This is intended as a year three extension of my direct seeded tomatoes threads.
I have an inkling both from recent experiences with under watering and reading about dry farming and dry gardening that it might be possible to not only dry farm tomatoes here but direct seed dry farm them and breed varieties for that.
I think there is both great variation in the suitability of habitat for that within gardening areas available to me and the genetic ability to withstand the growing conditions within the tomatoes I am growing.
Wild species and hybrids thereof seem to have tremendous potential for this. My favorite species complex so far the Peruvianum complex seems to have the ability to volunteer here. Moreover at least the Arcanum accessions I intend to grow in 2019 come from very dry deserts. My most successful Pennellii x domestic F2 plant in 2018 ultimately succumbed to overwatering which makes me think it retained some of the water sensitivity of its Pennellii grandparent. When I was gone recently for a month and did not water, only the domestic potted tomatoes looked stressed by not being watered. Habrochaites x domestic, habrochaites, peruvianum, and pimpinellifolium seemed fine.
Without watering for a month potted domestics Blue Ambrosia and Golden Tressette suffered but Amethyst Cream and Sweet Cherriette did not.
Generally it seems to me that my wild tomatoes and crosses are not ready for direct seeding. I don't have adequate seed stocks and they are still too long season. Therefore I hope to include them in dry farming experiments by transplanting. In my initial direct seeding experiment in 2017 they did not germinate adequately. However in 2018 Peruvianum and pimpinellifolium volunteered. My 2018 wild bed was watered minimally.
I have several potential sites for direct seeding experimental plots. One thought would be to use my entire outside the fence garden, though this may be excessive for an initial foray. Other sites could be a deeper soil moister area at the base of my hill, a dry shallow soil site on a small hill, and an intermediate site, then an even more mesic site at my parents hayfield. My backyard could work for a couple unwatered plants but I wouldn't have space for a full rep.
Another thought would be to do 20 foot x 5 foot reps with 3 plants each. Direct seed 10 seeds then thin to one. Transplant in wild species. Each rep might get something like 1 wild species transplant, and two individuals from my F2 Blue Ambrosia x unknown population.
It would also be interesting to test a number of varieties dry farmed direct seeded including:
Determinate (this list could be shortened)
Another related thought is to plant a few plants of pimpinillifolium and Peruvianum on pocket gopher mounds out in the wild grassland of my hill. If successful, they should reseed themselves.
There would be lots of room here for subsequent experiments or sub experiments. In fact 2019 might just be a few pilot plots I'm uncertain about the scale of the dry farming experiment just yet. Success with a pilot even partial, could inform scaling up in 2020.
2019 Tomato thoughts on what to grow out and how much:
Wishlist from transplant if get
Weight in Gold (4 seeds)
Wild Child (4 seeds)
Black strawberry (4 seeds)
Black Bumblebee (4 seeds)
Muchacha! (4 seeds)
Fairy Hollow (4 seeds)
To grow again: Direct Seeded
Sweet Cherriette (4 seeds)
Jagodka (Earls Strain seems earlier 4 seeds)
Anmore Dewdrop (4 seeds)
Krainiy Sever (4 seeds)
42 Days (4 seeds)
Coyote (4 seeds)
forest fire (4 seeds)
Blue Ambrosia ( large amounts as hybrids likely)
JL potato leaf exserted blue skinned RL exserted offspring F2 (large amounts as will segregate and hybrids possible)
Blue Ambrosia X Unknown F2 (large amounts)
Brad (4 seeds)
Big Hill (large amounts of home saved seed as hybrids likely)
Amurski Tigr (4 seeds- will replace with Black Strawberry if it performs well)
Dwarf Hirsutum Cross "jeepers" (4 seeds)
Brad x yellow pear (rest of original packet in search of short season yellow pear)
To grow again from transplant
Amethyst Cream (4 seeds)
Wild Species grow from transplant or just in pots in some cases.
