Monday, December 29, 2008

I Finally Bagged One

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I cut into the tomato (below) but was pleasantly surprised at what was inside, as I have grown a few seedless tomatoes in recent times. This is one of my Little Heart tomatoes that is from bagged blossoms and the seed has been squeezed into a container and is in the cupboard to ferment. By the weekend I will have seed from this tomato in a seed tray in an effort to get another growing from it this season, which will put me a year ahead with the filial generations. This is a lovely eating tomato and I expect big things from it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Autumn Crop

I'm sowing seeds now for my Autumn crop - here are a couple of 'Siletz' that I'm having another try of, as these are one very tasty tomato.

Friday, December 19, 2008

We Liked It.

We did the big taste test on 'Siletz' tonight and I must say that if anyone wants a sweet tomato, not acidic in any way, then this is the one. The downside was no seeds, but then that's nothing new for me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Here it is.

Well, we finally picked 'Siletz' today and what a lovely size tomato it it too, weighing in at 270 grams. I'm sure we'll enjoy eating this one - I can't wait.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Worth The Wait.

We've been watching this one grow for weeks now and it's almost to the stage where it will be picked and eaten. This one is 'Siletz' and is not hothouse grown, but is in a 32cmx32cm pot in the backyard. The plant this fruit is growing on, is a very compact plant that is about 55cm in height. I'm hoping for something in the 250+ gram weight range, but won't care if it's heavier or lighter, so long as it tastes nice.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Newest Babies

Here is one of my 'Tamina' tomato plants, which I'm growing for seed only at this stage. These were released in England about 12 months ago by Thompson & Morgan, so are new to me this season albeit a bit late starting them.

I'd like to think we'd get some warmer weather and then they'll take off and do just fine.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Washing's Done

At least three days this week I've had blossom bags on the line after being washed. These have been in use on the tomato blossom, until fruit set on selected trusses. The idea is to produce 'pure' seed, not crossed in any way and it works well.

Early removal of bags is a necessity otherwise you will get fruit fill the bags, or even worse - 'Blossom Drop'.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Here it is.

I checked on the Little Heart tomato in the hothouse and found a caterpillar had nibbled the skin, so I picked it and took inside to ripen. I weighed it at 148 grams (5.3 oz) and is as big as a tennis ball, so we'll do the important taste test on it tonight (Fri) and then I'll report back if it was good. This tomato is an F2 and will possibly change more before it's stable, but so far it has taste and size in it's favour.

Here it is in Jan's hand.

The same tomato at tasting Friday afternoon. Result is great at a very nice 8+/10.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Worth the wait - Hopefully

In the next day or so I'll pick my first fruit from a tomato grown in the hothouse I named 'Little Heart' (F1) last year which came from a 'mutant' lot of seeds, supposedly Cuor di Bue. This plant gave small heart shaped fruit last year, with excellent taste, so I decided to grow them again this year, but got a surprise with their size. The fruit seems as if it will grow to about Tennis Ball size, very prolific, so when I get the first fruit it will be taste tested to see if the flavour in these F2 variety has stayed as nice as we remember from last season. I do have four plants of this tomato growing in the garden for comparison on taste and size etc.

Here is a photo from yesterday.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Almost Christmas

I know it's almost Christmas, but this isn't my Christmas tree, this is actually 'Papa Misco' all decked out in its Organza blossom bags.

This is proving to be a small compact plant for me as you can see by its size against the size of the tub. Still looks like an interesting plant to play around with next year.

Yes, that's seven bags you can see.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

One from the Pot

This year we ended up with more tomatoes growing in pots, in an effort to grow some of the smaller varieties for seed. Amongst the varieties is Siletz, a dwarf determinate tomato, barely 60cm high and carrying some nice size fruit. Here's a photo using my wife's for comparison, size wise.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tomato Blossom Bags

I've started taking off some of the blossom bags from my tomato plants as some fruit are getting a bit too big to stay any longer.

I must have well over 100 bags in use as I know I've bought 75 new ones in the last fortnight and I feel sure I had 100 last year. Three small fruit are enough to fill a medium bag, so it's important that they come off as soon as possible after fruit set.

I picked a bowlful of Polar Star tomatoes from the two plants in the hothouse this morning and they are still changing colour so will get a lot more before they've finished producing.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

In the Hothouse

We're starting to get some ripe tomatoes coming on now with two 'Polar Star' plants producing well. Other plants carrying a lot of fruit are 'Lime Green Salad' & a couple of the smaller determinates.

