Root Emergency

Sure enough, as I was posting the last post about my monster tomato plant, its roots started clogging up the 4″ PVC pipe, resulting in water backing up in the growbed so that there was a half inch of standing water above the rocks!   Ugh, I had no idea tomatoes would throw out so many roots…  Shows that I am still a gardening newbie!

I took some string and cloth straps (OK, cut up strips of an old sock that had holes in it – got that from http://growingyourgreens.com)and used partially-full paint cans to counter balance and lift up the tomato plant limbs, so that I as one person could pull the roots out easily.  Whoa!  That was a lot more than I expected – they had latched on to the chive planter 10 inches further down.   I may need to vacate those second holes after the tomato plants in the short run.

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The roots looked bigger in person, trust me.   At any rate, I ended up taking some scissors and trimming them down a bit.   I figure I’ll have to keep doing this.   I don’t know if I can easily do that on the others, since they are enmeshed with the trellis.   Hmm, I’ll just have to think about that one a bit.

Strawberries, Cherry Tomatoes, and Basil

My strawberry tubes are getting rather dense with leafy plant matter!

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Here’s the right half, with basil in front, and cherry tomatoes interleaved with strawberries every other hole in the back.   For these tomatoes, I’m training them up the trellis, away from the other plants:

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Here Ollie guards the strawberries from squirrels and birds.   There are a lot of shoots hanging down – if I had the inclination to water them, I could put pots of dirt down there and create new plants.

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Here’s my monster cherry tomato plant, from a hole in the back tube roughly in the center of the picture.  It’s not located by the trellis, so I have not pruned or trained it, and its branches are sprawling everywhere.   It may also benefit from being closest to the water source, perhaps sucking in more nutrients than plants further down the tube?   I found that I had to put a wooden plank under the tube to lift this end up, as the roots were impeding water flow down the tube.  That makes me wonder how it will look later this summer, and if I will have to do some root trimming.

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My first cherry tomatoes are born!  These are on one of the vines going up to the trellis.

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Carrots!

I finally pulled my carrots yesterday.  They were getting overgrown, for one, and also I was itching to plant watermelon or pumpkin seeds in this spot to spill over to the ground.

March 17th: early growth, from seeds scattered directly in late January or so…  (the green stuff front and center)

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April 3: They are certainly the big boys on the playground now…

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April 10th:  Looking good!

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April 25th:below you can see they are almost overgrown, spilling over and starting to choke out the other plants.   (Yes, I’m guilty of planting too thin, again!)   So I decided to yank one and see if it was done…

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Weird looking!   Fat and squatty…  but about what I’d expect for a root vegetable in a gravel bed.   Based on this, with the splitting, I figured it was definitely time for the others to come out as well.

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The kids helped me pull them out – fun stuff!   All of the carrots were squatty, which made the kids laugh.

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Here’s the full load:   Some were split, some were still greenish at the core.  (this is Chantenay Red Core variety, but none of mine were red, it seems)

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Interestingly, here’s one that my 3 year old yanked out a month or two ago, and I replanted it in a different growbed.  Something in that experience, probably the loss of its taproot, caused the carrot to send off many many new roots from the main body, similar to how non-root vegetable plants look, but not similar to most of the other carrots.

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Mid-April Shots

Here are some recent pictures, some may be a week apart…

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The seedless fry muscadine vine continues its travel down the wire…

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Here the bell pepper plants that I planted out of season are already producing – can’t wait til the peppers turn red – yummy!

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Below the tomato, basil, and jalapeno plants are slowly coming along.   That spinach plant needs to come out soon.

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Carrots are going NUTS – I’ve had to use some of the wooden dowels that I’m using to train the cucumbers up to keep the carrot tops from smothering the small basil plants behind them.

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Here you can see more evidence of carrots bullying the other plants, lol.   The tomatoes here are doing well, and the one in the bottom right is a cherry tomato, which I’ll try to get going up that bamboo skewer, away from the others.

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The spaghetti squash is doing its thing – taking over!  I’ve started training some of the vines down around the IBC cage to see if it would work as a trellis of sorts.  We’ll see how that goes.

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Here’s the beginnings of a vegetable spaghetti gourd, though a bit out of focus.

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NFT Tubes

I put up a lattice last week so that I can get the cherry tomatoes away from the strawberries beneath.   Cherry tomatoes are indeterminate, so you can trim them below to direct their energy towards growth at the tip of the vine.  I’m going to do that to get them up and onto the trellis, and then not “pinch the suckers” anymore, since once up there, they should be well enough above the strawberries.

I have basil in the front row, which seems to be doing well.

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As you can see, the strawberries are growing like weeds.   Traditionally with strawberries you are supposed to pinch off the flowers the first year to encourage root and foliage growth, rather than energy going to berries.  This gives a much better harvest the next year.    I am not sure if that’s needed in Aquaponics though, so I have decided to pinch the flowers on the back row, and let the berries grow on the front row.

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Here I have my first pink strawberry!

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