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tomato: transplant vs. seed  RSS feed

 
Deb Rebel
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Adding, what I mean is, you have one that's doing gangbusters and looks like it's going to win, it's not much work to bag a couple of blooms and do hand pollenate to try to keep the genes in the same fruit... It's a LOT to propagate the plant itself then mail that (I've done this and mailing them isn't a good thing) and not many will be able to keep the plant alive over winter (I could, I've done it, it's not fun or easy). So anyway, let the contest roll on if anyone wants to try for my $100. If Paul comes up with another sponsor or sponsors, great.
 
alex Keenan
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Paul,

The one issue I have with volunteers is not rotating them to new ground.
I find that many cherries are very good at producing volunteers. I have a yellow pear that is great at this.
But if the tomato gets hit with blight or some other disease I generally pull the plant and burn it at the end of the growing season or before depending on the disease.
I would highly recommend staying with the early type tomatoes where I am at in Cincinnati if direct seeding.

One thing I like to do with my tomatoes is use a tree seedlng pot or 3 inch pot to start seed in. I also let the tomatoes get long and spindly.
When I plant these larger plants I remove the roots from the last foot and plant them on their sides with the root ball and last foot buried.
This tends to give me larger root area that I can lay soaker hose over and keep water level more even so I get less spliting of my tomatoes.
 
Corrie Snell
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I'm living in Morocco, and the other day I noticed that one of the "weeds" growing from a crack in the concrete slab behind the house was actually a tomato plant! How's that for a volunteer?! How did a tomato seed even get down there, I wonder? It never ceases to amaze me how badly plants "want" to live. Earlier in the year here, on the east side of the Atlas Mountains in a very desolate area, I saw a beautiful fig tree growing out of a rock cliff, nothing else at all growing around it. It would be so cool to collect seeds from that tree!
tomato-volunteer-growing-in-concrete-slab.jpg
volunteer tomato plant growing from crack in concrete
volunteer-tomato-in-concrete.jpg
volunteer tomato plant growing from crack in concrete in Morocco
 
Tyler Ludens
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Looks like you might also have a little amaranth plant next to that tomato.

 
Angelika Maier
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This is a really interesting experiment! As for the volunteers my experience is that they are tiny tomatoes tousands of them and the taste is only so so.
One thing which would be important for the experiment is measuring the soil temperature as tomatoes don't germinate in cool soil.
 
Tristan Vitali
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D. Logan wrote:I've already picked up some of the things for this experiment this year, so I am probably going to go ahead and act as if the contest was still on. At worst, I have some tomatoes to enjoy. At best, it gives me the chance to work with two years of data and potentially refine a process. Honestly, I've already put a ton of thought into this and don't want to lose my momentum. Even if there never ends up being a prize, I still want to move on the ideas I have and try innovating.


Did you conduct your tests and get some definitive results? I just now came across this thread and there's been some debate around here at the camp on whether we should be bothering to start all these tomatoes every spring or just direct seed / encourage "volunteers" instead. Varieties run from basic OP romas and oregon springs through "black cherry", cherokee purple and brandywines, not to mention the myriad peppers and supposedly "cool-loving" eggplants, it takes up so much room. Would love to see how things worked out if you went forward with your tests
 
Deb Rebel
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D. Logan, just touching bases, how is your volunteer/landrace project going? I am getting some seeds from Joseph Lofthouse who has been experimenting with the same...
 
D. Logan
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Deb Rebel wrote:D. Logan, just touching bases, how is your volunteer/landrace project going? I am getting some seeds from Joseph Lofthouse who has been experimenting with the same...


&

Tristan Vitali wrote:
D. Logan wrote:I've already picked up some of the things for this experiment this year, so I am probably going to go ahead and act as if the contest was still on. At worst, I have some tomatoes to enjoy. At best, it gives me the chance to work with two years of data and potentially refine a process. Honestly, I've already put a ton of thought into this and don't want to lose my momentum. Even if there never ends up being a prize, I still want to move on the ideas I have and try innovating.


