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applestar
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2012-2013 Winter indoor tomatoes

Having been suckered -- er...INSPIRED!! :> -- by [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=40740]Gixx's Winter Dwarf Tomatoes thread last year[/url], I decided to grow a couple of tomatoes in my winter indoor garden this year. Accordingly, I picked a couple of likey candidates, using extra early (limited sunlight even with supplemental lighting will require longer maturity time), small stature vines at maturity (must be container grown, 5 gal max), and cold tolerant/heat intolerant (average winter indoor temps will be mid-60's to low 70's at most, a little more in sunny windows) as criteria: Sophie's Choice and Zarnitsa.

FYI Here are their descriptions copied from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange:
Sophie's Choice:
55 days. (Determinate) [Heirloom from Edmonton, Canada, sent to SESE from Dr. Male. Introduced 1997.] The best choice for an extra early tomato - highly productive, flavorful and large-fruited. By far the earliest variety we offer, 'Sophie's Choice' ripens ahead of all other extra-early varieties in our trials. Unlike other extra-early varieties, the fruits are flavorful and large, averaging 6 to 8 ounces and weighing up to 12 ounces. 'Sophie's Choice' has an orange-red exterior and deep red interior. Produces large fruit on a small plant only 18 to 24" tall. Quality is best in cool climates. Does not handle heat or drought well.
Zarnitsa:
60 days. (short indeterminate) 'Zarnitsa' translates from the Cyrillic as "summer lightning". An early bearing, productive, red fruited variety with fruit averaging 2" high x 2-1/2" wide. Vines are short and suited for staking or ground culture. An outstanding feature of this variety is its flavor which is well balanced, sweet, buttery, and smooth. Resists cracking.
I started the seeds on Sept 2. Sophie's Choice was fast off the block. It was already uppotted once, and I'm starting to Uppot into final size containers now. I just uppotted Zarnitsa seedlings from a community seed flat to individual containers.

Here are a couple of photos of Sophie's Choice in a 2 gal bucket and a 1/2 gal (or is that a 1 gal?) nursery container -- is it considered a dwarf? It's described as 18"-24" at maturity:
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/DDBB5451-FB61-4E49-AA4E-71D6A3358BE5-132-000000E3532DD8AD.jpg[/img]
More Sophie's Choice seedlings:
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/0EE686B1-0F41-4739-B682-A13E4CA6A229-132-000000E35BEA1D27.jpg[/img]

YES, yes. I have SIX Sophie's Choice plants. WHERE I think I'm going to put them, I have no idea :roll: But it's a determinate variety, so maybe I can hold them back in the smaller container to succession to maturity. Or maybe I'll give them away as Christmas presents.... :?

...I have FOUR Zarnitsa seedlings and started another variety, and my fermentation container of Black Krim was left too late and all the seeds started to germinate so I sowed them and they are starting to sprout..... nutz: -wall-
LMFAO

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applestar
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P.S. I brought Sophie 1-6 inside since overnight forecast is 40°F tonight (probably will get down to upper 30's in my garden) and I was giving Sophie 1 a boost up to the light when I noticed it -- She's already growing itty bitty flower buds :o :
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/B244F823-0E8A-4A9B-BE73-808037BBF2B3-132-000000E9061E33DA.jpg[/img]
Seeds started 9/2, first Uppot 9/16, second Uppot 10/7
Is this a likely development in view of the extra early maturity date for this variety?

I've never heard of such a thing. Do you suppose it was the aerated nettle/comfrey/compost tea I gave them at first Uppot? Maybe I should go look at Sophie 2-6 but S1 is the biggest. I gave Sophie 1 and 2 and the four Zarnitsas that I uppotted today EM enriched UCG water. I wonder what that's going to do....?

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lakngulf
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Will be interested in your progress. I had five or six plants in my greenhouse all winter. It was a mild winter so I only had to heat a few times.

Got lots of blooms, but trouble getting the plants to set fruit. It was good, however, to get some plants started in big pots early in the spring. They were a pill to move from greenhouse to open sun but they gave me my first tomatoes of the year.
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rainbowgardener
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Keep us posted! Homegrown tomatoes in winter (outside of places like FL and SoCal) is like the Holy Grail of gardeners! :)

I hate the storebought winter tomatoes, so mostly eat a lot less tomatoes in winter, but have not so far solved the problem.
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I don't wanna be a downer in this topic - but here's the historical facts:

living near Valley Forge, PA

direct south facing greenhouse
single pane tempered glass
no shade / obstructions

equipped with running water and (automated) heating / venting

never could grow a tomato in the winter.
sunlight was just not strong enough.
weak wimpy spindly plants, hand pollinated the blossoms, got nothing past marble size.

never installed gazillion lux artificial lighting - it is apparently needed - the winter sun energy is just not sufficient for tomatoes, beans, peas.... regardless of how 'perfect' other conditions are provided.

leaf lettuces, bib lettuce, spinach, scallions - no problem.

