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And So It Begins ...

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And So It Begins ...

Post  acara on 2/27/2011, 9:27 pm

Technically, we have another 10-days before we are officially "frost-free" in Central, FL .... but I decided to roll-the dice and fire-up the SFGs and veggies.

Due to some recent life changes expected in 2011, some of the veggie patches are being converted to flowers & I'm only doing Russian heirloom tomatoes and peppers for the Spring 2011 planting.

Beauregard, the garden-guard-crab is back for another season, but will be guarding the flowers, instead of the veggies this year ...





The den garden has been converted to a lilly bed, with the exception of the herb pot & the last of the spinach bowls from winter ..




This weekend was the swan-song for the Wild Florida Everglades Tomatoes & Dad came up to pick up the remaining WFET's (full of bloom) and take them to their new home down in Sebring.









The "time killers" from winter are doing well and I should have radish (White Icicle and Salad Rose) and carrots (Kaliedescope) soon.




I did leak-checks on the auto-irrigation and staged the 4x4 SFG for the bell pepper planting this week;






The Black Prince heirloom toms are ready to go in the 1x8 SFG ..




The Cherokee Chocolate heirloom toms had their second transplant today & will be ready to go in the SFG shortly ...




The Black Crimson heirloom toms are sprouting and should be ready for first transplant in another 10 days ....

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Re: And So It Begins ...

Post  duhh on 2/27/2011, 9:41 pm

Everything is looking good! I'll keep my fingers crossed for you! We planted a little early here too, but I think we are going to luck out. I look forward to your updates. I always enjoy your posts, you have a great way of looking at things. Smile
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Re: And So It Begins ...

Post  Furbalsmom on 2/28/2011, 3:41 pm

Because of your "life changes" for 2011, it is understandable that you want to limit your SFG to peppers and Russian Heirloom tomatoes. Though, I have to admit, I was really looking forward to seeing Son of Stanley this year. Wink

Keep us updated when you can, we really enjoy your posts.
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Guard crab?

Post  ander217 on 3/1/2011, 7:51 am

Acara, I'm no expert, but Beauregard sure looks like a rock crab to me. I thought they were only found on the west coast. Do you think he might have blown in during a storm?

Please keep us updated on your dad's progress with the WFET. I'm going to miss them.
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Re: And So It Begins ...

Post  acara on 3/1/2011, 9:01 am

@ander217 wrote:Acara, I'm no expert, but Beauregard sure looks like a rock crab to me. I thought they were only found on the west coast. Do you think he might have blown in during a storm?

Perhaps my friend .... Beauregards' the strong-and-quiet-type & doesn't say much about his previous occupations/life and could be a West Coast transplant .... I just get a stoney-stare when I inquire Very Happy

Please keep us updated on your dad's progress with the WFET. I'm going to miss them.

No problem. I kinda closed out the "Got my WFET's Today thread", since I had 1 full-cycle documented. I harvested my seeds like I wanted & they are drying now ....so I may take another stab at them later in the year, or next year.

I've just got to be frugal with my "hobby" time now, so I'm trying to refrain from doing too many different varieties of stuff, so that I can be "available" for my wife.

I'm actually down to just the outdoor flower beds, 2 SFG's, a couple of pots & only three orchids ..... so thats quite the "scale-back" for me.
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Weekly update

Post  acara on 3/20/2011, 7:34 pm

Got a couple of hours in the garden yesterday & got a bunch more in the boxes & ground.

The Black prince Russian herilooms in the 1 x 8 SFG are doing well. I've got lots of bloom & found two of them fruiting ..






I also got all the Cherokee Chocolates and Bell peppers in the 4 x 4 SFG box & I'm off to the races ...






I harvested my winter boredom radishes & they were kinda a flop. Hoping the carrots do better;





...can't blame the radishes though ..... kinda negleced them with everything going on in the last 2 months.

On a non-SFG note ......

Got my herb pots all trimmed up for the new season;




My ground orchids are blooming early;





...and I scored some Foxglove while making my weekly nursery runs ...






Oh, and Beauregard says "hi" to everyone Very Happy




full album
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Re: And So It Begins ...

Post  Blackrose on 3/20/2011, 8:44 pm

@acara wrote:Got a couple of hours in the garden yesterday & got a bunch more in the boxes & ground.

The Black prince Russian herilooms in the 1 x 8 SFG are doing well. I've got lots of bloom & found two of them fruiting ..