Did you conduct your tests and get some definitive results? I just now came across this thread and there's been some debate around here at the camp on whether we should be bothering to start all these tomatoes every spring or just direct seed / encourage "volunteers" instead. Varieties run from basic OP romas and oregon springs through "black cherry", cherokee purple and brandywines, not to mention the myriad peppers and supposedly "cool-loving" eggplants, it takes up so much room. Would love to see how things worked out if you went forward with your tests


I am afraid it was a bust last year. I was having to grow things on my father's land, so couldn't be out to attend to them as often as I would have liked. Before they ever really got going, something made off with them. I didn't think anything like deer or rabbits cared for tomatoes, but something obviously did. He has a mole problem there, but I wouldn't have thought they would go after tomatoes. I considered trying again this year, but whatever was plaguing his garden last year is probably going to be there again this year and I don't have another location I could have done it at for now. I still want to run these tests, but until I have a location I can trust to be safe and/or that I can more regularly attend, that may not be possible.

I still have the methodology of what I was doing written down on paper somewhere in my files though if someone else wanted to perhaps try what I was doing. That or anyone living fairly close to Middletown Ohio wanting to offer some garden space. I would be behind on the standard tomatoes, but would have enough time to run the experiments still.
 
Deb Rebel
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D. Logan wrote:I am afraid it was a bust last year. I was having to grow things on my father's land, so couldn't be out to attend to them as often as I would have liked. Before they ever really got going, something made off with them. I didn't think anything like deer or rabbits cared for tomatoes, but something obviously did. He has a mole problem there, but I wouldn't have thought they would go after tomatoes. I considered trying again this year, but whatever was plaguing his garden last year is probably going to be there again this year and I don't have another location I could have done it at for now. I still want to run these tests, but until I have a location I can trust to be safe and/or that I can more regularly attend, that may not be possible.

I still have the methodology of what I was doing written down on paper somewhere in my files though if someone else wanted to perhaps try what I was doing. That or anyone living fairly close to Middletown Ohio wanting to offer some garden space. I would be behind on the standard tomatoes, but would have enough time to run the experiments still.


If you were closer I'd give you some space in return for a little sweat. The year I tried all the tomatoes I was growing competition pumpkins and I chose to grow a large plant to feed the fruit so I would give each one 750-900 square feet. In the corners especially, of each allotted space, I had plenty of room to grow other things and that is how I fit all the tomatoes in. A lot didn't like it here and I was having to produce and maintain an artificial microclime to get the plants to perform. We also have a calcium deficiency in our dirt, so it took extra work and additives to address that and get the plants to produce. I am now at where I have compost, compost, and more compost, which helps immensely. And that is why I'm turning to some others who are trying to produce landrace tomato strains to try those.

My condolences about not having close in garden space. Hang onto things and you will persevere I'm sure.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Only three of my direct-seeded tomatoes survive and only two are doing nearly as well as my transplants. The direct-seeded survived several frosts and a heavy hailstorm. So far no blossoms.
 
Deb Rebel
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Only three of my direct-seeded tomatoes survive and only two are doing nearly as well as my transplants. The direct-seeded survived several frosts and a heavy hailstorm. So far no blossoms.


Only times I see blooms this early would be that I started that plant indoors with a few uppottings and lots of love in January and put it into a heated hoop at 8 weeks, and even then it would be early June. Last year I got red Brandywines to do so, and they started giving me ripe fruit end of July in excess of one pound each. They also got 7-8' tall and were put into handmade calf panel cages held steady with steel posts. (usually red or pink brandywine or delicious don't start blooming to end of July or later and you hope you can get fruit off them by and through September. Two years ago I was giving away some rather large uppotted starts, and it was end of May and someone asked me if they could get fruit (edible fruit) by end of June. I said 'from the store'. I had gotten such but you had to start your year a lot earlier. Oh. They actually pouted. The plants weren't even blooming yet, and it takes time for fruit set and developing and ripening....
 
Tyler Ludens
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I was wrong - there are buds on one of my direct-seeded plants! Seeded February 20.

 
Amy Escobar
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So, this is old, but has anyone supplied some decent evidence yet? Did anyone win the $1000 gift card?
 
Deb Rebel
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I haven't heard any updates but it was two years since I offered the $100 cash.

Joseph Lofthouse might be the one in the lead...
 
Tyler Ludens
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I plan to only grow tomatoes by direct seeding this year.  My first tomatoes are already sprouting!  I plan to grow tomatoes in three locations - my "30 Vegetables" polyculture garden, in the new food forest patch, and in my kitchen garden.
 
