martes, 31 de marzo de 2009

Solar Muffins, upside-down tomates

Latest solar fare:
Banana Crunch Muffins, loosely based on this recipe

sun-tanned delicious!

And finally the time has come to harvest from the Upside-Down Tomato experiments! Out of the 4 i planted, this is the only plant that appears healthy. The other 3 produced a few tiny tomatoes but their branches have dried and withered.

It was affirming to hear that many other folks who planted the UC-82 variety were also met with a disappointing, flavor-less tomato crop. The seeds were gifted to us by a local agricultural co-op, a sandinista program i would guess, that collaborates with the university to provide ag-info, workshops, seeds, and probably much more. We recently attended a lecture on zompopos (leaf-cutter ants), an ingenious insect that farms its own mushrooms (!!) and often destroys coffee crops in the process. The little einsteins harvest chunks of leaves and haul them back to their underground fungus farm, then feed on some bacteria or micro-organism that lives on the mushrooms. In Costa Rica there are eco-tours offering hikes to see leaf-cutter ants in action! Admittedly, it is cool to see a long line of them trekking back to the nest, the slices of bright green leaf seeming to herald the arrival of a medieval ant calvary.
In the lecture i was very impressed at the the organic approach to managing the pest, including the application of neem oil and the value placed on understanding the zompopo life cycle.

Back to the dangling tomatoes: as far as UC-82s go, these were not bad! Good color, typical square-ish shape, slightly juicier than the in-ground crop.

All in all, i'd say it's not a bad idea if you lack ample garden space. Otherwise......they weren't worth the precarious balance act of watering on a stool.

2 comentarios:

Dan R-M dijo...

Ah, now for the upside-down tomatoes...
Did you use potting soil, or your own soil, or compost, or some mixture?
It looks like you left the tomato right-side-up for a while before hanging it. Did you start it in the bucket from seed?
Did you notice many pests, and did the plants seem happy? (that's kind of a loopy northern-California question, but I'd like to know:)
How would you do it differently? We were thinking of using cloth bags for ours, putting multiple plants in...
Thanks for the posts!

Liz dijo...

Hey Dan!
on the tomato experiments:
i used a combo of soil and compost, about 1:3 ratio; i started lots of tomatoes together in seed trays, then transplanted most to the ground and 4 into buckets; i waited 'til the plants were about 6in to turn them upside down. we wanted to compare results of the in-ground(G) to the in-buckets(B). in my first post there is a pic of one B before it went upside down:
I have orgegano and basil in the tops of the B.
Most G suffered blossom end rot...probably due to inconsistent watering, while maybe 2 or 3 fruits from B rotted on the stem. the buckets are in my backyard, therefore i was able to water them regularly. The garden crop stopped producing 4 weeks ago & though it is a determinate, the B crop is STILL producing!
No pests detected. The fruit size and flavor for both were about the same. The B plants are very twisted, kinda uncomfortable/unnatural looking. but like i said, still fruiting!
I would advise turning them upside down later, once the plant is tall enough to reach the sun from the bottom of the bucket, rather than reaching and twisting around.
hope this helps!