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tomato experiment: transplant vs. direct seed

Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
    
  11
im going to put some under cloches in the forest garden today, should be fun to see what happens.


The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
              


Joined: Jan 13, 2010
Posts: 238
Location: swampland virginia
paul wheaton wrote:
<snip>
...C)  ... (a clear 2 liter bottle with the bottom cut off will work well).  ...
</snip>


I will not be able to do it this year, but had a thought to add a little more heat. Cover the 2 liter bottle with a 3 liter bottle. Mulch around the the 3 liter bottle. Pour hot water into the the top of the 3 liter bottle if you want to warm the soil up sooner. If you could get a seal between the two bottles, you could add water for thermal mass.

might help some get started even earlier or get over unforeseen adversity.
Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit


Joined: Aug 08, 2010
Posts: 201
Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
Air is a excellent heat buffer. No need for extra work here.


Life that has a meaning wouldn't ask for its meaning. - Theodor W. Adorno
Mary James


Joined: Mar 18, 2011
Posts: 140
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
    
    2
Been here done this over 20 years ago.I know this is an older post from 2010.hey but we are new here so we would like to share some of our experimenting with this..Maybe even take it back to the 70s when my momma used to use a type of cold setting tomato seed.Okay and even one further back to the granna both of whom kept garden journals for years with these kind of goodies recorded.Someday I am hoping the momma will hand these things over so I can read them more in depth...
  If I dug through the kids school experiments with this from the 90s I could pull up his info as well  .We also have to look at tomato types here really since indeterminate and determinants both have different grow rates , fruit setting and production rates..
First back to the olden days,, My mother and grandmother both Montana girls gardened here way back into the 1800s,, ooops shows how old this gal is huh..Anywhoo.The granny used transplants even back in her days on the old dairy.She was also using heirloom seeds.She did the old fashioned window starting, reason being grandma started out doing this over in the Bynum area.She would also do the ground warm up with a few treasured cloche and cow manure from the dairy..Tomato seeds were never one of those she planted directly in the garden when my mother was young nor myself..Granny was one heck of a garden producer she passed it along to the Momma..And had us kids out there crawling in the dirt chewing on dirty carrots as babies.
Now jump to my momma another wonderful gardener through the years down in the Mission Valley.Now the momma also came with a penchant for flowers as well and trying out any new seeds that came along..Because she could and would..Now the Momma she liked these her coldset  tomato seeds.And transplanting was a pain to her. She would dump that job on any of kids she could...She would use some of the usual ways for warming the soil that the granna used..As well as experimenting with laying down left over hay and straw from the calving barns..The momma also used Cloches and other types of things like the year she had a local barkeep save her whiskey bottles to  feel partially full of water which she wrapped in black plastic and set down in the ground a couple of inches..An much older version of a w.o.w...Moms transplants always produced before her seed plants would..At the end of the season however the coldsets would have a bit more advantage as they handled the cooling tempts and less lighting a bit better..
Move on to this gal.Now I inherited the insanity along with a heck of an addiction problem from these ladies soooooo.I experimented in any way possible all through the eighties,, and of course the ninety's by the time we hit computer time it was even worse because now I could trade on line  and many of the hard to find of tomato seeds for cold climates were track-able and trade-able.. oh yea.......So think 80 to 90 types of tomatoes in garden, greenhouses, cold frames, anywhere we could experiment with them.Yes we had in hundreds of plants in our family garden plot..
       .In my area I can stand behind my words and say that it does not matter what type of tomatoes I tried from seed or transplant if the ground was properly warmed and both planted properly,The transplants would be up and producing much quicker and longer.In my case that means that for some of my tomatoes I was enjoying fresh ones from the garden as early as late June or early July  and onward through the season.Now days I do not have the space nor need the kind of produce I did while raising my family.However I still prefer to do transplants and I push my growing seasons in any ways possible.This year we are hoping to have the  cold set types in the hoop house and wows up and producing possibly late June or early July.
    I can also go into last year with in my straw bale garden and hoop house and say that my volunteer tomato's were a good 2 months behind my transplants for production.The outside ones freezing with fruit just beginning production in early September...
  All this said I guess this comes down to a question of production versus time and energy put out.Personally in our area I am looking at getting the healthiest foods I can onto the table as quickly as possible so if that means starting my seeds early and doing the extra bit it takes to get them there,,, I do it..Means less crappy food from the grocery stores as well..Added bonus includes getting more produce to can and share as well.
  Hugs,Laughter,Light,Love
  Mary

 
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
here in Michigan last year i did both, transplants and direct seeds..

i had wonderful harvest from my transplants, not a single tomato from my direct seeds (same beds)..

there just isn't enough growing days here in Michigan to grow them from direct sown seeds..but probably would be fine in other areas.. or possibly if I was to put a little greenhouse hotcap thing over each seed? maybe that would have helped.