Amy Escobar
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Not going to lie, after reading the thread, I'm kind of depressed. This was a worthy cause!
One big point that was made earlier is that simply putting a seed into the ground is not nearly the same thing as letting a whole piece of fruit rot and volunteer. Fortunately, I'm pretty sure all my tomatoes (Black Trifele, Brandywine and Amish Paste) had a few ripe fellows fall to the ground. We had a of lot snow this year, so the ground isn't super cold up here in Oregon. Hopefully this will yield some good plants?

However, the alternative - starting tomatoes indoors and then burying much of the stem in the soil - seems like it's going to just be hard to ever beat. Hmm...

Yo Paul, what about opening this up again, but forget the prize? Let's just do it for fun! But, maybe you could make a video laying out the guidelines, and post it in a brand new thread for 2017. A video might stick in people's heads better. Then, as the season progresses, make another video reminding people to update us on what is going on. I'm almost thinking "Make a Facebook group for this!". Tehee, am I going overboard?

Anyways, it'll probably take a long time to get some more solid info. Years really. I wonder if there are people in Mexico or somewhere like that who have grown tomatoes for centuries, who may have all the information we're looking for. Doesn't it drive you crazy when you think "Surely someone already knows the answer!" but all the info is locked up in some little old Mexican lady's notebook?

*Side note, is there a permaculture wiki or something dedicated to compiling and publishing garden notes? That would be so awesome.*
 
Jonathan Krohn
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amy escobar wrote:So, this is old, but has anyone supplied some decent evidence yet? Did anyone win the $1000 gift card?


Yes, but my evidence didn't show the desired results, so the prize went poof. Sort of like most research nowadays - to keep your funding your results have to support the donors' desired conclusions!
 
Amy Escobar
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Yes, but my evidence didn't show the desired results, so the prize went poof. Sort of like most research nowadays - to keep your funding your results have to support the donors' desired conclusions!


I'll have to read the thread again, but from my understanding the intent was to find the best proof of direct seeding being superior. Here's Paul's original statement:
I hereby announce that I'm going to give away a $1000 gift certificate to best proof/example of starting a tomato from seed rather than a transplant.


I'm guessing you spent the effort to document your results, but were unable to find such proof. I guess I'm not sure what ought to have been done, because you knew all along that he was going to give the $1000 to the person who found proof of direct seeding being better. That's what the contest was for, so any other findings aren't really part of the contest. Do you feel you should have been awarded the gift anyways, because of your effort? Idk, seems like he stated what the contest was for, and your results just fell outside of that.

Besides all that, I think the whole idea was just a little nebulous for a forum. I mean, on forums, people often just chime in with random stuff. I get this on cooking forums all the time. I ask which is better, pulled pork in a pressure cooker, or a crock pot. Then I get a bazillion people telling me their recipe for crockpot pork, or oven pork. I'm looking for info on which is better, pressure cooked or crockpot! Don't just give me your random recipes, or how you think it ought to be done. Bah!

Regarding the
to keep your funding your results have to support the donors' desired conclusions
comment, I think that's all kinda besides the point. I mean are you just making the case that the contest SHOULD have been Which is better, direct seed or indoor starting? Or do you feel you were wronged, that the rug was pulled out from under you? Just seems like there was either a misunderstanding of what the contest was for, or that you feel like you should get the prize anyways because you put in the effort to try the experiment, and it wasn't successful.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Deb Rebel wrote:For a true vigorous volunteer that is not crossbred, to give up healthy seeds, I'd put up $100 if I could have 30-50 seeds from the winner.


Deb Rebel wrote:I haven't heard any updates but it was two years since I offered the $100 cash.
Joseph Lofthouse might be the one in the lead...


Don't know how I missed this thread!!!

For years, I've been working half-heartedly on direct seeding tomatoes. I've thrown thousands of seeds at the problem. I have collaborators that are working with me on direct seeded tomatoes, even a collaborator in Montana! I'll step up my game this coming growing season. Not for the rewards, but for the sake of being a better farmer. Eventually, I'll ask the auto-hybridizing tomatoes project to solve the direct-seeded tomato problem.  In the meantime, I might as well work on it in the conventional way.

So far, I haven't found a direct seeded tomato that does as well as transplants, but from time to time,  I have grown some direct seeded tomatoes that do acceptably.

I consider cloches, wall-o-water, and floating row covers to be cheating on this sort of a challenge. I might use some, but only for curiosity, and demonstration purposes,  not as a way of raising tomatoes for my personal use.
 
