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Click on a thumbnail picture below to see the full size version. 26 Entries.
Tuesday, January 2 View Page
Giant Tomato Growing, Season 4. Primary Goal: Have fun growing & try new things! Secondary Goal: New Personal Best, >5.48 lbs Tertiary Goal: New CA Record, >6.20 lbs Stretch Goal: >7 lbs You'll notice I've repeated three of the same goals as in my 2023 season. I was pretty disappointed with myself and the results last season, so I decided to add a new primary goal and shift the others down... that additional goal (new #1) is to enjoy the process of trying to grow a big one, even if it the results are less than desired. Best of luck to everyone this coming season!
Sunday, January 21 View Page
Still have a few tomato plants outside limping along. The survivors from from my seed soak experiments. Been pretty cold (by SoCal standards, lol) & gray so it's hard to make any conclusive findings. This nice truss 1 mega showed up & perhaps maybe even set. It's from one of my underwhelming 9.06 offspring fruits from last season. Not expecting much cuz of the recent temps & lack of sunlight, but will put an asterisk next to this soak cocktail.
Friday, January 26 View Page
Same mega as last post. It's for sure a hot mess.... looks to have only partially set and perhaps has some early signs of BER. Gotta appreciate the potential though. Out of all my winter experiments, this mega has earned the only double asterisk.
Saturday, February 17 View Page
Stumbled upon this newly developed (yes, GMO) purple cherry tomato. Found the bio-engineering process fascinating so decided to give them a shot. The purple color comes from crossing a cherry tomato with a purple snapdragon. The purple color is produced by Anthocyanins which have been proven to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Anthocyanins are what gives blueberries, blackberries, eggplant and purple cabbage their color. A good article can be found here.... https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2024/02/06/1228868005/purple-tomato-gmo-gardeners
Saturday, February 17 View Page
My new soil base arrived. I'm doing a complete do-over in my 45 gallon backyard fabric pots. Powdery mildew was debilitating last season so not taking a chance for it to linger in the soil. Will mix in organic matter (aged cow compost), micronized rock dusk, lots of calcium, kelp powder, perlite, worm castings and some other yummy snack treats.
Sunday, February 18 View Page
Been putting time and $$ into my prepping and amending my meager community plot. If you've followed my diary, you'll know I picked it up late last season. Only got to do some superficial stuff before putting in some late seedlings. I know heavy tilling gets some growers bent out of shape, but i needed to be aggressive. Heavy clay deep and what looked to be like fill dirt on top. On top of that, gophers/moles/voles are out of control there. Literal whack-a-mole. No kidding. I've a got highly proficient at eliminating them, but the locals don't like my approach. To avoid getting kicked out, I spent the day installing gopher mesh. Half-way done.
Friday, March 8 View Page
As I noted previously, I'm doing a complete do over in my backyard pots due to Powdery Mildew overwintering concerns. Fresh 45 gallon grow bags and a brand new soil mix. I'm going with the "Sutherland Special" soil mix with a few small mods. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out Dan's Youtube channel. He's been sharing lots of great stuff. My "old" soil will be re-used for tall and wide sunflowers along with my 1st attempt at a long gourd. Shhh, my wife doesn't know I'm taking over her hammock pergola yet for the LGs, lol.
Saturday, March 16 View Page
Firing up the seed starter grow tent. Getting the temps, sensors & lights dialed in with my own sacrificial junk seed. Also been messin' around with different seed soaks & a new starter mix (again thanks to Dan Sutherland's new YouTube channel). I've been using extreme restraint this season to not start as early as my previous seasons. Will start my competition tomato seeds in mid-April aligned with the lunar cycle, summer solstice and my mild coastal climate.
Wednesday, March 20 View Page
It's just about go-time for my competition tomato seeds, about 3 more weeks. Germ/grow tent conditions are good-to-go. These little guys are from the final round of soak experiments that germ'ed, all emerged after 4 days. These were started in Root Riot plugs that were soaked in a Kelp and HA solution. As soon as they emerged I potted them up into 4x4" nursery pots back-filled with my mild potting mix. One was put one in a 3x3 cowpot with the same mix, first time trying this type of pot. I'll transplant all of them outside when they're about 3-4" tall to see if i can get the microbes active before the competition plants take their place. Still in the 40s at night though.
