Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tomato Update

Tomatoes are coming along nicely. All of the cherries are throwing out branches of fruit- nothing ripe yet but I'm hopeful. Green Grape is looking kind of straggly and appears to have some kind of funk but it's not spreading to the other tomatoes so I won't pull it out yet. Prudens Purple has a nice sized fruit on it. Others that have substantial fruit (golf ball-ish size) are Black from Tula, Berkeley Tie Dye Pink, Stupice and Red Zebra. Not as far along but still with marble sized fruits is Absinthe, Goose Creek, Brandywine, Cowlicks, JD's Special C-Tex, Set fruit this week: Green Zebra, Sweet Carneros, Kelloggs Breakfast, Box Car Willie, Indian Stripe, Cherokee Purple, Purple Dog Creek, Aunt Ruby's German Green. Flowering but not fruiting yet is Hillbilly, Black Zebra, Dr Wyche, William's Striped, Black Mtn Pink, Super Sioux, Golden Queen.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Self Watering Containers

I've got a tomato problem. Too many plants, not enough space. I debated whether or not to build some self watering containers this year. Water is never in short supply around here; I rarely have to water anything (even smaller containers). I never considered purchasing an eartbox at $60 a pop (I don't have that kind of cash). I did need more containers to plant tomatoes in since I can only fit about 16 tomato plants in the veg garden and I planted as many tomato plants as possible in the extra spaces in the flower gardens and in the large containers on the patio. I still had 4 plants left over: Coyote, Champagne Cherry (a trial to see if it's different from Coyote), Matt's Wild Cherry and Jaune Flamee. I was intrigued by the results of Ray Newstead in California ( Are his plants so crazy huge because of the earthtainer or because he's in California where everything grows bigger and better? Would the plants grown in earthtainers be any larger than those grown in non-swc here in WNY? I figured why not give it a shot. Being the green geek that I am I didn't like the idea of tossing out the better part of a whole container to make the aeration bench so I basically followed these directions:
I've read conflicting information on the safety of pvc pipe so I left out the watering pipe and I filled the reservoir by putting the garden hose in the overflow hole to fill up the container. I also don't have the time or patience to find specific soil and ammendments for the swc so I used Pro-Mix and fertilized with leachate from my worm bin. The Coyote/Champagne Cherry bin was planted on or about 6/2 from plants started from seed around 3/14. I just measured the plants. From the ground they are about 5'5" (the picture was taken about 3 1/2 weeks after putting them in the SWC-they've grown a TON), Champagne Cherry is a little bit taller, more robust than Coyote. It also bloomed and set fruit sooner. I won't have a true comparison between the SWC and regular containers because I didn't plant more than one of each variety. That being said...the plants in the SWC are going crazy! It's hard to tell from the picture but they are totally escaping the cages (I really should have shelled out the cash for a Glamos cage). I have blossoms and fruit everywhere. Too much to count. The plants in the regular containers are growing fine and compared to other years where I haven't fertilized with worm poop and aerated compost tea they are looking awesome but they aren't as crazy huge as those in the SWC.
(note about the picture- this is Coyote/Champange Cherry. The line of siding up above the top of the tomatoes is 5'4" from the deck. I took this picture a few days ago. The tomatoes were above that line today).

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Results are in!

Rose race 2010:
Distant Drums (pictured), Clotilde Soupert, Winchester Cathedral, Heritage, Cornelia, Fantin Latour, Russelliana. Sweet promise doesn't have any buds on it but it looks really good- the foliage is gorgeous. Ghislaine de Felagonde is out of the running due to her cushy winter indoors. Hippolyte and Charles de Mills actually have a few buds. I wasn't expecting much from them this year as they bloom on old wood. Heritage has 52 buds on it this year! I don't think I've ever seen more than 4-5. I've been making compost tea and alfalfa tea. I think that little experiment can be considered a sucess.

The veg garden is in. So far so good. Onions and Beans are up. I was worried about slugs (using the Ruth Stout method of mulching with leaves) but they haven't been a problem so far. It's been pretty hot and dry so that's probably helped a lot. Most of the tomatoes are in. I have to make 1 more SWC (I made one this weekend for the Champagne Cherry/Coyote experiment) for Matt's Wild Cherry and Jaune Flamee. I also have an extra Red Zebra and a jalepeno plant that need to find homes. The tomatillos are blooming, Champagne Cherry has blossoms on it, Hungarian Hot Wax has some buds. Things are coming along!