Gardening in the ice and snow of Pennsylvania seems impossible until you try it in an unheated hoophouse. 2011 will be my third year of year-round gardening and this blog will be a journal and calendar of planting schedules, successes, failures and hopefully, a bountiful harvest.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Very Early Hoophouse Tomatoes - A Great Success
The tomato plants that I started on February 1 and planted in the hoophouse on April 1 are prolifically producing fruit. Everyone else I know, including those to whom I gave plants, still aren't harvesting any red tomatoes. They said that they have lots of green tomatoes, but no red. The only explanation is that mine were in the ground long before the others that had a planting date of mid-May. So generally, my tomatoes had an extra six weeks of plant and root growth. And considering that this year is following the same trend as 2010 with a cool, wet, long spring and then temperatures in the 90-100s in July, my plants don't seem very bothered by the extreme heat. We have been eating tomatoes for almost every meal, and I made a big batch of tomato sauce last week and will probably have to make another in a few days. I suspect that my plants may die back before everyone else's tomatoes though, but by that time, we will probably be sick of tomatoes, if that is possible. Although I did try to stagger the start dates, the younger plants caught up to the older ones and they look exactly the same. Maybe I'll have to experiment with a much later starting date and a planting date of May 15, which would be normal for this area. But all in all, starting the tomato plants February 1 not only provides us with a great, early harvest, but chases away those winter blues when I start dreaming of my garden-to-be and lets me get my hands dirty at last.