Friday, March 22 View Page
Took the day off from to work to improve my community plot. Manually moved lots of earth. I was put on probation last week for "abandonment" by the dreaded garden committee. I've never been so offended! Was just waiting for the soil to dry before finishing the gopher mesh project. Final third is now in. After all this back breaking work if I have to deal with more gophers/moles/voles I'm jumping off the Coronado bridge, lol!
Friday, March 22 View Page
Done! The committee can piss off!
Wednesday, March 27 View Page
Same tomato seedlings from a week ago. Really liking with the results so far! These are ~13 days after popping and now almost 3" tall. Gave them their first taste of baby food this past weekend which was a mix of organic fish hydrolysate and kelp with a very mild NPK. After much trial and error, I'm finally pleased with the results and will duplicate the same process with my competition seeds in about 2.5 weeks. Some may say they are a little yellowish, but the modern LED's don't really show reality. In natural light they are a very heathy green and thriving. I've moved those two baby sprouts from the 3/20 diary entry outside a few days ago straight into the Sutherland potting soil mix. Zero hardening and night temps are still in the 40s. As of this evening they are looking great. Growth rate has slowed due to the cooler temps, but they still look great. I was a bit concerned that the Suth mix would be a bit too "hot" for those little guys, but so far it's been no problemo. Note, all seedlings are Big Zacs from the 5.85 Boudyo lineage. I'd think Domingo's would behave similarly. Note, the four seedling in the image will go straight outside this weekend. No hardening whatsoever. Not going to baby them as the others that were much smaller with even cooler night temps did perfect.
Friday, March 29 View Page
So.... overnight my seedlings have started leaning a away from the light. As they get taller and they get closer to the light source and the PPFD increases. Checked the PPFD at the canopy and it was ~500. Dialed it back down to 450 PPFD. 500 seems to be a bit too much for them. Leaves still look fine though, nothing crispy.
Monday, April 1 View Page
Doing a little experiment to see if a Cowpot will break down fast enough as to not impede initial root growth and plant development. These two seedlings are of the same Big Zac seed line and have been nearly identical in all growth aspects. Both are 18 days after germination and now 3" tall & transplanted outside this afternoon. The one labeled 15' is in a Cowpot that's been direct planted into the soil, the one labeled 36 was in a 4x4" nursery pot until today. Both got 1 WOW pack each and a few dashes of Mycos. Note, the 4x4" seedling was just starting to show roots on the sides. We'll see how they both progress over the next few weeks while waiting to start my comp seeds and real season. My hypothesis is that the Cowpot's root system will be restricted until the pot decomposes enough so that roots can emerge, thus holding back root development impacting initial plant growth. Will post the results here in about a month.
Friday, April 12 View Page
Getting close now. Sterilizing the Root Riot plugs that will host the chosen mater seeds. I'm starting 24 seeds Sunday night and will eventually narrow it down to 14 plants. I have 8 spots in my backyard 45 gallon grow bags and 6 spots in the community garden plot. After much deliberation and thought, here are my selections. 10.46 La Rue 2023 (2) 9.06 Brown 2021 (2) 8.40 Porkchop 2022 (2) 7.94 La Rue 2022 (2) 7.44 Jolivette 2023 (2) 7.28 Young 2022 (2) 5.95 Konieczny 2016 (1) 5.85 Boudyo 2014 (2) 5.80 La Rue 2020 (2) 5.71 Lambchop 2018 (1) 5.48 Greene 2022 (3) 5.25 Greene 2022 (3)
Sunday, April 14 View Page
After a 12 hour spa day consisting of a warm bath of kelp and HA/FA, comp seeds are in.
Thursday, April 18 View Page
It's been 4 days since I started my competition mater seeds. 11 of 24 have germ'ed. Not thrilled with that percentage, so there's def' room for improvement. Hoping a few more pop in the next few days so i can fill all 14 available prime spots. Those 11 shown have earned spots under the prized synthetic light, the laggards have been relegated to remedial training with more warmth in the darkness. Of note... check out at that 5.80 La Rue. Wow, by far the most aggressive start I've ever had in this short time-frame. How about the 5.85 Boudyo from 2014? That is a very eager 10yo seed, a throw-back Big Zac. I'm soooo stoked for the season.
