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GH Tomatoes

Posted by Hudson...WY 3 (My Page) on
Sat, Feb 8, 14 at 16:21

GH tomatoes in Wyoming begin today! Yeah - the new season has begun (for us) and even though the seedlings won't go out in the GH for six weeks - we planted the seeds today. At least three plants that is - last year we started 25 seedlings and had a great season but this year we are going to stager them over the next four weeks instead of planting them all now at once. We had a good snow storm this weekend too - nice weather for planting seeds! Lets see - we planted a Brandy Boy, Better Boy and Sweet 100. They all did well with an early planting last year. Only three plants - I decided to just plant them in a small pot.

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Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: GH Tomatoes

Oh thank goodness I'm not alone. My tomato seedlings are about 4 inches tall with their second set of leaves. I've got seedlings sprouted for leeks, gazania, lots of orange habaneros, pansies, dianthus and some of my other hot peppers are grudgingly sprouting.
And I'm still re-reading my seed catalogues.
I will be firing up the heater in the gh on February 20th and moving everybody out there the next day.
I'm trying to will spring to come early.
Thanks for sharing your starts.
My friends tell me I'm nuts but I don't care!


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RE: GH Tomatoes

Hi Lori - yes we must both be nuts !! Please share your GH and all you do to get such a successful early start ! How you heat your GH etc. Also how you start your seedlings indoors? Some photos would be nice. :)


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I have a small 6x8 palram gh - it is not the twin wall because I chose cosmetics (look what I grew!) instead of better insulated. Kinda stupid - since I put bubble stuff in there from Johnny's seeds (thank you to whoever it was who posted this fantastic source) but that will come out the very first minute I feel safe in doing so.

My seedlings are currently inside the house - yeah, my breakfast area and dining room are a bit hard to navigate but that's only for a few more weeks. I direct planted a bunch of pepper seeds in my hanging pots and will be hanging them out in the gh as soon as it starts getting cheaper to heat up.

We're still steadily far below freezing day and night right now but accuweather says around the end of the month that will change to hovering slightly above and below freezing and that is when I plan on firing up my Cedar Ridge 30K btu heater hooked up to my natural gas line.

Today I decided that I shouldn't be starting up the heater before removing most of the mass inside the gh so this morning I brought in all of the pots (20) that have dirt in them. They will also then be ready for when I need to transplant..

This business of thermal mass moderating temps is not b.s.- I discovered this when playing with making a solar water heater and using it to heat a trough of water last summer and fall. Too bad I can't use it in the winter.

I run fans using solar panels, and also the water pumps for the water heater. The water heater does work with thermosiphoning but too slow for me so the pumps really speed up the exchange.

I'm spending the days waiting to be outside by growing seedlings, redoing my low flow irrigation system and making plans for a gh out of pvc that will quickly break down during the summer months.


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RE: GH Tomatoes

and the dining room floor..
My camera is starting to lose it's pixels sorry for the lousy pics.


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Haha - I love it Lori ! You are as nuts as I am! It is impossible to find the varieties we want to grow from local nurseries and although we could buy plants from several sources and have the starts shipped to us - it is rewarding with 2+' of snow on the ground outside and freezing temperatures - to just grow our own seedlings indoors. Besides - it is good therapy for the gardner!

Although your GH is small - it appears it is the perfect size to heat the few months prior to spring. Our GH is to large to heat and difficult to partition. We plan to build a hoop house of sorts that I will incorporate a small area which I can affordably heat several months prior to spring to grow our seedlings in pots before moving them to the GH. In a cold climate like ours - that appears to be the best option.

Keep us posted as you move your starts to your GH and build your PVC GH - We would like to see what you do and how you plants respond.


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RE: GH Tomatoes

It's inspiring to see things starting up again in these cold places. Nice work you two!

Hudson did you get your floor poured? Or will you wait until it's a little warmer?

Miraculously, we've gotten three lettuce boxes through our cold snaps without the use of any heat. This recent cold snap I just brought them inside and we had some nice salads.

I'm figuring about another week or two before I gear up again. Since I'm not keen to use heat and I don't love growing seedlings inside I will just do cold-tolerant stuff for now and will get the tomatoes started in another month.

I have been enjoying the seed catalogs though. After last year's lackluster season DH is going to replace the GH soil and I'm going to try 2 new varieties of sauce tomatoes. Hopefully we can get things back to being outrageously productive as in years past.

Hudson, will your new hoophouse be inside the main GH? That is basically what I have done. Some hoops from Johnny's plus many layers of frost blankets. Uncover on sunny days, re-cover at night. Leave covered during cold, cloudy weather. So far, so good!