I love the trellis for your tomatoes. It looks really pretty. One question though, what are those rings around the base of the tomatoes and why are they there?
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Re: And So It Begins ...

Post  acara on 3/20/2011, 9:32 pm

The rings are "collars".

The focus the water straight down (for better root development), and they are pest prevention. They also conserve water, since I regulate the flow to the dripper heads via independent valves & feed the drippers inside the collars.

They also keep any side dressings I use focused to the roots, instead of washing away with waterings.

The ones you see there are 4" pvc couplings ....but you can honestly do the same thing with family-size tuna fish cans (take the top and bottom off).








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Re: And So It Begins ...

Post  Blackrose on 3/20/2011, 9:34 pm

Thanks for the quick answer and thorough explanation acara! That is a great idea. I may just "borrow" it when I plant my tomatoes. Very Happy
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Re: And So It Begins ...

Post  acara on 3/22/2011, 7:14 am

@Blackrose wrote:Thanks for the quick answer and thorough explanation acara! That is a great idea. I may just "borrow" it when I plant my tomatoes. Very Happy


Blackrose ...

This is just a modified 30+ year old cracker-lore-solution (the can collars around the seedlings) I learned from my parents. The new/bright/shiny solution is HERE

Same concept ... focused watering, smaller root footprint, etc. Personally, I don't use these because I don't like covering all the soil in a square (can't see the boogey-man underneath thats doing bad things to my soil Very Happy ).

Again ...concept is same-same ...... keep the tomatoes from setting up surface-mat root systems & make the roots go concentrated/deep to get the water.

I've also seen larger versions (up to 14") for in ground planting.
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Update

Post  acara on 4/3/2011, 4:51 pm

SLIDESHOW


Survived the six-day-monsoon down here this week in Central Florida. The heavy rain knock a lot of bloom off of stuff, but somehow I dodged all the wind and didn't lose anything.

The Black Prince Russian Heirlooms are really starting to take off, Cherokee Chocolates are doing okay in the 4x4 box and the Black Crims are about ready to go in boxes. I also got some Kaleidescope carrots this week.

I started getting some fruit on my Sebring hybrid too.

Black Prince;















These seem to be fairly oblong/pear shaped when developing ..... waiting to see how they mature.


Cherokee Chocolates and Bell Peppers;










Black Krims;




Sebring (determinate hybrid);

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Week 3 update

Post  acara on 4/12/2011, 7:53 pm

SLIDESHOW


- Black Princes are taking off & it's looking like a bunker crop so far!

- Cherokee Chocolates & Bell Peppers are doing well in the 4 x 4 boxes

- Black Krims are ready to go in the ground

- Container rescues are doing well & got two new rescues from someone who dorked-up some Yellow Cherry Tom's. Nothing a little trimming/staking/caging won't fix.

- No torrential downpours this week & the wildflowers have started to bloom after all the rain.

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Re: And So It Begins ...

Post  middlemamma on 4/12/2011, 10:57 pm

great slideshow acara....thanks for sharing. Smile
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Re: And So It Begins ...

Post  Ha-v-v on 4/13/2011, 8:02 am

Acara it all looks great!!

I have a question about your container planting and the tomato cages. How did you get them to stay? I have a tomato plant in a 5 gallon bucket Ive fixed up for my father in law, and Im wondering about the cage. I have a plan to take 3 tomato stakes and plant them around the bucket, this will work but was wondering.
Ha-v-v
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Re: And So It Begins ...

Post  acara on 4/14/2011, 5:38 pm

Sorry I missed this earlier ..... I'll go grab the camera & do a demo
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Re: And So It Begins ...

Post  shannon1 on 4/15/2011, 1:27 am

I think Beauregard is the cutest, growing a Russian heirloom this year too. Black from Tula not what one expect a tom to look like but when they said it fruits all summer regardless of heat and bragged on it's smokey flavor I just had to try it.
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Re: And So It Begins ...

Post  acara on 4/15/2011, 3:17 am

@Ha-v-v wrote:I have a question about your container planting and the tomato cages. How did you get them to stay? I have a tomato plant in a 5 gallon bucket Ive fixed up for my father in law, and Im wondering about the cage. I have a plan to take 3 tomato stakes and plant them around the bucket, this will work but was wondering.
Ha-v-v

Okay ... short answer (I'll do a separate thread later) ... you CHEAT !!!