Amy Escobar
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Joseph, have you ever just planted a whole tomato in the fall and let volunteers arise?
 
wayne fajkus
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I have. I think im at 5 years of not planting. Heirloom indeterminant cherry tomatos. Enuff fall to ground and come back the next year. I've done this at 2 different locations. I do nothing except watering, but started with a hi manure bed on first planting.



 
Amy Escobar
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wayne fajkus wrote:I have. I think im at 5 years of not planting. Heirloom indeterminant cherry tomatos. Enuff fall to ground and come back the next year. I've done this at 2 different locations. I do nothing except watering, but started with a hi manure bed on first planting.


Yeah, people seem to have good success with cherry and cold weather toms. I'd bet cherries especially do well because they resemble the original tomatoes. But, what about planting something like a Brandywine?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Amy: I can't grow Brandywines, even by putting huge transplants into the ground. My growing season is too short, (about 85 to 110 frost free days), and too cool-nighted.

Each fall, I send thousands of tomato fruits into winter, that are left to rot in my fields, so that's hundreds of thousands of seeds. It is highly uncommon for them to produce volunteers the next spring. It's even more unusual for the volunteers to produce ripe fruit before frost. It's still a worthy project to attempt, because it only takes one family getting it right so that selection can progress.

If I ever start growing direct-seeded tomatoes as my primary production model, I expect that fruit size will be about 2 to 4 ounces. Saladette sized.

I am working on other selection projects that may eventually contribute to success with direct seeding:

-Selection for short season
-Selection for cold/frost tolerance
-Selection for promiscuous pollination
-Selection for self-incompatibility

I expect that if I ever get a direct seeded tomato variety, that it will be determinate, because my earliest and most productive tomatoes today tend to be determinate. Some of my tomato seedlings flowered on the fourth leaf node last growing season. Wow! If I were select for that trait, it might go a long ways towards making direct seeded tomatoes possible in my garden.

Tomato flowering on 4th leaf node!



 
Deb Rebel
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Joseph, wow, that is a real overachiever.

I grow beesteaks of all kind, including Delicious and Brandywines, both of which take a long season. Only way I can get those is to start them early, do the couple of uppots to bury stems, put them out with spring protection, and put the 7' plus 2x2' cattle panel square cages on them with fence posts. Because of grasshoppers I often have to bag the fruits to keep them from being eaten before harvest, but. I can get quite a few pound plus from those plants. I agree the cherry varieties are probably your best bet, or try Early Girl or Yellow Perfection as a starter for doing a little larger self-seeder. They are indeterminant... and does 2-5 oz. Another might be Siberia, that one loves cold and is pretty short season. Again maybe a 4 oz fruit.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Last week I ate at a restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Casa Chimayo. The proprietor gave me seeds from the chilies that he serves in the restaurant which are a family heirloom. He told me that peppers should never be transplanted because transplanted peppers are imbeciles. I notice the same thing about lots of other vegetables. What he told me really caught my attention, because I had been corresponding with, and exchanging seeds with other plant breeders that are working with me on direct seeded tomatoes.

 
Deb Rebel
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
Last week I ate at a restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Casa Chimayo. The proprietor gave me seeds from the chilies that he serves in the restaurant which are a family heirloom. He told me that peppers should never be transplanted because transplanted peppers are imbeciles. I notice the same thing about lots of other vegetables. What he told me really caught my attention, because I had been corresponding with, and exchanging seeds with other plant breeders that are working with me on direct seeded tomatoes.



A lot of veggies don't like their roots disturbed, and from growing competition pumpkins.... I would take pots and cut the sides so it would open like a hinge (leave the bottom intact, cut in half otherwise) and duct tape the pot shut across the cuts. Then line the pot with a layer of soy base ink newspaper. This allows you to open the pot easily, the newspaper protects the roots and it disappears. Peat pots often don't disappear, and I have dug peat pots out a year later that looked 'new' and newspaper, all signs of it disappear in a week. This really does help with all the delicate stuff.

I grow peppers in 5 gallon pails and bring them in in the winter, put them under lights, and get them to bloom (play bee with a q tip) and get a crop from them over the winter). I have some that are five years old and will be six this summer. They are getting too woody to go another season but.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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I use soil blocks to plant things for transplanting. The advantage is that there are no transplanting shocks.

I like the idea of direct seeding as making the soil blocks take a lot of time.
 
Amy Escobar
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News flash ya'll! OneYardRevolution is experimenting with direct seeding tomatoes!
I believe he's zone 5 ish.
 
