tedln
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Another garden update with photos!

My first ripe tomatoes of this year. This is an indeterminate hybrid named "Fourth Of July". It is an early variety which is supposed to bear golf ball sized tomatoes like this all summer and into the fall. I don't know why, but I find any tomato plant that bears this abundantly to be beautiful.

[img]https://i291.photobucket.com/albums/ll308/tedln/2011%20Garden/002.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i291.photobucket.com/albums/ll308/tedln/2011%20Garden/005-1.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i291.photobucket.com/albums/ll308/tedln/2011%20Garden/011.jpg[/img]

This is a hybrid cherry tomato called Tumbling Tom. I have both the red and yellow varieties planted in this container. As the blooms turn into fruit, the vines become weighted and drape over the container to the ground. I've seen hanging baskets with these in them and they are very beautiful when loaded with ripe fruit. I find it funny that these are sold with instructions to plant three plants in a 10" hanging basket. This is three plants in a home made 25 gallon container. I can't imagine them in a 10" hanging basket. I planted them for their potential beauty and later was told they are also a very tasty cherry tomato.

[img]https://i291.photobucket.com/albums/ll308/tedln/2011%20Garden/007.jpg[/img]

My experimental straw bales are doing great with more Tumbling Tom tomatoes ready to drape over the front side and Swiss Chard and Spinach planted down the middle.

[img]https://i291.photobucket.com/albums/ll308/tedln/2011%20Garden/008.jpg[/img]

My cucumbers are doing well and are loaded with hundreds of these miniature cucumbers named "Sweet Success". It produces only female blooms so every bloom turns into a cucumber. This baby cucumber will be twelve inches long, and ready to pick; in about a week. These sometime get eighteen inches long if I'm not paying attention, but they are still sweet and retain a tender skin which can be eaten. It is a great cucumber variety.

[img]https://i291.photobucket.com/albums/ll308/tedln/2011%20Garden/009.jpg[/img]

The onions, which were planted in January have done great this year. We have been eating them and giving them away since mid March and have barely made a dent in the 450 seedlings I planted. These are now about 4" in diameter. I expect the leaves to turn brown and fall over when the high heat of June arrives. They seem to keep well after the leaves fall over if left planted in the ground and just use them when needed. Since they are a super sweet variety with a high sugar content, they can only be kept about a month after picking before they start to decay. We always try to use them straight from the garden so we will have onions all summer into fall.

[img]https://i291.photobucket.com/albums/ll308/tedln/2011%20Garden/019.jpg[/img]

My open pollinated (heirloom) tomato varieties are also doing well and are loaded with fruit. So far my Black Krim and Arbruznia (watermelon in Russian, Duh_Vinci, feel free to correct my spelling) are the most productive and are loaded with green fruit. I'm not posting more photos of them in order to keep the thread loadable by folks who do not have high speed internet.

Happy Gardening!

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

armac
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Beautiful garden, you will be eating some tremendous salads.

Nice garden in TEXAS.

Sunnydays
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The "Fourth Of July" tomatoes look like a real winner, they all look like they are heaving with tomatoes. it also looks as though they will yield a nice steady crop instead of one big glut of fruit all at once. Will be keeping an eye out for this variety in the future

shadowsmom
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My experimental straw bales are doing great with more Tumbling Tom tomatoes ready to drape over the front side and Swiss Chard and Spinach planted down the middle.

I am really intrigued with the straw bale planting. You posted something about in previously, right? Please keep us updated on how this works out.

Your garden looks great! I still only have spinach and kale planted. :cry:

ameliat
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your garden is beautiful!

tedln
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Sunnydays wrote:The "Fourth Of July" tomatoes look like a real winner, they all look like they are heaving with tomatoes. it also looks as though they will yield a nice steady crop instead of one big glut of fruit all at once. Will be keeping an eye out for this variety in the future
Welcome to the forum Sunnydays and Armac. I've only found one vendor in North Texas who sells the Fourth Of July tomato variety as seedlings. If you want to grow them, you will probably have to order seed. I've not found any vendors selling the Tumbling Toms's. I ordered seed and grew a lot of seedlings. Sunnydays, which part of the country are you in? The Fourth Of July would probably work well in the Northern Climates for an early variety. I know it grows well in Texas.

Ted
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tedln
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Shadowsmom, Yes, I have posted a few photos of the straw bales as they progressed. This is how they looked when I placed them last fall. I spent the winter treating them with fertilizer and water to start the decomposition process in the center of the bales. They will supposedly be even better for growing the second year. After the second year, they will be used as compost in my garden and I may try a second round of straw bales. I probably won't because something else will probably have piqued my curiosity by then and I will have to try that instead.

[img]https://i291.photobucket.com/albums/ll308/tedln/2011%20Garden/IMG_2689.jpg[/img]

Early in the winter, the straw bales were fuzzy with germinated wheat sprouts. It didn't register in my mind that the farmer who produced the straw didn't first harvest the wheat before harvesting the straw. Not being a wheat farmer I had forgotten most of the straw is chopped and blown back over the field when harvesting wheat.

I don't think the straw bale method is a realistic method for growing crops. It is an interesting novelty though. I think if someone wanted to arrange some bales in the shape of a raised bed and treat the bales, they could create a self perpetuating raised bed garden which would last for years. The straw would decompose and mix with the soil beneath. Each year, you could add compost or more straw to the bed and it should be very productive.

