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Tomato Waves and Winter Woes

Posted 2/16/2011 12:37pm by Ty Zemelsky.

As I write this note, we are getting ready to start our first wave of tomatoes.  There is a real promise of spring in this activity.  If you count all the months that these tomatoplants will be in our lives, you  begin to realize that this is a long term relationship!  The plants that are started today will be with us until the beginning of September-that would be seven months!  Among the varieties tht we will start will be Sungold, Prudens Purple, Moskovich, Red grape, Paul Robeson and Cherokee Purple.  In a few weeks, these small plants will be grafted onto a sturdy rootstock.  What this means, is that we literally cut the plant in half and clip it to the rootstock.  The purpose of this procedure is two-fold.  First, we are able to avoid soil borne root diseases.  Second, the newly made plant has the ability to increase its productivity significantly. We have always provided unusual and extremely tasty heirloom tomatoes over the years and are very proud of our reputation with top chefs and our farmer’s market customers.

On a more somber note, our greenhouses have suffered mightily this winter with all the snow that the state has received.  Star Light Gardens has 5 greenhouses with a total area of 16,500 sq feet.  In most winters, the snow that fell on the roofs of the houses would always slide off very soon after any storm.  That was also true this winter, untilthe piles became so high along the edges that there was no longer any room for the snow to go anywhere.  There came a critical moment when it became obvious that the only way to save the structures was to cut all the plastic from the inside and let the snow on top fall thru to the crop bed directly below it. Four of our five houses are now standing tall, minus the protective plastic.  The last house, our largest one by 50%,  partially caved in before we could do this procedure.  This is a costly, but not irreparable situation.  In this larger house, we can still get in the house and harvest at least half of what is there-wonderful winter spinach, truly the best that winter has to offer.  In the other houses, the snow has buried all the greens, making them inaccessible for now.  We believe that this will not kill the plants under the snow, just slow down their ability to grow.  Once the snow around the houses goes away, we can put plastic back on and the plants will start growing again. Although, we wouldn’t rate this event as positive, our goal is to get back to doing what we know best-grow the best greens, tomatoes and other veggies around.