Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why We Grow Tomatoes 2012

(a West Virginia heirloom apparently having nothing to do with the cereal company)

After focusing on work only for the entire month of May I finally started planting tomatoes around the first of June and haven't stopped since.  Look at that photo, an incredible single plant growing in a sub-irrigated container (SIP) on our roof in Chicago, begging to be picked. Hold that image as we move through the summer months.

Did I say it was hot on the roof? Temps at or near 90 for four days translated to this on the growing deck:

We moved food production to the roof because of burgeoning shade on the ground. With these temps we may have to introduce shade on the roof. Most people seem unaware of the bizarre weather--is it because they don't grow food?  I can tell some people think I'm BEING NEGATIVE. My planting notes reminded me we had an utterly strange string of hot weather in March, including about nine days in the 80s and one near 90. Facts are facts. Happily, the weather broke this morning. But before it did, this gardener's friend put up a nice umbrella for me to plant under.

But let's back up. Bruce tended and befriended the tomato, eggplant, and pepper seedlings. He did a fine job and this year's crop is extraordinarily beautiful.

Look at that biomass from a handful of seeds.

As usual, we added perlite to our potting mix from previous years to lighten it up.

All the usual fertilizers and lime for tomatoes.

We've retrofitted most of the SIPs from the original damp-mix-filled wicking cup (large hole in center) to the wicking tapes.

After a backbreaking bunch of planting, Art raised the soil bin six inches off the ground, easing the load on my lower back. A miracle.

Many new varieties set for this year, and I'm optimistic it'll be a solid season. The white tubing is Art's auto-water system, essential in this hot weather.

The bees love it when we water, gathering round the moving stream and crawling into the holes to drink when the flow stops.

I pulled the peapods and lettuces, which grew like crazy and then spun out in the heat, from the two earthboxes and laid in more fertilizer. Bush beans at left, a tomato and tomatillo (thanks, Bruce) sharing the EB at right.

I'm not finished yet but getting closer. Already tasting the pingtung long eggplant,Jimmy Nardello peppers, and BLTs.

This is why we grow tomatoes


Robj98168 said...

I grow tomatoes because home grown taste better than those gene tampered plasticky tomatoes and the hot house tomatoes.

H2 said...

That's for certain, robj...


What a nice pics collection i like it..
Thank you for post..

Garden center Henderson

cherylsgardengoodies said...

Just FYI, I found some 4 cubic foot bags of horticultural grade coarse perlite for a very reasonable price. If you pick it up you can avoid the shipping charges and save lots of $$$. Here's the link: http://www.hometownperlite.com/Krum_details.html

I love being able to pass on good deal.

(If you actually pick some up, will you let the guy know I'm the lady that gave him the Brandywine tomato?)

H2 said...

Thanks, Cheryl. With everything now pretty much planted (first wave anyway) I won't be thinking about perlite until next spring. If I planned ahead, that's a good deal. Thanks for the refer.