||Back to early
tomatoes, I like them for beating the heat
(maturing before mid-July here) and because I am
just a spoiled baby who can't wait all summer
just to get some tomatoes that I've been
nurturing since February!
Well, it would have
been February if there wasn't that train wreck of
a fiasco. I started some Early Girls and
Jetsetters on Feb. 7 but a highly complex
experiment involving a home made solar box
without enough air holes - cooked them. [Without
experimentation, where would we be?] - So, I
replanted at what I thought was an impossibly
late date = March 20.
Here's where the story takes an unexpected and
happy turn. Like I said, I thought March 20 was
late but as it turns out, it didn't make a
difference thanks to these fast growing early
season cultivars. The Early Girls and
Jetsetters I planted on March 20, were just as
big as the beefsteaks, brandywines, paste and
grape tomato varieties I planted on Feb. 7, - 6
weeks earlier! - Boy was I happy about
that, but then it got better!
On April 20, I planted everything outside and
by May 10, 21 days later, my 7.2 week old Early
Girls and Jetsetters were taller/larger then the
beef's and brandy's that were 13.1 weeks old.
Although planted late, they have now outgrown the
larger, later season varieties planted 6 weeks
earlier. See the image below.
|The Jetsetter (seeded
March 20) on the left is clearly taller
than the Beefsteak (Feb. 7) on the right.
Date: May 10, 2009
Why am I growing
in 5 gallon containers? I'll get to that in a
minute. Next, let's compare the Jetsetter to the
In these 2 photographs, the Early
Girl is on the left, and the Jetsetter is on the
right. As you can clearly see, the Jetsetter is
taller and has heavier foliage. Even so, the
Early Girl (March 20) is still a respectable
size, and compared to the Beefsteak (Feb. 7), is
about the same size despite it's age difference.
(Date: May 10, 2009).
Short explanation on why I'm
growing these tall, indeterminate plants in
buckets. In this part of Oklahoma (Tulsa area),
the soil is really bad. It is sandy, permeated
with clay, and filled with sedimentary rocks and
other pebbles. It is horrible for a garden.
Therefore, we have to buy our soil and compost. I
would prefer a raised bed garden, but we'll be
moving from this small, starter home to a larger
house with acreage soon - as our family grows.
Therefore, why invest $$ in a big, raised bed
It's perfectly fine to grow
tomatoes in 5 gallon buckets, lots of
people do, (those kitsch, upside down
tomatoes are in smaller containers) - but
don't expect to get as many or as large
of tomatoes. If you are going to grow
tomatoes in a container, I would
recommend larger, 10 to 25 gallon
containers for indeterminate varieties
such as these. Five gallon containers are
more suited for the smaller, bushier,
determinate types of tomato plants like Roma Tomatoes, grape
and cherry tomatoes, or some of the bush
size, compact cold season tomatoes.
During these cooler
months, May through June, I'll water once
a day. The temps are nice and there's
plenty of rain. (It's rained for 2 weeks
straight and wants to rain some more). In
the summer, these buckets will heat up
faster than raised bed/ground tomatoes so
I'll water them twice a day and lay down
a 3 inch layer of mulch. I might also try
some blossom spray from Burpee's to try
to keep them from falling off. Not sure
if it'll work, but I'll give it a try.
Back to the Early Girl
vs. Jetsetter competition. Okay, the
Jetsetters are impressing me, and really
growing fast, but keep in mind they don't
mature for 64 days after transplanting.
The Early Girls mature in, well, there is
a lot discrepancy among the different
seed companies who claim 52 to 62 days,
but I expect these to mature at
approximately 54 days - around mid-June.
Close up, Jetsetter, 7.2 weeks old.
Looking pretty good for so young.
::: Continued on Next Page >>
following Growing Journal is just one way to grow
a Early Season tomato plant. There are many
different methods, tips and do's and dont's on
growing tomatoes. The following method is right
for our climate zone, requirements, and
situation. We hope that it will be helpful to
readers. Also, tomatoes grown in containers
larger than 5 gallons, (10 to 25 gallons) will
produce more and larger fruit, but 5 gallon is
what we have to work with this year.