These are some taken today.

I've also got 2 seedlings that have germinated for the tomato variety 'Tamina' which I sowed as the seed arrived late from a friend and I thought I'd grow two plants just for seed for next years sale.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

First Tomato for 2008

Sitting on a plant in my hothouse is a very nice looking 'red' tomato which will be carefully picked in the morning when I open up for the day. Not only is there a red one, but there are also two more which are turning, so tomatoes are about to be taste tested, I can hardly wait.

Here is Polar Star a day or so ago.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Mate 'Pidge'

I've got a helper in the garden, but she stays out of reach although not at all scared of me. I call her 'Pidge', she's actually a Spotted Dove and is currently nesting in a tree on the property at the rear of us. I know she has had at least one baby because I can see it in the nest, but I'm not sure if she had a second baby, as they usually sit on two eggs and have two sittings.
The baby will end up in my garden too as its Mum likes poking around in the mulch and compost, so I'm hoping the baby will too.

Here's Pidge on the nest.

Here she is today doing her courting trying to attract the male.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Going, Going, Goji.

I've almost talked myself into taking 100 of my Goji Berry plants to a Market next weekend, as they are starting to reach upwards. I figure that if I can sell 3 plants it will pay for my Stall.

Nothing ventured ........

I've Been Bagging.

The Blossom Bags are starting to show up in greater numbers on the plants now, as I'm hoping to fit two bags per plant, so I'm assured of enough seed from each plant.

Here's some of the smaller growing plants I have in pots.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

What's happening?

Well not a lot happening in the garden at the moment, but I did move the volunteer tomato plant from the zucchini tub. Over the past few days we've been out and about, yesterday we spent the afternoon at the Australian Garden here at the local Botanic Gardens and today in Marysville. A friend of ours had a Tomato Plants/Annuals/Rare Vegetables seedling sale and we went to see how he was going. We arrived at a busy time and helped out for a while,with sales and advice.

I have managed to bag quite a few of my tomato plants in the garden and hothouse, so I should hopefully get enough seed to carry me over for a year or two, as next year I will grow some different varieties.

I've decided to try selling some Goji Berry plants at a Market in a few weeks, so hopefully I can cut down on the quantity I'll carry through Summer, as the more that sell the easier the job of watering them will be.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Volunteer to be moved on.

Almost time to move the volunteer tomato plant from amongst the Zucchini's as they're starting to cover it with their big leaves now.

For those that don't know the term 'Volunteer', it refers to a self sown seedling.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pruning today

I pruned the tomato plants that are growing in the garden bed this morning and couldn't get over just how much growth these plants have put on since they were planted. I started planting on the 10th October, which was 18 days ago and some of the plants from that first day are looking great at the moment.

Here's one from the first day of planting, a Black Cherry - my how it's grown.

Monday, October 27, 2008

More tomato plants.

I'd been promised a tomato plant from a Romanian family and today the "gift" was passed across to my wife to bring home for me. There are two pots, one with 7 small seedling tomato plants, the other with 6 small sweet Pepper seedlings which originate from Turkey. So now the dilemma, where do I plant them all as this will make 12 tomato plants with the 6 seedlings I picked up on Saturday.

I'd better start looking for some pots for the Peppers and maybe somewhere I can dig up and plant some tomato plants. More plastic tubs would be handy, so I'll add them to the shopping list.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I couldn't help myself

After a few messages passed back and forth, plans were made for a rendezvous at 10.30 a.m. today on the Burwood Highway, in Melbourne's east for the collection of none other than 6 tomato seedlings, not long pricked out and potted up.
The main one of the three types I really wanted were the Green Banana, although St Pierre and Purple Russian also had me wanting to add them to my garden, even if it is in tubs. With them only being small, it will give me time to find somewhere for them to grow.

I'll have to stop growing so many - maybe next year.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Happy Tomatoes

I now have my yard back to normal and my tomato plants are looking happy in their plot in the garden and growing madly. Quite a lot have got their first flower trusses, a lot have small fruit which seems to multiply daily. One small 'Lime Green Salad' plant in the hothouse is a mass of flowers across the top of the plant.

Another plant I'm watching madly is the first of my 'Little Heart' which is fruiting as well, hopefully these will be the same as last year, small heart shaped and flavoursome.