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Brenda in your climate I think you would have to use some kind of individual hot cap.  I'm using plastic milk bottles. Ideally I would use glass bottles but haven't got the bottoms cut off any yet.

My first planting of tomatoes under plastic bottle cloches have sprouted.  We're having quite warm temperatures  both day and night - 85 F daytime high yesterday, lows in high 50s low 60s - so it's not a very fair test.  I'm curious to see if the baby plants might overheat in the cloches during the day.  Yesterday they seemed to be doing fine and I think the extra heat might be good at this point.  I'm hoping for fast growth.


Idle dreamer

Mary James


Joined: Mar 18, 2011
Posts: 140
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
    
    2
Brenda
We do glass cloche made by cutting the bottoms of wine bottles off To prewarm and protect.I also use W.O.Ws.Like you we have a very short growing season.I choose my transplant tomato's based on their ability to handle the cooler temps for fruit setting as well as the day factor since as the days shorten so does the tomato production..I like the Siberian types when I can find them.I found after my 4 year garden hiatus that there seem to be many others more available then when I was in the seed exchanges.
  Ludi, I think here is a major difference for us in the north,, Our vege garden is still melting off snow.Lows are still running any where from the teens to the 30s in their usual unpredictable rocky mountain way,,We do however have tomatoes started now..In our area we do not expect to see the temps your having until July or August..
Hugs,Laughter,Light,Love
  M&J
 
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
zero F this  morning and a foot of snow on the ground...I could be growing transplants inside but sure can't be putting tomato seed outside for another 3 months..we get frosts here in June.

I have a small greenhouse and have started seeds in there, and they still don't do nearly as well as  transplants do..period..it is just too cold here until the end of June (or after the full moon in June)

I have gardened this land for all my  life, since a child, and I'll be 60 in June..I know the land well and what it will and won't do..and growing tomato seed ..from seed out in the ground where you are going to have them grow, even with a couple of coats on and a little heater..probably won't work very well..the greenhouse is better, but transplants will out produce them hands down

I have tried all kinds of ways, and always have best crops with transplants
Mary James


Joined: Mar 18, 2011
Posts: 140
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
    
    2
Brenda ,
We are a bit warmer then you today,,LOL,, and the snow is leaving us ,, Yes,,,the crocus are popping..
I have a few friends who garden in Michigan.As well as some far colder areas and gardeners in Alaska as well.Like you I grew up gardening in my area and have tested out all kinds of ways to push my zone limits(I am a 4-5 but can push that to a 6-7 in a few places in the yard).I come form a long line of gardeners who did the same..Hence writing about my mother and grandmother.
  I learned long ago if I want food production, transplants are the way to go in our short grow area..I have and do use many ways for warming my soils through the years to push my planting times.Like you I have been doing it all for so long and experimented with what works for years.For us it is about getting the fresh veges into our kitchen..LOL I also grow under lights  and have used many cold frames as well for this.
  Peppers are another one of our family staples so like the tomatoes they are in my garage right at the moment under lights.All will be moving out to the greenhouse in a few weeks ,,pending the weather..In the cold greenhouse we are planting some of our greens today as well...I have yet to find an area safe enough for the glass cold frames here from the deer.LOL,
We are new to the forum it is a bit like garden web since it covers international ...So I believe it makes some of the testing a bit more difficult with out others coming out and making it clear what part of the country they are growing in.One thing about garden web is at least they have a break down of areas so one can get into the zones closest to them as well as the specialty grows.That is kind of difficult here..
  Have a wonderful day..
M&J
 
 
Thea Olsen


Joined: Jul 18, 2010
Posts: 89
Location: suburbs of Chicago USDA zone 5b
I've been wintersowing for a couple of years, but I'm back to starting tomatoes indoors.  The wintersown ones just never did as well.
              


