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Welcome to Dijemeric Visualizations

Where photography and mathematics intersect with some photography, some math, some math of photography, and an occasional tutorial.

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

Growing Tomatoes in the Fog Zone

Before moving to the East Bay (Richmond, CA) I lived in Davis (CA) where the summers are hot and the tomatoes grow taller than giraffes (slight exaggeration).  East Bay's summers are typically not hot and are sometimes confused for winter by those who do not live here.  Tomatoes do not grow as tall as giraffes here.  In fact it is difficult to get tomatoes to grow or at least grow tall and ripen, but I usually try anyway and somehow, this year, I got some surprises.

My first surprise was finding heirloom tomatoes at a local nursery (Spiral Gardens, 2830 Sacramento St. Berkeley).   I first tasted heirloom tomatoes 2 years ago and found them tasty and satisfying.  They seem to be catching on, and are available in the local 'organic' food stores.  Getting them at a nursery as 1-gallon plants was unexpected and worth another growing effort.

My second surprise was that not only did these plants grow, but flourished!  I planted five, three in one raised bed and two in another a few feet away.  In one bed the plants exceed my height by 2-3 feet while in the other adjacent bed they do not come to my waist.  The difference is due to fava beans, which I had planted in one of the beds as a green manure crop not expecting to plant anything else this season.

 The purchase of the tomato plants was not planned and there was limited room in a bed where chard, parsley, and mints filled most of the small space.  Figuring I would soon harvest the fava beans, I put three of the plants in with the beans and the other two with the chard et al.  Two months later, and with the beans still not harvested, it became obvious there was no need to thin the beans as the tomatoes were decidedly not crowded but were exceeding even my UC Davis days expectations.  

Fava beans are nitrogen fixers and tomato plants have need for lots of nitrogen to do well.  The combination was working quite well.  Of course, big plants does not equate to vine ripened tomatoes, but I do have a crop of tomatoes waiting for some warm weather to fully ripen.  Come back in a month and see what happens.  

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