Method 1. Used for stakes, requires pre-planning: Bending a "foot" on the stake










Method 2. Used for stakes, requires pre-planning: Making a base. Drill a hole in a brick (don't need a whole brick for each foot) to make a base, insert stake (or cage wire), bury brick before planting veggie. This is really good for plastic pots, in order to add weight to the base and prevent tipping.








Method 3. For cages, can be done as an "afterthought" or repair. This mod allows you to attach a cage to pots or buckets ....
















Method 4. For cages. Its better if this is preplanned (so you dont damage root structure), but can be done after planting if your careful. This is combining classic tomato cages with some of the new triangle cage products,













Notice how I install the stakes by weaving in and out of the cage rings here;



I do a better narrative later, but hope this helps some for now ...




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Re: And So It Begins ...

Post  Ha-v-v on 4/15/2011, 8:20 am

Acara that was awesome !! I really appreciate all the time and effort !! It was daylight too and you were taking pictures. I totally get it now, I had to read it a couple times, first time was at 4:30 am ( sleep sometimes escapes me ).
With all that I can do another planting, Ive decided on the 3 tomato stakes for Dad. Im hoping his memory from working with them as a child comes to him and keeps him busy. Jeff's parents came to live on the property last year when Dad was diagnosed with Dementia. Dad is still there, the decline is obvious, but we have him still. My sons get to have Grampa and Gramma around and I couldnt be happier.

Thanks for the great guide and I hope others get to use it as well, it is greatly appreciated.
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Re: And So It Begins ...

Post  MasonGarden on 4/15/2011, 10:08 am

Ok, I've seen that some people put their tomatoes in cages and some people stake them in their SFG boxes. Are they both equally effective and just a matter of choice, or are there situations where one choice is better than the other?
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Re: And So It Begins ...

Post  acara on 4/15/2011, 10:26 am

@MasonGarden wrote:Ok, I've seen that some people put their tomatoes in cages and some people stake them in their SFG boxes. Are they both equally effective and just a matter of choice, or are there situations where one choice is better than the other?

It's completely a choice and predicated by your individual situation.

I enjoy doing tomatoes in my SFG, I just grow too many tomatoes to afford SFG boxes for all of them and tomatoes can present some difficulties in a SFG box, if your not a big fan of trimming/training. I also have space limitations where I live & can't fit a whole lot of SFG boxes in the location that offers optiomal growing conditions.

I use each method (and others) individually and in combinations, based on my need.

There are also string trellis techniques which are much more cost effective and easier to implement. I don't currently use them simply because I cant have "topped" (having a roof or overhang) structure in my yard, due to my local HOA restrictions (so I have nothing to attach the vertical string to).

Also, my yard is plagued with unpredictable periods of high winds, so my supports and trellis builds are much "beefier" than most folks may need.

Finally, I pre-build my cages/supports before I know what I'm actually going to put in them, so my cage/trellis builds are designed to handle everything from peppers to watermelons to small trees ...just so I don't have to reconfigure between crops or between veggies and flowers/plants.
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Re: And So It Begins ...

Post  FarmerValerie on 4/15/2011, 10:48 am

Growing your own food is supposed to be fun, get creative, stick a few things in containers, or seperate boxes, plant flowers in old wheel barrels, if you don't like the neighbors, use an old bathtub and toilet. If I every get to town with money and without the keeper of the checkbook, I will have some pink flamingos in my yard, just because. Variety truly is the spice of life.

Serioulsy, acara is right and is also the unofficial resident tomato expert.
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Re: And So It Begins ...

Post  acara on 4/15/2011, 10:48 am

No problem Ha-v-v ...

Sorry I couldn't find a 5 gallon bucket to do that on & make a little better model for you.

I used to grow almost exclusively in 5-gal buckets ..... but then I moved to a HOA development & can't use them anymore No
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Re: And So It Begins ...

Post  FarmerValerie on 4/15/2011, 10:51 am

@acara wrote:
I used to grow almost exclusively in 5-gal buckets ..... but then I moved to a HOA development & can't use them anymore No

HOA BAD, country life good.
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Re: And So It Begins ...

Post  acara on 4/15/2011, 11:02 am

Masongarden .....

This should make you feel better (those are all tomatoes in the back two rows of the SFG, on stakes Very Happy ).

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Re: And So It Begins ...

Post  MasonGarden on 4/15/2011, 11:11 am

Hahahahaha! Cages and trellises and stakes! Oh, my!
lol!
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Re: And So It Begins ...

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