Ted
Last edited by tedln on Tue May 10, 2011 7:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Tate
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Nice job Ted! I might need to try that 4th of July variety.

Thanks,
Tate

shadowsmom
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Thanks, Ted. I like this idea! I'll set up some this fall and give them a chance to breakdown a bit over the winter.

I have a tremendous amount of rock and always need to raise the soil level if I want to plant anything in the ground eventually. It will be a fun way to start the process in one of the areas I have avoided because of the rock situation. I can just leave it in place, let it breakdown and get a few veggies out of it - perfect.

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jal_ut
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Quite amazing to see what you have growing there. Here I can't even get the ground dry enough to plant. My early spinach is 1/4 inch tall.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

tedln
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jal_ut wrote:Quite amazing to see what you have growing there. Here I can't even get the ground dry enough to plant. My early spinach is 1/4 inch tall.
Thanks Jal,

Amazement works both directions. I always look forward to your photos after your garden is started. You do some things that I wish I could do, but I am limited by our high summer heat.

Ted
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SPierce
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Fantastic! What a beautiful garden. Love the tumbling toms.

DoubleDogFarm
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tedln wrote:Shadowsmom, Yes, I have posted a few photos of the straw bales as they progressed. This is how they looked when I placed them last fall. I spent the winter treating them with fertilizer and water to start the decomposition process in the center of the bales. They will supposedly be even better for growing the second year. After the second year, they will be used as compost in my garden and I may try a second round of straw bales. I probably won't because something else will probably have piqued my curiosity by then and I will have to try that instead.

[img]https://i291.photobucket.com/albums/ll308/tedln/2011%20Garden/IMG_2689.jpg[/img]

Early in the winter, the straw bales were fuzzy with germinated wheat sprouts. It didn't register in my mind that the farmer who produced the straw didn't first harvest the wheat before harvesting the straw. Not being a wheat farmer I had forgotten most of the straw is chopped and blown back over the field when harvesting wheat.

I don't think the straw bale method is a realistic method for growing crops. It is an interesting novelty though. I think if someone wanted to arrange some bales in the shape of a raised bed and treat the bales, they could create a self perpetuating raised bed garden which would last for years. The straw would decompose and mix with the soil beneath. Each year, you could add compost or more straw to the bed and it should be very productive.

Ted
Ted, I was wondering what your final conclusion is was on the straw bale experiment. If you had another post on this subject, please head me in the right direction. :) Eric
Last edited by DoubleDogFarm on Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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GardenRN
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Like the way the stuff looks growing out of the straw bales! Plants look good and healthy too. It's funny to see someone just getting into the thick of their tomatoes when I am right in the thick of not having any. lol.
Jeff

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tedln
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Eric,

The straw bales were a success for my purposes. I only wanted to see if it would work and it did by producing some nice chard and cherry tomatoes. It isn't really a practical method however. The straw has almost no nutritional value without adding a lot of fertilizer on a regular basis. When the straw begins to decompose, it begins providing nutrients to the crop, but it takes three or four months to begin decomposing. Once the straw begins decomposing, it goes quickly with little shape left except a pile of rotting straw.

It also requires a lot more water than traditional "gardening in the soil" methods. The straw does not retain moisture in the heat with plants sucking it out quickly. The straw could be soaked with water in the morning and be totally dry by evening with the veggies looking parched.

It was a fun and interesting experiment, but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone wanting to really grow some stuff. I think my methods could be altered and it would be a viable gardening method by burying the bales into the ground by about 50%. I don't plan on trying it because I'm not ready to start digging big holes.

Ted
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applestar
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I had similar concerns about the drought in my area and watering.
I wonder if areas that have opposite -- too much rain during growing season --might be more suited.


Another concern was that typical instructions involved high number chemical fertilizers, though I did wonder if a layer of manure might be substituted.

I think hay bales with higher nutrition levels might show different results?

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jal_ut
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Straw is what is left of the wheat plant after the combine harvests the grain. Unfortunately, a machine has never been designed that will capture all of the grain, so straw does contain some wheat seed. That is why your bales turned green.

Straw is an excellent mulch, or a good soil amendment when tilled in and let decompose in the soil. Yes, you may get some wheat sprouts and perhaps some weed seed with it, but you take that chance when you bring in organic matter from anywhere. I think straw is a good bargain for the gardener. When you cut the strings on those bales they just explode. There is a lot of organic matter compressed in that bale.

Around here most of the farmers have taken to using those big bales that they move with a tractor. I don't see many of the small "man-sized" bales any more.

Straw, as you learned, doesn't have much plant nutrition in it, and it is a poor animal feed too, so its main use is for bedding of animals. You will often find a lot of straw mixed with manure if the farmer uses straw for bedding. As with all plant matter, before straw can be utilized by the plants for nutrition, it must decompose. Use it for mulch or put it on in the fall and till it in.

Good experiment Tedlin.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

dustyrivergardens
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I line my chicken coop with straw then I rake it out and then compost it. works great

DoubleDogFarm
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Thanks for the reply Ted.

What if you placed the bales in a trough and occasionally added compost tea. Do you think the bales would wick?

I would probably not try this, plenty of in ground space.

Eric

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The Tumbling Tom photo is my favorite. Nice idea planting them together !
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