Friday, May 28, 2021

The Taxi Tomatoes that produced multiple harvests

Over the last several years I have grown the Taxi tomato. The majority of the time I have grown it, I have had some form of success. The very first year I had my garden, I grew a whole lot of them. The following year or two I grew less of them outside of the garden. But last year, I decided I would grow primarily Taxi tomatoes in the area in which I had been growing my sweet potatoes.

Tomatoes generally don’t do well being grown in the same place year after year. The plants often draw a large amount of fertility, nutrients and other good things from the soil. Additionally, fungus, bacteria, viruses and other disease issues that can build up in the plants can sometimes make their way into the roots and the soil. 

In 2019, my children splashed chlorinated water over the sides of the pool, which killed the healthy bacteria that supported the roots of the plants, which quickly led to their demise. Likewise, at the beginning of the 2020 gardening season highly chlorinated water was splashed all over my Taxi tomato plants, which quickly began to decline. I decided to experiment by spraying some Serenade (Bacillus subtilis strain QST 713) onto the plants. Within a matter of days, the plants not only rebounded from the injury caused by the chlorine, but were doing much better than they were doing prior to having the bacteria stripped from the soil. So – this is how I had a good crop of Taxi tomatoes. Every 2-3 weeks, the plants would decline enough to require spraying again and each time I sprayed, the plants did better. Spraying like this turned this determinate tomato variety into something that was much more semi-determinate in nature.

The vines continued to grow strong through several flushes of tomatoes until the plants, though still free of disease, looked used up enough that I decided to pull them. This is always a hard decision to make: when to pull the plant? My decision point for pulling a plant is when the plant begins to decline to the point at which leaving it in the soil would be detrimental to the health of the garden. For me, tomatoes usually reach this point immediately after their first fruit is formed (one of the many reasons I prefer growing determinate tomatoes). Most years I would have pulled the plant much earlier, but this year I decided to pull it later because the plant’s health was still so good. 

So altogether this was a fantastic year for growing out the Taxi tomato. I enjoyed a good harvest - and the plants were healthy enough that the negative effects of their presence in that spot were mostly mitigated by the bacterial fungicide I used to maintain them. Unlike previous years, I can gladly say that – at least in relation to growing out my Taxi Tomatoes – that I wouldn’t change a thing.

Friday, May 21, 2021

The Polish Monastery Cucumber

So – I purchased this variety because it was supposed to be some kind of regular striped cucumber that originated in a Polish monastery. Between the name and origin and the hope that it would have stripes, I was interested.

Starting out the plants was easy. They grew a lot faster in the cool spring soil then my Carosello cucumbers did. This is to be expected because Cucumis sativus is much more tolerant to cool temperatures than Cucumis melo (or regular melon) is.

Over time the plants became big enough to flower. I was very excited to see what they might become. However, as the fruit began to mature I noticed something – there were no stripes. Not even a bit of stripes. As is the case with many of the cucumber and melon varieties that I grow, the picture and/or description does not always match what I experience in growing out the plant – especially when it comes to the appearance of the fruit.

Once I saw that there were no stripes, I decided to taste the fruit to see if it had any redemptive qualities. The fruit had a moderately pleasant texture, but had some slight bitterness. This was not a variety that I was willing to grow for harvest – so I decided that it was time to pull them in order to leave enough room for my other plants.

 Though I love most cucumber plants, not every cucumber variety is worth perpetuating. In some cases, it is important to determine if the number of positive qualities that the cucumber variety possesses outweighs its negative qualities.

I have a very difficult time encouraging anyone to invest their time and attention in growing out anything that I wouldn’t like to eat – and I generally will not recommend growing anything that I personally don’t enjoy.