Lots of the plants in the garden are in active growth, some have grown over 15cm since being planted just over a week ago.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Last Tomato Plants - Going

Wednesday 22 October will see the last of the ordered tomato plants collected for another year and we can settle back and grow this years crop without the need to stand up plants that have blown over in the wind, or water twice or three times a day because the mix had dried out.

Yesterday saw the sale of 200 Tomato plants and 50 Chilli/Capsicum plants at Tooradin Market. We had completely sold out and were packed up by 11.30 a.m. and managed to be at our Grand daughters 6th Birthday Party at Midday, so all in all a good day.

Next Market we go to we'll be selling Goji Berry plants.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Zucchini's in a Tub

We've put our Zucchini's in a tub this year as we have been cramped for room, having tomato plants spread around the lawned area.

Here's our 'Black Jack' Zucchini's with a volunteer Casey's Pure Yellow tomato seedling sharing the tub.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Goji Pot Up

I spent some time yesterday potting up some Goji Berry plants in readiness for a Market in December. Hopefully being in 75mm Supertubes (3") that they will now put on a bit more growth between now and then. As they enjoy a dose of Seasol, I think another feed will help spur them along nicely.

Here's a few of the potted results.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Sight To Behold

This is what every Tomato grower looks forward to seeing each year, new baby tomatoes forming on the bushes. Here's a couple of different plants in the hothouse starting to load up, so looks like we'll get to try a November tomato.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Finally Done

Today I planted my last tomato plant. No surprises there, until you see how many we've got growing, both in the garden and in pots. I only hope they all don't ripen at once otherwise we'll be inundated with the things. With so many varieties, it pays to keep a record of what is actually where, be it in the garden or in the hothouse, so here is my list, so far.

Grosse Lisse
Rainy's Maltese
Black Russian
Greek Witness
Black Cherry
Grub's Mystery Green
Red Cloud
Country Orange
Mutant - Cuor di Bue
Polar Star
Casey's Pure Yellow
Little Heart
(Rogue) Brandywine Pink?
Cherokee Purple
Monomakh's Hat
Lime Green Salad
Papa Misco
Prairie Fire
Window Box Roma

This list doesn't include the likes of Tiny Tim, Micro Tom & Red Robin that Jan has growing amongst other plants. I'm also hoping to emulate the mixed varieties that grew from the Cuor di Bue seeds I had given to me, so I actually have 5 plants that should give me the desired effects, plus I have another 5 plants that I called 'Little Heart', scattered around the yard.

I almost forgot, but there's still one more tomato plant to go in, but I haven't been given it yet. It's another Romanian tomato from the same family who gave me the seeds for Nicoleta, who also gave me seeds for this second one but I couldn't get them to germinate this season as they are very old, bought out here by the father of the lady who gave them to me. Just recently the seed was successfully germinated within the Romanian family and I have been promised a plant when it gets bigger, so I can't wait to try it out this season. Nicoleta is a fabulous tomato and has a taste that would rival any other tomato here this year, so lets hope this new one also has great flavour.

I just need to get some ripe fruit now and I'll know - 'It's tomato season' ....

Monday, October 13, 2008

Don't forget.

When the tomato plants are in the ground, don't scratch your head and say "what one is that", instead why not just add a label as you go. I make my own laminated named labels for the tomato plants and they can be re-used year after year. This year I'm growing some different types, so I've just made up some more labels and I'm set.

There'll be 31 tomato plants growing in this one patch, so you can see why labels are important, can't you. So don't forget.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tomato Plants Galore

Well, we've still got some tomato plants here and will try another Market and see if we can get rid of what's left. Surprising when you don't grow many of one variety, that's the type everyone wants, this year it was Black Russian. Some varieties won't be grown again and doubt anyone will want Marianna's Peace as the plants grew a lot bigger than any of the others.

Yesterday and again today, I managed to get some of this seasons tomato plants actually planted in the garden which gave me great satisfaction, I must say after all the work. I'll manage to squeeze in 31 plants in the vegetable garden plot, but will still have a lot in pots and tubs. We're using a big chunk of our bed this year on the mutant plants that we expect from some odd Cuor di Bue seeds. We're trying to uncover what else is hiding in them as last year we got all shapes, sizes and colours, so the luck of the draw I think this time.

Here's the work in progress so far, but have to wait on the last plants to harden off a bit, slower now with the warm days we're having.

