Monday, October 31, 2011

Tomato Mahal 2011

Well, tomatoes, eggplants and capsicums are IN and have survived two nights and a very cold below 4 degree night last night. Behold the Tomato Mahal 2011.  Yes I know, every year there is a new structure. But as we also know, tomatoes are VERY SERIOUS BUSINESS around here. So why the tunnel? Well, the community garden is just on the edge of a frost hollow. So, night time temperatures are always a couple of degrees cooler and that my friends means there is always a risk of frost.......AND, since the bush fires, the garden is exposed to the PARCHING ONCian westerly / north westerly winds. So the tunnels protect  my little babies from the frost and the wind.

I am particularly happy with the seedlings this year. The earlier ones look a bit longer (taller?) than one might like, but that is OK with marties because you can plant them very deep and they will shoot roots from the sides. I think there was a light issue while they were upstairs in the mezzanine level. I have been experimenting with a biological product from VRM the company I do some work for. I LOVE these guys. I LOVE learning about soil biology. It does my head in but I LOVE it. Anyway the product I have been using is called XLR8 Ca (link will download brochure) and it is especially designed to help make calcium available to plants. Which means they are tougher and hardier and stronger and less sappy and less irresistible to the 44578902987 insects pests and diseases that like to pounce on weak seedlings.

And lets face it, pretty much anything bad that happens to tomatoes (blossom end rot, fungus, wilt etc) happens because of problems with calcium deficiency or uptake issues. Well, Calcium and other micro-nutrient issues like Boron. Oh, and except for the strange affliction that suddenly comes upon one's tomato, pumpkin and eggplant seedlings especially when they are outside in the sun "hardening up" for which I think the technical term is "duckus proximinatus". Yep, that is BAD. But only seems to affect the plants on the edge of the benches.......

Now they are all in, I will start using VRMs  XLR8 P for phosphorous uptake, and possibly the nitrogen one as well, to help boost flowering and fruiting.

This poppy thought you might like to admire her........Poppies self sew down at the community garden. We have the most amazing colours. They pop up in the weirdest places but they are lovely. You just have to remember not to weed them all out when they are little.

And here are some vista bella apples. These are a very early variety.


Murra Mumma said...

Hi Duck Herder,

Just wanted to drop you a little note to say that the Black Russian (I think? it was black something!) that I picked up from you at the Urban Homesteaders seed swap is still going strong. It is currently nestled in the greenhouse with my other tomatoes awaiting the bed to become free - hopefully out in the open soon!

dixiebelle said...

Ooh, very nice, think your tomatoes will be living the good life in there! I would like to know more about soil, think it is fascinating! I have almost all our tomatoes in the ground now (including my favourite Black Russian) just have to make some room for the Rouge De Marmandes!

Our 2 year old apple trees have lovely little baby apples all over them... so exciting!

dilly dalley Melissa said...

That's a lovely looking Tomato Mahal. A palace for tomatoes. The frosts can be deadily in Canberra - and late. We had one in December a few years back! I'm sure your tomatoes will thank you. Thanks for the info on those soil products as well. Very interesting.

The Duck Herder said...

Hello! Hello Murra Mumma - I am glad that little tomato is going well. It is a big decision deciding when to put them in.....I completely understand!
Hello there dixiebelle, I think Black Russians are my absolute favorite as well, although this year I am trying some new ones...I have high hopes for my Polish Giants!

And HELLO there dilly dally! I remember that December frost - it was Christmas Eve, and I know this is sad, but I woke up in the middle of that night, looked out the window and noticed how sparkly everything was and suddenly realized this could mean FROST so I pulled on my boots and a jumper and rushed down to the community garden with lots of sheets and an old curtain and covered all my tomatos in the moonlight and well, just about everyone else's got frosted, but mine were OK!

OH, and if you would like to buy some XLR8, just let me know - I can order some down with some other stuff and save you some freight. No worries! I get large boxes of the cleaners and liquid bokashi sent down for a bunch of friends so can happily add anything you would like to an order.

Happy wolf peach season my gardening friends!

dilly dalley Melissa said...

Hi Duckie, Yes please to the VRM. XLR8. It sounds great and I'm always curious to try organic new things. I ordered some rock dust from Diggers and it hasn't arrived yet. This sounds way better. Let me know the cost. My email is Also - ducklings born today.Excitement. I never tire of this. Mum wont let us look at them too closely. Still heaps of eggs and one mum doesn't seem to have any hatched yet. Early days. We'll check again in the morning.