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Earliest Tomato experiment.

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Re: Earliest Tomato experiment.

Post  quiltbea on 5/5/2013, 6:24 pm

CC......I've been very careful about covering them even when they say temps in the high 30s. Can't trust to forecasts entirely. Like last nite. They said low of 36 but it actually dropped to 28. Mine were snuggled in their blankets and suffered no harm. I'll go take a picture to post of their nitegowns.
The other consideration is that at low temps, tomatoes just stop growing so I make sure I cover them every nite right now. One nite I left them uncovered but with their top covered over with a clear trash bag and it dropped to 36 and they looked fine, but then I thought of the cold effects that might have later. I don't want slowing growth.
With nite temps next week expected in the 40s, I'm going to put out my other tomatoes and let nature take its course, as long as no frost is expected. They may slow in growth from cooler nites, but they'll catch up with the daily warmth.
One can only hope one makes the right decisions.
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Re: Earliest Tomato experiment.

Post  CapeCoddess on 5/5/2013, 6:34 pm

I was thinking of putting mine out on Tue afternoon since it looks to be in the high 40's at night after that with rain on Wed and Thur. I just wasn't sure if hi 40's was safe. I guess I could put one of each out and see how they do, right? They all have flower buds now and I just need to get them out of this window. The mother is coming in 2 weeks and I really need window to start the annual flowers.

Are you putting all yours out next week or just some?

CC
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Re: Earliest Tomato experiment.

Post  quiltbea on 5/5/2013, 7:11 pm

CC....Right now I'm thinking ALL of my tomatoes will go out, except for the few I started later for the Community Garden. They aren't big enough yet.

Here's my experimental babies in their nities.....

One green sofa cover is doubled on one side and clipped and then a gray flannel one is doubled over and covers the other side and clipped tightly with binder clips these days. They are wrapped from one end to the other, enclosing all three. Clothes pins were the culprits that didn't hold that windy nite but binder clips are great.
I have a metal fence pole buried deep at both ends of the bed. You can see others in the backgournd.
There are clear plastic bags pulled down over their tops and clipped as well.

Here are three of my trays of seedlings hardening off. I have 5 trays outside going thru this ritual. They range from herbs, broccoli, to Pak choi, to tomatoes, peppers, and even eggplants and zucchini.

Can you tell I'm itching to get things outdoors?
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Re: Earliest Tomato experiment.

Post  Lemonie on 5/5/2013, 11:36 pm

This is very inspirational! I decided to try winter sowing this year since I did not have a place to setup and indoor seed area and all of my babies are still very much babies. Sad I hear that winter sowing will help the plants be more hardy, but I think I would rather be enjoying earlier harvest. Loving this experiment and hoping to glean much for my future plantings!
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Re: Earliest Tomato experiment.

Post  quiltbea on 5/12/2013, 12:46 pm

Update on the great early tomato experiment. Will I get my first edible tomato by the Fourth of July? I hope so.

above: This is Jet Star with 2 green fruits and more blossoms inside its plastic jacket. Doing well so far.

above: New Girl which was delayed in growth due to being overcrowded before transplanting. Making up for lost time now in growth but no blossoms.

above: Poor old Taxi which was frost-bitten a couple weeks ago when its coverings blew away. Its still alive and struggling. Don't know how well it will fare but I wanted to give it a chance. I unwrapped it since it won't give me early fruits and will cover it only when the nites get cold.
If Jet Star keeps up the good work, I may get that early fruit yet. Wish me luck.
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Re: Earliest Tomato experiment.

Post  CapeCoddess on 5/12/2013, 1:25 pm

I'm rootin' for ya, QB! okay It's looking good for the JetStar! clap

Btw, how did those 2 toms get fertilized in the beginning? Did you do it by hand?

CC
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Re: Earliest Tomato experiment.

Post  quiltbea on 5/12/2013, 2:03 pm

CapeC.....I used Johnny's 512 seed starting mix for both the mini and the 2 inch soil blocks. Then in the last pot (3-liter air-pruner bottle) I added more 512 (its organic) and some of my own homegrown compost. I also added compost to the hole outdoors when they went out. I watered once with my own compost tea. I'll be watering with some fish emulsion this week to give the soil a boost.
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Re: Earliest Tomato experiment.

Post  CapeCoddess on 5/12/2013, 2:15 pm

Oh sorry, QB...I used the wrong word. I meant how did those 2 little toms get pollinated?

