In a simple short description … my Crazy Tomato Wall … yes, this is an update of my post (put up exactly 4 weeks ago) about tomato seeds sowed outdoors in winter by a south-facing concrete wall.
It works! The combination of Vermi-Composting & Bokashi, right by a heavy feeding, fruit-producing plant, does work. See the white lid of the bokashi worm bin below.
The Tomato Wall with a buried Bokashi/Worm Bin
That 1 little red spot in the photo above stands out, doesn’t it? I see it, the birds & insects see it too, but the fruits here are preciously guarded. The birds can have some of my cherry tomatoes, those I’ll share. With what I call the Protection Bags, the tomatoes on the plant are more noticeable from a distance. Moving closer, it can be seen that there are bunches of pretty large tomatoes, each, individually bagged.
Fruits in Bag
So here it is …
Almost ready for harvest.
The 1st heirloom tomato from that plant which I am leaving to naturally sun-ripen to its fullest. Then it’s devouring and more importantly seed saving time!
Update: 1 day after the above post, it just felt right for some action to be taken.
Not all tomatoes are created equal, I guess.
I began using Gift Bags as Tomato Bags when my tiny perennial tomatoes were fruiting and hoped that they would work when larger tomatoes began to grow and ripen. I can now confirm that they do.
Stubbornly refusing to use sprays, I left 1 Betterboy ‘unbagged’ to see what would happen during the change of seasons, as that’s the time when pests will attack ferociously to lay their eggs. There it is, ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’.
the unbagged victim with a pest abode
So, diligent bagging began … any fruit, the size of a grape, when spotted gets bagged.
Safely left to sun-ripen on plants.
A newly harvested, chemical free, tomato in hand is worth … ?!
Well, I’ve run out of bags and have ordered another lot of 50 which means I already have 50+ tomatoes in the backyard, in their green state. 50 bags for US$5, delivered right to my mailbox is money well spent, IMHO.
It’s still winter, but being at the border of zones 9b & 10a, I decided to plant a little differently this year ~ the Chinese Year of the Fire Monkey.
I found a neighbor’s discarded “extra” fence material & what better way to recycle?! Hubby built it a frame using wood pallets and we let it stand on 2 “bricks” (45¢ each from Walmart!) and thus created a “temporary” trellis, heavy enough to withstand Florida winds, leaning against a south concrete wall.
The frame on bricks leaning on wall.
Then I put 3 tomato seeds into the soil (end-December) and now I have a tomato forest of sort. Each morning I check to ensure the tomato branches are supported (also sniff at my Curry Leaf Plant right there) and all the other plants there are enjoying each others’ company and the worms* are happy.
My Green Wall right behind the coppiced Curry Leaf plant (note the buried red bin)
Tomatoes & an accompanying baby Bittergourd (arrowed)
Tomatoes growing all over…
and then there are beans starting up …
and Luffas too.
I’m not sure what else will show up from the soil but I think come Spring, it will provide me some interesting harvests.
*Worms ~ mentioned earlier in the post ~ they live in that little red bin which has no base. Yes, that is my most recent Vermicompost Bin but I add just a pinch of Bokashi Bran, to hasten food fermentation during winter, so that my worms get their tasty feed & poop their return.
For tomato growers (well, maybe other tender-skinned fruits as well) I think I may have found a problem to save your fruits ~ from birds, squirrels, horn worms, flea beetles and other pests which attack the actual fruit(s).
Gift Bags! Those attractive organza gift bags!
This is the size I selected but there are ample sizes & colors.
After toying with 1 which I got from a baby’s baptism, holding little trinkets & a card, I ordered some via e-bay. A size that can fit bunches of cherry tomatoes as well as individual large Beefsteak ones costs USD5 for 50 pieces ~ 10¢ a piece ~ how wrong can that be? (Anti ‘Made-In-China’ buyers can buy them from gift stores and check the label yourselves.)
Cherry tomatoes still young and green.
A newly formed bunch of cherry tomatoes … “Bag em before the pests get em!” is my new motto. Yes, I’ll share some, but AFTER I make sure I get to keep some for my hard work.
Easy to loosen and remove.
It allows air flow, sun, rain and everything as per normal except the direct attack of other tomato-loving creatures. Bagging involves gently slipping in and pulling the cord, removal will be easy as I’m not tying knots. IF the cords disintegrate after 1 use, I will re-cord using burlap strings.
That’s my contribution to lessen fellow tomato growers’ head and heart aches, when fruit of your labor is gobbled up before you get it onto your cutting board. Happy Tomato Growing & Picking & Devouring.
OK, I’ll have to admit it… I’m a Seed Hoarder, especially Tomato seeds, because I’m a tomato lover. Each season I save a tasty variety from the strongest plants and continue enjoying their fruits on my dining table.
I also do it the lazy short-cut way, with no qualms.
Whether scooping, squeezing or brushing off the cutting board ~ seeds are seeds.
Put them in a metal strainer and then into some water, use a finger to gently rub them against the strainer to get off the pulp.
Seeds are now more or less pulp free.
Tap onto a paper towel to dry.
Seeds for planting. Even with some paper pieces stuck on ~ seeds are seeds. For storage though, leave them to dry 100% before keeping.
Yes, I’m ready to grow more heat-resistant Florida 91 tomato plants during this hot summer!
First morning harvest ~ The Ugly Tomatoes.
I’m not sure who started that term but to me, they are pretty OK. 🙂
Odd but not that Ugly, I think.
Then came the late afternoon harvest ~ the teeny-weeny ones, the Everglade Toms. They’re small but extra tasty.
2lbs of Everglade Tomatoes
Everglades into the pan with garlic and olive oil.
Pesto in the making ~ added basil and thyme.
Spinach ravioli with homemade pesto & sauce
I’m learning to eat with the season. Will I suffer from Tomato-Overdose? I don’t think so. I’ve eaten ample in salads, froze some, dried some, what else can I do with tomatoes? Suggestions welcomed.
I guess seeing so many little red dots amongst green leaves this morning triggered a bout of tomato craving … or is it chloride deficiency? Who cares?!
One of the best tasting tomatoes ~ Everglade Tom.
If you ever get a chance to taste the tiny Everglade Tomatoes, don’t say “No” because not all super-tasty tomatoes are big and not all big tomatoes are super-tasty.
OK, I’m going through acute Tomatoholism right now. 😯
My favorite time of the year is near, tomato ripening is almost here. Nothing beats the taste of fresh tomatoes “from plant to mouth” in 15 seconds! (my Springtime breakfast hors d’oeuvres)