Tomatoes - Ace versus Early Girl versus ?

I've been growing Early Girl for almost a decade, maybe more. At my local nursery (Orchard Supply in Berkeley) at the moment the only 6 packs they have are Ace. I once grew Ace but it was way before I got the hang of growing tomatoes. I'm very good at it now.
Is Ace going to be satisfactory? It's not so very warm here most of the summer, not optimal tomato growing weather, and that's why I've stuck with Early Girl. However, they have Ace in the nurseries, so I figure it must not be a bad one for here. I just called Berkeley Horticultural Society, and they said they won't sell 6 packs. That rules me out. I'm not going to pay $10 and up for my tomatoes when I can get a 6 pack at OSH for $229. In a week they are as big as the 3" potted plants.
The guy at Berkeley Hort said he prefers the Early Girl because "they taste better."
What do you think?
Dan
Email: dmusicant at pacbell dot net
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BTW, Orchard Supply said they would probably get a shipment on Tuesday, so I may just wait the 4 days and see if I can get Early Girl again. Next year I really should pin them down on the phone before making several trips. They said they'd get a shipment today, I called and they said they did, I went, they didn't have it! Bleh! I'm going to be a more fussy shopper!
Dan
Email: dmusicant at pacbell dot net
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Well, both are F1 hybrids, and what I can find Ace requires 75-85 days from transplant to produce fruit, and Early Girl takes 52-65 days.
According to the blurb in Wikipedia about Early Girl, it is a favorite of Alice Waters of Chez Paniss, if that means anything to you. Dry Farming Early Girl is recommended. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Girl
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On Fri, 19 Mar 2010 15:13:26 -0700, in rec.gardens.edible you wrote:
: :> BTW, Orchard Supply said they would probably get a shipment on Tuesday, :> so I may just wait the 4 days and see if I can get Early Girl again. :> Next year I really should pin them down on the phone before making :> several trips. They said they'd get a shipment today, I called and they :> said they did, I went, they didn't have it! Bleh! I'm going to be a more :> fussy shopper! :> :> Dan :> :> :> Email: dmusicant at pacbell dot net: :Well, both are F1 hybrids, and what I can find Ace requires 75-85 days :from transplant to produce fruit, and Early Girl takes 52-65 days. : :According to the blurb in Wikipedia about Early Girl, it is a favorite :of Alice Waters of Chez Paniss, if that means anything to you. :Dry Farming Early Girl is recommended. :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Girl
Ah, thanks. Chez Pannise is one of my favorite restaurants although I haven't stepped into it for upwards of 15 years. I'm about 3 miles from it. Well, Alice Waters said that she had a gastronomical epiphany (that might overstate it) when she ate a dry farmed Early Girl tomato. A guy I know admonished me to do something like dry farming my tomatoes telling me they would taste better. I haven't particularly followed his advice, although I've tried to cut back on the water and certainly have done so especially when it's not too warm.
I guess I could try not watering them after planting. There's certainly a lot of water in the ground right now!!!
I think I'll hold out for Early Girl even if I have to buy individual 3" pots, the bastards! I'll see what they have Tuesday afternoon and make my decision. Ace just seems way to slow in this environment. In June it's often overcast here.
Dan
Email: dmusicant at pacbell dot net
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wrote:
:Dry Farming Early Girl is recommended. :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Girl
The thing about dry farming them is this:
My soil is pretty heavily clay. I dig a trench that's about 2 feet deep, around 30 inches wide and around 10 feet long. I stop digging when I encounter standing water. Once I get that deep it's not only hard to get more mud out, it just doesn't seem to make sense because I'm seeing a pool of water. I don't know if it's at all feasible to get down to 3 feet depth. Never tried beyond about 2 feet.
So, although I hear that tomatoes are deep rooted and can send roots down up to 6 feet, I figure mine aren't going to be able to get down below 2 feet. They could maybe get into the clay soil, but there wouldn't be much point, because my compost rich soil stops at about 2 feet. Thus, I figure their wouldn't be much point in their sending roots down further just for water that wouldn't be wresting nutrients out of sourrounding soil. If I don't water, the compost won't continue to deteriorate and give up nutrients. My compost looks better this year, but there's still a lot of potential nutrients that won't be available to the roots unless there's a certain level of moisture in the soil. This is why I water some, usually once a week, what I figure will get all the soil wet down to the 2 foot level. That's been my thinking, far from scientific.
