Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tomato Anxiety

Well the Summer is mostly done and my very late start certainly has compromised my harvest, but since I don't do this just to get tomatoes but also to acquire knowledge it has been helpful. The current status of the systems is:
  • Wick Systems: pretty much a disaster, whether for lack of attention or disease or failure to aerate the systems or possibly failure to cycle the nutrient and rebalance. I intentionally did almost nothing and the result is that most of the plants contracted some kind of disease and seem to have largely died. Oddly, several are still healthy enough to maintain their leaves and have lots of green tomatoes on them, so I'm still maintaining the nutrient strength.
  • House Systems: the systems on the side of the house (4 plants with cut out plastic cups at the base for watering in a typical Virginia clay soil, really poor soil. ) Some Miracle Gro applied randomly, not systematic at all. Two of the four plants have some sort of disease, but all have significant numbers of fruit set and developing. Because of the disease some of the fruit is a little surface spotted.
  • Deck Systems: the deck systems are three pots and of the three systems these are flourishing the best. One of the plants has some minor disease, all have significant amounts of fruit set. They have been randomly fertilized with Miracle Gro as well.
Total Harvest: Because of the late start tomatoes have only been coming off the plants sporadically. The very first came off on August 29th and 30th -- a single 1 3/4 oz tomato from the house sytem was harvested and the next day 3 1 oz. tomatoes came off the wick system. Many of the plants are cherries or other smaller tomatoes like donas. Today a total of 43 tomatoes but only 56 5/8 oz. total have come off the systems. That's only about 3.5 pounds, so not much so far, especially given the number of plants.

I'll be tracking this until the end of the growing season which will probably come sometime in October. The late start from seed, May 21st — has compromised the yield and I'd say right now that the wick systems have been a failure despite a very promising start. So it's back to the drawing board there. I'd like to find a system that doesn't require electricity or a lot of monitoring. The wick systems have filled both those requirements for the most part, but after all the purpose is to grow tomaotes and will I've taken quite a few off the wick system so far (34 of the 43 taken so far came from the wick system, they've all been pretty small). The biggest tomatoes have come off the deck system: one at 6 7/8 oz. and two at slightly over 10 oz (one 10 3/8 and the other at 10 1/8 oz.).

We'll see how things develop in the weeks to come. Historically using NFT systems I've gotten a lot more tomatoes but you can't really assess things until you're further into the harvest season.

No comments: