Author Topic: Tomato Growing Project  (Read 19929 times)

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Offline Jackie Tran

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Tomato Growing Project
« on: April 16, 2010, 11:52:52 PM »
So I got some seeds in today and started my tomato growing project.  It's a little late in the game so I hope I'll be ok.   It's mid April and I'm barely getting the seeds sown.   I'm using a Jiffy Greenhouse Kit from Lowes.  I have no idea how long it will take to sprout but hope to have them in the ground by mid May.
  This is my first growing anything by myself project so I will update the forum with pics and some notes. 

I bought seeds from www.seedsavers.org and www.growitalian.com.  From seeds, I hope to be growing Amish Paste, Pomodoro Marglobe, Opalka, Pomodoro San Marzano Redorta, and Rio Grande tomatoes.  I'm also growing some cilantro, and sweet basil. 



Offline norma427

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Re: Tomato Growing Project
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2010, 09:54:59 AM »
So I got some seeds in today and started my tomato growing project.  It's a little late in the game so I hope I'll be ok.   It's mid April and I'm barely getting the seeds sown.   I'm using a Jiffy Greenhouse Kit from Lowes.  I have no idea how long it will take to sprout but hope to have them in the ground by mid May.
  This is my first growing anything by myself project so I will update the forum with pics and some notes. 

I bought seeds from www.seedsavers.org and www.growitalian.com.  From seeds, I hope to be growing Amish Paste, Pomodoro Marglobe, Opalka, Pomodoro San Marzano Redorta, and Rio Grande tomatoes.  I'm also growing some cilantro, and sweet basil.

Tran,

I was a little late starting my seeds, also for our climate zone.  I started some of the seeds about three weeks ago and my tomatoes are about 2 inches now and getting leaves.  The arugula is doing the best.  The basil, oregano, cilantro and other seedlings are also doing well.  I usually purchase more live plants to supplement the ones I start from seed.  Parsley, chive, and oregano are perennials and they usually come up by themselves each year.  Even in our climate zone, they are already ready to use.  The only problem I have is we have a lot of wild animals around here and I have to put fences around the tomatoes.  The ground hogs love the tomatoes and if I don't put the fences up they will have them all gone.  :(  The skunks, possums, and raccoons don't bother with most of these.  If you want to plant onions, you will need to get onion sets.

Best of luck to you in growing from seeds and I will enjoy watching to see how your project goes,

Norma
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Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Tomato Growing Project
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2010, 11:22:25 AM »
Thanks for the insight Norma!  It sounds like I will be able to get my plants in the ground by mid May if all goes well.  Oregano! I forgot oregano.  Good thing I have a big container of the dry stuff, but i'm sure the fresh stuff is way better.  I'll see if I can fiind some from Lowes today.

I'm really curious to know from those who have grown italian tomatoes or SM if they are nearly as sweet as the canned stuff.  Is it possible to grow better tomatoes than ones you buy? 

Those mischievious animals!  God made them smart didn't he?  They seem to always eat the ripest fruits!  :-D

Offline cranky

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Re: Tomato Growing Project
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2010, 11:27:12 AM »

My experience with tomatoes is the plum tomatoes grown for commercial processing, Italian or otherwise, have less flavor than other varieties.  Plum tomoatoes are bred for processing, more pulp, less moisture and seeds than others.  So it takes less time and energy, to drive off water and make puree.   Tomato sauces and purees are measured and sold by degrees brix, thickness, as opposed to percent solids content.   The measurement is a slump test.  The puree or paste is put in a device with a little door on the bottom.  The door is opened and the tomato product slumps out on the benchtop.  The distance it slumps determines or measures "brix" and value.  Tomatoes are processed by initially "breaking" them at different temperatures, hot or cold break.  Cold break is about 150 degrees F.  Hot is 180.  180 destroys the enzyme pectinase, which destroys pectin.  Pectin is a thickener.  Without the natural thickener more water can be removed, giving more solids, before the thickness gets maxed.   Hot break can be concentrated to 32 brix, cold to 55.  For the home pizza maker who grows his own tomatoes, flavor matters more than any commercial processing considerations or efficiencies. The best pizza you will ever make is from fresh tomato solids from the tomato varieties that taste best, not that handle best in a cannery.  Blanching and peeling and removing seed pockets with all the moisture is not that big of a pain to get greater taste.   The moisture in the seed pockets also add flavor, but too many seeds in sauce hurt flavor.   There are different ways of handling garden tomatoes in the kitchen to prepare them for pizza.  Also there are ways to handle them to prepare them for the freezer, not a jar, for use over the winter.  A pizza shop could not go through all of this time and effort and still make money.





Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Tomato Growing Project
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2010, 01:00:30 PM »
My experience with tomatoes is the plum tomatoes grown for commercial processing, Italian or otherwise, have less flavor than other varieties.  Plum tomoatoes are bred for processing, more pulp, less moisture and seeds than others. 

Awesome post Cranky.  Thanks for the info.  I was just wondering that yesterday the differences between freezing and canning/jarring.  I was planning on vacuum sealing and freezing the tomatoes this winter instead of jarring.  I'm glad to know it works well. 
  I was planning on freezing some after a minute of blanching and just leaving on the skins.  I figured when thawed  out later, the skins would just slough off then and can be discarded at that time.   Have you ever tried freezing tomatoes without blanching first?  I wonder if it would give a difference flavor or not work at all.  Sounds like an experiment is in order if no one has tried it.  :-D

Really interesting your experience with plum tomatoes not giving the best flavor.  Unforturnately that is what I'm growing most of.  :-[  I'm sure they will be fine.  I'll be happy to even get tomatoes.  So this begs the question, that if plum tomatoes are not the best, what IYO are the best to grow? 

I read in a different forum Opalka's tasted better than any other tomatoes this user grew including SM's.  So I hope they will do well for me. 


« Last Edit: April 17, 2010, 01:02:58 PM by Tranman »

Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: Tomato Growing Project
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2010, 09:07:00 PM »
I am going to be growing tomatoes, basil, oregeno, parsel, and marjoram. I can't start yet in Mass the weather is still off and on. So I am going to wait till probably the first week of May or last week of April. I think the heirloom tomatoes that I got will work very well as well as the strawberry tomatoes.

Offline cranky

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Re: Tomato Growing Project
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2010, 11:02:44 PM »
Quote
Awesome post Cranky.  Thanks for the info.  I was just wondering that yesterday the differences between freezing and canning/jarring.  I was planning on vacuum sealing and freezing the tomatoes this winter instead of jarring.  I'm glad to know it works well. 


Freezing works very well.  My wife thawed out some home grown marinara last night for raviolis.  It was not as good as fresh, but it was still very good.  I was surprised when she told me it was from 07.  It got lost in the back of the freezer.  There are a couple of companies that make hand crank processors that remove seels and seeds.  Some of my tomatoes get processed this way.  Some seeds are ok, but an heirloom tomato has a lot of seeds and most people don't like their flavor.  The skins definitely need to go.

Quote
  I was planning on freezing some after a minute of blanching and just leaving on the skins.  I figured when thawed  out later, the skins would just slough off then and can be discarded at that time.   Have you ever tried freezing tomatoes without blanching first? 


No.  bad idea! Get the skins off.
Quote
I
eally interesting your experience with plum tomatoes not giving the best flavor.  Unforturnately that is what I'm growing most of.  :-[  I'm sure they will be fine.  I'll be happy to even get tomatoes.  So this begs the question, that if plum tomatoes are not the best, what IYO are the best to grow? 


Depends where you live.  Soil is important, pH adjust with lime, use bone meal, not too much nitrogen, need calcium to prevent blossom end rot (lime).   Pruning and staking is good in most places, but not necessary.  I buy plants rather than start seeds.  I grow about 30 plants, six varieties.  Really like the black Russians, black krims, black prince.  No beefsteaks.  They lack flavor.  Try to get heat into soil early before you transplant plants.  Use bubble wrap on ground.   I use a product called Wall of Water, but be careful.  It can burn plants.  Don't leave it on too long.  Don't be in a hurry to transplant.   Cold weather really stunts the plants.

 



Offline cranky

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Re: Tomato Growing Project
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2010, 11:17:53 PM »
  The arugula is doing the best. 

Norma,
Arugula (rocket) will start nicely and bolt if it comes under any stress.  Transplanting is tricky.  If the starts get their roots compacted, or they grow out of the bottom of peat pots and hit air, or they get messed with in transplanting they can bolt before you even get them in the ground.  If they get too wet, too dry, too hot, too nervous they bolt. 

I collect seeds from the mature plants.  They have the same great taste as the leaves and can be used in the kitchen all winter and to start plants right in the garden in the spring.  It is easy to collect a pint of seeds from the pods.  Try sprinkling some, just a little, on a finished pizza in the winter, with some prosciuto, or into a winter salad with greens, pears, toasted walnuts and blue cheese.  They add amazing flavor.   

Offline norma427

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Re: Tomato Growing Project
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2010, 11:36:36 PM »
Norma,
Arugula (rocket) will start nicely and bolt if it comes under any stress.  Transplanting is tricky.  If the starts get their roots compacted, or they grow out of the bottom of peat pots and hit air, or they get messed with in transplanting they can bolt before you even get them in the ground.  If they get too wet, too dry, too hot, too nervous they bolt. 