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applestar
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ONE of my winter indoor gardens:
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/F2E4AB16-2015-4AB9-9453-4B2312B91BEA-172-000000C35DE3DE22.jpg[/img]
From the left: jalapeño pepper, tangelo (?), maid of Orleans jasmine for tea, Sophie's choice tomato, meyer's lemon, unID'd citrus, grocery store lemon(?), another MoO jasmine, lime(?), ? Citrus, super dwarf cavendish banana pup (Mama Banana is on the floor elsewhere :wink:), seed grown coffee, gartenmeister bonstedt fuchsia in its 4th or 5th year (badly treated this summer :oops:)

Close up of Sophie's Choice
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/99137DEF-E8BD-4543-A49E-16B9BE48AE81-172-000000C368DEA5A0.jpg[/img]
(Not sure if the first flower truss got pollinated. Now tapping on the 2nd cluster.)
Last edited by applestar on Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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gixxerific
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Not sure how I missed this post from early Oct. But awesome Apple, even though I knew you were doing this. Your plants looks good, heck they even have flowers. on them. I have noticed buds on my Donomater F2 and Aces High F2. I have had mine outside this week it has been warm and I want them to get the boost of real sunlight.

Apple as far as germination goes, after the sepals start to curl back they begin to get receptive.

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applestar
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You mean pollination, right?
I hope so -- there are flowers on the Sophie's Choice #2 as well:
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/F47F3478-8FE6-416F-A827-CA1723284576-172-000000CC1863F10D.jpg[/img]
Zarnitsa is just starting to show flower buds:
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/F022E597-B531-4216-A40F-F6429969709B-172-000000CF7FD2B5EE.jpg[/img]
Here is the biggest Black Krim:
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/A55C9D84-0B6D-4C86-B370-8FD5FD07CF10-172-000000CC61D282F4.jpg[/img]

And the four Donomater F2's
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/E9DCFE9E-0500-4B0A-AC19-0CBF8E63C1DC-172-000000CC76F81ACA.jpg[/img][img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/8928DB7F-E9AB-4B7C-85ED-19283499AAE1-172-000000CC9039A9A6.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/18BF8467-94D9-4888-9583-0D95A0C50F44-172-000000CC99BA36BC.jpg[/img]

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gixxerific
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Yeah sorry i meant pollination.

You are doing great in there. Get a toothbrush on those plants ASAP. Sopie's could have fruit showing anytime now. The one flower all curled back may be done with pollen or very soon. But many more to get there.


Good luck

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You are doing great and I admire the attempt, looking forward to hearing more about the outcomes.

But the two that are big enough to be flowering do look to me rather indoor tomato-ish, slender and a bit stretched and slightly pale.

I just think it's a very difficult thing to do. Egged on by you folks last fall, I did bring in one pepper and one tomato plant and try to keep them going through the winter. With the resources I could bring to the project, the results did not seem worth the effort.
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Sophie's Choice#2 and Zarnitsa plants pictured here ARE stretched out. I'm still trying to shuffle the overwintering plants around, and one upstairs SE window where some of the tropicals need to go isn't ready. So everybody has been overcrowded and prime lighting have been only available to the select few. But they have been given space under the best lighting now so hopefully they will step up to better form.

In the photos above, Sophie's Choice #1, Donomater F2's and Black Krim seedlings have been receiving the red carpet treatment from the get go so those are more indicative of how they should look if you are serious about doing this.

Not so much "indoor" tomato but container size is also a directly affecting factor. When we're starting them in spring, we can keep them in small containers because we know we're going to plant them out in the ground later and then they'll jump exponentially in size and vigor. It's easy to think you can keep them in smaller containers in the same way as long as they are not really pot bound (and we're familiar with how big the plant would be to get to that state) but if you uppot ahead of the roots reaching the sides of the container into much bigger containers, they respond by growing much stronger.

