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Re: Tiny tomato troubles

  • Subject: Re: [cg] Tiny tomato troubles
  • From: Pat_Elazar@cwb.ca
  • Date: Tue, 1 Jun 2004 17:06:39 -0500

James asked about  "tomato envy" (his words) or "heirloom varieties
VS.steroid-bloated monstrosities"...

First the disclaimer: My daughter the 9-year-old agronomist says you need
to plant 4 or 5 relays of the same randomly interspersed locally bequeathed
heirloom varieites with commercial hybrids side by side in beds treated
with the exact same soil prep, irrigation & fertilization for about 4 years
in order to draw any conclusions about performance but.....

The seat of the pants wisdom says that heirloom varieties are grown locally
& cherished because they taste great & keep well after harvest. Folks trade
them around the world because of word-of-mouth reputation, but they are
usually best grown close to the localle they were developed in.

 Commercial hybrids are bred for traits such as concentrated harvest,
response to fertilizer input, high yields etc. They are sold by vendors for
VERY specific end uses (canning; farm stand etc) & different latitude,
longitude etc. Growers grow what seems to make them the most money in their
operation. Hybrids do grow a little faster generally. (We arent growing
hay, so biomass doesnt matter that much.)

This is not to say that heirlooms cant yield well or hybrids dont ever
taste good- but remember, there are trade-offs in this world.
1) You are growing heirlooms (I presume) for the superior flavour, so you
are looking quality rather than quantity.
2)Grow heirloom varieities that are local or proven (let others do your
experimentation) under local conditions (organic local if you are organic
too).
3) Give your heirloom tomatoes the optimum conditions (soil prep, aeration,
fertility, irrigation) you can give for success.
4) Plant one or two hybrids for comparison & try each heirloom for 2 or 3
years before giving up on it.

You may find that some varieites are more suited for your area than others.
I personally grow about 75% heirlooms, but only those that perform up to my
standards. I'll still plant some 'Brandywine' though, even if I only get 1
fruit! (quality again).

Good luck!


                                                                                                                 
                      "James Bourne"                                                                             
                      <JBourne@sarahlawrence.        To:       "Community_Garden@Mallorn.Com"                    
                      edu>                            <community_garden@mallorn.com>                             
                      Sent by:                       cc:                                                         
                      community_garden-admin@        Subject:  [cg] Tiny tomato troubles                         
                      mallorn.com                                                                                
                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                 
                      06/01/2004 04:08 PM                                                                        
                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                 




I'll admit it -- I've got tomato envy. Specifically, I planted several
varieties of heirloom tomatoes in mid-March, in the "8 to 10 weeks before
last frost date" window recommended by the catalogs. Since putting them out
in the third week of May, I've noticed that they are 80-90% smaller than
many other tomatoes I see in nearby plots. Did I plant too late? My
tomatoes are 2-3 inches tall, after 2 1/2 months. I feel like something is
amiss, but I'm not sure where I might've gone wrong. Are the others just
steroid-bloated monstrosities? Input would be appreciated.

Thanks--

Jim


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