Joined: Jan 13, 2010
Posts: 238
Location: swampland virginia
Is there a big difference in how people transplant and direct seed? Do you direct seed on the surface and burry your transplant to it's ears?

My volunteers tend to not perform as well as transplants.
My transplants think it's a funeral when I plant them so deep.
Maybe that's the difference?

Anyone tried hilling direct seeded tomato plants?
or planting them in a valley and filling it up?
or something similar?

Other issues might arise in the process, but thought I'd ask the question to see if that might have anything to do with the variances.

Next time I direct seed or find volunteers, they are getting some soil on top or set in deeper.
Roger Merry


Joined: Nov 28, 2010
Posts: 109
I transplant all my tomatoes and plant outside cuttings from the greenhouse plants - So all mine are planted deeply but last year I saw a garden where direct sown tomatoes had had a collar (plastic pot with the bottom cut off) put over the plant and the collar then filled with compost ....... achieves the desired affect but i still havent figured out what the benefits of direct sown are 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
RNM35 wrote:
I i still havent figured out what the benefits of direct sown are 


Not having to mess with raising transplants.

                                              


Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Posts: 500
  genetics, genetics, genetics.....

  what genetics your selected varieties have will alter this experiment so completely that the results of such an experiment wont mean terribly much.

   First tomatoes will grow like a weed, If you have the right genetics. Look up the history of tomatoes. they spread all over europe as an ornamental. It was invasive!!! Just think about that a second. they knew it was related to nightshades, so most folks thought you couldnt eat them.

 weve taken the genetic base of tomatoes so far from its origins that its no longer nearly as adaptble as it was.


   If you want a direct seeds tomatoe for a given location, build it!!! trial  many is not nearly, as far reaching as finding a few with the traits your after and crossing them and selecting.

   and yes I do know tomatoes will direct seed and grow nearly anywhere, especially cherries... but how well? With breeding you can have your cake and eat it to.

    So if you want that tomatoe that can direct seed itself build it!!! The difference will be profound when related to just trying it as many in this thread did. in fact i know someone who did this exact thing in oregon. after hordes and hordes of varieties trialed, and minimal results breeding catapulted it in a few seasons. the missing link to permaculture farming.
Roger Merry


Joined: Nov 28, 2010
Posts: 109
ludi - but i love messing with transplants 

just spent a very happy day sowing hundreds of seeds in the greenhouse, warm and dry - its raining outside - feeling like Spring has really sprung !!

Soon I'll have lots of healthy slug free plants ready to plant out into ground I have time to clear of weeds and the last of the overwintering crops.........

All those little pots of potential and I'm a happy man ........ and yes i know that makes me a bit sad and weird 
Mary James


Joined: Mar 18, 2011
Posts: 140
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
    
    2
Dr Temp, I have done direct seed of some of the short season tomatoes here in a preheated valley and buried them in as they grew when I was playing with the plants..They still did not produce what my transplants go in.
  I am using straw bale now days and they are basically preheated as they begin breaking down before I plant.In those my transplants are put in deep with compost mixed in.It is a bit different then my older gardens of the past.We also do container grown in  the hoop house to really push our season, last tomatoes picked from the unheated greenhouse were just after christmas last year.First tomatoes picked were in mid July which I thought was a bit late but it was a challenging tomato year for many people here in Montana last year.
  I do have to agree with silver seeds to a point here as well genetics does play a big part in an experimental project like this.Tomatoes being indeterminate grow so much different then the determinate types.It is hard to really look at this with out knowing the areas and climate others are in as well as the names of the tomatoes or types others are using to try this out..all this does come down to genetics and climate..
  Personally I am like RNM35, I enjoy my transplants,,LOL,, of course my goal is getting them from seed being used as quickly as possible.At this time I have in 22 types of tomatoes making up 432 plants  that are four to five inches tall under lights.Any direct seeds in my greenhouse at this time are not coming up, which is basically winter sown since I am not heating it at this time..On the other hand the spinach planted in there a couple of weeks ago is growing..
  LOL I am also one of those kind of odd gardeners who tends to look at my energy and tender loving care as going into the plants helping them to produce food that reflects what has went into them so when we are sharing them with everyone it is obvious they energetically come from our gardens..
Christopher Harrison


Joined: Apr 22, 2011
Posts: 3
Location: Warwick, NY
Last year I direct seeded one of my tomato plants, a Gardener's Delight heirloom cherry tomato.  No cloche to protect it -- and I live in southern NY.  It outperformed all of my transplanted plants by far, growing up and over the cage and sprawling on the ground besides.  Plus, when the transplants were stressed by the hot and dry stretch of the summer, the direct seeded tomato did just fine.  Of course, there wasn't a transplanted tomato of the same variety, so the others don't provide a true control group.