Something that stood out while moving the pots to the garden was Kotlas, first one to fruit again.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Moving Tomato Plants

Today was sort out day here and the last 150 tomato plants came out of the hothouse and are hardening off. The lot that were on the path hardening off have now relocated to the back of the house and the new lot have taken their spot under the shade cloth. One thing that did come out of the plant relocation today was that when I was putting the plants in the trays, the Brandywine Pink had a ring-in, a regular leaf plant, so it looks like I'll grow it out just to see if it is a pink, or something else.

I'm now down to one cold frame which holds the Goji Berry seedlings and a few smaller chili plants, while the hothouse now contains only the plants I have potted up to grow in either the garden or pots in the hothouse itself.

I've booked a stall at the local Market for Sunday and hopefully a huge quantity of the tomato plants will get sold off, well that's the plan but there are other plant stalls booked, so not sure what type of plants they'll sell but a bit of competition is good fun.

It's a good opportunity for anyone to buy "different" varieties even just to save seeds as a lot of the ones I have came from USA and with the new Quarantine Laws, no more tomato seed can be imported into Australia by the small grower.

Food for thought.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Goji Update

The Goji Berries have started to get new growth and the earlier sowing has now got leaves hanging out over the tops of the 2" tubes. They seemed to enjoy their drink of Seasol last week and are looking good.

Here's a couple of the bigger ones.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Like Chalk and Cheese

"Like Chalk and Cheese"

These tomato plants carry the same name tag on their pots and they may look like similar to the untrained eye, but these tomatoes are all quite different even though they're from the same seed packet. Last year these became the focal point of what seemed to be a 'mutant' line of fruit coming from these mysterious Cuor di Bue tomato seeds with so much variation in the fruit.

But to the trained eye three different types will come from these plants, with unbelievable variation in their fruiting, like -
  • A red heart tomato as big as a tennis ball, heavily ribbed.
  • A small red heart almost a miniature Cuor di Bue
  • A burgundy egg shaped tomato with some striping more noticeable while in the unripe lead up to changing colour, looking more Green Zebra like than anything colour wise before the change.

This year, mainly due to the oddity factor of last season, I'm growing 4 plants from the original seed packet in an effort to see what I get this time. It's amazing that variations show up at an early stage in their foliage in either colour or leaf shape.

Interesting times ahead - I certainly hope so.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tomato Day

It seemed to end up being a busy afternoon as I decided it was time to harden off the bigger of the tomato plants and had to try and sort them into trays of the same types. I've still got a lot that are just too small to go out yet and they'll spend a few more weeks in the warmth of the hothouse and cold frame.
It's surprising to see how much the plants I've potted up into 140mm pots have grown in the last week, some almost look as if they'd be quite at home in the garden, but I won't be rushing it this year. When I get enough room in the hothouse, I'll remove the racking down one side and pot up into 30cm pots the likes of Little Heart and Lime Green Salad which I'll be growing some of each in the hothouse.
This afternoon all seedlings, inside and out of the hothouse received a drink of Seasol as a tonic just to help them cope on the 'outside'.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

In the hothouse

I decided to pot up all the tomatoes I plan on growing in the garden this year into 140mm pots, to enable me to hold off from planting at my usual time if the need arose, so yesterday and today I did some and they look quite good although I'm only about 2/3rds of the way done at this stage.
Amongst the multitude of plants I found that I had four compact seedlings of Polar Star sitting at the front of a tray in the hothouse, so these got potted up, then when I checked my database I was supposed to have seven plants and when located the other three they turned out to be different for some reason. Mix ups with tomato seed is always on the cards, just look at the Cuor di Bue that turned out throwing 'mutant' strains of fruit in both shape and colour, hence where the little heart tomato origins are. I've decided to keep the four 'compact' plants and get rid of the other three as I don't want years of stress growing them out.
The Cuor di Bue mentioned above threw fruit with unusual shape, ribs & colour last year so I'm growing four plants this year to see what turns up. I have also got three plants of the tomato 'Little Heart' to grow on and see if there's any improvement in shape as they had superb flavour, so fingers crossed I get good results again.
I have the majority of the plants for the bigger tomatoes almost up to a size where they can come out and be hardened off.
With the other items I'm growing, the cucumbers have not grown as planned and the Goji's are starting to hit their straps with lots of new growth and may get sold off at Christmas if they get some size to them.