I collect seeds from the mature plants.  They have the same great taste as the leaves and can be used in the kitchen all winter and to start plants right in the garden in the spring.  It is easy to collect a pint of seeds from the pods.  Try sprinkling some, just a little, on a finished pizza in the winter, with some prosciuto, or into a winter salad with greens, pears, toasted walnuts and blue cheese.  They add amazing flavor.   

cranky,

Thanks for all the great tips.  This is the first year I am trying to grow Arugula.  Your information is very helpful. 

I never knew you could use the seeds in a pizza or in salads.  Your idea of the winter salad with greens, pears, toasted walnuts, seeds and blue cheese sound delicious.  :)  I will have to give that a try if I am able to get them to grow.

Thanks,

Norma
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Offline cranky

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Re: Tomato Growing Project
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2010, 12:28:13 AM »
cranky,

Thanks for all the great tips.  This is the first year I am trying to grow Arugula.  Your information is very helpful. 

I never knew you could use the seeds in a pizza or in salads.  Your idea of the winter salad with greens, pears, toasted walnuts, seeds and blue cheese sound delicious.  :)  I will have to give that a try if I am able to get them to grow.

Thanks,

Norma

You will have no trouble getting arugula to grow.  It can be too bitter if the soil is acid though.  I was in my garden today.  There are at least a hundred arugula plants that sprouted from dropped seed last fall and are various sizes from a couple inches to already flowered.  They will grow to a couple of feet and the stalks will have many inch long skinny pods each with a dozen or more seeds.  When the pods get a little dry, not green, pop one open and crush a few seeds with your teeth.  It will wake your mouth right up.  Take a spaghetti collander and crush the dry pods between the palms of your hands or fingers into it.  The seeds will fall through the holes and the pods will stay behind.  Very fast and easy.


Offline ninapizza23

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Re: Tomato Growing Project
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2010, 01:08:07 AM »
Tranman,
I started some basil, tomatoes and peppers hydroponically about 3 weeks ago and they are thriving, they are about 1ft tall.  You really get a headstart when you grow them hydroponically because the pump circulates the water with nutrients and airates the roots. In a container 13"x20" I put 30 plants of tomatoes and basil. Later on, if you want, you can transfer them in good aerated soil. I am growing oxhart tomatoes and lettuce leaf basil in one container. I do not till soil or worry about grass growing around plants. Less work or backbreaking.

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Tomato Growing Project
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2010, 01:33:54 AM »
Tranman,
I started some basil, tomatoes and peppers hydroponically about 3 weeks ago and they are thriving, they are about 1ft tall.  You really get a headstart when you grow them hydroponically because the pump circulates the water with nutrients and airates the roots. In a container 13"x20" I put 30 plants of tomatoes and basil. Later on, if you want, you can transfer them in good aerated soil. I am growing oxhart tomatoes and lettuce leaf basil in one container. I do not till soil or worry about grass growing around plants. Less work or backbreaking.

Really cool, I know nothing of hydroponics but would love to graduate up to that.  Would you mind showing us a glimpse of your set up and give a few details.  I've heard it works wonders for "tobacco" but that's the extent of my knowledge on the subject.  :-D

Forgive my ignorance, but do you start the seeds in the hydroponic solution or do you put the sprouts in there before transplanting outside?

Offline norma427

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Re: Tomato Growing Project
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2010, 07:32:04 AM »
You will have no trouble getting arugula to grow.  It can be too bitter if the soil is acid though.  I was in my garden today.  There are at least a hundred arugula plants that sprouted from dropped seed last fall and are various sizes from a couple inches to already flowered.  They will grow to a couple of feet and the stalks will have many inch long skinny pods each with a dozen or more seeds.  When the pods get a little dry, not green, pop one open and crush a few seeds with your teeth.  It will wake your mouth right up.  Take a spaghetti collander and crush the dry pods between the palms of your hands or fingers into it.  The seeds will fall through the holes and the pods will stay behind.  Very fast and easy.

cranky,

Thanks for you added tips.  I am always looking for new information as my signature says.  You sound like a great gardener.   :)  I will have to try the seeds, when my plants get big enough.

Norma
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Offline pcampbell

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Re: Tomato Growing Project
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2010, 07:51:56 AM »
cranky - If you do not pull up the grass won't it grow to tall and interfere with the plants?

We want to convert a decent size portion of our yard to garden and we really should have left the leaves over the fall and winter to rot and kill the grass but were not thinking ahead - now I am trying to cut out the grass and it's a ton of work.

Patrick

Offline ninapizza23

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Re: Tomato Growing Project
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2010, 09:36:47 AM »
Tranman,
you can see one pix of one of my units on the left side of this post(under my name), the other units that I have are a lot simpler to make and I 'm using right now consists of putting a bigger plastic container over a smaller one for support. The bottom container holds the pump with the water and nutrients.   

