Friday, June 11, 2010

Container Tomatoes Outside the Box

I'm back .....

Lots of changes ... retired last June and moved to an apartment (with only a fire escape) in November. Needless to say I went through a period of tomato growing withdrawal. Then started thinking - we now live in a wonderful bright sunny apartment!! So, why not try growing tomatoes indoors.

Started Dwarf Gem, Yellow Plum and Mano on December 29th and have harvested two tomatoes from Dwarf Gem to date. Yellow Plum and Mano are now just starting to colour up.

Check out the pictures:

Also, I noticed a community garden a few blocks from our new home. The waiting list for a garden plot was closed, but due to my extensive experience in container tomato growing , I was invited onboard to assist with the garden's "Growing Outside the Box" project for this year. How exciting - and something totally new for me.

Anyhoo, there are seven of us in total, and after deciding on the best location and set up for our containers, the biggest challenge was filling those containers. I stressed the need for a freely draining mix, and also noted the benefits of both compost and leafmould - which I have used extensively in my previous growouts. Unfortunately, neither compost nor leafbould was available - so we went with 3 in 1 Master Gardener Mix, perilite, and a dedicated container mix. I also added additional peat to my containers to further assist with drainage. Some members opted to fill their own containers - this should provide some interesting comparisons as the summer progresses.

I must say the weather here in the PNW has been on the cool side, and wet, wet, wet. Considering the amount of rain we have had since our early May plant out, I would say the tomato plants are doing OK. Oh, and some members chose to start or purchase their own plants.

The plants I offered were started March 28th - a bit later than my usual start time - and all were grown inside my apartment with just the available light. We have hot water heat, so the temperature remains at about 72 F. The varieties were choosen to demonstrate the many different qualities of tomatoes, i.e. leaf shape, fruit colour, plant size. Grow outs include: Grub's Mystery Green, Mano, Sylvan Gaume and Indian Stripe. I am also trying out Smarty F1 from Randy Gardener to test its disease resistance.

Anyhoo, another pictorial essay on progress to date ...........

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