Amy Escobar
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Deb Rebel wrote:
Then line the pot with a layer of soy base ink newspaper. This allows you to open the pot easily, the newspaper protects the roots and it disappears. Peat pots often don't disappear, and I have dug peat pots out a year later that looked 'new' and newspaper, all signs of it disappear in a week. This really does help with all the delicate stuff.


THAT is EXACTLY what I was planning on doing. Ugh, I feel so overwhelmed, this is my first year doing starts, ever. And I'm already late...
 
Greg Martin
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I really want to try making a 12" deep trough or series of pits (to increase soil surface area) that will get covered by plastic to warm up the soil quick and make a sort of mini pit greenhouse.  Once the soil hits 70F then I'd plant the tomato seeds.  But up here in Maine it hasn't been above freezing for a while (soil is like concrete right now), won't be above freezing for at least another week and our next Nor'easter hits tomorrow adding another 12-20" of snow.  Probably will have to wait for a while! 

The thought is to then fill in the trough as the tomatoes get taller so that the stems can root just like they do when you deep plant them during transplanting.  I'm also hoping having a lot of exposed soil under the plastic will help suck up the sun's heat so the temperature doesn't swing up and down as much as it would do with a tunnel.  Seems like a pretty simple and cheap system if it works.  If it gets hot, moving the plastic shouldn't be much of a task.  Could try the same thing with cloches...just dig a hole and then sink the cloche in and snug the soil up against it. 

Has anyone experimented with this and how did it go? 
 
Deb Rebel
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Greg Martin...

Black plastic or landscape fabric on the soil surface in your pit is the best, it can get you 15F soil temp increase especially with a clear cover. Between plants under clear cover, you can put gallon jugs full of water too, to be heat sinks. Do expect on cold nights to cover the outer/top plastic with something insulative that you get off within the first hour of sunrise and put on in the hour before sunset. And during day hang that cover up to dry out. I have a huge pile of old rummage sale and thrift store blankets, especially old electric blankets (some I fished the wiring out of, that is TEDIOUS-you do not use them plugged in anyways) that I store in off season and they come out for spring and fall covering. (I just pulled the collection out to mend a few battle scar rips and holes-the plants don't mind if the patch doesn't match)

What you're doing is basically making a mini cold frame that will be adapted as the plants and season progresses. The method should work well for larger tomato varieties. You can trough the large ones and pit smaller ones. Never discount using old gallon jugs with the bottom cut off for mini-cloches too. Here in the Panhandle they work as roughly 30% shade cloth and on warm days I take the caps off for venting and put those back on in the evening. It's also easy to flop a ground cover over those for the night.

Set your pits/troughs with the black ("solarizing") stuff and cover and heatsink water jugs (2 liter soda bottles work too, but gallon jugs are easier to handle) in place for a few weeks before you plant, to get the ground warmed up and cook/sprout up your weeds. When you plant in, do your mulch and put the plastic/landscape stuff back. When your night temps are above the upper 40's and your days are hitting the 70's you may need to take the black stuff out or you will fry your tomatoes.

Also if you have issues with cutworms... I strip old manila folders 4" wide and if cut across the fold, long enough. Staple, pin or clip and bury 2" deep around your tomato plant. This will break down and doesn't need to be removed, and will last long enough  to get through cutworm season. 2" down they don't tend to go deeper and 2" above soil they don't seem prone to climb over.

Wait to install trellis, stakes, or cage until you can trust your night temperatures and are no longer using any cover, then install. (I have had sudden cold snaps to my frost date and been out there at 2 am hauling steel fenceposts out of the ground to be able to get at and wrap up a plant to save it, no fun with a flashlight in your teeth)
 
leila hamaya
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i direct seed tomatoes every year, and also allow tomatoes left on the ground or the last stragglers to self seed. i have a couple of types that have been showing up as volunteers every year, mostly black cherry and a large red cherry that keeps popping up in the same place every year. i save the seeds and have been calling them 'survivor'. it may be a small homestead or classic large red cherry which grow about the same in my garden and were the two growing in the spot the year before they started naturalizing there.

in most of my direct seeding (with dry seeds) i have to put a LOT of seeds down to get a few volunteers.
the leftover tomatoes, just letting a tomato rot away...produces more volunteers in the areas i do this than direct seeding dry tomato seeds.

i may be still convinced, like i said earlier in this thread, that maybe the easiest and best way to go may be to take a tomato, throw it on the ground...and then stomp on it and pee on it =)

this is not how i currently go...but that could be correct.
depending on your climate, there would be a varying factor as to when the best day was to do the stomp n pee =)

but as of now, i start tomatoes under lights early, direct seed a lot...with dry seeds...and the transplants and pampered inside tomatoes do a lot better.

with volunteers that just randomly pop up from last years tomatoes...those are some of the biggest and best producing plants...those theres only a few every year and quite a few ripe ones are left on the soil every year.
 
