This year my main tomato project was the Dwarf releases in straw bales; I am blogging about it weekly and after a month, I am pleased with the results so far. Then I felt a tug of many of my favorite indeterminate varieties and decided to find a way to give it the old college try once more...except that an additional reason arose. Pollen for crossing, thinking with all 36 dwarfs growing, I could start making the initial crosses to "fill in the blanks" on size, shape, color and leaf shape.
What I had in my possession: plenty of 5 gallon grow bags, some really large containers, a big pile of previous season's potting mix, and all of the varieties needed for fresh seed, pollen and good eating. But how to keep the plants upright?
Well, it all conspired into what I hope is a better (maybe even good?) idea. Fill large containers with the spent potting mix, creating a useful place to sink stakes. I then arranged four varieties equidistant from each other around that large pot, and sunk short stakes into it on the edge, so that as the bagged indeterminate varieties grow, I can tie them each to a stake that shouldn't topple over.
And now for the formerly missing piece - discipline! It is now up to me to see if I can keep those plants at 3-4 feet tall or shorter, with three (AT MOST) fruiting branches. That will take a hefty amount of daily observation and action, and a readiness to snip suckers so that the plants are under control. I will also be waiting for one or two clusters on each shoot to set fruit, then top each. That is the plan - we shall see how it is deployed.
A few pictures will demonstrate my idea.
Top - just after setting things up a few weeks ago, another from that day closer, and a view just now
Middle - all from today - a few just planted, then two far advanced in two weeks!
Last - another vigorously growing quartet!
Note that I mulched the center pot to prevent any nasties from splashing onto the foliage....also, I am pondering using the center pots to see if I can lettuce to grow - shaded by the taller tomato plants.
So, this is another project I will keep you informed about. I hope it works! Many varieties now have open blossoms - and since the Dwarfs do as well, time to start collecting pollen and making crosses!