Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gifts from the compost heap part II -- Christmas tomatoes

(To see Gifts from the compost heap part I, click here.)

Here's a wee gardening update about our "experimental tomatoes" that came from the compost heap back in September -- about three weeks ago, we decided that it was costing too much energy to keep our greenhouse warm for four tomato plants (one of which never did set fruit -- I think it was a Brandywine variety that needs more sunlight and heat). So I closed the greenhouse, brought our 3 cherry tomato plants into the dining room, we did battle with any number of fruit flies that came with them (organically -- cider vinegar is irresistible to fruit flies), and waited. And voila, we have some gorgeous little red tomatoes for Christmas.

Lee has been researching ways to store heat with phase-change materials so that the greenhouse won't dip below zero without a heater. It's almost managing to do that already, as we've got two big covered barrels of water which moderate the temperature fairly well (the temp this morning is +1 C (30 F) -- when the temp was -20 C (-4 F) or colder in the last weeks, the coldest it got was -8.3 C (17 F) overnight). Once we have the heating issue solved, the next trick will be to get our light figured out -- I'm suspecting our fourth tomato plant didn't fruit because the sun isn't strong enough -- and likely won't be until March, when I start seedlings all over again. As for these plants, while they're flowering like mad, and I'm finger-pollinating, the blossoms aren't turning into any sort of fruit -- again because our light is low, and the dining room window isn't a good place to set up full-spectrum grow-lights. They'll just have to do the best they can without.

Anyway, we're delighted to be eating our own tasty, organic, non-GMO cherry tomatoes this time of year. I'm so glad I decided to pot those little seedlings from the compost heap; these gorgeous little 'experimental' mouthfuls were definitely worth the effort. Maybe we'll decorate the plants with Christmas ornaments, too... though that might take the attention away from these natural, pretty red and green globes...


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