Here's my grow list for this season, with some multiples-

Black Cherry
Black Russian
Casey's Stripey
Cherokee Purple
Country Orange
Cuor di Bue
Greek Witness
Grosse Lisse
Grub's Mystery Green
Lime Green Salad
Little Heart
Micro Tom
Monomakh's Hat
Papa Misco
Polar Star
Prairie Fire
Rainy's Maltese
Red Cloud
Red Robin
Tiny Tim
Window Box Roma

Monday, September 15, 2008

Just Like Winter

It was like a wintery blast that roared through our area today with gale force winds and rain, all this while I have 100+ tomato plants under the shade cloth of the fernery which I'm attempting to harden off for a few days. Although out of the wind, these plants are feeling the difference from being all warm and snug in the hothouse, but they'll pull through O.K. and will rest in the sunshine when it next appears.

These plants are the smaller/ornamental types including the likes of Siberian, Window Box Roma, Tiny Tim, Red Robin and the worlds smallest tomato plant Micro Tom. In the following weeks, the bigger varieties will make their appearance in the fernery for the crucial hardening off period of three to five days. Once they get through this period they should be tough enough to survive in the garden without too much attention.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Goji Day

I could call today Goji Berry Day, as I seem to have accumulated a lot of them here it would seem, although it certainly didn't look like there were anywhere that many growing in the seedling tray when I first looked. I rounded off the total number of tubes done to 200 and every one of them still looks like it's healthy and standing erect, so we'll see how they go.

Here they are, minus a few still in the hothouse:-

Friday, September 12, 2008

Another Day

Warm, sunny and windy, not the sort of day to be moving tomato plants around the yard but these jobs have to be done when the plants reach an ultimate height so they harden off and sit in the sun for the last week prior to sale. Varieties like Siletz, Siberian, Sprite, Praire Fire and Window Box Roma were the first to be left out in the shade along with more Chillies, Zucchini's and Cucumbers. The interior of the hothouse is now devoid of the numerous pots of seedlings taking up the walkway between the growing stands. By the end of September all the seedlings will be out ready to either plant here in the garden or to sell on, both will be a good feeling.
This year we will be growing extra tomato plants so seed collection can occur with these smaller hard to get varieties, as importing from USA will no longer be allowed and seed will become harder to get for these varieties.

We will attempt to grow our Zucchini's and our Lebanese Cucumber plants from indivdual 58 litre tubs, while the Sikkim Cucumber finds a spot amongst the Natives in the back yard.

Here are some 'Black Jack' Zucchini plants which we're growing again this year.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Making Some Room

With the different plant types being grown here this year, I'll have to start thinking of moving some around, hardening off others because I'm rapidly running out of space. In the coming days I'll start and harden off some of the smaller tomato types in order to claim the room in the cold frame for others taking up aisle space in the hothouse. These smaller tomatoes can harden off under shade cloth for a few days then they'll be put out to soak up the sun and hopefully put on more size. I have placed an Ice cream stick in a lot of the seedlings pots for the ones I want to keep for my own garden, so this will help locating them when the time comes.

Today the Marketmore Cucumbers went out with some Corno di Toro sweet peppers and will be the first to start the hardening off process.

Here's the Marketmore Cucumbers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Finally done.

Well, after 6 long weeks I've finally manged to pot up the last tomato seedlings today after losing a lot with the cold August we encountered this year. Along with the tomatoes, I have potted up 48 Goji Berry seedlings into 2" tubes, they were growing in the seed trays with the tomatoes and as the tomatoes have finished, the Goji's had to find a new home.
I've now managed to get suitable tomato plant numbers again for my sales and it will be interesting to see if I can get rid of them quickly, as I don't want them here for any longer than needed.

Here's a tray of seedling Goji's.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Look At What's Growing.

The tomato seedlings I have growing at present are starting to get some size now after sitting through a cold gloomy August, which did them no favours with very little growth noted. I've resown quite a few tomato seedlings to make up for some of the 100+ I'd lost in the cold, these are doing fine now and will be potted up next week.

In Cold frame#1 I have the small varieties of tomato seedlings which are now mostly ready to be sold on, remembering that these are only small growing plants, when fully grown. It's interesting to note that some of these smaller plants are actually starting to flower now and could have fruit showing when they leave here.

While in Cold frame#2 the Chillies and Peppers are doing well. Here are some of the Corno di Toro also ready to be sold, but will have to wait a few more weeks yet.

