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Discussion forum for the various methods and structures used for getting an early start on your growing season, extending it for several weeks or even year 'round.

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Old June 15, 2016   #31
Cole_Robbie
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I thought I caught them early, but I am still picking a lot of damaged fruit that are not marketable.

My first set of plants that I started for the high tunnel got sick and died from the early spring cold weather, so what's in there now is my "B-Team." And it's showing. My determinates, almost 2/3 of the high tunnel, are looking like one big flop. I should have been at market the past two weeks, but I still haven't gone. If I had planted the Taxi I originally planned on, I would be picking fruit by the bushel right now.

I had very cold, wet weather in May. I'm sure that didn't help. Sol Gold, which by the way is an extremely compact plant, like Cole, caught blight or something fungal. I never did spray them. The plants are most of the way to being dead now.

Productive from Altai has nice big plants, but fruitset is spotty. I see a lot of catfacing as well. That might be from the cold May, but it doesn't matter. Catfaced fruit are unmarketable.

My first big red tomatoes have been Agatha. Along with the saladette Aura, those two are my best reds out of the determinates, at least with the plan of early tomatoes. They both taste very good, too. Titan Red is not even close to being ripe.

There's a Buckbee's New 50 Day ripening on my counter right now. It looks more pink than red. It's a tomato that needs a new name - it's not 50 day and it's not new. Production looks decent on my one plant. Flavor test pending.

My indeterminates are my best high tunnel plants. Nothing is ripe quite yet, but I have some huge green tomatoes. Tarasenko 6 looks to be stealing the show. It grows like a modern hybrid. I think I stunted my Cosmonaut Volkov by injecting too strong of a fertilizer mix into the drip. I've quit chem salt nutes in the injector, and now I just use molasses.

I'm thinking about taking the plastic off the high tunnel this week. It's supposed to be 96 tomorrow. Plus, I would like it to rain on my whiteflies.
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Old June 15, 2016   #32
PureHarvest
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Hang in there for the long haul Cole. You know things will turn at some point. You got back up plants, or can you clone a bunch of your ones that are looking like winners?
May absolutely sucked here too.
18 days without direct sun almost seemed impossible, but we went through it.
Every year its something seemingly new but is probably from the same old long list of, "welcome to farming".
Not that it puts you at your market with red fruit, but just remember you are not going through it alone.
Word from some folks around here is that tomatoes are super late and are not gonna be plentiful. If it is the same for you, you should be able to sell out each week when you do get fruit, and maybe get a better price.
Plus, if nothing else, you will have picked up more experience for next year and will be that much wiser.
I am still 2 weeks later than I planned but the restaurants are not gonna get local tomatoes from anyone else either. My little tunnel is loading up with green fruit, and Lord willing, I should be able to beat just about every local grower thanks to my tunnel. Hope to harvest for sales at the beginning of July.

I ordered my 30x72 high tunnel today (got approved for the NRCS high tunnel grant) and am going to use it for a spring/summer crop next year instead of turning it into a heated greenhouse for this winter. I'm doing double plastic with the hopes that I can get started really early and get tomatoes to the restaurants way before anyone else and expand and lock in my customers. I am going with automated roll up sides and mechanical shutters at either gable end so I can be away and have it vented early on when cool mornings go on to be hot days.

Last edited by PureHarvest; June 15, 2016 at 04:17 PM.
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Old June 15, 2016   #33
BigVanVader
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Hate to hear it Cole, hang in there! So far I have been lucky this year but the weather (till now) has been about perfect for growing maters. I grew Taxi in my mini-hoop this year because of your praises and they are finally ripening. I should have enough for market this Saturday. One question I had. Did you prune your Taxi at all? several of mine have small fruit, like golf ball sized and they don't seem to be getting bigger. I never pruned mine since they are a det.
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Old June 15, 2016   #34
Cole_Robbie
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Thanks, both of you.

I never pruned Taxi. Mine grew into 7' tall hedges. Fruit size does vary a lot with Taxi. I have had some be softball-sized, and others be more like saladettes.

Good luck with the new high tunnel. I think the biggest benefit of the double-layer plastic is that you avoid radiative cooling, and the effect of it that makes a single-layer structure drop about five degrees below the outside temperature.

