Thursday, September 13, 2012

Update #2: The Great Tomato Experiment

Fall is approaching and the garden is looking GOOD... and the verdict is in. The Great Tomato experiment has been a tremendous success and next year I fully intend to use this same method, not just for tomatoes, but for all my heat loving crops... peppers, eggplants, tomatillos, etc.
(For my initial post read HERE, along with the first update HERE.)

Typically in the past, I have not had tomatoes turn red until the end of October, IF the first frost doesn't come beforehand. However, this year, we've already started harvesting many cherry tomatoes (always the first to turn), along with several larger beauties.

The buckets have added the needed warmth along with keeping the water directed down toward the roots, at least as far as the bucket extends under ground. Mulch inside with a 1 gallon dripper has provided consistant watering and thus, very little to zero splitting of fruit. And, the gophers have virtually left the plants alone, thanks to the mesh wire in the bottom of each bucket. With the exception of a few ground squirrels helping themselves to an occasional treat, the harvest has been ours!

As far as the rest of the garden... what I actually managed to get planted produced an outstanding harvest with the exception of potatoes. Those I've dug up so far have been beautiful, but sparse. Not sure why I'm still not getting an abundant harvest despite crop rotation, but my new method of planting made it easy to hill the spuds. (I'll post on my methods another time when I solve the productivity issue, however I only had to hill twice and none of the potatoes were green from sun exposure).

I'm still adding fencing for blackberries on one side and a row of raspberries near by on the other side (where the squash are this year). And you can see WAAAY in the background the addition being added to the chicken coop. With our lockdown situation due to the bobcats, more run space has become a necessity. The temporary goat shed is on the right in the back. Hopefully that will be gone and the goats relocated soon.

Finally, I've managed to add a couple more raised beds bringing my total to 6 (not all are visible in this picture). Besides a bumper crop of marigolds, I have a bunch of kale, swiss chard, arugula, radishes, carrots, parsnips, onions, basil, turnips, broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce planted or started by seed. The mice ate the first planting of turnips, but left all the other items untouched (make a note of that... mice like peas and now turnips!) I have a plan for this second crop that should keep those pesky critters at bay (post to follow).

Next week, I plan to start another batch of seeds for a succession planting of lettuce, radishes, and maybe cabbage along with a bit more kale. Hoops are in place over most of these beds so I'm ready for the first frost. All I have to do is add Agribon or plastic sheeting. And hopefully, before next spring, I can locate some more wood chips to put around the boxes. It made a HUGE difference around the original raised boxes this year. I only did one spot weeding of about 4 weeds... seriously! It worked that well! What you see in the pictures around them are volunteers - mostly squash. (Who spilled those seeds there?)

So, all this to say... despite not getting about half of what I intended to plant actually in the ground this year, God has blessed our harvest and more and more we're eating the fruit of our labor.

What has been your greatest gardening success this year? 
Have you tried the Great Tomato Experiment?

Thanks to HOSS Tools - Garden Sponsor at Homestead Revival!

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 Tilly's Down Home Blog Hop.


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