This year I not only set up my milk jug cloches, but I also surrounded each tomato seed in the composted horse manure with a circle of small stones (planted them Sunday).  I figured that the stones will provide a small heat sink, not only helping to warm the soil that little bit more, but also to ward off frosts.  In fact, I transplanted some peppers Wednesday and used the same method, then our temps dipped into the 20s last night.  When I checked on them this morning, all of the transplanted peppers were just fine!

I'll let you know later how well the direct seeded tomatoes germinate.  My thought is that so long as the temps don't dip down past the upper 20s at night, they should do fine.  In fact, I'm going to try them even earlier next year -- probably around April 10 -- and see how they do.
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
well we got 3 1/2 inches of snow sunday morning, and it is now melting again..

I have tried for 40 years doing both transplants and seeding with cloches, greenhouses, and all kinds of other ways and the transplants always outperform the seeded in place plants..

genetics or no.

I have bought the ones with the shortest growing seasons and earliest bearing and they still won't bear direct seeded in our area..only with transplants
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
a little off subject but here is a reminder for those who forgot or didn't know..you can remove some of the lower branches of your transplants before you put them in the soil, and stick a pencil in soft potting soil and stick the branch into the potting soil, and it will root, generally, and make a spare plant for you..

I bought some very large Bonnie tomato pants..3..and they had a lot of sturdy bottom branches on them, which I removed and stuck into the soil in the pots around the mother plant (basically so i remembered which variety they were) and I used a pencil to make the hole so as not to damage the cutting.

I got about 8 or 10 cuttings off of those 3 plants, which will greatly increase my number of growing plants..

Melba Corbett


Joined: Apr 23, 2011
Posts: 160
Location: North Carolina
Last year I threw out some of the heirloom tomatoes that were splitting open from too much rain, into the chicken run I was not using.  (We have three covered chicken runs or paddocks we rotate chickens on).  This year I didn't have enough compost to mix into my potting soil I was making up, so used some of the chicken yard "dirt".  No matter what I planted, tomatoes came up.  Since I knew the variety, and it was a large, nice tomato, I kept them, and transplanted into larger pots.  They had tomatoes on them before time to transplant outdoors. 

I've also noticed that the ones that volunteer in the garden always do the best, and they are coming up from seed just at the time their internal clock tells them do, when temp and humidity are exactly right.  I usually get a heavy crop from them and they are stockier and just better all around.  I think Paul is on to something here.  Working with nature instead of against it, has definite advantages.  One of those is creating a healthier environment for plants and the other great advantage is the time/labor savings. 


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Live in peace, walk in beauty, love one another.
Chris Holcombe


Joined: Feb 22, 2011
Posts: 70
Location: Zone 7a Philadelphia
I'd like to throw my two cents in.  This year I have noticed several bunches of tomato seeds just coming up on their own.  Probably groups of 50 plants competing with one another.  Same thing happened last year and I just let them go.  They produced excellent tomatoes in droves.  I am thinking next year of not starting any tomatoes and just letting them happen.  Trusting nature   I agree with what Red Cloud said.  Pretty much anywhere I throw dirt from the chicken run sprouts tomatoes out of it.  At the end of last year I just chopped and dropped the dead tomato plants.  If I do that again this year I think I will have a good pool of tomato varieties and I can just let them go.  Starting tomatoes indoors in the winter is challenging.  Over water, under water, too much/little light, fertilizer, soil issues, etc. 
Rob Sigg


Joined: Feb 04, 2010
Posts: 710
Location: PA-Zone 6
So far this year, my transplants (about 10" tall) are ahead of the volunteers. Like Cholcombe I have hundreds of little seedlings, some are up to 6" or so already. I think Im going to try this method next year as its easier than transplanting, at least in my climate.


permaculture wiki: www.permies.com/permaculture
Chris Holcombe


Joined: Feb 22, 2011
Posts: 70
Location: Zone 7a Philadelphia
Rob, I'm seeing the same thing as you.  The transplants are only a few inches ahead of the volunteer's.  The volunteers are catching up very fast!
Rob Sigg


Joined: Feb 04, 2010
Posts: 710
Location: PA-Zone 6
Im hoping the volunteers have good tomatoes since they were cross pollinated last year. I had 6 different varieties growing so its a crap shoot at this point. I have been moving them all over the property to see if they will "naturalize" to a certain part. Not having to plant tomatoes every year is a big plus, its one less thing to do!
                      


