Log in

No account? Create an account
Previous Entry Share Flag Next Entry

Bumper Crop

Don’t let anybody tell you that heirloom tomatoes just don’t produce very well.


Mostly Pink Brandywine, couple of Cherokee Purples in there too.

This is just the last couple days worth, off three plants. We’ve gone through a couple of bowls full doing tomato sandwiches, bruschetta, chopping them over spaghetti, Kevin’s putting them in his salads…now they’re starting to pile up a bit as we run out of the usual methods. Kevin swears he’ll make salsa or sauce or something tomorrow.

There’s still probably a bowl worth ripe on the plants, I just haven’t gone out to bring them in yet. (When I get really ambitious, I have one potted tomato that has run its course and needs to be sent to the compost heap and replaced with petunias or something. Given the heat recently, I am not all that ambitious.)

It’s been a heckuva year for tomatoes—one of the Brandywines, trained over an arch, is really quite a glorious thing, and I’m probably going to do that every year now—and even the notoriously finicky Cherokee Purple is producing a bumper crop.

Incidentally, they are all upside-down in the bowl because America’s Test Kitchen determined in multiple trials that a tomato stored upside down—or with tape over the stem hole!—lasts two or three days longer than stored upright. Turns out that the air and the bacteria and whatnot that lead it to rot get in primarily through the hole left by the stem, so by placing them stem-side down, you get a couple of extra days on your tomato. How awesome is that?

Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.


  • 1
As long as you get enough sun on your balcony, you should be able to grow them. BUT-you're a bit late, if you want them this year; it's at minimum 60 days from transplant to harvest.

You can either get a fairly small pot (3 gallon size or so) and use a patio tomato (which from what I've seen, are usually cherry or grape toms, not full size fruit, but that may have just been the plants I saw), or you can get a larger pot and grow regular varieties. Make sure to get a trellis/cage of some sort. You'll need to fertilize regularly, even if you use something like Miracle Grow potting soil; mine went through that in under a month, and I didn't know enough to keep fertilizing.

I used rubbermaid tubs for my plants; drilled holes in the bottom, put in a layer of river rock, then a layer of ground cloth to stop the potting soil from clogging up the drainage, then filled it with soil. It worked pretty well. I have friends who use 33 gallon rubber trash cans for their planting beds, but that's a bit big for a balcony!

On the other hand, if you have a sunny window/sliding door on the balcony, you can bring the plant indoors when it gets cold.

I have a south facing balcony which gets a lot of sun, especially in the summer, so it should be good, right? I could put them by the door in the winter. Might wait until next year though - depends on if I move after graduating law school.

Yes, you should be able to grow them with no problems then. If you are planning on moving though, I'd wait; once the pot is full, it weighs a TON. So if you elect to move it in & out, you will want some sort a wheeled stand, and a reservoir under it.
If you've got good sun there, you can also start them really early, and move them out after last frost!

Congrats on the graduation!

If you have extreme space/weight constraints, you might consider hydroponic techniques. Just be careful the cops don't bust down your door thinking you're growing pot.

Compost -- or potting soil plus composted manure -- mixed with shredded styrofoam (or perlite, which is about the same thing but more expensive) makes a pretty good potting mix that's a lot lighter than straight dirt.

There's a project or two in NYC using such a home-made mix for roof-top gardens. They get people to save their cooking scraps, for the compost pile, and their styrofoam cups and such, which they run through their leaf-shredder a time or two. Great concept!

You could still do tomatoes this year if you start with decent-sized purchased plants. The hanging upside-down planters actually work, but work best if the plants are put in when small, else there tends to be enough root damage to really slow things down.

A window-box style planter works really well for lettuces, by the way -- and for them, there's plenty of time.

If you don't get enough sun on your balcony, you can still probably manage to grow Yellow Pear (which I've found particularly abuse tolerant), though you might only get enough for a couple salads. Still, it's the principle of the thing for some people.

  • 1