoes.  A lot of them.  ;)

This plant in the photo, as well as its sibling, have reached the top of the cage already, and I have about 6 to 8 weeks of decent growing weather left (after which it gets super-hot).  I expect that it will keep growing during the summer; I just don’t know how well (or if) it will produce fruit then.

BTW, having grown both in-ground and in large containers, I can say it’s a fallacy that you can’t get a good harvest of big tomatoes from a container tomato plant.  But more about that in another post.

And the Big Disappointment….

Big Boy and Early Girl ran into a problem a couple of weeks ago — they got waterlogged.  Between me getting a little over-zealous with watering, a plastic mulch cover that kept in the moisture and cooler temps, the plants were almost swimming.  I corrected the situation, but they looked really sad — even though they both still had tomatoes.  Both plants are hybrids.

Since then, Early Girl has perked up some; she’s put out new suckers, started flowering more and also setting more tomatoes.  She still looks spindly but seems to be coming back from her near-drowning experience.

But Big Boy…I don’t think he’s long for this world.  Almost overnight it’s developed what looks like rust on its leaves.  Granted, we have had a lot of rain in the past week, but none of the other plants are reacting this way.

I’ll try some mild organic fungicide, but if it’s not showing signs of improvement in the next few days — out Big Boy comes, tomatoes or not.  I have plenty of other tomato plants at the moment, so losing one isn’t the end of the world.

What’s Up Next?

In the next garden update, I’ll talk about the trials and tribulations of Juliet, and how Cherokee Purple and Husky Cherry Red are doing.  Plus — I have the Isis Candy Cherry “wannabes” in the garden, and they are growing like there is no tomorrow.  I’ll talk more about the experiment I plan to run on two of them, to see if some new organic supplements live up to their claims.

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