Joined: Apr 27, 2011
Posts: 56
Location: MONTANA, Bozeman area; ZONE 4
Tomato fans might do well to check out this story of how a very successful man from the Old Country wrew many, many tomatoes.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/7357931/Organic-Tomato-Magic

Although it is a bit hype-y, yet after looking at his stuff and comments thereupon, I suspect it has merit.

"

The number one mistake tomato gardeners make is growing tomato plants with leaves.  Yes you read that right.  That’s mostly because we are used to seeing tomato plants with leaves.  Not having as many leaves will keep your tomato plants form rot, disease and fungus.

If you are already growing tomatoes all you need to do is go to your garden  and do this one thing and  within four weeks you will have more blooms that you ever thought possible.

You see, most of the time we look at tomato plants in the garden and they are full of leaves and rather bushy.  This is what occurs when people plant tomatoes and see what happens.

How many leaves does a tomato plant need to thrive?  3, yes 3 little leaves is all they need.  In about 8 weeks most plants will have 40-80 leaves and that is not good…..why?  Because the leaves and branches siphon all the food, water and energy that should go to the fruit.  Those leaves need to be removed so everything goes to the flower/fruit.

By doing this one thing will produce so many blooms, you won’t believe it."
Salkeela Bee


Joined: Dec 02, 2010
Posts: 101
I always snip out side shoots and grow a single vine.  I also trim off old leaves lower down as the toms start to ripen.  I live in damp ole N.Ireland and this is needed even when growing in a polytunnel. 

I've never had any success with toms outside no matter what variety or treatment. (Although I'm giving it one last attempt this year!)
James Stark


Joined: Apr 21, 2011
Posts: 79
Location: Manitoba Canada
So far, my most successful tomato experiment has been a little odd. I suppose there were a few seeds in the vermicompost I applied to the houseplants last fall. About  middle of February, I had a bunch of little volunteer tomato plants popping up in my plants, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to put the in their own pots and see what happens. As of today, I have about a dozen tomatoes ripening on the vine on the plant that I decided to keep in the house permanently. The plants that went outside were topped often, and transplanted a few times to bury as much stem as I could. (Made for some insane root growth. They are huge, healthy, and are now in the garden. The bottom roots are over two feet deep, and the plants are thriving, even though we've had some chilly weather.

So I guess it was a combination of transplanting and volunteers. We shall see what comes of it.


I never fail. I don't believe in it. I only succeed at finding what doesn't work.
Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
    
  11
i have a good story that relates to this thread.

i did some ramial chipped wood in one area last fall. which is basically wood chips from our property that are amended to the soil.

fast forward to about a month ago. i did the direct sow with the tomatoes in one spot, did the direct sowed with the cloche and watered them once good.

now fast forward even more to about 10 days ago. i planted even more tomato seeds and some squash in the ground, went to get something and forgot to come back. i didnt even get to water them as a start. luckily the soil 5-8" inches and below was still wet from the spring rains, we got another small rain about 5 days ago and didnt think anything of it. i go out there today and those tomatoes and squash are about 3x the size of all the others.they were far better than the ones direct sowed a month ago which i thought were doing good, the ones which had the cloches. even some i started in the greenhouse.

same goes with the volunteer tomatillos and the ones i started months ago. the ones that are volunteer are 3x as big with at least 10x less water.

im pretty much going to give up on the starting stuff ahead of time real soon.
Mary James


Joined: Mar 18, 2011
Posts: 140
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
    