Dan
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Dan, just a suggestion, but I would add 10 cu.ft. of sand to your bed, plus whatever amendments, like 1 lb. rock phosphate, 5 lb of chicken manure, 5 - 10% compost (2 - 5 cu.ft.). Mix it in well, and then Never dig that bed again. In the future, add amendments to the surface (manure, rock phosphate, wood ash) and keep the bed covered with mulch (I prefer alfalfa because it gives me a twofer, mulch and nitrogen).
How common manures measure up Manure Chicken Alfalfa Fish Emulsion N 1.1 3 5 P .80 .1 1 K .50 2 1
For more see <Http://www.plantea.com/manuer.htm
If you get out to the coast, take a garbage bag and grab some seaweed too. Now is a good time to do tat because once the storms are over, the beaches get cleaned for tourist season, and there won't be any seaweed until next fall.
Keep the beds covered in mulch, except for when you want to warm the soil around the plants. If there isn't a plant, keep the bed covered. The reason for this is soil structure, which gets destroyed every time it gets dug up. The insects and the microbes will do your tilling for you as long as you keep them fed, and the bed will develope mycorrhiza which will work symbiotically with your plants to feed them.
If you have weed problems, pull them or put newspaper over them and cover with mulch.
When your plants are young, check the soil with your finger to see if the top inch is dry, before you water. It sounds like once your tomatoes are established, they will be able to find their own water (no salt water intrusion I hope).
Once the tomatoes start flowering, hold off on any future nitrogen additions as given food and water, the vines will prefer to vegetate than set fruit, which will reduce your crop.
Once the vines are up off the ground, you may want to try some clear plastic ground cover around them to warm the soil. I find it interferes with watering, so I'm only going to cover half the soil around my tomatoes. In your case, you may not need to water at all.
Good luck and have a happy equinox. Kinda looks like barbecue weather.
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wrote:
:
:> wrote: :> :> :Dry Farming Early Girl is recommended. :> :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Girl :> :> The thing about dry farming them is this: :> :> My soil is pretty heavily clay. I dig a trench that's about 2 feet deep, :> around 30 inches wide and around 10 feet long. I stop digging when I :> encounter standing water. Once I get that deep it's not only hard to get :> more mud out, it just doesn't seem to make sense because I'm seeing a :> pool of water. I don't know if it's at all feasible to get down to 3 :> feet depth. Never tried beyond about 2 feet. :> :> So, although I hear that tomatoes are deep rooted and can send roots :> down up to 6 feet, I figure mine aren't going to be able to get down :> below 2 feet. They could maybe get into the clay soil, but there :> wouldn't be much point, because my compost rich soil stops at about 2 :> feet. Thus, I figure their wouldn't be much point in their sending roots :> down further just for water that wouldn't be wresting nutrients out of :> sourrounding soil. If I don't water, the compost won't continue to :> deteriorate and give up nutrients. My compost looks better this year, :> but there's still a lot of potential nutrients that won't be available :> to the roots unless there's a certain level of moisture in the soil. :> This is why I water some, usually once a week, what I figure will get :> all the soil wet down to the 2 foot level. That's been my thinking, far :> from scientific. :> :> Dan :> :> :> Email: dmusicant at pacbell dot net: :Dan, just a suggestion, but I would add 10 cu.ft. of sand to your bed, :plus whatever amendments, like 1 lb. rock phosphate, 5 lb of chicken :manure, 5 - 10% compost (2 - 5 cu.ft.). Mix it in well, and then Never :dig that bed again. In the future, add amendments to the surface :(manure, rock phosphate, wood ash) and keep the bed covered with mulch :(I prefer alfalfa because it gives me a twofer, mulch and nitrogen). : :How common manures measure up :Manure Chicken Alfalfa Fish Emulsion :N 1.1 3 5 :P .80 .1 1 :K .50 2 1 : :For more see <Http://www.plantea.com/manuer.htm : :If you get out to the coast, take a garbage bag and grab some seaweed :too. Now is a good time to do tat because once the storms are over, the :beaches get cleaned for tourist season, and there won't be any seaweed :until next fall. : :Keep the beds covered in mulch, except for