Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tomatoes and More on the Way

The harvest is picking up. All varieties of tomatoes, 1 pepper and 1 corn ear were harvested this week. Melons, potatoes and soybeans will be ready in the coming weeks.

Planet F1 peppers.

Minnesota Midget melons. These plants haven't been very productive, but I haven't really cared since the Serenade melons are doing so well. They're open pollinated, so I can save the seeds and try again next year if I want.

This one changed color from green to pale yellow practically overnight. I checked to see if it was ready by pushing on the vine, where it connects with the melon, with one finger and a moderate amount of pressure. If the vine separates from the melon then it's ready to harvest. It did not budge so it probably needs a little more time. I'm going to check it every day until I can push the vine off.

I think this is what harvesting instructions mean when they use the term forced slip, removing the vine with pressure. Full slip must mean removing the vine requires barely any pressure at all.

Brandy Boy F1 tomato.

Ate my first Brandy Boy earlier this week. The flavor was excellent, very deep and nuanced. If this is the hybrid version of the Brandywine the original version must be outstanding. The tomato itself was almost a pound, with a meaty texture. I ate it fresh, sliced, with a sprinkle of salt. After I was done I felt so full and satisfied I skipped dinner.

Jasper F1 cherry tomato.

Serenade F1 melons.

Japanese Black Trifele tomato.

I'm having the hardest time trying to figure out the ideal color for harvesting. I either pick them too early or too late. I think I should just ignore the color altogether and go by softness of the fruit.

Beaver Lodge tomato. Harvesting from this plant has begun, so my paranoia regarding disease transmission has faded somewhat.

I wasn't sure how this plant would do on the roof since it was created for cooler environments, the roof gets raging hot in the summer, but it's doing quite well. Since it's an ultra early type all of the fruits were well established before any heat waves could interfere with production. Something that didn't occur to me until I saw it in action.

It makes sense, the longer something is outside, the more opportunities there are for something to go wrong. By growing only fast maturing varieties, cherry tomatoes and early types, you can minimize exposure to heat waves, disease and pests. This would be a great way to avoid a lot of tomato angst. Definitely something to keep in mind for the future.

Here's a photo from a different angle just to give you an idea about how prolific this plant is. I should point out this is container growth, imagine how productive it would be in the ground.

The flavor has improved immensely from the first several tomatoes . The first few off the vine were fair to good, but as the summer deepened so did the flavor. Now they're great.

This is an open pollinated variety so I can save seeds, which is the plan because this is definitely going on the greatest hits list.

Giant Aconcagua peppers.

Yukon Gold potatoes. One plant is still upright and green so I've decided to wait it out. There's definitely some potatoes in there. Before the container is watered I lift it to check the weight and it feels heavier every time I check.

On Deck F1 corn and Butterbean soybeans.

Soybean pods have finally appeared.

A couple more corn ears have appeared.

I couldn't take the suspense so I harvested the first ear of corn last weekend. The silk was completely brown and dry, like straw, which is one sign of readiness, so I went for it.

There are other signs. If the plant starts to lean to the side this is another indicator. My corn is growing in a very crowded cage so it's hard to tell if a plant is leaning or is being pushed by another plant so skipped this sign. The other sign is the to check the liquid in a corn kernel while the ear is still attached to the stalk. Peel back the husk layers, or cut a small opening, to expose a kernel. Pierce the kernel to check the liquid. If the liquid is clear the ear isn't ready, if it's completely opaque you've waited too long and the prime sweetness stage has passed.

I didn't bother doing this because I have no idea where along spectrum between clear and opaque is the ideal stage for harvesting. Milky is the term commonly used to describe this ideal stage. I have no point of reference for milky corn liquid so I skipped this sign as well.

Not too bad, over 75% of the ear was pollinated. For my first ever home grown ear of corn I'm happy with the outcome.

Hindsight tells me that when I'm feeling the shape of ear beneath the husk I should wait till the top of the ear, near the silk, fills out more before harvesting. So the next ear to be harvested should feel more blunt at the tip, as opposed to tapered like the photo above.

I also made a note of the state of the corn liquid before the ear was prepared for eating. It was mildly milky. On a scale between 1 and 10, with 1 being clear and 10 being completely opaque, I would rate the liquid a 3. The corn was not that sweet, which is another sign I picked it too early, but at least now I have a point of reference if I decide to do a liquid check on the next ear of corn.

Cosmonaut Volkov tomato.

These have excellent flavor as well, I just wish the plant was more productive. You would think a plant this size would be bursting with fruit, but unfortunately that's not the case. This does, however, make me savor and appreciate every tomato that is produced.

July 25-31:

Cherry Tomato (Jasper F1): 5.0 ounces

Corn (On Deck F1): 3.625 ounces

Sweet Pepper (Giant Aconcagua): 1.375 ounces

Tomato (Beaver Lodge): 2 pounds, 10.625 ounces

Tomato (Brandy Boy F1): 15.125 ounces

Tomato (Cosmonaut Volkov): 1 pound, 11 ounces

Tomato (Japanese Black Trifele): 1 pound, 10.125 ounces

Total Harvest: 7 pounds, 8.875 ounces

Broke the 10 pound mark, yay!

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  1. That's awesome! I can't believe how many of your 'maters are ripe already. In my community garden in Troy, I think one person has had a red tomato or two. Everyone else, while full, are all still green. In a few weeks, hopefully, it will officially be TOMATO SEASON!


    1. It seems like everything is late this year. I don't recall ever waiting this long for stuff to mature, especially peppers or melons.


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