2010 Season Tomato Plant Analysis
In the medium sized category, Early Girl produced the most tomatoes per plant at 10.3, followed by Purple Prince at 6.8 and the EG/BB mystery category at 6.5 plants. Bonny Best was the loser at 4.5 but the results may be skewed since I fekked up and lost track of which was which for 6 tomato plants.
For the small, cherry-sized, tomatoes, Yellow Pear was the clear winner at 23 tomatoes per plant, followed chocolate cherry at 13.8 and Red Pear at 10.
Overall, small and medium sized tomatoes ripened at about the same rate – 14% by Aug 31. As time passed, the medium category nudged out the small ones and showed a 28% rate of vine ripened by Sept 14, versus 25%.
Bonny best won in the individual variety category for medium sized tomatoes and overall. A third of the fruit were ripe by Aug 31, and over half by Sept 14. Once again, there were only 9 identifiable BB fruits so things were likely skewed by small numbers. Purple Prince was slightly behind EG but picked up the pace to finish second at 24% ripe on the vine by Sept 14. On Aug 31, 12% of PP were ripe compared to 13% for EG and the EG/BB mystery group. The mystery group actually came in second at 33%. On the face of it, since the EG category finished at 19% at time of harvest, BB may be the winner. The mixed group and BB alone did the best.
Chocolate cherry won the small sized category in terms of ripening on the vine. While slightly behind Yellow Pear at the end of August (15% vs 16%), it advanced to 40% by mid September – clearly ahead of Yellow Pear at 23% and Red Pear at 15%.
The deck was the clear winner for tomato production, taking first place in both the medium and small categories at 11.5 and 35.8 tomatoes per plant, respectively. The green house was well behind at 5.6 and 10.3 per plant, medium versus small. The deck also won out in every individual type – where comparison could be made.
The greenhouse provided for the best location of ripening tomatoes in both categories. Twenty-one percent of the medium sized tomatoes in the greenhouse were ripe by August 31, compared to 4% on the deck. By harvest time, 36% of GH tomatoes were ripe compared to 17% on the deck. For small tomatoes, the deck started out better at 15%, compared to 12% for the GH. The tomatoes in the GH pushed ahead of the deck by harvest time at 28% versus 23%.
It appears that the deck is the best place for tomato production but not for ripening on the vine. One of the main reasons for growing tomatoes, is to pick them ripe off the vine. So, in a sense, the amount produced is “somewhat” secondary to how fast they ripen. This is especially important when Yellowknife’s first frost, as well as sub-zero temperatures, can strike in early September.
That said, it is likely possible to up the production in the greenhouse and make that location the clear winner in both categories. Right now, the sun is blocked out from half of the roof. This isn’t helping production, though it may have helped with advancing the increase in darkness that may help the fruit mature faster (we don’t get many hours darkness up here before it dips below zero or there is a killer frost). My plan is to put in three small sky lights next year, and in the future put in some glass on the wall (I’m currently using templast – a plastic sheathing – which doesn’t let in nearly as much light as glass). Both these actions should improve light conditions and hopefully production. However, with output improvements may come a downside – slower ripening cycles.
Another factor in the ripening may have been the heat, as the greenhouse is hotter than the deck, and stays warmer longer.
In terms of plant varieties, I think I will grow all three types of medium sized tomatoes again. I may drop the red pear in the small category, as it was last in both production and speed of vine ripening.
Finally, I will be building raised planters in the greenhouse. They’ll be about 2.5/3 feet off the ground. This will reduce the tedious labour of transplanting into big pots and lugging them in and out of the greenhouse etc. Plus, I won’t have to bend over, when caring for the plants. Alas, this latter improvement is of increasing importance with each gardening season.