when you want to warm the :soil around the plants. If there isn't a plant, keep the bed covered. :The reason for this is soil structure, which gets destroyed every time :it gets dug up. The insects and the microbes will do your tilling for :you as long as you keep them fed, and the bed will develope mycorrhiza :which will work symbiotically with your plants to feed them. : :If you have weed problems, pull them or put newspaper over them and :cover with mulch. : :When your plants are young, check the soil with your finger to see if :the top inch is dry, before you water. It sounds like once your tomatoes :are established, they will be able to find their own water (no salt :water intrusion I hope). : :Once the tomatoes start flowering, hold off on any future nitrogen :additions as given food and water, the vines will prefer to vegetate :than set fruit, which will reduce your crop. : :Once the vines are up off the ground, you may want to try some clear :plastic ground cover around them to warm the soil. I find it interferes :with watering, so I'm only going to cover half the soil around my :tomatoes. In your case, you may not need to water at all. : :Good luck and have a happy equinox. Kinda looks like barbecue weather.
Thanks for these ideas! I'll try to work with them in the future. There's one other factor that will have to be worked out to implement your suggestions:
There's a rather large ( ! ) plum tree (yellow plums) that's just north of the tomato plot. The long rectangular tomato bed points almost directly at the trunk of that tree, and the tree limbs overhand about 25% of the tomato bed. I've been here around 25 years and the tree has grown and the last ~5 years, the tomatoes closest to the tree were doing very poorly. The last 2-3 years I've experimented with putting barriers in the soil to keep out the plum tree's roots from the tomato plot, and pretty successfully last year. Last year I put compressed wood ~1/4" boards down, about 2 feet deep. I treated one side with wood preservative. The trench is open right now, so I could replace them, and maybe I should, but my intention at the moment is to just leave them in there and see how the crop does this year. At the worst, the last 1-2 of the 6 plants will suffer, but I'll still get an OK crop.
If I adopt a strategy of not digging a trench yearly, I'll either have to execute my plan of removing the tree (a big job!), or put down a barrier that wouldn't require almost yearly replacement.
Dan
Email: dmusicant at pacbell dot net
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Personally, I don't see a problem with the tree's roots. Maybe someone can enlighten me. I think the problem would come from the tree casting a shadow on the tomatoes. Fortunately, the tree is on the north side of the tomatoes, so just trim it to let more light reach the tomatoes.
Alternatively, take a square nosed shovel and plunge it into the ground along a line that separates the tree from the tomato beds. You don't need to dig. You are just trying to sever any roots leading to the tomatoes.
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wrote:
:Personally, I don't see a problem with the tree's roots. Maybe someone :can enlighten me. I think the problem would come from the tree casting a :shadow on the tomatoes. Fortunately, the tree is on the north side of :the tomatoes, so just trim it to let more light reach the tomatoes. : :Alternatively, take a square nosed shovel and plunge it into the ground :along a line that separates the tree from the tomato beds. You don't :need to dig. You are just trying to sever any roots leading to the :tomatoes.
I think the roots are a big part of the problem, not just the shade. I'm basing this on my experience and also the admonitions and advice in my favorite book on tomato culture, "Tomatoes, the Multiplant Method" by Leo Klein. This book's methods enabled me to move from a bumbling experimenter to an accomplished grower. It's probably hard to find now. I found it at my local library, and made a copy many years ago. Klein advised treated barriers against tree root invasion such as I'm using, and doing this the last couple of years (especially last year) has made the northern most plant quite productive, while in the preceding 3 years or so, it has produced, be very meagerly compared to the southerly plants. Shade is an issue, certainly, but not so much in afternoon sun. I've trimmed he overhanging limbs some, but I'm convinced that invasive roots are the major problem.
Cutting those roots will help, but a barrier is the best strategy short of removing the tree. I should maybe do that anyway, because that tree is overhanging the property boundaries pretty considerably at this point.
Dan
Email: dmusicant at pacbell dot net
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Billy said:

