Wednesday, April 21, 2010


This Sunday the first tomato starts appeared in the Farmer's Market. We had a 2x6 bed all ready to go, but I was concerned about the cold and wet stunting them. We're past any frost danger, but it's still going to be cold and rainy for another month or so. A brilliant solution was arrived at by my lovely wife: use the plastic tarp I'd bought to cover the mound of dirt as a penny-conscious cloche for the bed.

So there it is. Stapled to the back of the bed, suspended over some of last year's tomato cages, and held down in front with some radish pots. It's easily 5-10 degrees warmer in there, and with the ends open it gets good airflow to keep the humidity down. The tarp and cages were technically being reused, and all in all this cost about $1.50. Hopefully, the added warmth of the cloche will let us start harvesting tomatoes in mid-late June, easily a month earlier than normal.

Unfortunately rain is pooling in areas on the top. I go out and knock the puddles off once a day or so, but if this becomes bad I'll go get some PVC and make a more rain-friendly frame.

There are four tomato plants. The first is Sun Gold, cherry tomatoes grow amazingly well in Seattle. Second, Black Prince - a black tomato variety from Siberia, well suited to Northern climates. Third is a variety called Prudence, which I believe is a big ol' beefsteaky heirloom type. Finally, San Marzano Romas, so we can sauce and can some for Fall and Winter. All of these are indeterminate varieties so I'll have to rig a trellising system when they get a bit bigger. I'm done with tomato cages.


Meredith said...

I has another idea too. Since most of the water is pooling in the hoops of the tomato cages, put one or two strategic, pencil sized holes there.

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