    2
I guess for some us this it comes down to our Zones..I know I am in a 4-5,, Like Brenda we also have had a long winter and snow fall into April off and on..Our last frost date is not until the first week or so of June..
I have had about 16 transplants out in my garden now for over a month, in WOWs(which are 42 day tomatoes that are setting blooms), and under glass cloches.In my unheated green house there are  68 plants which  have been planted into their containers for the season for a month as well..
  We will be setting out about 40 more next weekend into straw bales.The ones starting from seeds even in my greenhouse have just started coming up and growing.Outside no go as of yet..If I was to wait for those babies to produce well,,LOL,, I would not be a very happy girl when it comes to getting my cupboards stocked for the winter..
On the other hand in the Tomato growing discussions the training and cutting back of leaves has been practiced by many for years. I have tried it with a few plants but found that since I am not after super large tomatoes ,, just ripe ones in mass..That it is a little to time consuming for some one growing on my scale..
  It is however a great way to teach proper pruning for fruit development,, as well as for those who really only have a few plants who may want to experiment..I do however go through and top my tomatoes at the end of the season to speed the ripening of the tomatoes on the vine..
  I know I would love to see people responding to this thread with their Zones,, I only suggest this because there are so many people new to growing come in and read it not understanding how many different climates we are covering here..Myself I would love to hear if Paul experimented with this more in his area.We live about a 2 hour drive from him to the north..Towards Glacier Park..
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the Happy house Teaching gardens
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Rob Sigg


Joined: Feb 04, 2010
Posts: 710
Location: PA-Zone 6
You are correct about it depending on zones. I don't necessarily think the original point was that everyone should be direct seeding, but rather those that live in certain zones (like myself) should see which is more effective and efficient. Im going to go out on a limb and say that zone 5b is probably the lowest zone for direct seeding, otherwise you probably won't get as much of a crop. Thats just my unfounded opinion though.
Mary James


Joined: Mar 18, 2011
Posts: 140
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
    
    2
LOL,, Rob, have to agree with that one, it just got me since I do live pretty darn close to Paul and here he is putting this out there,,,LOL,,With out clarifying the zone issues for those beginning permies people..
  Okay okay and after running several garden groups  for years I have learned that new gardeners come in and jump right in then get bummed or give up because they things are not made as clear to them and their production falls short or not at all..I am dealing with this with a young man right now who reads here all the time but is confused since he has not had pre garden experience.
  I agree with your unfounded opinion,, it is not happening in my zone..If I want produce earlier then August or September..
Erica Wisner
volunteer

Joined: Feb 10, 2009
Posts: 748
Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
    
  89
Marcel wrote:
I love the cloche idea.  What else can be used for a cloche?


Too late here I think - although I will report the results of my varied strategies.

Plants I started indoors from seed - died when I neglected them in the starting house.
Plants I started direct-seeded in the ground at the same time - Died when I neglected them at the mouths of slugs, rabbits, and/or weeds.  Or just didn't sprout because the ground was not warm enough, in spite of compost.

Plants I got as starts from a friend - the ones directly planted in the ground are still about the same size, just starting to grow a few more leaves, the ones that didn't die as above.
- The ones that I kept in the starting house, are thriving, except the one right beside the door which is suspiciously smaller and truncated (see above).  Have about tripled in size.

Since our friends who actually canned tomatoes last year, did it because they built a large cloche over their plants and kept them going for an extra month when everybody elses' were rained out, I am thinking that I will keep a 'control' batch in the starting house the entire time, and set up the stakes with intent to add plastic covers to some of the outdoor beds if needed.

Other things you can use as a cloche:
- Clear plastic (greenhouse is best, but the thicker paint dropcloths will do in a pinch) over stakes, frames, or PVC hoops
- Windows or glass set up on any kind of frame, like cinderblocks, strawbales, or sod blocks
- Any clear plastic container (vented at top is more self-maintaining).
- Lorna showed me these awesome plastic 'solar cones' - cut from greenhouse plastic / fiberglass.  Cut out a 6' diameter half-circle, cut a small (12" diameter) circle out of the top/middle, and attach the straight sides together with rivets or your choice of fasteners.  Snuggle them into the soil in winter, can lift them off the hardier crops and re-use for hotter plants in summer.  The top hole helps them avoid overheating, but they still protect from radiant frost, and get a little water.  Need to water every few days to keep up.
They cloud up and give diffuse light over time.  See Twin Brooks Farm for pictures.
http://www.twinbrookpermaculture.com/
- You can also take other steps to improve solar gain, or reduce radiant frost.  Cloth, masonry walls, companion planting, site planning, etc.