Tree roots are why I've had to give up on the idea of not at least minimally tilling. My vegetable garden is a fertile oasis in a vaste sea of sand. So at least once a year each bed gets worked as gently as possible with a broad-fork and the fresh roots get ripped out.

Would likely have been sufficient at the last place, where the subsoil was heavy clay rather than sand. (The water table therewas high enough that we had crayfish burrows at the back of the yard even with no body of water in sight!)
One shovel blade length is hardly sufficient, in my current garden. The network of roots goes surprisingly deep here. It's a fossil sand dune, and the sand goes down for10 feet at least, probably much more. I wish I could do something about the trees, but my lot is long and narrow and the trees are in the neighbors' yards.
It's impressive, the lengths tree roots will go to get what the tree needs.
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Pat in Plymouth MI

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In article

Got me looking about. We used to say a trees root system is like the trees canopy sort of like a mirror image. Still maples were wider it seemed and our oaks had tap roots. Just folksy musings.
This looked interesting as it suggests size in time.
<http://www.vnla.org/Info%20Files/tree_canopy_spread.htm
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In article

keep roots out of his garden. I presumed that because of his high water table (only 2 ft. down ) the roots would be mostly on the surface. I would have thought the water would adversely affect the roots for most trees, willows and mangroves excepted. Spreading across the surface makes sense (gotta watch my premise), but diving into the water table? That seems odd to me. Sand seems like it should be different. Less retentive ability to hold moisture and nutrients, would justify a tree sending out roots everywhere looking for nourishment. Besides the roots, what else do you do to your sandy soil to make it suitable for gardening?

it have other characteristics?

them in one place they will just pop up somewhere else.
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Billy said:

LOTS of compost and mulch, prior heavy applications of ground limestone and other mineral soil amendments. It's made a huge difference. It does take a bit of water to keep things going around here, though.

It's a sand dune that used to be perched along the shore of a vastly larger Lake Erie, shortly after the glaciers retreated. South of us the land is lower and flatter, with much heavier soils (the old lake bed). It's been several thousands of years since that sand was blowing.
You can still see active sand dunes along the coast of Lake Michigan, and as you move inland from that lake there are successive bands of older dunes (or what I have referred to as 'fossil' dunes).
This year I have to start a new strawberry bed, as the old one is really in decline. Best be prepared for some major tree root removal when I renovate it...
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In article

I have the opposite problem, heavy clay. Organic mater and sand have improved my situation greatly. Now I rely on rye and earthworms to complete the soil transformation. I'm trying to switch out the rye for buckwheat (both put amazing amounts of roots into the soil) because buckwheat is high in rutin, which would make it healthy for the soil, and healthy for me.
Have you added any clay to your garden? It would help with water and nutrient retention.
With all that sand, are there earthworms in your garden? Any idea of the biotic community in the garden soil?

And several thousand years in the making before that.

I wouldn't have thought of lakes as having sand dunes. California lakes must just be too small to have this feature.

Sounds like a challenge, given the breadth and depth of your root problems.
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Billy said:

Other than incidentally (as in rock dust applications, no). Not very practical, either, for a number of reasons. Not much call for clay at the local landscape supply places, for one. And no way to get anything back there except by the barrow load (the garden is in the back half of a *very* long narrow lot and completely land-locked).

The joint is jumping. Bursting with worms. Alive with mycorrhizal fungi.
Just drains very, very well.

Our Great Lakes are fresh water seas, don't you know. Created by glaciers and surrounded by thick layers of glacial till. Something you just have to see to appreciate, I think.
Have a visit sometime to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (lower penninsula) and climb the dunes:
<http://www.midwestguest.com/2009/07/conquering-the-sleeping-bear-dune-climb.html
Or check out the rock formations and dunes at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (upper penninsula):
<http://www.nps.gov/piro/planyourvisit/scenicsites.htm
And if you are up in that area, don't miss Paradise, the Whitefish Point Coast Guard station, the Shipwreck Museum and memorial to the Edmund Fitzgerald:
<http://www.exploringthenorth.com/whitefish/whitefish.html