I may drastically change my game plan for next year. I would really like to be done with my crop by now, not just getting started. I wanted to try low tunnels this year, but all my effort went into expanding my garden space. For next year, I may try to not get any bigger, build low tunnels on all my rows, and come up with a way to heat them a little on freezing nights. I think a propane-powered job site heater would do the trick, with the right ducting. Then I'd grow an early, compact plant like the hybrid cherry Terrenzo, and I would be selling tomatoes in May, and then be done by the first week of June.
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Old June 16, 2016   #35
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You should consider the NRCS high tunnel program.

The standard does not require it to be as "high" as you might think. It only has to be a minimum of 6' tall.

Farmtek has a kit that is 12 wide by 50 long that is 7' high at the peak. It is 1,085 bucks.

You would have to retrofit it to have roll up sides to meet the standard.

My state pays 3.50 per square foot for beginning farmers (less than 10 years reporting farm income on your tax return). Basically you can get 2,500 square feet of structure paid for ($8,750 is the cap here, every state is different).
So you could get 4 of those farmtek low tunnels paid for.
You would have some of your own money in the base and hip boards and components for the roll up sides. And shipping.

So you could do a low "high" tunnel and cover 12x200 total area. If one tunnel could cover two rows, you'd be able to cover 400' of row.

See here for the farmtek low tunnel:

https://www.farmtek.com/farm/supplie..._105179FF.html

This has me thinking now. 400' of dwarfs on black plastic cover by a "high" low tunnel next year with no rain on them and an early start...

Last edited by PureHarvest; June 16, 2016 at 10:16 AM.
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Old June 16, 2016   #36
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I just called my local USDA office today and talked to them about the high tunnel program. Guy was really nice and said I would almost definitely meet the requirements to get approval for a high tunnel. Thanks for reminding me of this PH. I meant to call earlier in the year but got busy and forgot. If I can get new high tunnel I'm going to be ecstatic.
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Old June 16, 2016   #37
Cole_Robbie
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My mom and stepdad got a NRCS grant this year.
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Old June 16, 2016   #38
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That's awesome Cole! It sounds pretty easy from what the guy said.
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Old June 16, 2016   #39
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It took about eight months longer than the extension agent said it would. They thought they would have the money last calendar year.
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Old June 16, 2016   #40
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I don't mind waiting. I just can't believe they give you free money...I figured I had to be a big grower or have so much land but nope. Just a producer of agricultural products. He even mentioned they have grants for kitchen renovations to meet "commercial kitchen"rrequirements and since I make salsa/hot sauce etc that may be the next thing I try.
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Old June 16, 2016   #41
Ricky Shaw
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Hate hearing of the hardships, but always enjoy learning about new plans and projects.
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Old June 16, 2016   #42
Cole_Robbie
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I just ordered Spinosad and a spreader agent called SM-90. That will be my next round of attack against the whiteflies, as my Met-52 is almost gone.

I've contemplated Malathion and Sevin, but I don't have a cartridge respirator or a spray suit, which would cost more than the non-chemical spray. Plus, the whitefly damage is not apparent until the fruit ripen. So I may be stuck eating my tomatoes and not selling them. But at least I will have something I want to eat.
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Old June 16, 2016   #43
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I just took the plastic off the high tunnel. The plants are wilting from the heat.

AKMark's Brandywine Cowlick's x Big Beef were the first tomatoes to ripen in my row of high tunnel indeterminates. I picked a handful just now.


And flavor review of the Buckbee's 50 Day is that it's not bad, but it's not good enough to keep. It's a little too pink-tasting for me, with not enough acid. I like Big Beef better.

Last edited by Cole_Robbie; June 16, 2016 at 08:40 PM.
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Old June 17, 2016   #44
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Sorry to hear the whiteflies have trained in the Jedi arts; keep at them, things will be salvageable. Plant Terrenzo now and stretch them into the fall.
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Old June 17, 2016   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigVanVader View Post
I don't mind waiting. I just can't believe they give you free money...I figured I had to be a big grower or have so much land but nope. Just a producer of agricultural products. He even mentioned they have grants for kitchen renovations to meet "commercial kitchen"rrequirements and since I make salsa/hot sauce etc that may be the next thing I try.
So cool, 2 for 1. Commercial kitchen sounds nice.
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