 Then you have a piece of plastic tubing like 3/8 or 1/2" depending on the size of your pump, that tubing has to penetrate the upper plastic container about 2". Next to this piece of tubing you make a smaller hole for the water to return to the pump in the bottom container. It is a small pump ( $10). In the upper container you have the plugs with the seeds in there, these plugs are in little mesh pots like 3", to hold them down you can use some pebble rocks or clay rocks. You plug the pump into a timer, you set it to go on 15 min. off 1hr. That's it.

To answer your question, you start the seeds in the plugs in the hydroponic unit and then you can transfer them if you like or you have a different system you can grow them hydroponically until they bear fruits. I have grown them on 3 or 4" PVC pipes outside in my backyard.

If I have some time later today I will download some pics from my blackberry and send them to you. IT IS VERY SIMPLE!   The LAND at Disney in Florida is full of hydroponics and whatever they produce they sell to the restaurants inside Disney. It is really impressive! I don't know in what State you live in but you can google to find a store near you.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2010, 09:47:19 AM by ninapizza23 »

Offline norma427

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Re: Tomato Growing Project
« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2010, 09:48:43 AM »
Tranman,

There are some links on another topic that I posted before that tell how to grow plants hydroponically, in addition to what ninapizza23 is telling you.

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,10008.msg87984.html#msg87984

Norma

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Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Tomato Growing Project
« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2010, 10:07:34 AM »
Thanks ninapizza and Norma!  Ill check it out and do some reading.

Offline cranky

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Re: Tomato Growing Project
« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2010, 11:05:24 AM »
cranky - If you do not pull up the grass won't it grow to tall and interfere with the plants?

We want to convert a decent size portion of our yard to garden and we really should have left the leaves over the fall and winter to rot and kill the grass but were not thinking ahead - now I am trying to cut out the grass and it's a ton of work.



The no grass or weeds were for the hydroponic set up. 

If you cover your garden area with black plastic or big pieces of cardboard it might kill the grass in a week or so.  Never tried it, but it might work.  After it turns yellow the roots could still be alive, so keep covered for a little longer.  You could also use roundup.  The grass will still look green, but I think it dies in a few days.  A good rototiller will chop it all up.   

Offline cranky

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Re: Tomato Growing Project
« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2010, 11:22:15 AM »
Tran,
Come harvest time and you want to make pizza out of fresh raw garden tomatoes there are a couple of ways to go about it.  You can use a little puree for a base and add fresh.  The fresh flavor really helps.  Frsh alone is a bit watery or thin.  This sounds like a lot of work, but for a pizza fanatic like you it will be worth it.  Slice the tomatoes in wedges.  Rub out the seed packets/pockets with all the liquid.  They slide right out.  Put the remaining wedge on a cutting board and using a fish fillet knife or a flexible sharp blade peel off the skin.  Then scrape the remaining pulp off the skin with the blade.  It comes of in about two scrapes.  You have now a tomato fillet, all meat or pulp.  If you blanche the tomatoes you have to handle hot stuff and the peels come off nicely, but then you have to get the seed packs out of a slippery ball.  That works, but it is more difficult in my opinion to keep the pulp separate.   Chop up your peeled seedless wedges or use them whole.  They will still be a bit watery, but if you drain them in a collander they will loose the fresh taste quickly.  So I do this last before I stretch my skins.  You can incorporate them into your sauce or put them on the pie like a topping.  I like mixing several varieties of tomato. 

There is also no better pasta sauce than 100% fresh tomato with fresh basil, a little garlic, oil, salt and pepper.   


Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Tomato Growing Project
« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2010, 11:55:10 AM »
Thank you very much Cranky.  So many others including myself will be able to benefit from those tips for using fresh tomatoes.  I will definitely give it a try and report back.

As far as fresh tomatoes go I have always only bought from the local mart and they haven't been very good.  With my interest in tomatoes now, it is also out of season, so i've never really had great tomatoes.  I'll pick some up from farmers market to compare to my own to see if growing is worth the effort.  If nothing else, it's a fun hobby.

As far as tomatoes for making salsa,  I've always thought the best taste to me were parcooked and skinned tomatoes.  I wouldn't think it would be different for pizza sauce.  I plan to try all the different methods of preparing them from raw to overcooked to see what I like best.  I'm thinking of steaming them, straight into an ice bath, peeled and using the slivers to make sauce or as a topping in the sauce or on the cheese.  It should be great.    Thanks to all for the great info provided so far.  You guys (& gals) are awesome.

I'm seriously thinking about a hydroponic project for this winter.  It would be nice to have fresh herbs and hot chilis thorughout the winter.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2010, 11:56:51 AM by Tranman »