I expect to have large loppers and a saw handy.
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Actually, the compressed wood I put in there to fend of the plum tree's roots was 1/8". I might replace at least some of it. I have a piece left.
Dan
Email: dmusicant at pacbell dot net
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My main problem with the tomatoes at the moment is just that I can't find a 6 pack of Early Girl. Seems that all the Orchard Supply Hardware stores in the area aren't stocking them currently.
Does anyone know of a source of tomato 6 packs (Early Girl is what I'm after) in the S.F. East Bay's I80 corridor? I'm driving from Berkeley to Milpitas tomorrow and could make a stop for seedlings. Thanks for any ideas. Suggest a store and I will call it.
Dan
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wrote:
:My main problem with the tomatoes at the moment is just that I can't :find a 6 pack of Early Girl. Seems that all the Orchard Supply Hardware :stores in the area aren't stocking them currently. : :Does anyone know of a source of tomato 6 packs (Early Girl is what I'm :after) in the S.F. East Bay's I80 corridor? I'm driving from Berkeley to :Milpitas tomorrow and could make a stop for seedlings. Thanks for any :ideas. Suggest a store and I will call it. : :Dan
A manager at my local OSH just called me and told me that in 2 days (Friday) they will have 6 packs of Early Girl. He said the supplier was later than usual due to the heavy rains. I'm skeptical concerning that explanation (kept that to myself), but thanked him. I'll go in Friday (after calling them to confirm) and hope to finally score my seedlings.
Dan
Email: dmusicant at pacbell dot net
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It's still too early for most places to have a wide variety of tomatoes in stock. I would *never* plant Ace - it's the same tasteless tomato that supermarkets stock. I usually rotate between Early Girl and Better Boy for an early fruiting plant. They both have small fruits but with good flavor.
And don't add sand to your clay soil - build it up with organic amendments. The sand won't mix into the rest of the soil, it'll just form a horizon.
Susan B. in Sunnyvale
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wrote:
:> wrote::> :> :My main problem with the tomatoes at the moment is just that I can't :> :find a 6 pack of Early Girl. Seems that all the Orchard Supply Hardware :> :stores in the area aren't stocking them currently. :> : :> :Does anyone know of a source of tomato 6 packs (Early Girl is what I'm :> :after) in the S.F. East Bay's I80 corridor? I'm driving from Berkeley to :> :Milpitas tomorrow and could make a stop for seedlings. Thanks for any :> :ideas. Suggest a store and I will call it. :> : :> :Dan:> :> A manager at my local OSH just called me and told me that in 2 days :> (Friday) they will have 6 packs of Early Girl. He said the supplier was :> later than usual due to the heavy rains. I'm skeptical concerning that :> explanation (kept that to myself), but thanked him. I'll go in Friday :> (after calling them to confirm) and hope to finally score my seedlings.:> :> Dan:> :> Email: dmusicant at pacbell dot net: :It's still too early for most places to have a wide variety of :tomatoes in stock. I would *never* plant Ace - it's the same :tasteless tomato that supermarkets stock. I usually rotate between :Early Girl and Better Boy for an early fruiting plant. They both have :small fruits but with good flavor. : :And don't add sand to your clay soil - build it up with organic :amendments. The sand won't mix into the rest of the soil, it'll just :form a horizon. : :Susan B. :in Sunnyvale
Where I am, the 6 packs are usually out by a week or two prior to now. I've never seen this much delay. However, I did plant 4 weeks later in 2006 (April 21) due to an exceptionally rainy spring. There was just no chance to prepare and plant sooner.
I had decent luck with Better Boy some years ago, but have done so well with Early Girl, I haven't been tempted to stray.
You wouldn't believe the size of the compost pile I had this year. I could have put more in, but I know I'll get a great crop. It's about the same amount of compost as last year (5+ wheelbarrows), which was the first time I didn't add ANY commercial fertilizer (either at planting time or later)! I think it was on Wild Billy's suggestion last year, I've stopped using commercial fertilizer on my vegetables.
It's amazing, though, how thick, solid and muddy the soil gets a year later even with all that organic matter added (one year before).
Dan
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