Sunday, April 21 View Page
Potted up today. After 7 days, 18 of 24 germ'ed. Not bad, but could be better. Plenty of great options for the 14 available spots. Germ chamber was set to 82, will bump it up next time to 84. Unfortunately, the 5.95 Konie & 5.71 Lambchop are still no shows. That epic cross I've been pursuing may go extinct. I only have one of each seeds left, ugh.
Wednesday, April 24 View Page
Seed start update after 10 days. Went 21 for 24 (88%). I've never had any maters germ after 9 days, so these are likely my options to fill the 14 available spots. 10.46 La Rue 2023 (2 of 2) 9.06 Brown 2021 (2 of 2) 8.40 Porkchop 2022 (2 of 2) 7.94 La Rue 2022 (2 of 2) 7.44 Jolivette 2023 (2 of 2) 7.28 Young 2022 (2 of 2) 5.95 Konieczny 2016 (1 of 1) 5.85 Boudyo 2014 (1 of 2) 5.80 La Rue 2020 (1 of 2) 5.71 Lambchop 2018 (0 of 1) 5.48 Greene 2022 (3 of 3) 5.25 Greene 2022 (3 of 3)
Saturday, April 27 View Page
6 days since potting up, ~10 after germination. They're loving the synthetic lighting, temps & potting mix. This afternoon they got a taste of nature in the late afternoon sun/wind. They'll be going into their final homes next weekend. The 5.80 La Rue plant is goin' absolutely bonkers. Easily the most aggressive plant. Followed by the 7.44 'Vette & the 7.94 La Rue.
Sunday, April 28 View Page
Potted up a few more laggard mater seedlings today. Not sure if anyone has done this before, but I've found this to be a very effective way of getting pricey Azos & VAM-Endo on the roots without waste. They're shakers meant for powdered sugar. Also potted up a few Carolina Reapers that sprouted. BIG thank you to whomever put those in the seed exchange. Growing these mostly as a gag for my pals that always brag about their superhuman tolerance for hot/spice foods. This is gonna be fun!
Tuesday, April 30 View Page
Mater' seedlings are eager. They'll go in the earth this weekend.
Friday, May 3 View Page
Rankings as of this afternoon.  Factors include:  Height, stem girth, and overall vigor.  All seeds were started on the same day. Not sure if this ultimately translates to better megablooms and/or a heavier fruit, but I need something to narrow down the field.   Using past performance, lineage & Darwin's "survival of the fittest" as factors. I'll cull it down to 14.  Finalists will go from their nursery pots to their final homes this weekend. 1.  5.80 La Rue (no brainer #1, this plant is nutz) 2.  8.40 Porkchop 3.  5.48 Greene 4.  9.06 Brown 5.  7.44 Jolivette 6.  5.48 Greene 7.  7.94 La Rue 8.  7.94 La Rue 9.  7.28 Young 10. 10.46 La Rue 11. 5.25 Greene (Big Zac) 12. 10.46 La Rue 13. 9.06 Brown 14. 5.85 Boudyo (Big Zac) 15. 5.25 Greene (Big Zac) 16. 5.25 Greene (Big Zac) 17. 8.40 Porkchop 18. 7.28 Young 19. 5.95 Konieczny
Saturday, May 4 View Page
Cowpot experiment results. See my Apr 1 diary entry for the premise. Plants are now 49 days old & their truss 1 buds are about to open. Recall, these two seedlings are of the same Big Zac seed line and were nearly identical when transplanted. The plant on the left was planted in a Cowpot, the one on right straight went into the soil. As one can tell from the pic, the Cowpot plant's growth rate was indeed restricted. I'm sure they are fine to use for everyday gardening, but when attempting to grow giants all the little details matter.
Saturday, May 11 View Page
Testing out a new tea brewer design. Stoked with the result! Sweet boil goin'.
Sunday, May 19 View Page
A freak show mega on a 3.90 Greene (UOW), which was grown from the 6.83 Boudyo ]. Plant is from a seed soak experiment & put outside a few days after it germed. Went direct into Sutherland's potting mix as a test cuz i thought it might be too hot. Cold (not freezing) night temps may be the trigger or the maybe the soak, or both. I dunno.


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