Monday, August 22, 2011

The Plan

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. I've started to get seed packages in the mail over the last week or so, which can only mean one thing: tomato and veggie season is on its way! Yes, there's a hurricane apparently brewing in the Atlantic, and yes, it's still three million degrees every afternoon, but no matter—I'm already starting to fantasize about this year's veggie garden.

Before I get into this year's plan, I think it's worth remembering last year. I did pretty well last year—we ended up harvesting dozens of Brandywines and Cherokee Purples, plus yellow pears and other varieties—but it was definitely a building year for me. I had particularly bad fungal diseases last year and ended up using chlorothalinol, which made it possible for me to harvest lots of heirloom tomatoes in a climate that isn't exactly perfect for heirlooms (South Florida). But it was the first year I abandoned organic gardening principles. This year, I'm a little torn—do I treat preventively or not? I don't know yet. I guess I'll see what the plants say.

But all that's still in front of me. First, to the plan ...

We did some re-landscaping over the summer, so I've lost some growing room. But that just means I had to pick my varieties more carefully. As always, I'll be growing exclusively in containers, and I'm hoping to make an EarthTainer III at some point this year. Also as always, I'll be starting my seeds indoors under lights and growing them for about two weeks indoors, then two weeks outdoors before planting them out. I'm also hoping to hear from more readers this year with interesting and novel grow set-ups. I know from my emails that some of you are mad geniuses with tomato plants, so I say share the love! Let us all know what works. I'll be doing the same—lots of posts on nutrition, pests and diseases, varieties, techniques and all that good stuff.

Anyway, without further ado, here is my plan for this season:
  • Green Zebra tomatoes (25 gal. container)
  • Brandy Boy tomatoes (25 gal. container). I understand this is a controversial choice among many serious tomato growers. Brandy Boy is a hybrid created by Burpee seed company. It supposedly has the taste of the Brandywine, which is stellar, plus better disease resistance and vigor. The problem is, many people who are serious about heirlooms really detest Burpee, for a whole bunch of reasons. I get it. But I've heard good things about this tomato and I figured I'd give it a try.
  • Kellogg's Breakfast tomatoes (25 gal. container). Giant orange beefsteak tomatoes. They're a bit trendy, sure, but they're Giant Orange Beefsteak Tomatoes. I'm in.
  • Paul Robeson tomatoes (25 gal. container). I'm ridiculously excited about these. The Paul Robeson is a black tomato, similar to the Cherokee Purple, with a supposedly excellent flavor. I can't wait to see if these live up to the hype.
  • Laroma III paste tomatoes (2 x 15 gal. containers). I like a lot of paste tomatoes for salsa and whatnot. These are VFFNA, so they should have good disease resistance.
  • Various lettuce greens. This includes a mescal mix, mustard greens, and Swiss chard. I've been on a big greens kick this year. Not only are leafy greens great for you, they're just good.
  • Strawberries (AgroTower stackable containers). I'm doing another tower of strawberries, but this time a smaller one. We shall see.
  • Broccoli (Earthbox). This is a no-fail way to produce awesome broccoli.
  • Habanero peppers (Earthbox). Chocolate habanero (see above: salsa).
  • Bell peppers (Earthbox). Because they rule.
  • Herbs. Probably a full herb garden ... plus I established lemon grass over the summer, so I've got lots of Thai food growing in my yard.
And that's where I start. These plans always sort of expand as the year goes on, so stick around and let's keep our fingers crossed for perfect weather, no bugs, and even less disease ...


  1. I'm looking forward to seeing what you do. We did not do a garden this past year. The year before we lost most of our plants due to cold and horrible funguses. The year before we actually sprayed for grey leaf spot and had a fantastic season. But most of the years before we did not spray and had only handfuls of tomatoes. We are talking 12-15 plants and at no time did we have more than a few tomatoes at a time. I would love to know what to really do for the funguses. It is VERY frustrating to buy plants, put all that effort and have them all wither and go yellow and woody and shrivel up. I did try this spring to grow 3 tomato plants in pots and we did spray a couple of times but they all shriveled. One did not even get more than a foot tall.

  2. Marcy,

    Boy, do I hear you. Fungal diseases are one of the central challenges for us tomato growers in South Florida, where it's buggy, hot and wet even during the winter. I've been fortunate in the past as I've had great harvests with minimal chemical intervention, but last year required heavier artillery. I'm hoping to find a happy middle ground this season.