As for that "indoor" appearance, knock into them and push the leaves and stems around... Fluctuating day/night temps would be beneficial... A fan would make the best strength trainer, etc. Those are some of the other conditions you need to provide to overcome the spindly weak growth and to toughen them up, but it would be really difficult to match the tough-love of Mother Nature. :lol:

If you are not trying to grow everything under the sun like I am :roll:, it would be possible to lavish more attention and better care. :wink: But it's still fun to see how far I can take this. (BTW outside under the double covered tunnel, I still have Matt's Wild Cherry pumping out bright red fruits. Not sandwich or even salad sizes, but still a welcome addition to the table. :D and it,s making me ambitious to try to stretch the season for other varieties too next fall 8) ) :

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About the toothbrush -- I asked DH if he still had the old electric toothbrush because I knew he'd upgraded to a better ultrasonic model. He said he threw the old one out because it was junk :shock: :(

Then after asking me what I wanted it for and giving me hard time about wanting to use his toothbrush on tomato plants and making them unusable for him (I said get replacement brushheads and it should be perfectly fine to share with my tomatoes :()) -- he said he'd quit using it months ago because he had better check up results when he brushed with non-electric regular toothbrush (never mind that that's what I always maintained...), and he didn't care what I did with it. :roll:
I had to recharge the battery overnight, but Sophie's Choice blossoms have had their first tickling session this morning. :clap:
I'll try again after lunch and this time, hold a black plastic spoon under them to see how well the pollen are being released.

You know now I want to try crossing tomatoes -- but I'll probably wait until next season... Unless crossing Sophie's Choice and Black Krim might be a good idea.... Hmmm 8)

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Tried catching the pollen earlier in the afternoon with black plastic spoon while using the toothbrush, and it was gratifying to see how well that works! :D

Consensus by the kids is that the ultrasonic toothbrush definitely buzzes like bees. :wink:

Also went out and got the power strip I needed to rearrange the timer and plug in a newly delivered 36" under cabinet T-5 tube fixture. Now, what had been a dimly lit by an 18" T-12 ho-hum bottom shelf looks more brightly lit than the 2nd shelf that has the two tube 24" T-5 fixture and had been considered a premium zone. The new light has a slimmer profile and can accommodate taller plants too so there will be some priority re-assignments and musical chairs going on among the winter tomatoes tomorrow.... :()

I think I see a better way to secure the 24" fixture for better effect so gotta get that done as well. :idea:

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SUCCESS! :clap:

A bloom in the first truss of Sophie's Choice that I'd tapped to pollinate DID take!
First baby tomato:
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/5F2D662F-D8D0-4FAE-AC2E-6985A6D693DA-172-000000EFD143FB9F.jpg[/img]

Seeds were started 9/2 so 54 days to first sign of baby tomato i.e. maturity. -- right on schedule. :D

...many more to come:
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/0ACC0643-7053-4761-8582-4CB507A3486C-172-000000EFE8E81FB4.jpg[/img] :()

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rainbowgardener
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YAY!!! Looking good! Keep us posted! :)
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This place carries really inexpensive full-spectrum plant lights.
https://www.littlegreenhouse.com/accessory/lights.shtml/
To thine own self be true!

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gixxerific
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Awesome apple. I'm jealous I have a ways to go before I see any fruit.

Winter is a good time to do crosses, it is much harder when it is warm out. Sophies Choice and Black Krim would be alright together. Maybe getting some of the darkness of BK into a smaller plant like SC. Also SC is much earlier than BK so and earlier DTM could be obtained.

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PunkRotten
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Cool thread I may try Sophies Choice next Fall. Sounds like a good candidate for a fall sowing.

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prettygurl
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Has anyone used a feather instead of an electric toothbrush?

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gixxerific
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prettygurl wrote:Has anyone used a feather instead of an electric toothbrush?
Why? A toothbrush will shake it real good. Some people use tuning forks, the middle C is supposed to be right about the same freqeuncy as bee wings. Never heard of a feather. Please elaborate.

Dono

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prettygurl
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I saw a video on youtube of a man who used a feather to pollinate indoor tomatoes. I was curious if anyone had experience with that method.

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Nevermind. I read that the flower can be damaged and the toothbrush method is better.

