Author Topic: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021  (Read 812 times)

Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #15 on: 2021-06-18, 07:39:39 PM »
That would help for sure, but will need to fix other air and water leaks to make it work.  Not well sealed at all.
RH is pretty high in the summer too when it's full of tomato plants and containers.  It can be too hot as well as too cold.
About the only problem I don't have is drainage.  There's a natural catchment close by that fills up when we have heavy rain, but hardly a puddle anywhere around the house or garden.
Some of our plans had to be modified when building the house because in the excavation they struck a solid cliff.  I did not want to blast it out so we worked around it.  But the greenhouse part was the deepest, got filled with a lot of chip rock.  There's quite a bit of mass there but would be helpful to pump the hot air down below instead of simply passive gains.  After a hot sunny summer (by local standards that is) I've seen it stay above freezing through February on the passive heat, but at a certain point in our long winter it runs out.  So the system is at its coldest in March and April when a bit of extra warmth would be great for early starts.

Richard Watson

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #16 on: 2021-06-20, 12:18:07 AM »
After a hot sunny summer (by local standards that is) I've seen it stay above freezing through February on the passive heat, but at a certain point in our long winter it runs out.  So the system is at its coldest in March and April when a bit of extra warmth would be great for early starts.



Mine has already lost all its residual stored heat in my stone mass, its a single skin tunnelhouse which has to get down to around a - 8C frost outside before it starts to freeze inside, can still get peppers through the winter though as that level of cold is rare, end of July it starts to warm inside.
Changeable climate manly during winter & spring - 500mm average yearly rainfall. 20 years of soil improvements plus sub soil top soil reversal means my garden beds are about half metre deep. Below that is 100's of metres of alluvial shingle

Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #17 on: 2021-06-20, 05:46:43 AM »
We have about 3 1/2 months when day length is below 10 hours, the usual minimum for vegetable growth (according to a study done by Johnny's afaik).  Leeks are the only thing that seems to continue growing in the greenhouse regardless.  Other hardy vegetables can generally overwinter easily in there, but they don't do any growing.
The daylight hours from a plant perspective is also a bit less here due to being surrounded by tall trees.  I had to cut some that were south of the house and had become quite menacing in storms from the south, which are increasing even in winter.  So I do have some extra sun on the greenhouse, which should make a difference to seasonal gain.

Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #18 on: 2021-06-20, 06:05:02 AM »
Yellow project:  These got treated differently from the others from the start.  They didn't get potted into beer cups and had to make do in cell packs for quite a long wait.  Only one of eight plants actually managed to start to flower while living in the small cells.  So that one got selected for the "faux earliness" which is really kudos for the attempt to make fruit when nutrients and soil volume are extremely short.   You could say that the others are artificially tardy, since they just didn't mature under the circumstances.
On the theme of nutrient and soil volume stress, the yellows got potted into 3 gallon containers.  I am not hoping for much production but expecting to see at least a few clusters of fruit which I can evaluate for taste.  As it turned out, there was some clear segregation for earliness in the circumstances, and I kept the three earliest indoors while moving the later five outside.   So far so good as the earlier ones lost no time in growing up some fruit.
I took advantage of the overcast day yesterday to try out my 'taste rescue' cross on two of the yellows.  The BN-YW F1 is sp/- so this cross to the already determinate will make it easier to select for that.  I potted up two of these F1s because of a noticeable difference in the foliage color.  Since both parent lines were at F2, some segregation was expected.  The color difference is really noticeable, and I wonder what genes are making that difference.

Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #19 on: 2021-07-19, 10:27:19 AM »
YP update - I've revised my opinion about leaf color segregating in that F1.  Yellow Warbler F2 was the female parent in this F1, and it now appears that some seeds were selfed and not crossed.   I started to wonder when I saw the fruit shape very similar to YW on two of the light green leafed plants, and been waiting for them to open some flowers again after being hacked off - both of them have yellow-fruit type flowers.
This is the first time I've had some selfing turn up in a cross, but I'm actually happy enough to see it since the YW line has the delicious fruit I've been missing.  Will see about a direct cross to the determinate yellow line as well in the coming days.
I've already got crosses fattening up from the dark leafed F1 which I believe is the true F1 and will be red fruited to conf that.   
So there it is... Yellow Project more tangly than ever.   
 



Greenie DeS

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #20 on: 2021-07-19, 01:22:40 PM »
I'm late to the party but I find this flower colour information so useful. I particularly notice it on my data collection walks lately.