In the hothouse the Cucumber & Zucchini seeds have germinated and will be put out in the colder air soon to slow their growth so they'll be at a good size at the end of the third week in September when they'll be collected by those growing them.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Waking Up Old Tomato Seeds #2

Yesterday I removed the tomato seeds from the tomato pulp/juice after leaving it soak for 49 hours, then rinsed and sowed them. I also mixed a bleach solution containing 27.5% of household bleach in water and soaked the remaining seeds for 30 minutes, rinsed and sowed them alongside the others. I'd expect that if any germination will occur, it should happen within the next 4-5 day period. I will however leave them until the last seedlings are taken from the heat pad in about a fortnight.

As I've said ..... Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Waking Up Old Tomato Seeds #1

I've been trying to germinate some tomato seeds I had given to me from Romania for over a month with no success, so I've decided to explore two other avenues. Today I purchased a Roma tomato from the Market and squeezed the juice & pulp into a strainer and removed the seeds. Into the juice/pulp I have added the seeds I want to try and wake up, which I'll soak for 48 hours, then sow.
The second avenue is to make up a weak bleach solution of 27.5% and soak the remaining seeds in it for 30 minutes, then sow.

I'll record what happens, (if anything) and post here with any news.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What's Growing??

Up until now I haven't really had a firm list on what we'll grow in the garden here this coming season, but we'll probably be including some Peppers, Chillies, Cucumbers, Zucchini and of course the Tomatoes.
For the Peppers/Chillies we're going with Corno de Toro, Sweet Temptation and Jimmy Nardello, plus one 'select' type.

The Cucumbers look easy at this stage with Marketmore, Lebanese and the new Sikkim variety shown in an earlier posting. The Zucchini's are easy as we only ever grow one variety, that being 'Black Jack', which I've started today, but not on the heat mat. I'll now add a few 'Kiwano' to my list in this section, otherwise known as Horned Melons, they can be eaten as a Cucumber when green, or as a Melon when ripe (yellow).

Tomato varieties this year have been a bit more difficult, with the following looking most likely the ones to make the cut.

Black Cherry
Cherokee Purple
Cuor di Bue - Mutants
Greek Witness
Grosse Lisse
Grub's Mystery Green
Lime Green Salad
Little Heart
Papa Misco
Red Cloud

More on the Goji Berry seeds.

With a bit of luck, I've managed to successfully germinate a few Goji Berry seedlings, so now to plant more seed and see what the germination rate is like for them. I'm hoping it should be O.K. and give good results, but time will tell. Here are some seed I've just extracted from the dried fruit.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Going Goji

Last Thursday I sowed some seeds we took from a dried Goji Berry in the hope we can germinate a couple here. The fruit although dried, is quite palatable and from all accounts, the bush grows to size (3m) quite quickly and is in full fruit production after the third year. Probably a little on the large size for our yard and will probably see them grown in our neighbours yard. I will expect to see these seedlings in a day or so, one week from sowing.

Nothing ventured ......

Monday, August 25, 2008

Great Germination & New Varieties

These are the tomato seeds I named Greek Witness with the help of Raymondo, the same ones that resembled charcoal when I first got them. Well, I have sown two lots of seeds this season from the ones in the photo and I have achieved exceptionally high germination, considering the colour of the seed. With the growing season still over a month away, I can't wait to get a few of these plants in the ground.

This year I'm also trialing seed for another unknown tomato found growing in the Italian vegetable gardens of Cobram, a river town in Northern Victoria where two of my sisters live. This one is thanks to 'Papa Misco' who sent me the seed, which will also become their name in lieu of a variety name.

From the street markets of Barcelona in Spain, comes Cebrino and also Raff tomatoes that will make their debut with me this year as well, thanks to a fellow tomato grower in Bendigo. Cebrino is an egg tomato almost black in colour, while Raff is a green shouldered Red.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Here's something that doesn't get grown all that much, even with being classified as an Heirloom variety. This is the Sikkim Cucumber originating in The Himalaya's and Nepal and is quite rare to see in a backyard garden. The unusual skin pattern of the fruit, looks more like an animal skin than a cucumber. I was trying to work out germination times on cucumbers, so planted one seed on the heat pad, the resulting seedling germinated after just two days.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Keeping Track

