Healthy Tomatoes

8/16/2015 ~ Starting tomatoes inside hasn’t been working for me because my home is too cold. Tomatoes don’t like it colder than 65* and my home is closer to 56*, though I’m hoping to improve that this winter, with more insulation.

Cloudy Day Tomatoes

Cloudy Day Tomatoes

Thus, I ordered established tomato plants from Burpee, with an eye to ones which are more likely to overwinter, even in my somewhat cold living room. I chose indeterminate tomatoes because they are the only ones which can over winter.

I ordered three Cloudy Day Tomatoes, which are medium sized tomatoes that were said to do well in less than totally intense light. I thought they might be happier over winter when there’s no direct sunlight. The plants are bushy and the tomatoes are super good, really excellent flavor. Though I don’t eat them raw, so my comment is re cooked tomatoes.

Quite honestly the two Cloudy Day Tomatoes that had more sun produced more tomatoes. The two plants on the right, with red tomatoes, had more sun. You can see that the tomatoes on the left are all still green.

Sun Gold Tomatoes

Sun Gold Tomatoes

I ordered three Sun Gold which had rave reviews for abundance and flavor. The plants are more like vines than bushes, so I’ve had to use both the top and bottom to my tomato cages for them.

I’ve avoided eating tomatoes, as if they were fruit my whole life. The idea of eating a tomato off the vine makes me cringe even though I love them in salads. It’s certainly not logical. But, these Sun Gold tomatoes are so sweet and amazingly good in my brown rice soups, that I tried one fresh from the vine. It turned out to be more like fruit than veg, and I ate a dozen.

I also ordered a single Solar Power, a Super Sweet 100 and a Power Pops. The Solar Power wasn’t happy when it arrived so Burpee refunded my purchase price. The Solar Power went on to completely die. The Power Pops got wind damaged the first day. I think it lost its apical dominance, if vines have that, because it never grew tall the way it had seemed that it would, prior to the damage.

Super Sweet 100 and Daisies 300 DSCN1391

Super Sweet 100

The Super Sweet 100 are nice sized little tomatoes. They’re little, but bigger than cherry tomatoes. Their flavor is good. They could be more prolific, but… I love how they are growing amid the daisies from the pot with my blueberries.

1/1/2014 ~ Since Thomas Jefferson introduced tomatoes, which he’d encountered in France, into his garden at Monticello, they have risen in popularity till today hardly a day goes by that tomato isn’t eaten by nearly every American, whether on pizza, a hamburger, spaghetti, or in a salad.

George Washington is said to have viewed tomatoes as poisonous, which was the view of northern Europeans who thought the plant looked too much like deadly nightshade to not be poisonous.

No one died from eating tomatoes, and Thomas Jefferson’s view of them won out.

Tomato Lizzano Seedling emerged 1/1/2014

Lizzano Seedling 1/1/2014

My Lizzano tomato seedling emerged today, New Year’s Day, 2014. I hope it will grow in my living room, given that this kind grows in England which is not nearly as sunny as New Mexico, where my living room is located. If only my living room had more of the sunniness that’s outside.

Tomato Lizzano is growing, but as of yet, no secondary leaves 1/9/2014

Lizzano is growing, but no secondary leaves 1/9/2014

1/13/2014 ~ I’m toying with the idea of moving the tomato to one of my baker’s racks with LED light and using a Flower Pot Heating set-up under it. My feeling is that while the tomato is looking healthy and steadily, if slowly, growing, that it would grow more rapidly if it had more light and heat.

The problem is that Flower Pot Heating is harder to monitor since it’s low to the floor, and the candles are inside tins, not glass that easily reveals the height of the remaining candle. So, I could move the tomato to enhance the light, but then I might not see that the candle needs changing, with the result that the tomato might get cold and die.

I planted three other Lizzano tomatoes under a bio dome over which a full spectrum lamp is on more than five hours a day. None of them have come up. This leads me to believe that the Lizzano in the pictures came up as a result of the warmth from Survival Candle Heating below it.

In fact, when I’ve taken temperature readings of its pot, using my infrared thermometer, they were consistently 60* and above.

I’ve been mulling over how to give the Lizzano both warmth and additional light. This morning it struck me that I could hang my chrome utensil drying rack over the edge of the chrome cart holding the Lizzano, and move the cart closer to the GE Plant Light I have on 4-5 hours daily for the Golden Egg Squash. The rack is just large enough to insert two inch pots from ordering plants.

Lizzano in utensil rack near GE light and candle heat

Lizzano in utensil rack near GE light
and candle heat

To this end, I mixed composted mulch, Azomite (rock dust), peat moss (but I had very little left), Mycorrhizae, and previously planted soil from one of my huge pots. The Azomite is very dusty, i.e. filling the air with dust, unless you put it into moist soil, or wet the soil once you’ve added the Azomite, prior to mixing in. I planted two Lizzano seeds and covered the pot with a small, raised lid I made from vinyl I had left from covering the doors to the deck for winter insulation. Finally, I placed the pot in the chrome rack.

Sadly, I then decided to add a bit more moisture. The water moved the soil. I fear the seeds got washed to one side and covered in far too much soil. Darn it!

1/14/2014 ~ My Lycopersicon pimpinellifolium (Currant Tomato) seeds arrived late yesterday afternoon. This morning I planted three in a pot similar to the one in which my Lizzano tomatoes are planted (pictured at left). I also planted my two remaining Lizzano seeds, so that I’d have some that weren’t washed beneath too much dirt as a result of late watering. In fact, this morning I moistened the soil thoroughly before planting.

red-current-tomato50Red current tomato

Here is what the blurb on Amazon said about the Currant Tomato:

Red Currant Tomato: Indeterminate – 65 days – Lycopersicon pimpinellifolium – (Tomate Groseille) – Originally from the wild in South America, the currant tomatoes were used to breed the modern cherry tomato types. This is the original heirloom red currant tomato. It will heavily produce tiny (1/2 inch) red tomatoes with a tart and sweet taste. A very good tasting tomato, and sure to become a favorite of yours!

The seeds were accompanied by a packet of Sweet Banana Pepper seeds, for free. Very nice.

4/22/2014 ~ Darn it! one of my seedlings is down, cut off by armadillo bugs. I need to get the other Lizzano seedling into it’s hanging basket, with soil made of composted mulch, peat, coir fiber, Azomite, Yum Yum Mix, and a bit of mycorrhizae. That’s my plan for today. If only I’d done it yesterday!

And, if only I’d always used a compost starter that really heats up the mix. In the past I’ve used a bit of garden soil with my mix of leaves, cut grass and weeds. The soil has microbes in it that hasten decomposition.

BUT, the soil also has armadillo bugs, and some of them are too small to identify and remove. Plus, they roll into little balls that look like pebbles ~ Excellent camouflage.

I used my old compost, made using garden soil, for a huge pot in which I planted some tomato seedlings. Today, one seedling was felled and next to it there was a munching armadillo bug. Yes, I’m repeating myself. It’s SO distressing to lose a seedling I’d been pampering.

I am hereby resolved to use only Super Hot Compost Starter for my compost. The kitchen compost container in which I used it has the most fabulous compost, with no lurking bugs.

If you compost, give Super Hot Compost Starter a try, and see why it gets such rave reviews.

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