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applestar
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Update :)

Update photos :D -- It's ONLY November and it already feels like they're taking over the house.... :shock:
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/286C1EFD-C6E7-4A2C-8F72-F1AD243FAECF-7716-0000049A5408FA25.jpg[/img]

These Donomaters will be outgrowing the Seed Starting Area
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/424E0EA0-FC21-46E2-B721-4B59A72AB63D-7716-0000049A67FECA13.jpg[/img]

These Black Krim plants have outpaced any of the others despite having been started later, and are heftier in growth and leaf sizes compared to Sophie's Choice or Zarnitsa. I hope I can find places to keep them....:roll:
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/6D7195CC-2C67-4668-AFC2-C4B7660732CF-7716-0000049A2E32B83A.jpg[/img]

Sophie's Choice first fruit progress:
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/6DF110C8-5FB8-448B-849C-8EE86662B3D2-7716-0000049A3D343944.jpg[/img]

Zarnitsa first fruit :D
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/8DD0FFF6-03F9-4867-A978-D671E56F8C43-7716-0000049A489A5EA3.jpg[/img]

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gixxerific
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looking good Apple like I said at the Depot I can't beleive how far along Sophie's Choice is. You are doing a wonderful job.

Do you mind if I put some pics of mine in here as well?

? on Donomater: how many buds per truss are you getting. Most of mine have 7 per truss one plant has 4-5. Could be early on that one. I have fruit on it but they are just baby's right now. Cant wait to see what happens with this one.

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applestar
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Thanks and Post your pics, Gixx! :wink:
We wanna see how your jungle is growing :D

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Beautiful!!
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Looks like you're well on your way to a great crop there!

There is this great guide I use for my tomato growing.

[url]https://bestjuicytomatoes.com/[/url]
I love to grow my own veg.
Check out this great guide https://www.bestjuicytomatoes.com

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PunkRotten
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Hey Applestar could you save some seeds from the Sophie's choice and Zarnitsa? I'll trade you something from my list for them.

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applestar
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Sent you a PM, PunkRotten. :wink:

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applestar
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Another week, another update :wink:

Same Sophie's Choice fruit getting bigger (that's a regular width yellow duct tape)...
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/285279EE-5B23-419A-A2B3-DC091EF835F8-9441-0000061083D5441E.jpg[/img][img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/0B01641B-5AA2-4097-AE13-BCD695E13933-9441-0000061077D8C8FD.jpg[/img]
This plant is slowing down -- foliage spotting and wilting (older leaves dry up still green and die -- I've no clue what this is) issues have become evident, I see some discoloration on the trunk that worries me:?, and fungus gnat issues as you can see, but also many new trusses of blooms have opened, have been buzzed, and faded. Hard to tell yet if they took, but at least two more babies are on their way :():

2nd Sophie's with fruit. This one is still in a 2L soda bottle and you can see the roots starting to show (should have moved the banana leaf hiding the fruit :roll:)
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/1E7D275E-E3F0-4761-9DF0-591E161BA619-9441-000006106EA040B1.jpg[/img][img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/3BCAD96E-E890-4A87-8454-5D45D730BAA0-9441-000006106487CEC3.jpg[/img]

Zarnitsa's have started to load up on blooming trusses and have started to fruit. (I think previously posted photo was mistake -- that was a Sophie's) It's interesting to see that this one in the double-1/2 gal=1gal box is pretty compact like Sophie's, but the other one in the OxiClean box is somewhat lanky. Both were just uppotted this weekend so it's not the size of the container but the way they have grown so far:
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/20D04587-EF8C-4302-A91F-5C0CC1679AAE-9441-000006104AA01793.jpg[/img][img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/D5BFA8DE-55F5-4D56-B5D0-C0ECA41DB30B-9441-00000610415B3F62.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/E729FF9F-5D6A-4310-AE82-896BEC4A781B-9441-00000610246E533C.jpg[/img][img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/B52CF9C1-1839-4168-995F-34BA074BDE1A-9441-000006101B6C0D0C.jpg[/img]

Another Zarnitsa gamely trying to fruit in an oatmeal box. This one is in front of a SW window with 2 T-12 tubes about 24 in. away (i.e. barely any supplemental light):
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/7478ED8F-6195-478A-BA71-8FDFC48E1999-9441-0000060FF77259A9.jpg[/img][img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/817DC251-8990-4618-A061-88D9C2280F5F-9441-0000060FEDA52731.jpg[/img]

Two biggest of the Donomaters are just starting to form trusses:
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/6661A565-B6AB-4B77-9DB2-87E881556B94-9441-000006100AF5329E.jpg[/img][img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/6EDC6615-E8F9-470D-ABD6-33FC00B6E5FE-9441-0000061001F9CD3E.jpg[/img]

I'm going to pot some of each variety in 2-3 gal containers and set them up upstairs where it will be warmer. I didn't take photos this time, but Black Krims are getting bigger too -- I had to put one in SE window and another is currently on the floor with a shoplight sitting upright on the floor. I may Uppot one or more in 4 gal container. Space, light, and temperature are the most difficult limitations and the dwarf, small container capable varieties are DEFINITELY the varieties of choice in the future. I'm also still hopeful that Sophie's Choice which is cool weather tolerant and is in fact intolerant of hot weather would do better under the winter indoor conditions despite the foliage disease issues. I also have a cloned Yellow Brandywine that I'm going to just try to keep alive to see if I can get an earlier fruit from it next spring. 8)

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gixxerific
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Hows it going with you Apple?