Greg Martin
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Thanks Deb.  I'm sure the black plastic will help, but I'm also hoping to avoid plastic as much as possible.  I'm hoping that a large dark stone might do a good job on the north side of the pit to help warm and moderate the temperature as a replacement for the black plastic.  The water jug would do this too, but I'd like to pass on the plastic as much as possible....might even experiment without the clear plastic just to see how far I can go with this by reshaping the soil and using stones, though I know that will be very early season limiting due to cold air and wind, but I'm hoping having the tomato seedling right up against a large stone to it's north in a 12" deep pit will greatly help out in it's early going.  A nice mulch around the pits should hopefully hold in much of the heat gained.  If life doesn't get in the way I'll take lots of pics, good, bad or ugly

BTW....happy pie day everyone!!!
 
William Schlegel
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Reading about some of Joseph and Darrel Jones tomato breeding projects this winter got me really excited about the potential for breeding direct seeding tomatoes. Joseph sent me some seed he thought might work and I bought some. I planted some in pots indoors and in an unheated greenhouse (winter sowing) then last weekend I was able to get out to my garden and seeded a replicate there.

In the unheated greenhouse in extremely cold soil one seedling is starting to emerge in the current warm spell (it's been above freezing several days). I may rescue it as it's liable to freeze Thursday night.

I garden in Montana and have about 100 to 120 frost free days to work with most years. My experiments a little different I don't expect these tomatoes to outperform transplants I just want the option of not starting indoors. I also plan to cross the best performing varieties. Though this year is mainly a trial and to do a lot of seed saving.

I started a thread on my experiment here https://permies.com/t/62189/Direct-Seeding-Tomatoes-Frost-Free
image.jpg
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Garden after I direct seeded the first replicate.
 
Greg Martin
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William, when is your average last frost date and what varieties are you growing?  Looking forward to hearing how you do!
 
William Schlegel
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Greg Martin wrote:William, when is your average last frost date and what varieties are you growing?  Looking forward to hearing how you do!


May 13 according to the website Dave's Garden.

I am trialing to many varieties to list easily before work. The ones I am most excited about from bought or traded seed because of short less than 50 DTM from transplant are:

Sweet Cherriette
Kalinka
kibits
42 days
Forest Fire
Anmore Dewdrop

For frost tolerance I am most excited about wild Solanum habrochaites seeds Joseph sent me including Neandermato a LA1777 x other S. hab.

Joseph sent me a great deal of variable and segregating seed of a number of lines and landrace populations. I would not be surprised if some seedling from that proved amazing in regard to direct seeding.

One possibility is that direct seeding will only work well with tiny current tomatoes like Sweet Cherriette which is 35 DTM from transplant.

Notably we are not the first to work with extreme short season genetics Sweet Cherriette and Forest Fire are both the work of legendary plant breeder Tim Peters.

Yesterday morning I noticed a Kalinka seedling emerging in the unheated greenhouse replicate. I do not expect it to be frost tolerant but if this seedling is any indication this variety may have good cold soil emergence. Could be a good variety to direct seed on May 13th and or to cross with Solanum habrochaites. I plan to rescue the seedling and bring I inside before Thursday nights predicted low of 27 F
 
Deb Rebel
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Greg Martin, I understand you wanting to avoid black plastic. We volunteer at the food pantry and get some as a byproduct of the freight, as well as pallet wrap, so I have plastics to reuse instead of sending straight to landfill. If it's a recycle I don't feel bad about using it. At the moment our city water is pretty bad and I'm saving for a filter system, so we have to buy drinking water. Hence I have gallon jugs to reuse and boy do I. (they had a reusable container RO system in town for a awhile and I was refilling five gallon jugs, and they took it out, I much preferred that over what I have to do now)

At least I address my waste stream and that of others and reuse what I can. On the rocks for heatsink, there is nothing wrong with painting them black if needed... although if you have nice dark basalt or dark granite around those really can soak up the BTU's. In some places in high desert (Chile, Argentina, etc) they use pebble mulch on the ground to retain heat and moisture... when you're at 11,000 feet it makes a difference. At one place they found terraced and sunken ring gardens, to artificially boost the grow zones to produce crops. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moray_(Inca_ruin)  Now something like that is a MAJOR construction project but it is microclimate control. Keep us posted on your project, Greg!
 
