Since his retirement at the end of March Jack is doing the ultimate tomato project.
Here are the 6 different ways he is trying to grow tomatoes.
1. In the 5-gallon buckets with dirt and compost.
2. Lasagna gardening with compost and cardboard a raised garden on the ground with shade cloth. There is no dirt in this type of gardening.
3. Compost and dirt raised garden on the ground covered in plastic to retain moisture and to keep out the weeds this type also has a shade cloth.
4. Partially shaded from the trees raised garden 3 ft above the ground in dirt.
5. Regular garden in the dirt, full sun, and the plants have hay around them to help keep them moist plus it keeps the weeds down.
6. Greenhouse/ Hydroponic tomatoes growing in pea gravel with no dirt they are on automatic watering with nutrients several times a day.
There are currently 73 tomato plants, 9 + different varieties that are growing in 6 different types of gardening. This is why I am calling it the tomato project.
What we hope to learn is:
1. Which varieties produce the most abundant fruit?
2. Which varieties of tomato have the best flavor?
3. Which plants have the least amount of pest?
4. What gardening type works the best in our region?
5. Which varieties are the healthiest?
Everything has blooms or has bloomed and some have fruits. Some varieties produce large clusters of fruits like the ones you get in the grocery store on the vine. Others produce round or grape-like clusters and some produce yellow, purple, blue, or orange tomatoes.
A good tomato ignites your taste buds like none other.
As of right now, the ones with the most fruit are in the 5-gallon buckets but I think these were planted first, the largest plants that are dark green and super healthy looking are in the raised garden that is 3ft above ground in partial shade these have fruit as well. Since these are getting very tall he is training the branches to grow horizontally on paracord.
The tallest plants are in the hydroponics I would say they are about 5 feet tall but they have minimal fruit the plants are not as thick or as strong as some of the others and of course, being in the greenhouse they are a lighter green. The regular in the ground garden was planted last but they are growing a lot and have blooms the plants seem thicker stalked than some of the others.
We always have a supply of tomato plants rooting some from seeds and some from suckers of existing plants if any of our friends and neighbors might need some. Currently, we have 10 plants ready to be planted in quart containers, and 17 suckers growing and we have more every week.
I am sharing a picture of some of the Better Boy Variety tomatoes in the 5- gallon buckets. Some of the clusters have 10 tomatoes in them. The size of these tomatoes is about the size of a 6-year-olds fist.
I shot this picture with my macro lens you can see the fuzz on the tomatoes and the vines. Macro lenses give you such detail.
There will be plenty of tomatoes to put up as sauce or pesto, Lots of tomatoes to blanch & freeze for soups, stews, and beans.
Most of all we will have plenty of tomatoes to share with our friends and neighbors because this is something we enjoy doing.
To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow – Audrey Hepburn