Just up-potted a few things and put up another light. I had to scrounge around to find a good wiring alternative.
[img]https://i272.photobucket.com/albums/jj185/gixxerific/DSC06315.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i272.photobucket.com/albums/jj185/gixxerific/DSC06314.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i272.photobucket.com/albums/jj185/gixxerific/DSC06313.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i272.photobucket.com/albums/jj185/gixxerific/DSC06311.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i272.photobucket.com/albums/jj185/gixxerific/DSC06307.jpg[/img]

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Wow! I am so impressed by the effort all of you are making to grow vegetables indoors. You make me feel ashamed for being too busy (lazy) to plant my fall garden. Consequently the only thing I have left are sweet banana peppers, bell peppers and green onions. I should have fall tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, turnips, carrots, lettuce, mustard greens and spinach. Ow well I will just be jealous of your effort and wait until February to plant seeds and March for transplants.

So impressed by all of your pictures.
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prettygurl
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I love all of that green that you guys have going. Great job.

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applestar
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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Looks amazing Gixx! All dwarfs right? Very sturdy and hefty looking.

Mine are wimpy compared to yours because I'm not giving them all big enough containers, but all of them including Black Krim are now starting to bloom and Zarnitsa more than any of them. Some of the non-dwarfs are beginning to show their unwieldy nature by being too tall and spindly.

As I mentioned, some Zarnitsa's are remaining compact while others are not. I'll be "selecting" -- i.e. only saving seeds from -- the compact plants.

Incidentally, my Brazillian Hot Lemon and Jalapeño peppers are starting to bloom too. Perhaps because I've picked all of the fully colored fruits that were left on the plants. -- electric toothbrush has been busy :D

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rainbowgardener
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Looks beautiful, gixx, Applestar! You guys keep tempting me to want to try. I have all that space under my lights that is "only" being used as my Christmas basket factory right now. The only trouble is a few weeks after the Christmas baskets are given away, it will be seed starting time again and I will start needing the space for seeds - not all at once of course, but it is usually all filled up with seedlings earlier than the tomatoes can go out. ...
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Ozark Lady
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Location: NW Arkansas, USA zone 7A elevation 1561 feet

Looks great Dono and Apple!

One question... will they ripen to taste like a real tomato?
Or will you need to use apples and their gases to promote ripening?

Is ripening after growth is completed influenced by time, temp, sunlight, or something else?

One thing for sure, you two will have the record for 2013 earliest tomatoes!
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

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applestar
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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Ozark Lady! LTNS! So happy to have you join this discussion! :D
I'll wait for Gixx's input. I've always had one "volunteered in a indoor container" tomato over the winter (usually a cherry), but I've always given the ripened -- yes they do eventually ripen on the vine though it takes longer -- fruit to my younger daughter who loves tomatoes. She was always excited to see them color up and ready to eat though.

My winter tomato project this year is more planned but still not optimum I think. Gixx has lined me up with wide assortment of dwarf tomato varieties, and they are varieties he picked for superior flavor, but I had to see how these do. I'll be growing many of them next summer (so many! :roll: :lol: :>) and choosing next winter's best varieties :wink:

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gixxerific
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Apple without looking at my notes most of the tomatoes I gave you were not dwarfs.

Ozark Lady where the heck have you been. :D Nice to see you.

As far as raipening and taste with indoor tomatoes. It does take a while longer to ripen indoors, take into consideration the weaker light and other than optimal temperatures. I have kicked around the idea of using heat but so far I have not done anything with that idea.

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applestar
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Look at your notes :wink: (your PM under "so far") I'm well set thanks to you -- though of course I've developed an itch for a certain few more varieties.... :P

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gixxerific
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Maybe I should check my notes. Lol. It's hard to say I have sent out about 250 packs of seed. Hard to remember.

As far as your itch there might be some cream for that. If not the Depot can hook you up.

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