Play with nature, make nifty stuff:
www.ErnieAndErica.info
Suzy Bean
steward

Joined: Apr 05, 2011
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
    
    8
Paul and Jocelyn go over some listener questions in this podcast. They talk about gardening, greenhouses, and starting from scratch doing something you love. podcast


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Suzy Bean
steward

Joined: Apr 05, 2011
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
    
    8
Paul and Kelda continue reviewing chapter 2 of sepp holzer's Permaculture in this podcast.

They talk about transplanting vs direct seeding.
Varina Lakewood


Joined: May 15, 2012
Posts: 116
Location: Colorado
    
    1
maikeru sumi-e wrote:
Sol wrote:
This has nothing to do with the experiment (which sounds like a great one) but my dad always used to stick a rusty nail in the root wad of a transplant, said they like the iron.  Anybody heard of this?


I have. Some plants require more iron to thrive, such as roses and apple trees.


Tyler Ludens wrote:
Ludi Ludi wrote:
I think a really active organic soil with plenty of humates (especially fulvic acid) could make the iron oxide available to the plants.

Sure, but since iron is a very common element in soil, humic acids would have plenty of iron to chelate even without the rusty nail. The rusty nail to me represents an unnecessary hazard that can send you out to get a tetanus shot without helping the plant. Any iron deficiencies I have seen in plants has been caused by soil issues other than physical lack of iron. It is the bioavailability that is relevant.

I did not know that, about the iron and the humates (not the nail). That explains a lot. Thanks.
Gilbert Fritz


Joined: Sep 13, 2013
Posts: 344
Location: Denver, CO
    
    3
Hello Tyler;

How did the experiment turn out, when the yields were counted up?


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A.J. Gentry
volunteer

Joined: Feb 13, 2012
Posts: 154
Location: Ohio
    
  40
I have been working my way through the podcasts and I came across one where Paul had said he didn't think it was necessary to start anything indoors -- not even tomatoes. I forget who the other person on the podcast was, but she said she wanted to get that jump start on the season. Then Paul had made the same suggestion on the podcast that is in this thread. Start them in place. And I got very excited. I was thinking... I can do that.

So I decided I would give it a go this spring. I have a couple of tiny raised beds in my parent's yard to experiment with. I set up a windbreak with some of the wood lying around. The way the houses are situated on their street it creates a wind tunnel from north (the houses block most of the wind coming from the west.) The raised bed is south-facing. So I created a half-crescent shape with the wood. The tallest pieces in the center are two feet tall. I covered the soil with composted leaves from the prior year and added a few stones I had handy to add to my thermal mass.

I wanted to use 2 different plastic milk jug 'cloches'. One is just the bottom cut off. And the other is double stacked. (I was curious if the extra height would equal extra heat.) I am working with a guy that will create a temperature gauge that I can place inside the milk jugs so I can monitor the temperature. He says it would work outdoors and send a signal to my computer. I guess that is his experiment.

I'm still not certain what to measure (open to suggestions / recommendations regarding how to measure, what to measure, what to observe) -- so a transplant is probably a good place to start. And planting a seed the same day I remove the cloches -- another good variable.

I am already thinking ahead to what next year's set-up would be. I want to fill in the area behind the crescent. Put more wood in and top it with soil -- making it a real hugel. I figure I would get more thermal mass gain plus get the other benefits of hugel.



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Location: Ohio, Zone 6a
Suburban lot (for now)
Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 354
    
    1
I have tried starting seeds in the garden under cloches without success.
If you could get it to work it sure would make life easier. I will try it again
this year!
A.J. Gentry
volunteer

Joined: Feb 13, 2012
Posts: 154
Location: Ohio
    
  40
I just wanted to add the pictures of the two milk jug cloches I have planned to use for this experiment. I like that they have a wider base than a 2 liter. My guess is that using these will heat up a larger area of soil than the narrower pop bottles. Probably... I'll see. I am counting down the days until March 30th. I have that marked as cloche planting day.

I have two different prototypes of milk jug cloche. One is a single with the bottom cut out. And the other is double stacked. I really think the jug inside a jug will gain more heat. More air space = more heat. I wonder if it will be a noticeable difference. Both versions will have their inside soil temperatures measured compared to the outside temperature. On the double-stacked jugs I used a stainless steel pop rivet in three spots to 'seal' them together. It seems like there would be a better or easier choice. The overlap from one jug to the other is about 3 inches.



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subject: tomato experiment: transplant vs. direct seed
 
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