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Hi Karin - I am still digging out the dirt on the GH floor. Taking my time between snow storms, cold snaps and my job. I Hope I will be ready to pour concrete about the same time the batch plant opens this spring. I also need to dig for a drain under the GH footing for a future sink I would like to install in the GH. I better get the drain pipe in place before I pour! I plan to run the drain pipe into a french drain just outside the GH. Now to find the sink so I will run the drain where it needs to be.

I am jealous that you can grow lettuce this time of year in your GH - even though you have to bring them inside during a cold snap. I suppose I could do that too - but here in Wyoming I would have to bring them in and take them out every day we have sun - the rest of the time they would have to be indoors - I think.

When you find the optimal sauce tomato plant - please let me know - I think I am done with sauce tomatoes for now! The Marzano were growing great - then BER took over - I had to toss them in frustration. Then I tried Super Sauce and was super disappointed - haha. They didn't like my GH.

Your hoophouse inside the GH works great - I have to add 100W incandescent light bulbs to the equation though in our climate - I will do the hoophouse inside the GH again when I move the tomato plants in the GH in about 6 weeks. I guess what I want to build is not really a hoop house as such - I have some 6x6 treated timbers left over from a shed I built several years ago. I plan to build a GH that is about 14-16' high at the ridge - sloping down to 8' on the north side and sloping down to about 5-6' on the other side facing south - maybe 24'W x 32'L. I would use the GH to grow corn, beans, squash - and of course - more tomatoes - directly into the soil. I would like to partition off a small area in the GH that I could affordably heat and grow seedlings during this time of the year. It will be a year or two off though - I have other projects started that I need to finish first. But I am in the planning stage - still looking at ideas.


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Wow, sounds like you have plans for a whole 'nother structure. Impressive. Once you get that up and running you will never need to visit the grocery store again (except for beer, coffee and TP of course!).

Bummer that your sauce tomatoes didn't work out. Super Sauce was one that I was looking at, hmmm. I will keep looking and let you know what I try. I agree BER is a big problem. I loved Ernie's Plump last year as it was incredibly tasty fresh or cooked. It wasn't super productive but it was healthy. I will grow it again this year, plus 2 other sauce tomatoes. Always experimenting and learning!


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We are preparing to move the tomato seedlings out to the GH. We decided to use our GH hot box for seedlings this year. We got the seedlings started in the house under grow-lights but need that space to plant more seeds in-doors so the seedlings should get along fine in the GH with this thermostatically controlled soil heat cable. We also have a bunch of Geraniums starts that need some sun. We buried the soil heat cable that is attached to hardware cloth and a 30" x 8' piece of cattle panel with plastic zip ties just a couple of inches in the soil. Then we made an easy take apart polycarbonate sides and lid to protect the seedlings at night when the GH temps are too low for the seedlings.

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The tomato seedlings are coming along fine. We staggered planting them this year so they don't all come on at the same time. We should be able to plant the early seedlings in the GH by the end of March.

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The Geraniums, Bacopas and Calibrachoa got to the warm box before the tomatoes! We heat the box (soil) to 65 degrees at night time with the lid closed. Then we remove the lid during the day with the GH thermostat set at 80 degrees. Although the space is limited - this is a great alternative to heating the entire GH which would be expensive this time of year. Night time outside temps are still between -4 and 24 degrees mosts nights - this time of year.

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Love your soil heating system. Can I assume you have no issues with using plastic zip ties on the heating cable? Does it not get hot enough to worry about melting the ties?


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This is the second year we have used this soil cable heating system - I remove the panel in the spring when it is no longer needed and store it for next year. Apparently heating the soil to 65 degrees does not heat the cable hot enough to cause any problems with the plastic zip ties - at least not as of yet. There is no visible damage to the zip ties.

This system works so well for us that we plan to add another 8' (the bed is 16' long) cattle panel with hardware cloth and soil heat cable - that will give us a total of 16' x 30" of heated area for seedlings. The seedling do much better in the GH than under grow lights indoors - the main challenge is keeping them warm at night - the soil heat cable appears to be the best solution. The GH is plenty warm during the day this time of year!


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This photo is of seeds we planted on February 14th and shown in the photo on this thread on March 12th (the larger plants on the right - of course). It is amazing how quickly they take off once they get their feet established in the soil (no - those aren't aphids on the plants - just a little residue from the pearlite in the potting soil we mixed up when we moved them to larger pots a couple of days ago)! The indoor grow lights are doing their job providing the light this seedlings need for healthy plants! They are right on schedule - we plan to plant them in the GH next week. I love to see the variety of the regular leaf and the potato leaf tomato plants!