I'm now using a database to record the tomatoes, chillies, zucchini's and cucumbers that pass through the hothouse and cold frames. New seedlings are added at pot on time and any losses are recorded and adjusted accordingly.
Hopefully this system works when we start selling the seedlings as it's a good record to keep track on quantities of each variety.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tomatoes - A Full House

All being well I should have a bumper crop of tomato seedlings, with better than average germination on most varieties. Pricking out while small doesn't seem to effect the plants and are soon standing again after a drink. Nicoleta should be good this year and will be the backbone of our crop in the garden, along with UK2000, Little Heart, Kotlas and a few others. The smaller/determinate and ornamental tomatoes are starting to look good, with their compact growth starting to appear and fill out in the pot. The Chillies, Capsicums and Peppers are getting a repot and will now be sporting new 3"tubes instead of their white foam coffee cups.

It's now a waiting game as everything will be potted up tomorrow, so then I can move onto the next step and germinate the Cucumber and Zucchini crop that will be added to the plant sale.

Monday, August 11, 2008

It's Started

With the tomato seedlings getting some size to them, I decided to prick some of the taller ones out today as they could easily become leggy if left too long. First there was a matter of making some room in the hothouse, so I had to relocate about 12 dozen of the smaller growing tomato plants to one of the two cold frames. Tomorrow will be the chillies, capsicums & peppers turn as they are currently taking up half the available space in the hothouse.
So far, I'm up to having about 120 of the tomato plants done, but it's been a slow process and tomorrow will see the majority of them in individual foam cups.

Towards the end of August, I'll start some Cucumber seed in the hope of having them ready for planting out sometime in early October. The list to date comprises Marketmore and Lebanese Cucumbers, some of which will be grown on a trellis due to space restrictions.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's Raining

Last week we hooked up another 1000 litre caged tank to use the water for the garden like we did last year and having two of them now will help with watering some plants that need a drink, plus help water the tomato crop. For a week the tank has been hooked up and remained empty, but today it's raining so hopefully we'll get enough to fill it and top up the other one.

I know 2000 litres of water doesn't sound like very much, but it does benefit the plants in the garden and we like our garden, so it will be a great help here.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A few losses

Today is the twelfth day since sowing and I'm still getting seed germinating, so I'm now wondering just how fresh some of my seeds have been. Next year I'll only sow my own saved seed which will enable me to cut down on varieties and just grow the ones we like, which in turn will give a fresh seed save each year for these varieties.
I guess it's not worth worrying about the losses from poor germination on some varieties as I won't resow them and just go with what varieties I have as seedlings now, although I have some seed for 'Crisana' I'm trying to sprout on the top of my monitor. It would have been nice to get a couple of them from the two lots sown, but I'll just see what turns up from this last effort.
I'm also having a play around with the ones I need to 'grow out', like the 'Little Heart' and the 'Cuor di Bue' that wasn't, along with 'Casey's Stripey', which surfaced last season with stripes on it and finally 'Country Orange'.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bleach Treatment of Tomato Seeds

Food for thought when you don't know how the Tomato seeds you get, either given or purchased have been fermented and whether or not they carry any disease from their point of origin. In an experiment today, I bleach treated 3 lots of seed prior to sowing. Mixing an 8% solution of laundry bleach in water (4ml to 50ml) I then soaked the seeds for 10 minutes prior to rinsing well in a small sieve, then drained on a filter paper before sowing.

The recommended treatment is for 10% for 10 minutes, but as only 4 seeds were involved at a time I used the 8% which is still satisfactory.

To keep your seeds disease free, this is an option if seed comes from a source other than your own.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Germination at last.

Checking this morning, I noticed about 3 varieties that were popping up, including the Marianna's Peace that I sowed as spares. As the day goes on, more and more are up with 'Little Heart' the first one standing erect with its Cots out. I expect that over the next day or so all will be up, then the fun begins.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

First Lot Done.

Today, I finished pricking out the seedlings for the small type tomato plants and have them all in foam coffee cup pots where they will sit until late September. Some of the 132 plants will be sold in hanging baskets, some in 15cm pots, I'm hoping a lot of them will be ordered in the weeks before the actual plants are ready to go.

I was a bit worried about getting caught with heaps, but we'll cross that bridge when the time comes.

Monday, July 28, 2008

All Done

Today saw the sowing of the last of the seeds for the Tomato crop for 2008/9. Working with the list below, I have now all varieties on the heat pad.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ready to Sow.

