Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tomato Gardening is my Playground!

My last post about growing 35 different tomato varieties attracted some great comments which made me realize that many of you out there think I'm crazy. Chris actually called me nuts, but then he added that it was in a good way. Alan who is an actual farmer seemed to think I was being wasteful. He was very nice but in a normal way of thinking, he is right.

When it comes to tomatoes however, I don't think normally. I wanted to take a few moments here to explain my oddity. Tomato gardening is my playground. Not only do I love eating massive amounts of tomatoes, but I love growing them and trying crazy things with them. This year I have 5 fun tomato growing goals:

  • See how big I can grow a tomato.
  • See how early I can produce a ripe tomato.
  • Grow at least 7 different colors of tomatoes.
  • See if I can grow a 15 foot tall tomato vine.
  • Make some time-lapse videos of tomato plants growing.
  • Let me explain these endeavours a bit more. The first one was simply growing a giant tomato. Last year two of my tomato fruits weighed in at almost 2 pounds.

    I didn't do anything to promote this, but supposedly there are things you can do to help increase fruit size. You can allow each plant a lot of growing space and compost. You can pick off all but one or two fruits when they are small to put all of the plants energy into the remaining fruit (talk about wasteful - but fun). It also helps to grow varieties that have the ability to become large. Two of my selections from Baker Creek this year are for this purpose. Delicious produces 1 to 3 pound fruits. Someone once broke the world record with this variety by growing a 7 lb 12 oz. tomato! Another potential giant is Omar's Lebanese, a pink pink tomato that promises 2 - 3 pound fruits.

    #2 was to see how early I can harvest a ripe tomato. This is a game I've been playing for a couple of years now. I live in northern Kentucky, zone 6a, where main season tomatoes are harvested in late July/early August. In 2007 I got my first ripe tomato on June 15th. Last year, I put the plants outside earlier and added a makeshift greenhouse tent to protect them.

    That helped me beat the previous year by ten days as I picked my first ripe tomato on June 5th.This year, since I now have a real greenhouse to help me, I hope to get ripe tomatoes in May!

    I would like to further explain the other 3 goals, but this post is getting a bit lengthy and it is getting pretty late. I will save it for my next post. Hopefully after explaining the fist two goals, you can better understand that I grow tomatoes for food, and for fun!

    Do you still think I'm crazy?


    Darren (Green Change)

    Good luck! It's the crazies who make all the interesting discoveries. If everybody just grew the same two types of tomatoes, it'd be a boring old world.


    Since I live in a zone where we cannnot put our tomatoes out until June 7th I applaud you for trying to get a fully ripe tomato even before that date. I have built a tomato pavillion which helps get mine out earlier, but not much because the ground is too cold. Keep us informed!


    Ripe Tomatoes in May? Wow, with all the success you've had in the past with early tomatoes I thought you'd be shooting for February this year. :)

    Wayne Stratz

    I may have to try to get a super early tomato this year. you are crazed, but still inspirational.


    You can never have too many tomato plants! I have 18 in pots on a small balcony because that is the only space I have! Love the goals and best of luck in achieving them.


    I totally agree with Chris - crazy in a good way, and as long as you eat or give away all the excess tomatoes it isn't wasteful. I used to work for the early tomato, but my current garden is such a pain. It has massive trouble with mildew. Early tomatoes just encourage it. So I don't do that anymore.


    Sounds like good clean fun to me!

    Chuck Bartok

    You really show your Passion!
    Great Photos and a well written statement of Energy personifies.

    I share that passion and have for the past 55 years,. we raised our Family growing tomatoes and other crops on our 20 Acre Truck Farm.

    Last year i chronicled the Progress of 24 Tomato plants (sorry, 2 old standbys and a new one for me Stupice).

    I chronicled on Video the progress over 8 months.

    The DVD is now available.

    I would appreciate your sharing his link with your loyal followers and they may enjoy Growing Tomatoes for Health and Wealth


    emma - theberrypatch

    I would be growing more varieties too if I could, but I am having trouble with the ones I have now.

    I have had almost all my tomatos infested with fruit fly this season. The plants I planted later in the season and are just begining to ripen now seem to be ok.

    Just wondering if you have fruit fly where you are and what you do to get rid of it. I have been told the only way is to spray and I really really don't want to do that.


    (in Australia)

    Marc and Renee

    Emma - We don't have a lot of trouble with that so I will defer to Rhonda from Down to Earth. She has written about fruit fly before (she is also in Australia). I seem to recall her talking about picking tomatoes wile still green to deter insects from attacking the ripe fruit.

    Mainly I think she has had problems with fruit fly bothering her fruit trees. She wrote about it here and here.

    I would suggest asking her more about fighting fruit fly through email or by commenting on her post.

    Good luck with your fight. I hope you can still have a great harvest

    - Marc

    emma - theberrypatch

    Thanks Marc - I will go through Rhonda's archive too.


    Hi! I just clicked through to your blog via The Conservative Gardener. I definitely don't think you are crazy. Tomatoes are amazing things. I just wrote an extremely long post on my blog about the great lengths I go to for early tomatoes here in zone 4 (SE MN). You have my earliest tomato harvest date beat by a long shot--I've had July 4 tomatoes here.

    I look forward to digging into your blog a bit more. Check out mine if you can www.aprildigginginthedirt.blogspot.com

    I want to build a semi-permanent greenhouse next, similar to yours. Right now we have 10X10 that we set up next to our house in the spring and take down in the summer. Last year it blew over and smashed the windshield on my hubbie's car. This year we are working on anchors!

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