Blog Archives

Holiday Tomatoes?

Erica commented on the previous post with a link to a Star Tribune article about the potential for growing container tomatoes as Christmas decorations! Here’s the article for your reading pleasure.

I think tomatoes could be a hit as Christmas decorations/gifts if they find that they can be consistently and cheaply grown at this time of year. The real challenge with tomatoes in the winter is that they need lots of light and warmer temperatures. (So maybe not all that different from poinsettias, when you get right down to it.) I’m sure they would take less time on the bench in the greenhouse to reach fruiting stage.

Tomatoes – coming to the holiday store near you!

2012 – Year of the Hanging Basket Tomato?

I alluded to this in a brief post last week, but there are a lot of interesting, new hanging basket tomato varieties out there. So many, in fact, that we may have to try some of them out next summer. Here are the varieties that I’ve seen in catalogs so far (and it isn’t even 2012 yet!).

Tomatoes for hanging baskets are almost always some type of cherry/grape tomato, and the plants usually have some type of dwarfing characteristic that makes them perform well in a hanging basket. The “trailing” characteristic is also touted widely, but I’m not sure how much that is breeding versus the natural habit of the tomato vine.

Most of these varieties are available from more than one catalog, so you don’t have to buy them from any particular one.

Tomatoes for Hanging Baskets/Containers

  • Cherry Falls (red cherry) – Grows only 6″ tall, but cascades for 36″ of vines. Indeterminate.
  • Red Rambling Stripe (red with green stripes cherry) – trailing, 14″ tall and 36″ vining; high yields
  • Gold Rambling Stripe (gold with green stripes, cherry) – trailing, 14″ tall and 36″ vining; high yields
  • Little Sun (yellow cherry) – 10″ tall and 14″ wide; dwarf determinate, not trailing; early (50 days)
  • Lizzano (red cherry) – 2011 All America Selections Winner; semi-determinate; disease resistant; trailing 20″ long and 20″ wide; yields late into the season
  • Terenzo (red cherry) – 2011 All America Selections Winner; compact determinate, 16″ tall and 20″ trailing; crack resistant; yields all season
  • Sweet ‘N Neat Scarlet Improved (red cherry) – 10-12″ tall; compact determinate; very high sugar content

Also of interest, but more for a larger container than for a hanging basket would be the Container’s Choice Red tomato which is a 6-8 oz beefsteak tomato that is a compact determinate.

I can’t believe I’m talking about tomatoes again only 2 months after we gave up and pulled our tomatoes out after this horrible summer!

Friday PhotoEssay

Either the garden wasn’t very photogenic this week, or I wasn’t feeling particularly artistic in my picture taking. At any rate, I only have a few pictures this week.

The ‘Rose’ tomato plant waited awhile to start producing, but I’ve now picked 4 tomatoes in the last 10 days. Not the same yield as a hybrid, but we sliced one to have in BLTs last night and it was awesome! I highly recommend this tomato for fresh eating.

The peppers and cucumber in the Smart Pot are doing well, especially since I gave them a little fertilizer last week. I couldn’t get it all in the picture, but the cucumber has grown all the way up to the lattice roof over the pot. Unfortunately, it still hasn’t produced a single cucumber! I’m trying not to be too hard on it though, since it has been hot and pollination is challenging all our vines right now.

The onions I planted a couple weeks ago have popped right up. The leeks, on the other hand, are being incredibly pokey! I don’t know if maybe they don’t like light to germinate or maybe they like more light and I planted them too deep? Or maybe the seed isn’t good. Right now I only have 5 leeks growing.

Okay, I also finally posted the Lunch in the Garden recipe from last week (Chile Rellenos) and the new recipe for this week (Lemon Verbena Ice Cream).

Friday PhotoEssay + Family of 4 Harvest

The garden changed quite a bit while I was gone, and not all of it for the better. Yikes, it’s been hot!

Our big, 100 gallon smart pot is a little slower than other things in the garden, I think largely because it is in a slightly shadier spot. However, the cucumber has finally taken off! It grew up the side of the tomato cage and is now working its way up the chain that was hanging above it. Crazy cucumber!

The peppers aren’t looking quite as nice as I might wish. They are a little bit pale in color, which is probably a nitrogen deficiency. They aren’t really producing either, which is probably partly due to the lack of nutrients. I gave them some fertilizer, so they should be looking better by next week.

The smart pot isn’t drying out much differently than any of our other containers, but it maybe isn’t a very good test since it is in a slightly shaded spot.

This is the ‘Honey Bun’ cantaloupe that was such a cute baby just a week ago. You can see the netting starting to develop on the end, but it is still very green!

The ‘Cherry Brandy’ Rudbeckia in one of the cutting flower gardens has burst into bloom. It is almost too pretty to cut!

Surprise! The Bells of Ireland are blooming! Actually, it’s quite impressive that they are blooming, given that they much prefer cooler spring weather. I was fully expecting them to either croak or hang out and wait until the weather was cooler before blooming.

There is no getting around the fact that these are just weird flowers, though.

The top cucumber is one of the ‘Diva’ Cucumbers from the Family of 4 Garden. The other two are from the Asian Garden. The ‘Diva’ is actually about 6+” long, which helps you appreciate how huge the other cucumbers are!

Here’s the Family of 4 Garden Harvest for the week:

1/4 bunch of carrots @ $2.00/bunch = $0.50

2 cucumbers @ $0.75/each = $1.50

1 lb. non-bell peppers @ $2.50/lb = $$2.50

1/4 lb tomatoes @ $2.00/lb = $0.50

1 bunch Swiss Chard @ $2.99/bunch = $2.99

Weekly Total = $7.99

Yearly Total = $138.97

Planting Experiments

Last year was the Year of the Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter. Raise your hand if you actually paid money to try one of these? Not admitting it? Raise your hand if you got stuck with 2 through donations and a Does It Work? segment with KWCH 12. Yeah, that was me! Anyway, the entire experience wasn’t very spectacular. This year we have 2 different types of containers we are trying out in the garden, both of which I think will be better than the poor, ill-fated Topsy Turvy planter.

This herb pyramid is definitely the winner in terms of aesthetics and architectural interest in the garden. It isn’t very big, so there’s not a whole lot of soil in it. In some ways, it seems like an over-the-top strawberry pot. Anyway, we planted a variety of herbs in it. As with most containers, keeping it watered is likely to be the biggest challenge.

Our other experimental planting container are the Smart Pots that I wrote about awhile back. After some deliberation, we planted a couple cucumber seeds, with the idea that the plants can grow up the tomato cage. Then we planted 4 pepper plants around the front. Again – keeping it adequately watered will probably be the biggest challenge, but with the huge soil volume, it should be much easier to keep this one well watered until it gets super hot and windy in July.