Well, I think I have sorted the seed for the 'other' varieties of tomatoes I'll be growing for 2008/9 and as it stands at present there are 28 varieties. There are two types I'm growing for guys from overseas (*) and five of the types just for myself 'only' (**), so that should make things easier. I'm having a grow out with the 'Little Heart' from last season and will grow about 4 plants to compare to and maybe a few of the 'Mongrel' seed labeled as Cuor di Bue, which threw all sorts of weird shaped fruit last season, including the hearts.

Here's my list .... so bring it on, I'm ready.

Black Cherry
Black from Tula
Black Krim
Black Russian
Casey's Stripey*
Cherokee Purple
Country Orange*
Cuor di Bue**
Greek Witness**
Grosse Lisse
Grub’s Mystery Green
Lime Green Salad
Little Heart**
Marianna's Peace
Noir di Crimme
Oregon Spring
Polar Star
Rainy's Maltese
Red Cloud
Rio Fuego Nana

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Good Timing

I've just checked the tray on the heat pad and noticed germination on most varieties sown on Thursday, so looks like a lot of the seed was viable. (Thu - Sun)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sorting Tomato Seeds

What an exciting half hour I put in today, sorting through the seed boxes and deciding what I may or may not grow in the way of tomato seedlings for 2008/9. Top of the list are my two Romanian varieties like last years favourite Nicoleta and the untried Crisana which I hope is as good as I've heard. Then an orange tomato, never grown here in Oz before so I hope it too does well for me. Then there are at least four black varieties out for selection along with a purple and two greens.

Some Italian varieties will make the list, even a Grosse Lisse thanks to a friend who gave me the seed, which comes from a 152 year association with one family. The list goes on but will be trimmed considerably in the next week or so.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Catering for the small grower

Last season I had numerous requests for tomato plants that don't take up much room, or can grow on a balcony as some buyers lived in Flats, or had small garden areas. To cater for these people this year, I've decided to include a "small" range of plants to my growing list. By small I should call them ornamental to small types, which should see an increase in purchases, even just as a novelty plant to have on the windowsill at home.

Today I have begun sowing the seeds that will hopefully grow these ornamental and smaller than usual tomato plants. I know there'll be lots more varieties that I could have grown, but I think I have covered my bases with the ones I currently have sitting on the heat pad in the hothouse. The important thing I have to remember, is that I'm catering for suburban single or family gardens, which may be very small or non existent.

For those interested in small tomato plants, here is the list of those just sown:-

Red Robin
Tiny Tim
Micro Tom
Prairie Fire
Window Box Roma

Looking at the above list, the plants range in size from 60cm down to about 13cm - 20cm. If I have my timing right, I will be on track with the next sowing on the 28th.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sorting Seeds

I've pulled out a few envelopes of tomato seeds in readiness to sow for my sales for this year. Last year everyone wanted smaller growing plants, so I'm including some determinate varieties this year as well as indeterminate to keep everyone happy. I'll also include some of the favourites too, like UK2000 and a couple of coloured varieties. A good opportunity here to get rid of the Marianna's Peace seed that were a bonus packet from TGS last year.

These will be the likely candidates for the first grown.

Black Cherry
Black Russian
Cherokee Purple
Marianna's Peace
Polar Star
Prairie Fire

I'll wait another fortnight and put these down and hopefully I can follow on with my selection of varieties I'm growing in the garden.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

New for 2008/9

I recently did a seed swap OS for a variety of a Pepper that's new to me which I'll hopefully grow in tubs here this coming season, plus I've had the promise of some seeds for an heirloom cucumber from the Nepal/Himalayas region. I may need to plant the Cucumbers elsewhere as I'll be pushing to find room for them to scramble over as they grow, especially the newest variety as they have huge fruit on them. Together with the Lebanese and Marketmore varieties I'm sure I know a good spot to plant them.

I've also been tempted to start some tomato seeds going anytime, but I'm not sure I want them ready too early as the first lot I grow will be the plants I have orders for and this year. I won't be growing more than have been 'spoken' for as I don't want to get caught with unsold plants. My own garden varieties this year will be started on the 28th July (my sisters birthday) and hopefully will be in the ground by the second week in October.

Last weekends frost has knocked my last Chilli bush about and its leaves are hanging limp from it at the moment. I salvaged two almost ripe pods from it and I'm wondering if it's a Poblano Red rather than a Habanero as I first thought - but why different shapes.

I've decided to scrap the frost effected plant and start afresh in October.