CC
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Re: Earliest Tomato experiment.

Post  quiltbea on 5/12/2013, 2:23 pm

Pollinating tomatoes and peppers is easy. You just have to tap or shake the blossom branches every day or so. They are self-pollinating so a little wind or a shake will do the trick. I stuck my arm down the enclosed plastic circle and tapped the branches.
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Re: Earliest Tomato experiment.

Post  quiltbea on 6/13/2013, 1:38 pm

June 14th, an update on my early experimental tomatoes....


These are my Jet Stars (72 Days) still green.  Transplanted outdrs and enclosed in plastic Apr 16 with a New Girl and a Taxi tomato.

And below is a New Girl started indrs the same time but not transplanted outdoors til a month later on May 15 and without any plastic to protect her.

This New Girl is an earlier ripening variety, (62 Days) and had tiny green tomatoes when I transplanted her out and she's beating the earliest ones with color.  If you remember, my New Girl put out ultra early in plastic was stunted by being in the middle of a group of toms so she got a later start than the Jet Star. 
Its still a waiting game to see which one ripens first.  All the factors were not identical as I'd hoped.  One got frosted (Taxi) and one got stunted (New Girl) and only Jet Star was a healthy tom at the time they were closed in for that extra month.  We'll have to watch what happens.
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Re: Earliest Tomato experiment.

Post  FamilyGardening on 6/13/2013, 4:30 pm

they sure are pretty quiltb Very Happy

happy gardening
rose
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Re: Earliest Tomato experiment.

Post  CapeCoddess on 6/14/2013, 10:36 am

Beautiful!  It looks like New Girl will be the winner.  Let us know how the flavor is.  If good, I'd like to try them next year.

CC
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Re: Earliest Tomato experiment.

Post  Turan on 6/14/2013, 1:14 pm

O thanks for the update!  I was just going to ask.  I am amazed how successful you are so far with planting out side with as little protection as you have used.
I just got an update on facebook from Eliot Coleman's farm that he has opened the farm stand and has tomatoes but he is using double walled large greenhouses.

I would be ecstatic if I could successfully plant tomatoes in my greenhouse as early as you did outside and have them survive.

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Latest Update 6-26

Post  quiltbea on 6/26/2013, 5:44 pm

I picked my early tomato from the Jet Star plant today.  One fell off so it was on my counter ripening and as of today, two ripe tomatoes.
The experiment worked.  Wrapped in plastic a month early against frost, I got my first 2 tomatoes to eat before the Fourth of July.

Here they both are.  The one that fell off is on the right but its red now.  Normally these tomatoes would go in around 5/15 and be ready for eating in 72 days or around 7/25. I transplanted them outdoors on 4/16.
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Re: Earliest Tomato experiment.

Post  CapeCoddess on 6/26/2013, 5:48 pm

Yes!!! cheers  sunny hyper clapokayrahrah
smilessmilessmilessmiles

praise 

Would you do it again?

CC
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Re: Earliest Tomato experiment.

Post  quiltbea on 6/26/2013, 6:04 pm

Hi CapeC.....No, I think I will just start some New Girls, which normally ripen in 62 days, about 12 weeks before last frost date and transplant them into tall 8" air-pruning pots but keep them indoors until time to harden off.  If they have any tomatoes on them, I'll leave them like I did my other New Girl that did NOT go out extra early.  I transplanted that New Girl on 5/15 outdoors but kept blankets handy in case any nites dropped below 40 so I covered them.
I didn't have to go thru all that extra work of wrapping and watching with New Girl.  She went out at normal time and remember, she gave me my first two tomatoes even before the early experimentals Jet Stars.   And they were delish.
Putting out bigger earlier variety plants at the right time works even better, I found.

Here's my 1st New Girl picked June 18th.
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first tomato

Post  landarch on 6/26/2013, 9:09 pm

very nice...I picked my first ripe tomato yesterday...it was from a Supersweet 100 cherry tomato...Juliets may be next.
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Re: Earliest Tomato experiment.

Post  Turan on 6/26/2013, 11:50 pm

okay

It has been an interesting experiment to watch. I feel encouraged to go ahead and start tomatoes next year a couple weeks earlier now,,,,, and will feel justified to not take off any flowers/fruits that may set during that early start.
thanks

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Re: Earliest Tomato experiment.

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