Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tomato Playground Part 2

In my last post, I listed 5 fun things I am planning for my tomato garden this year (other than eating lots of tomatoes). Here is the list again:

  • 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.
  • The first two were explained in that post, but now let me explain the others.

    Number three is simply to grow many different colors of tomatoes - a tomato rainbow of sorts. Last year I accomplished this with my cherry tomatoes.

    I grew several colors of full size tomatoes as well but they ripen at different times. I never really got a good picture of all the different colors together. This year I plan to pay more attention to the number of days it takes for each variety to mature, and have some of the plants timed to ripen together.

    The next silly thing on my list is to grow really tall tomato vines. Climbing Triple Crop tomato is supposed to grow 15 feet tall. I have seen pictures in magazines of tomatoes growing on lattice up the side of a two-story house and thought that was interesting. My Chinese Red Noodle beans reached the top of my 8 foot trellis last year, so I had planned to build a new 10 to 12 foot tall trellis for them this year. Now I will extend that trellis for these tomato plants.

    I plan to build these trellises with PVC pipe similar to what I used on my cinder block raised beds last year.

    I love growing veggies vertically, so this trellis system may get a little complicated. I will write much more about it when the time comes.

    The last thing on my list is to produce some time lapse videos. This idea has been brewing for over a year now. My nine to five job is at a video production company, so I'm not lacking the know-how. The difficulty will be in the discipline to regularly take the shots or the video. I want to make a wide shot time lapse of the whole vegetable garden as well as one of a single tomato plant from sprout to full grown. More to come on this as well.

    A bonus idea for my tomato playground will be to grow some as hanging plants. I want to make something similar to the topsy turvy upside down tomato planter, or the hanging tomato baskets. Last year I saved some fending and big seed sacks for this purpose, but I haven't yet worked out the details of how to make this.

    So those are my five six odd tomato goals. What about you? Please tell me that I am not alone in having strange goals and experiments in the garden. Do you ever do things other than planting, tending and harvesting the vegetables? Several things come to my mind other than these tomato tricks. Have you ever tried for giant veggies, grown cucumbers is a bottle or forced squash into a "face mold"? Are you going to try any of these crazy things this year? Please give me more ideas!

    I think it makes things more interesting to garden for food and fun. Do you?



    My experiment isn't as grand as yours, I think. I plan on testing the weight yield per square foot of broccoli planted at different grid spacings.


    Well, I'd definitely like to grow a massive tomato as well. Bigger is better right?

    I am also going to try two or three of the upside down tomato planters. I am going to do this mainly because I have very limited square footage but lots of vertical space.

    The Conservative Gardener

    As a Plumbing Contractor I recognized the material you used for your trellis......I am a pro after all!

    But where'd you get the net? Or did you make it yourself?


    Tomatoes are my fave, I hope someday I can push through on my Genetics study on creating a tomato that can give bigger fruit.


    My fun with tomatoes this year is to grow the seed from my Sungold tomatoes I collected last year and see what I get. Sungold is an F1, so the plants ought to be different. Some people think the seed companies might have already stabilized the hybrid and I'll just get Sungolds, but I'm hoping for something interesting.

    Marc and Renee

    So far everyone's goals sound like great things to try for.

    Dan - have you tried the upside down planters before? I'm interested in knowing the pros and cons on them. Maybe that should be a whole post.

    Conservative Gardener - The netting pictured is one that I really like from Park Seed. It holds up pretty well for two or three years and is not terribly expensive.

    You can make it yourself but I have always been a bit lazy with it. If you are interested in making one, my favorite articles about how to do it are from Backyard Granger (last year) and Compost Bin (several years ago).

    I do recommend using a trellis with as many veggies as possible. (peas, beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, some squashes and small pumpkins and melons. Of course they don't have to be 15 feet tall like mine will be!

    - Marc


    We love tomatoes and aside from growing some heirloom varieties, we also plan on growing tomatoes upside down in 5-gal food grade buckets. I'll post pix on my blog as soon as we have them up. =)
    I cannot wait to see pix of your tomato experiment!

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    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    Back when my kids were little, we used to go out to the pumpkin patch and gently scribe the kids' names in the green pumpkins. Once they started to ripen to a bright orange, each child could find his own to be picked later and carved. I'm hoping now to do this with my grandchildren when they are old enough to hike with me to the garden.

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