Peruvianum (4 seeds as backup to volunteers)
Pimpinillifolium (4 seeds)
Galapagense (4 seeds)
Penellii X domestic (all homegrown) + 1 seed
Cheesemanii (4 seeds)
Arcanum (24 seeds)
Chilense (24 seeds- will grow in pots)
Habrochaites x domestic (all homegrown)
New Must Grows from transplant
Stress Tolerant Strain from Darrel (4 seeds)
Blue Speckled Favorite of Andrew’s (4 seeds)
Found a couple of the same opensource instructions in a book on gardening. At the bottom of the page there is a list of root system sizes for various crops. 5.5 feet lateral for tomato by 5 feet deep for the variety John Bauer. This was in 1927.
Hey William, first of all good luck, and second of all, what kind of climatic limitations do you have? Like precipitation distribution or short season without frost? I know vaguely of a farm here in California that dry farms tomatoes, and we have ZERO summer rainfall, but that farm is close to the coast where it’s foggy and temperatures are cooler. They don’t direct seed though as far as I know. It’d be awesome to hear about your progress, and if you think it’s plausible with my scant rain here, and IF I can clear the space, I have a long enough season to attempt direct seeded dry farmed tomatoes.
Not much to report yet. I seed about 10 or 15 days before expected last frost.
From the past two years I know I don't really need to water till July. Though you never know.
Growing season varies a bit but typically frost free from May 15th to some time in September.
Direct seeded tomatoes can be ripe here as soon as August first.
July and August are our hottest-driest months and when I usually irrigate tomatoes, though total monthly precip is typically 1 or 2 inches. Total yearly precipitation of around 16 inches is fairly typical.
Here is what Web Soil Survey has to say about my site:
"145—Round Butte silty clay loam, 2 to 4 percent slopes
Map Unit Setting
National map unit symbol: 4vxp
Elevation: 2,000 to 3,200 feet
Mean annual precipitation: 10 to 16 inches
Mean annual air temperature: 39 to 45 degrees F
Frost-free period: 100 to 130 days
Farmland classification: Farmland of local importance
Map Unit Composition
Round butte and similar soils: 85 percent
Minor components: 15 percent
Estimates are based on observations, descriptions, and transects of the mapunit.
Description of Round Butte
Landform: Lake plains
Down-slope shape: Linear
Across-slope shape: Linear
Parent material: Lacustrine deposits
Ap - 0 to 7 inches: silty clay loam
Btn - 7 to 14 inches: clay
Bkn - 14 to 44 inches: silty clay
C - 44 to 60 inches: stratified silt loam to clay
Properties and qualities
Slope: 2 to 4 percent
Depth to restrictive feature: More than 80 inches
Natural drainage class: Well drained
Capacity of the most limiting layer to transmit water (Ksat): Very low to moderately low (0.00 to 0.06 in/hr)
Depth to water table: More than 80 inches
Frequency of flooding: None
Frequency of ponding: None
Calcium carbonate, maximum in profile: 15 percent
Salinity, maximum in profile: Nonsaline to slightly saline (0.0 to 4.0 mmhos/cm)
Sodium adsorption ratio, maximum in profile: 60.0
Available water storage in profile: Low (about 5.6 inches)
Land capability classification (irrigated): 4e
Land capability classification (nonirrigated): 4e
Hydrologic Soil Group: D
Ecological site: Clayey (Cy) 10-14" p.z. (R044XW124MT), Saline-Sodic Grassland (R044AP803MT)
Hydric soil rating: No "
I've added sand to some of the soils involved, specifically two dump truck loads back in 2012, Though there is one troublesome area with very bad clay soils within the direct seeded tomato field. It may have gotten subsoil clay deposition when a frost free hydrant was installed back around 2005.
If I don't keep this thread updated well I may do better here:
Best of luck. The tallest, most productive tomatoes I've ever grown sprouted up from canning waste, unintentionally direct seeded in my garden bed. They came up much later than vigorous transplants, (about a month later) and quickly caught up, then surpassed my carefully tended plants.
Shortly thereafter they not only outstripped the coddled transplants, but more than quadrupled their yield. Moreso, the direct seeded plants were from hothouse hybrid tomatoes, with wildly different parentage lines. All those seedling from cherry to large salad still out grew and out produced all my carefully selected heritage and open pollinated transplants. The flavors were exceptional. This was truly an eye-opener and very happy accident.
