Saturday, February 16, 2008

Biodynamic Tomatoes: My Jack & The Beanstalk

DO YOU REMEMBER JACK?
As a child I loved it when someone would read me the fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk. I jumped right inside the pages of the storybook and tagged along for the adventure with Jack, climbing up that sturdy, massive stalk. My heart would race as we would be running around the castle in the sky. And I would always exhale a huge sigh of relief upon our safe return.

Well last spring I came up a website called McKean County Biodynamics. The master gardener L.A. Rotheraine proclaimed you could grow a cherry tomato plant that would reach the heights of 11 feet and produce over a thousand tomatoes. Just send $2 in a self-addressed envelope for a package of seeds.

NOW FOR THE REST OF THE STORY
Well I have to tell you, I got so excited about this! Visions of Jack in the Beanstalk re-emerging from the recesses of mind, egging me on. I told my husband Scott, somewhat apologizing to him. How can a single plant produce over a 1000 cherry tomatoes? I knew I was once again falling for a too good to be true story, but what the heck, the investment was only two bucks.

I sent away for the seed. They promptly arrived, along with planting instructions. Just so you know, my thumb has never been green, I’m more of a brown thumb kind of gal, but Scott and I planted these biodynamic tomato seeds from L.A. Rotheraine. The packet had so many seeds we had three pots going.

Never have I had any luck growing plants from seed. The seedlings always pop up looking strong and healthy, then it seems once they catch a good breath of air they agh! agh! agh!, sputter, cough, and flop over…dead as a door nail.

To my amazement our little biodynamic tomato seeds DID NOT do this. Hooray! I’m jumping for joy! I have seeds turning into little seedlings. I have little seedlings getting stronger turning into plants. Suddenly, we find ourselves with 3 pots of astonishingly vibrant tomato plants.

Come planting time, we handed out tomato plants to several people and kept one pot of plants for ourselves. We decided to plant one according to the directions, and the others we would scatter around our property in different beds, without following the special instructions.

OK, SO JUST WHAT ARE THOSE INSTRUCTIONS?

We had to dig a hole 2 ft x 3ft and fill it with compost, food scraps, green material, leaves and whatever else that could breakdown into viable nutrients. (View complete details, instructions, photos- scroll down page). Also when we put our tomato plant in the compost hole, we put a
½ cubit Slim Spurling Ring around the stalk, to give it additional energy. The other remaining plants were either placed in beds or pots, scattered about, but with no special planting procedures, except pure intention for good growth and abundant harvest. Now it was time to just sit back and wait for The Truth to come out about these plants.

SOMETIMES WHEN IT’S TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE…
Sometimes when it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t! We had an amazing production of cherry tomatoes! As promised, we reached well into the thousand mark. As promised, they were the size of golf balls. As promised, they were the best tasting cherry tomatoes we had ever had, as sweeet as candy!

The problem we had was our limited thinking. We had not really expected the results that were promised, therefore the staking system we had was not sufficient and came tumbling down under the weight of the plant after some time. It then sprawled outward, covering just about the entire bed we had it planted in. The tomatoes were like the energizer bunny, they kept on coming. We were picking our last tomatoes in early November. The plant itself still had a lot of fruit on it at that time but we could not keep it from succumbing to the ever lowering temperatures of our area, about one hour south of Philadelphia.

The other plants we had scattered around were strong, healthy and prolific as well, but not to the degree that this special planting one was. The size and taste of the fruit was pretty much equal. The big difference was in the size of the plant, although they outsized any prior cherry tomato plants we ever had, they were not the Jack and The Beanstalk size of our beloved special planting.

WILL WE DO IT AGAIN?
You betcha we will. It was the best $2 investment I ever made. As soon as I am finished typing this post, I am ordering my packet of seeds for this year. Scott and I are so excited about doing the planting again. Only this time we will be better prepared. Our special plant will have a dedicated site, all to itself. The staking system will be vigorous enough to support the growth we know it is capable of achieving. The other plants, we will scatter around the grounds just as we did last year. So my final word is…go to the website, read the material, watch the video, and then order your seed packet for $2.

Check our some more of our tomato plant pictures from July, you need to scroll to the bottom of the page.
Video:
Growing Tomatoes from Garbage (15 minutes) Biodynamic principles can be applied to gardens or farms of any size, as well as larger areas or whole ecosytems. The following video illustrates how well biodynamics works on single tomato plants

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2 comments:

wildcatsthree said...

Wow, that's a tall cherry tomato plant. That's worth checking out. thanks for the info

Susan & Scott Anderson said...

Yes, it is amazing, you won't be disappointed if you get a package of seeds. I am awaiting the arrival of my seeds and am so excited about doing it again this year.