Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mr. Stripey Produces!

This darn plant has FINALLY begun looking up. Well, why not, it's almost ten feet tall, and it's mid-July now.

I received several pieces of advice on some gardening forums about the issues I have been having with Mr. Stripey. As I have mentioned on this blog before, this particular variety of tomato is notorious for either under-producing, getting leafy and big, or being light on flavor for the fruits it does produce. Now, it seems like the plants you put in the soil, etc., do really well, but only people in certain areas have the right conditions.

Anyway, we've seen the photos of the plant getting taller and taller:
(it's even taller now)

And it kept producing these flowers that were really non-flowers. See Exhibit A:
They would open up, and contain no petals, no stamen, no . . . . (what's the opposite of stamen? Pistol? i think there is another name. I think pistol and stamen are on the male flower? Uh oh, i think i am getting this entire flower anatomy thing wrong)

Part of the advice I received was that there was either a phosphorous deficiency or some other kind of deficiency that I cannot remember right now. Everyone agreed that the plant did not need any more nitrogen, because more nitrogen (such as is contained in Miracle-Gro) only makes your plants grow bigger and grow more leaves, etc. - NOT the problem this plant has. We needed this plant to STOP growing and start producing fruit.

I also was told to stop watering so much. The plants were a bit overwatered because of constant rain. I think this did make a big difference for this plant and the other tomato plants.

However, the biggest difference, I think, was made by:
Go Schultz!

Look what happened less than three days after I used Schultz!
REAL flowers started appearing, the kind with petals! I was totally biting my nails while waiting to see if they would turn into full fledged beautiful flowers.

And they did:

I picked the Schultz fertilizer b/c it had the lowest content of nitrogen, and the highest of phosphorous, and the plant really seemed to respond to it - very quickly. I have not seen any other flowers on Mr. Stripey, though. I have seen more non-flowers. I am hoping that it bears some more fruit.

In response to this flowering, I have gone at the rest of the plant and mercilessly pruned it, as per the pruning instructions I posted previously. Remember, you can prune all branches below the first flower cluster . . . I didn't do that much, but there really is just too much greenery on this monster taking the nutrients out of the soil, and away from fruit production.

Here is Mr. Stripey now:

And the next flower cluster produced:
I think this is destined to be a non-fruit bearing flower cluster. See here:

It's weird and I don't understand it, but there it is.

Well, I can't wait to see these tomatoes when they finally ripen! Because the plant is so tall, and that tall branch was not caged, the weight of the new fruit has weighed it down and I bet they are almost going to be laying on the ground soon. I'll have to find some way to support the branches so that does not happen.

Let's all raise our glass to Mr. Stripey!

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