Welcome to my blog

I was born in Guernsey (but now live in Brittany) and our main industry was growing tomatoes although that industry has now virtually disappeared. Growing tomatoes to a Guernseyman is like wine to a Frenchman, it's in our blood! I do not profess to be an expert, but I have picked up a few tips and techniques which work for me.


Monday, 30 August 2010

The American way and Down-Under

I have been following an American Tomato Forum for a few months, as I am interested as to how they grow tomatoes over there. The forum has many contributors, some from the USA and also Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many other places, so the climates and techniques do vary a great deal .
However, I will on this part of my blog, try to show you some of the ideas and techniques that I have seen, and also some posts that have caught my eye. One thing  that I have noticed on this great Forum is that they do like to go into great detail when they have a particular problem and get  quite technical about it.
I have just noticed that the Forum will be members only from the 3rd September so have a good look at it before if you can.
Here is another good US gardening forum

To give you an example here was one question asked.
'Do tomatoes still get ripe in the refrigerator? I have been giving them to a friend before they are totally ripe that would be put on your counter top. Does putting them in the refrigerator make them get ripe slower then a room temperature tomato on the counter top in the same conditions'
Here are a few answers.
'The general belief is that refrigerating tomatoes renders then bland and tasteless. I haven't seen anyone here at T'ville that refrigerates tomatoes. If there are any that do, I haven't seen it mentioned and certainly not recommended. Not for fresh, sun-ripe taste anyway.'
"If they drop below 50 degrees, a flavor compound called z-3 dexanol is just gonna flip itself off like a chemical switch, permanently. "

"When you buy a tomato, it is still alive. So is the broccoli, the lettuce, and the other fruits ...and vegetables in your kitchen. A nice, fresh salad is one of the few foods that we eat while it is still alive. For most of these vegetables, putting them in the refrigerator just slows them down, causing them to die slower, but for tomatoes, along with avocados and bananas, the cold of your refrigerator speeds up their death. In tomatoes, this damage causes all sorts of chemical changes. Flavor compounds, such as Z-3-Dexanol shut down. These chemical changes also change the texture of the tomato, giving it a granular texture.
This is only true for living tomatoes. Once you kill them by cooking, the refrigerator is the perfect place for them, as the cold also slows down bacteria that can cause foods to spoil. "

This picture will give you an idea of how many of them train their tomatoes, usually grown in containers or raised beds with a metal cage to support the plant. They do like to grow bush/determinate plants, and are also heavily into Heirloom tomatoes. The variery is Beginner.


This is a bush variety Early Girl, nice bit of re-cyling with the tyres.


 

These are pictures to rival my polytunnel, it's called an earth tunnel and was made by Richard from New Zealand, who is also the person I really am indebted to, as he is the same person who kindly sent me some Guernsey Heirloom tomato seeds, which are like gold dust to me.





 
Here is Richard's comments

After reading about 'earthship' house construction using thermal mass as its sometimes only form of heating/ cooling, I set about building this tunnel house, built on the same principals.I started with 6 railway sleepers for each of the middle hoops and 4 power poles, 2 each end, these were all cemented in to place, large bolts inserted and 6mm wire netting added between for reinforcement. One ton of cement and a hell of a lot rocks from our local river went into the four walls, then soil added to the sides and planted in native grass.

In winter with outside frost temp down to -8 C/-18 F, inside has not gone below 4 C/40 F, some tomatoes "black krim" did make it though winter and have just starting to come away again now. In the summer we average day time highs of 30 C/83 F but when it gets hotter the inside/outside temperatures tend  to even up.

This tunnel house gives me about a 9 month growing season and has helped expand the outside gardens season also. My thoughts now are towards building a second larger one with solar and woodburner for heating.
We have had about a year's worth of rain in the last two weeks, that's why there is water inside, it's all ground water it's just coming up from below.
 
Well that's all from across the pond and Down-Under, but I will update this section often. 





9 comments:

  1. Very interested in the Earthship Tomato house - very interested in the 9 month season. Has Richard got a blog/website?

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  2. Hi Keith, unfortunately he has not,but I will try to get some more info from him. It really looks an interesting construction.

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  3. Hi Keith,That earth Tunnel house was an idea that came from a glasshouse that i read about in Colorado US,its also used a lot of rock as a heat sink along with triple glazed glass.In this glasshouse they were growing Bananas at 5000m.

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  4. Very intersting post. I have noticed the tomato cages on a blog from Canada - they use the taller ones for indeterminate toms. I wish we could get them here. They knock bamboo canes into a cocked hat!

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  5. VH, I am just waiting for permission from someone to show how they made theirs.

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  6. Hm, I've heard of damping down, but the floor of that "Earth Tunnel" is 4 inches deep with water. Is that intentional?

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  7. If you read above Anon, he had a a years rain in two weeks, so I think that's why.

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  8. Anon - As Steve said that wasn't intentional to have water inside,its gone now,but i did found it easy for watering,just reach down and scoop up some water lol.
    Ive got flowering tomatoes inside now and its only the first week of spring,no way i could even think about planting a conventional glass house for that least another 3 weeks.
    The stone work also provides a perfect environment for a New Zealand native jumping spider that controls all white fly and aphids,but i wish they eat slugs though been i only pest in the tunnelhouse.

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  9. You could heat and circulate the water and grow hydroponically!

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