I think of "faux earliness" as tenacity and gumption and in a hypothetical no-seed-inputs garden I imagine that one first fruit as seed insurance for the following year. Do you find it tends to translate into in-ground earliness?
« Last Edit: 2021-07-19, 01:25:53 PM by Greenie DeS »

Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #21 on: 2021-07-19, 02:04:12 PM »
I don't plant in ground, well, hardly ever.  We had a couple of warm summers when it seemed like climate change was pushing us in that direction, and I had plants in ground and we did an outdoor field trial of some promising OP's at my friend's farm - using black plastic tarp to warm the ground.  Even so, and even those warm couple of years, the trial was a fail from farmer perspective since the fruit didn't all ripen before the end of season - in fact most of it was still green. I got fruit from outdoor plants here and it was promising enough for my microclimate and my mom's garden as well. 
But unfortunately the melting of Greenland's glaciers has meant mostly cold and miserable summers for us in the last decade.  Lot of ice floating by, and some kind of "cold blob" in the ocean water northeast of us too.
We do plant tomatoes in ground at the farm greenhouse, and the earliness is no different than in containers.
And yeah, the gumption is something to look for!   :)  Some lines just want to make fruit like crazy, in any and all conditions...  those are the keepers, for sure.  Any time I've noticed it in an OP or a line, saved seeds and it hasn't let me down.  Seems to be heritable alright.
I have two plants getting the top gumption award this year.  They were extras with no expectation of potting up, but then!  One decided not only to set but actually grow two fruit while slowly starving in a beer cup.  And the other one was not even in a beer cup, a four cell pack tiny square of dirt, and it grew a fruit while I wasn't looking.  :o  No room but... oh pot that up for goodness sakes.  ;)

Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #22 on: 2021-07-19, 02:21:05 PM »
Regarding the flower color, it is super useful for me on account of the space limitations.
After our last discussion about that I was doing some plant cleanup and started looking at the dehiscent flower, and in fact you can clearly tell a black from a yellow flower type at the dehiscent stage.  There's a distinct greenish ring around the bottom of the dehisced cone, and green lines up the sides.  Yellow flower discards don't have this.   Red or Beta seems to have red to brown staining instead of greenish as seen in reference blacks.
So this gives me even more confidence that the black ORFI is actually a black.  And there's another black type, turned up in the three late selected determinates.
I'm hoping to take a second look at this when I actually have some ripe fruit in the unknown color lines, to see if there's a tell for between Beta and red as well.  Just now I don't have a pure line in those colors that I can use as a reference.

Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #23 on: 2021-07-22, 04:31:27 PM »
Speaking of gumption awards, the little beer cup tomato started to blush just a few days later than its sibling which got planted much earlier.  Shown on the right in front of the sib.   Tiny fruit by comparison, but serving the purpose, ripe seed in a hurry... and nearly without any dirt!   Must've been hoping to drop those on some ground.

Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #24 on: 2021-09-11, 03:43:43 PM »
It's a good thing I like surprises, because this season didn't disappoint.  Although not all welcome surprises, there were some good ones and the rest is 'good to know'. 
I misjudged the flower color on those yellow x red F1s - they all ripened red, so the leaf color and fruit shape were all just reflecting the degree of diversity in the cross between two unstable varieties.
I did a couple of early crosses between the dark green leaved F1 and some determinate yellow 'Finch' contenders, which would give me ratios of 1/2 determinate and 1/2 yellow as a shortcut to the numbers.  These two yellows didn't turn out to be my favorites for taste, but saved the shortcuts anyway.  I saved seeds from all the F1s as well, and that adds up to 5 new roads to my favorite fresh eating yellow in determinate form.
But then, surprise surprise, I found two of the yellow determinates actually pretty close to the sweet and fruity taste I'm looking for.  One in the F3 line and one in the F4 line.  Saved seed from both of those. 
Overall I was pleased with tasting these and enjoyed the diversity - some different (and odd!) combinations of any two of tangy, fruity, umami, or sweet. One was so tangy and a little bit fruity, I saved seeds as 'Lemon Squeeze' to work on that idea - something that would stand in for a lemon in cooking applications (so far 'fruity' isn't 'citrusy' - IDK if I can find those flavors?).  In case we ever can't get real lemons, it would be worth having. 
So there it is, end of season and I have, what?  Eight different directions to go in for yellow.  It's a good thing the 3 gallon pots worked out great for the determinates, and produced plenty of fruit to taste without any more resources than that.  No ripening defects in any of them, either.  I was happy to see that my favorites were also among the last standing with good stems, in the face of 'hot and humid blights year 2021'.
Almost all of the eight determinate plants had coloring like the favorite parent, that is a very dark yellow shoulder, almost orange-yellow, that fades to yellow at the blossom end.  One clear yellow, didn't taste interesting either.  And one larger fruited, not a fresh eating texture for me.

Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #25 on: 2021-09-11, 04:05:20 PM »
I was also really pleased with the three determinates I got unexpectedly in the BN-WS F1.  Eating qualities very nice, I know there's bigger size to come in the F2, and parent taste genetics is exciting.   I could not rule out Beta/- in any of these three, as it is so tightly linked to sp, and was positive in at least two of the three.   So one is Beta/- very slowly ripening to red,  the second is a 'Beta black' so gf/gf and Beta/- I believe, with that slightly orangey hue as a tell on the inside, and the third ripened much faster to red, so I think it may just be some other pigment enhancer gene that makes it look such a bright orange as it ripens.  But it could be Beta/-, will have to see how that plays out.   I will be looking for a full Beta orange to grow, but I like the black too and will definitely see where that leads.
Very happy to have three more determinate lines to grow out that are past the 'looking for determinate' stage. The plants are a bit lanky but decently healthy and no ripening defects this season of sunscald - maybe because of their later potting up, but good to see it all the same.


Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #26 on: 2021-09-11, 04:47:11 PM »
The ORFI F2 didn't disappoint in providing a full range of colors, including a u/u Beta black and even a pink, and a u/u red, with full or half Beta in the others.  One orange fruit was almost a peach color.  As a group they were heavy setters, and looked like they could have done more in a bigger pot or in the ground.  That's about all I have good to say about them. Slow ripening, but the texture of those I sampled was mushy, and yet they also made watery sauce.  Juice tomatoes?  Not for me.  Well there's plenty in the freezer and I'm sure they'll be fine in soup or stew.   Most of the plants had some ripening defects, granted a bad year for that, although the u/u seemed to eventually 'ripen evenly', they also seemed especially prone to mechanical damage.    Foliage health outdoors was not great compared to my other lines. Less cold tolerant, and less resistance to hot weather mildews and mites.   The Beta black was especially susceptible and I would not grow again on those grounds alone.  Only the full Beta had some redeeming features, tangy-tropical taste, no defects, healthier stems. 
Lots of food for thought in growing this line.  Heavy production is such an important trait, but the plant has to support its fruit.

Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #27 on: 2021-09-11, 05:39:20 PM »
The most unwelcome surprise of the season, I guess, was discovering that my F7 Skipper lines are not actually stable.
The Skipper Pink, which is still my favorite tomato, seemed really stable, but when the Brown threw a Pink in addition to having different first ripe times, I realized I couldn't assume it was stable either, without doing a careful assessment of all the characteristic traits.  Sure enough, one plant had a slightly different expression of the pointy trait, being much reduced even in smaller fruit, and it also had quite a bit of sunscald, which I had never seen on this line before.  Although both the expression of the point and the sunscald issues have environmental influence as well, I decided I'd best select the most representative, and give it another year to see if indeed this is stable.  I saved seed from a second plant as backup, in case of missed judgment, but I think they are still much closer to stability than the sib.
Skipper Pink did pretty well with the hot and cold mess this year turned into.  Still outstanding as a healthy plant, cold tolerant, earliest of the lot and steady bearing.   Taste is sweet, floral and plummy.  Fruit size is variable in each cluster and tops out at about 45g.  A medium sized bush with radial development of suckers, continuing to flower and set after fruit begin to ripen.
It was good to have a hot sunny season to test these.

Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #28 on: 2021-09-11, 06:15:27 PM »
This pic of Skipper Brown (left) and Pink (right) siblings side by side in the outdoor shelter shows their major differences at a glance.  Skipper Brown has a completely different growth habit, being strongly vertical and branching into forks instead of putting out suckers that spiral off the main stem to make a rounded bush.  The cluster habit is also different and I admit that the larger fruit, sturdy stemmed long cluster and regular sizing of the Brown is appealing, even though I don't personally like tall plants.
Unfortunately this year really confirmed that disease resistance has gone out the window with this line.
My thought of trying extra ferts at planting was not helpful.  They also produced nicely even in a 3 gallon container so bigger pots is also moot.
In the end, although decently cold tolerant, Skipper Brown was first to develop and to succomb to foliar disease in the greenhouse and outside.   So the resistance that exists without a doubt in the line must have been accidentally selected away in an earlier generation.  The only thing to do with it would be to go back several generations and do bigger grows.  Not likely to happen in the very near future, but may do that at some point.   For now I'm going to stick with stabilizing the Pink Skipper and their small beef cousin Rodney.


Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #29 on: 2021-09-11, 06:49:27 PM »
Rodney F5:  Definitely one of the good surprises.   Very uniform plant size and growth habit just right for the 5 gallon pot and cage.  Sturdy clusters of six come in pairs and are self supporting.   Outdoor plants weren't as cold tolerant as the Skippers, and suffered the extremes a bit, but in the greenhouse they were outstanding in resistance to both mildew and mites, and best of all no ripening defects.  The F4 generation was grown out in another sunny hot season, although not as humid as this one, and I had to select away from ripening defects as a number of them were affected.  So the good news is that resistance to these potassium defects is strongly represented in the line.
One of the greenhouse plants also had the outstanding taste of the parent, rich and a little spicy, leaving a lingering sweet taste in your mouth.  There is some radial cracking in a few fruit but perhaps I can select away from that in future generations.