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RE: GH Tomatoes

Anyone know how to delete the advertising to the right of the posts? I can't read most of Hudson's posts since the text extends to the right and is covered by ivillage propaganda.

At any rate it is good to see those further north than me getting the season started. Only 17*F here this morning and so I'm holding tomato plants in a smaller benchtop greenhouse for a few more days prior to planting in a larger one that will be far harder to heat. Wood is my fuel of choice even though it has some drawbacks.


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Adblocker Plus does an awesome job of zapping all the ads, here and elsewhere. You can download it for free, but I don't know if there is a version for every browser or not. Google 'Adblocker for _____ (fill in your browser name)."

Good luck, 'cause everyone needs to see all of Hudson's enviable pics of tomatoes!


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RE: GH Tomatoes

haha - thanks for the compliment Karin! It would be nice to see a few of your pics! Have you planted your tomato seeds yet? We may have an early spring this year - it warmed up sooner that usual - but we still have a couple of feet of snow on the ground. Next week appears to be a warm week 40's/20's - guess I will plant some of these tomatoes in the GH. I am two weeks later than last year which is exactly where I wanted to be. Hope you will keep us posted this year on your progress! We love seeing your plants and GH!


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Today starts the 2014 GH season for us! We moved the oldest tomato seedlings to the GH today with the only heat source being 100W light bulbs in the GH on a timer under frost blankets. The outside daytime temps are in the low to mid 40's and the night time temps in the low to mid 20's. We planted about half of our tomato plants (1-Mortgage Lifter, 1-Big Zach, 2-Sweet 100, 6-Brandy Boy and 4 Better Boy). We will have to remove the frost blankets in the morning and cover the plants at night on a daily basis - at least when the sun is out. I used miscellaneous cattle panel pieces to make cages over the plants while we are covering them at night. Let's hope it is a good GH year!

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This post was edited by Hudson...WY on Sat, Mar 22, 14 at 22:45


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RE: GH Tomatoes

Fantastic progress Hudson! Your updates are always so lovely and well-done. Thanks for sharing!


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Thanks Karin! It is usually 6 weeks from planting the tomato seed indoors to planting the plants in the GH. I know most growers have their favorite way to grow their own tomato plants but it has worked great for us to plant the seed in 3/4" micro blocks (I forgot to take a photo before I moved them to the 2" blocks but the photo of the 2" blocks is the day we moved them) - then move them to 2" blocks - then transplant them to 4" wide x 5" tall square plastics pots to their necks before transplanting them from the pots to the GH where we also plant them to their necks. This photo shows the same plants from seeds that we planted 6 weeks ago until they were planted in the GH.

I think the 3/4" mirco blocks and 2" blocks are great for moving the plants without disturbing the roots.

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How are your tomato plants looking now Lori - please give us an update? Have you planted your seeds yet Karin - what varieties did you decide to plant?

Temperatures have been milder this year than last - a good year to get an early start in the GH - at least so far. Our plants are progressing nicely and we have moved them all out to the GH even though most of them have not been planted in the GH yet. We will probably get them all planted within a couple of weeks. Here's what they look like now - compared to the photo above - they have made great progress I think. We are getting blossoms on the first cluster on the plants that are planted in the GH.

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I will take a pic tomorow. My tallest is about 30 innches tall. I just finished building a cold frame that will hinge up to allow for trellising them and other tall stuff pic of that to come too. Been a long day so relaxing with some fermented grapes ...


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I will take a pic tomorow. My tallest is about 30 innches tall. I just finished building a cold frame that will hinge up to allow for trellising them and other tall stuff pic of that to come too. Been a long day so relaxing with some fermented grapes ...


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Sorry for double post and typos. Learning to tablet type, not getting double vision.


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The withered leaves are from me having the fan on too high and they dried out.


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another shot - they are kinda scattered around the gh waiting to go outside


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A pic of one of my cold frames is here: This is where the tomatoes will be moving to. The tops will hinge up fully for the summer so that I can trellis them. When I finished harvesting the tomatoes in the fall and have pulled them, the tops go down. I will have already started cold crops in between where the tomatoes were and to enjoy until it snows.

http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/strucs/msg0311145020252.html


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Lori,
Your tomatoes look great! They are bigger than mine - but you did have a couple of weeks head start as I remember. I like your cold frame and the way you can use it until winter - you have done a great job! Keep us posted now and again throughout the summer if you can so we can see how your tomatoes turn out !


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