Several weeks have now passed since our Open Farm Day event. Before it is too late, I wanted to at least report the results of the day’s taste tests of garlic and tomatoes and share some photos. Though I doubt the results are statistically accurate with such a small pool of samples- it is fun to see what happens from year to year.
Tomato taste test results 2015:
1.Aunt Ruby’s German Green (a ripe green tomato won! It also had high marks in 2014. This is great to see- as green tomatoes are still hard to sell, most people don’t imagine they will be so sweet and tasty)
2. Rose de Berne
3. Honey Drop (cherry)- these were grown from seed we saved last year. The original seed purchased from Hudson Valley Seed Library primarily produced sweet round orange cherries. This year the plants have a wide variety of colors, sizes and shapes, but are still tasty.
4. Pork Chop- a white/yellow stripey tomato
6. Blueberry cherry (starts out blue/black and turns dusky pink when ripe, supposed to have very high anthocyanins)
7. Paul Robeson (this is one of our favorites and personally I think the particular tomato sampled was overripe and not a good representative)
Garlic Taste Test Results 2015:
Average results for taste and heat ratings-
1. German Extra Hardy
3. Romanian Red
4. Loco Red (this won for the hottest with a perfect 10 awarded to it- actually someone gave it a 15 but I didn’t average that in)
5. German Porcelain
6. Elmer’s Topset
Here’s a little snapshot of the day- thanks to Lisa Robinson for all of the pictures except the cherry tomatoes in hand
What we’ve learned about growing tomatoes this year:
We contracted late blight very early in the season this year and thought it was going to be devastating. It did wipe out the paste tomatoes in our small greenhouse pretty rapidly. Things were looking bad so we pulled the plants in order to limit spread to our other greenhouse with more tomatoes. The first greenhouse to get hit is the one where we house our chickens over winter and so has a much higher nitrogen fertility (we are thinking this may have made the plants too lush and more susceptible to infection).
After we pulled the tomatoes from the first greenhouse we decided to kick our foliar feeding regiment into high gear. We regularly spray a mix of micronutrients and minerals on all of our plants, but had been lucky to do it every two weeks. After the blight we aimed for once a week and also started to drench the tomatoes (apply the liquid to the root zone). It is now 6 weeks after the initial late blight infection and we are still yielding tomatoes! There has been blight present on the leaves, stems and some fruits of all varieties in the larger greenhouse, but it has not taken hold into the destruction usually expected from the disease. We really feel that fighting disease with access to good nutrition has helped.
Also, for two years now we have been experimenting with a wide planting spacing, no pruning, and trellising with a basket weave technique. We think next year we are going back to pruning all suckers and clipping individual plants with one or two side branches to vertical strings. We felt the unpruned nature led to late ripening. The main drawback to the basket weave was that all the bottom fruits sagged low and we had so much damage from rodents eating them! The rodents are another issue- but we can at least try to keep the tomatoes out of their reach.