Greg Martin
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Wow Deb...Moray is super!  A 27F temp swing is dang impressive.  It might take me a few years to reproduce that up here in Maine

On the plastic front, I'm totally with you on reuse as much as is possible....part of the world we live in now and whatever you can do to make good use without buying it new can be a win.  I also really appreciate the inputs...not sure how this will play out.  I'm just hoping that if a good method is found to avoid using lights and containers inside that it won't require people to go out and buy plastic film for those that don't have ready access to a resource like you have.  Not saying that buying plastic film won't be ok, but I just like the idea of using stone and earth alone.  If nothing else I think it'll make the garden more of a place that I want to be in...same reason that I greatly prefer edible landscaping with perennials versus tending the annual garden. 

I've always imagined designing my future greenhouse to have lots of stone thermal mass pillars/walls inside that both support the roof and also are thermally tied to the earth, acting like a solar heat collector/conductor to ground storage as well as acting like a radiator.  I guess I'm kind of thinking of a method here that reproduces that concept on the tiny, inexpensive scale needed to get seedlings started.  If nothing else it's a fun challenge (thanks Paul!) to noodle through.
 
Deb Rebel
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Greg Martin wrote:Wow Deb...Moray is super!  A 27F temp swing is dang impressive.  It might take me a few years to reproduce that up here in Maine

On the plastic front, I'm totally with you on reuse as much as is possible....part of the world we live in now and whatever you can do to make good use without buying it new can be a win.  I also really appreciate the inputs...not sure how this will play out.  I'm just hoping that if a good method is found to avoid using lights and containers inside that it won't require people to go out and buy plastic film for those that don't have ready access to a resource like you have.  Not saying that buying plastic film won't be ok, but I just like the idea of using stone and earth alone.  If nothing else I think it'll make the garden more of a place that I want to be in...same reason that I greatly prefer edible landscaping with perennials versus tending the annual garden. 

I've always imagined designing my future greenhouse to have lots of stone thermal mass pillars/walls inside that both support the roof and also are thermally tied to the earth, acting like a solar heat collector/conductor to ground storage as well as acting like a radiator.  I guess I'm kind of thinking of a method here that reproduces that concept on the tiny, inexpensive scale needed to get seedlings started.  If nothing else it's a fun challenge (thanks Paul!) to noodle through.


Look into Walipini (in ground greenhouses) and walk in coldframes

https://www.niftyhomestead.com/blog/underground-greenhouse/    ; has quite a few links. I know a few don't exist and at least one had a virus issue (something about PINK as I remember, avoid that one) 
It's not quite natural but it is a way of making your climate let you grow stuff you want. My walipini plans (two 75'x 20') are on hold as the major cost of the insulating cover is being worked on. I have the land to do it, still assembling scrounged materials to do so. I plan on putting RMH in both so in case of power out I can move into one for a bit and be comfortable.

https://www.amazon.com/Four-Season-Harvest-Organic-Vegetables-Garden/dp/1890132276/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1489517545&sr=8-1&keywords=four+season+harvest

https://www.amazon.com/Winter-Harvest-Handbook-Deep-Organic-Greenhouses/dp/1603580816/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1489517545&sr=8-2&keywords=four+season+harvest

These can also give you some good ideas. He is in the upper New England area so dealing with similar climate, grow zones, and day length!  I bought both of these in 2009 and considered them useful for ideas to deal with the growing conditions I have here.

I am not dissimilar to Joseph Lofthouse in climate though he is higher altitude and a bit warmer winter, his landrace grow exceedingly well here. So paying attention, some things grow better in certain areas. If someone does develop a good self starter/ direct seed tomato, it may be best in their growzone and anyone else that gets some will have to grow out and adapt the strain to their area. I need a good cold weather starter that later adores being baked....

Good Luck.
 
Greg Martin
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Thanks Deb, much appreciated.  The Nifty Homestead site is nifty!  I like Eliot's books quite a lot too.  Very proud to call him a fellow Mainer
 
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