Thank you, I replanted the seed of the hybrids I found last year. Plus some hybrids Joseph sent me. Plus some half wild seed from Joseph. Plus some Sweet Cherriette as a standard. I suspect I selected a little for earliness mostly inadvertently because of a shorter season last year than the year before. Lots of F2 seed which is supposed to be the most variable generation after a hybridization event. Should have a lot of adaptive potential.
Found the first direct seeded flower today June 28 Probably a Sweet Cherriette.
Over in my transplant field I made some intentional crosses mostly using Big Hill as either pollen or mother. Though one mother was a Big Hill cross F2 with good exsertion. Big Hill is a joy to work with when available as it has great big stigmas.
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
posted 3 weeks ago
I found a bunch of tomato volunteers in my kitchen garden. It doesn't seem to have flea beetles. Hmm. I wonder if that's due to a flock of chickens foraging in it while the garden was fallow during thefall, winter, and early spring?
Weeded a bit more in the transplant tomato garden. I have the water on now, had to replace a controller on the well. So will probably commence watering it in July as per usual. Laid out and tested the soaker hoses today.
Checked on the direct seeded field. It looks pretty good but weeds are popping back up. Will need to work on it more next weekend. I think the far West row will be my watered control on it. It's downslope, so any extra water will go to the squashes.
It does occur to me that my system of transplanting and not watering till July seems to work fairly well. I suppose I could do transplanted dry farmed tomatoes and have ripe tomatoes a month earlier. For 700 row feet would just need 140 plants spaced every five feet. Might be an idea for next year.
Didn't spend as much time in the garden as I would have liked this weekend. Rototilled some this morning but didnt hoe. Only got two intentional crosses attempted. Direct seeded plants are much bigger. Especially the patches I weeded first and ones in the best soil. Lots of flowers already on those.
Transplant patch has interesting plants. I think some Solanum arcanum will be blooming next weekend. Took a picture of one plant I thought earlier might be a three species hybrid betweem escuelentum, penellii, and habrochaites. It's blooming. In the picture the soil texture around it has big chunks. That was a side effect of using the Meadow Creature broadfork. My old sand mulch slid down between peds of clay soil as I broadforked. This resulted in clay chunks on the surface. However I am very curious to see what the infiltration is like on the beds when I start watering them.
Some have tomatoes already in the transplant patch.
Solanum arcanum has a few blooms. One accession seems inserted. The other only modestly exserted.
Spread some pollen around the transplant patch amongst the exserteds. Put some arcanum pollen on some peruvianum stigmas. Then collected some hab x pollen without wiping off the arcanum pollen and spread it to other hab x plants and a few Big Hill and one Big Hill x plant. Added a little Big Hill Pollen to the mix and applied it to some exserted pimp types. None of the deliberate crosses I made on prior weeks seemed to take. I think they got emasculated young enough but should have had more pollen applied over a couple days. So this morning I just didn't emasculate as the exserteds take up pollen pretty well.
In the transplant garden on a really old plant from my overwintering experiment, there is one ripe pimpinillifolium.
Rototilled a little and started soaker hoses on garden sectors including the transplant patch. Note: it's the 12th of July and this will be the first watering. Also on the single row of the direct seeded field that will be the watered control.
In the direct seeded field, the best soils are becoming really obvious. Eight years ago in 2011 I spread two piles of sand and then grew squash. The pile bases still have perhaps too much sand. But in between the two piles got perhaps the perfect amount and now it's mixed in nicely. That is where the tomatoes are biggest. They've exceeded the size of the more crowded transplant tomatoes. Better soils probably means in part better tilth, better infiltration, and greater water holding capacity. This soil as mapped recall from an earlier post only can store 5.5 inches. So the best soils modified by sand addition probably hold more water now. My soil seems to loose water in the early spring that flows through the soil to a vernal pool. This suggests to me that techniques like sand addition, hugelkulture, broadforking, and deep double digging may have a big impact.