Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Tomato Bucket Update
My tomatoes have been growing in their sub-irrigated buckets for several weeks now. When I transplanted them, they were smallish, still very young and looked like this:
I had grown these guys from seed, a first for me. Up until now I have been a nursery gardener, buying my seedlings at the nursery. I always figured that I would get good stock, healthy plants and a fair selection if I did that. I’m over that now. I don’t know how good the stock it, I don’t know the growing methods they use and I can’t be certain that they don’t use synthetic hormones, growth additives, chemical fertilizers and the like. The only way I can know that stuff, and it is important to me, is if I buy my seed from reputable certified organic seed companies (and there are some great ones out there!) and grow the plants myself. Which is what I have done.
So, with only the regular waterings these guys have received, here is what they look like now:
I have them on the east side of my house. They are in a semi-protected area between two closely-spaced two-story houses. They get about 4 hours of direct sun each day, from 9:00 am to about 1:00 pm. The rest of the day they get reflected light off the two white houses. Our houses are about 25 feet apart, and I have access to about 15 of those feet.
This picture shows the space that they are in. This area opens to the south so in the winter it still gets a good amount of sunshine. Just to the right, outside of view, my neighbor has a plum tree and an apricot tree. The back wall is blocked off so we don't get full force winds through there.
Some of the varieties are more spread out than others. This one has decided that it doesn't want to stay inside the tomato cage, no matter what I tried.
Some of them are broad leaf varieties, which I have never grown in the desert before. I'm really pleased at how much foliage there is. As you can see, there are quite a number of good looking fruit, too.
And when they start taking on that wonderful red color that shows their ripeness, I can almost not wait to bit into the fresh, juicy fruit. I've been looking forward to this for several months.
It's now the first of June and I will be picking the first tomatoes of the season this evening when I get home from work. At last count, there were more than 75 tomatoes growing on these plants with literally hundreds of flowers waiting to be fertilized. I don't want to count chickens instead of eggs here, but it looks like this is going to be a good year for tomatoes.
The whole sub-irrigated bucket concept was new to me before this year. I had never heard of it let alone tried it but now, as you can imagine, I'm a big fan and am recommending it to everyone I get to talk to about my garden. I know there are some folks here in the desert who will see the benefits of this system and some who won't. But with results like these, it's hard to see how anyone could argue that it won't work.
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