There’s nothing quite like a fresh picked tomato when the weather outside is frightful – and it certainly has been here in Indiana. The catfish we put into the aquaponic system this spring didn’t make it – and with everything going on, I never bought more fish to put back in the tank. I did leave the tank running because there were plants that still needed water. I figured without the fish they would die off sooner or later. That is not the case. While it is true that the tomato plant has some dead leaves on it, it is full of flowers and fruit in different stages of ripening. Gardening is always full of surprises and that is what I like best.
Oddly enough I have ignored that tomato plant only adding water to the tank below when it got low. I have not hand pollinated it however as we walk past to go out the door it does get bumped. Another thing I noticed is the fruit is in the center of the plant and on the far side that gets the least light. The flowers are nearer to the door so they do get some light, however they also get the first blast of cold air from outside when the door is opened. That happens twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening – when we feed the animals.
I really need to get some help to string the tomato plant up so it reaches towards the ceiling – and the grow light. That would give it more air circulation and allow me to remove some of the dead leaves. I did notice a few white fly caught in a spider nest today so I know I need to take action now instead of waiting. I certainly don’t want a white fly infestation in my greenhouse!
In the same container with the tomato plant I saw a coffee tree was still alive. The edges of the leaves were a little brown, but that is to be expected. Obviously the humidity level isn’t high enough for that particular plant. That is ok. The rest of the leaves looked shiny and green so it is thriving even under less than ideal growing conditions. I would love to harvest coffee one day. I don’t drink it myself but would get a kick out of roasting it and giving it as a gift.
If you’re wondering about the temperature inside my little greenhouse where the tomatoes are growing, I aim for no less than 50 degrees F. It seems to be staying in the 60 to 70 degree F temperature range right now, although there was a couple times it dipped below 50 degrees F – but not for long. I keep a thermometer in there and try to keep a close eye on the temperature especially at night.
If you don’t have a greenhouse, you can still grow tomatoes year-round – right in your living room! All you need is a five gallon bucket or pot of similar size and a good grow light. I use fluorescent lights. They are four feet long and take two bulbs. I use one from the hot spectrum (red, orange or yellow colors on the bulb package) and one from the cool spectrum (blue or green colors on the package). This works just fine and saves quite a bit of money compared to buying true grow bulbs and fixtures.
In the event you didn’t save a tomato plant from your garden this year, start one from seed. Yes, it will take some time to grow into a full size plant and start producing but come spring when the last frost has passed you can move it into your garden and keep on harvesting tomatoes. I guarantee you will get the first ones on the block with a mature plant!
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