Saturday, 17 June 2017

Vegetable Days to Maturity

I have written a few posts recording the days to maturity for some of the vegetable crops that I planted for the Australian Summer of 2016 and 2017.  I decided to list the days to maturity of some vegetables in one post here to make it easier for me to find them in the future to enable me to plan better.

This is not a complete list, I plan to add to it a bit more.  I also grew a lot of things that I did not record the days to maturity that will not be listed here.

Days to maturity has many different meanings, for tomatoes it is usually the number of days from an 8 week old transplant until breaker stage where it is picked mostly still green.  This is not useful to me and it makes commercial seed companies look as if they carry wonderfully early plants, when in fact they often take a dreadfully long time to ripen.  I have counted days to maturity from the day I plant the seed until the first fruit was perfectly ripe and ready to be picked and eaten.


Beans

Days to maturity Jade Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Seeds planted       03/12/2016       Day 0
Germinated           11/12/2016       Day 8
Flowered              14/01/2017       Day 42
Harvest start         05/02/2017       Day 64


Days to maturity Muffet Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)
Seeds planted       23/10/2016       Day 0
Germinated           31/10/2016       Day 8
Flowered              12/12/2016       Day 50
Harvest start         28/12/2016       Day 66


Days to maturity Snake Beans (Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis)

Seeds planted       03/12/2016       Day 0
Germinated           07/12/2016       Day 4
Flowered              ??/??/2016        Day??  I didn't notice them until I already had some beans!
Harvest start         03/02/2017       Day 62


Beetroot

Days to maturity Chioggia Beetroot (Beta vulgaris)

Seed Planted        16/10/2016       Day 0
Seed germinated   24/10/2016       Day 8
First harvest          02/01/2017       Day 78 - they grew at different rates so harvest went for many months


Corn

Days to maturity Immali Corn (Zea mays)

Seeds planted       16/10/2016       Day 0
Germinated           24/10/2016       Day 8
Flowered              21/12/2016       Day 66
Harvest ready       30/01/2017       Day 106
Cobs dry ready to save seed 05/03/2017   Day  140


Carrot

Days to maturity Purple Haze Carrots (Daucus carota subsp. sativus)

Seeds planted       23/10/2016       Day 0
Germinated           03/11/2016       Day 11
Harvest start         04/03/2017       Day 132


Cucumber

Days to maturity Space Master Cucumber (Cucumis sativus)

Seed Planted        16/10/2016       Day 0
Seed germinated   25/10/2016       Day 9
Flowering             06/12/2016       Day 51
First harvest          28/12/2016       Day 73


Days to maturity White Wonder Cucumber (Cucumis sativus)

Seed Planted        16/10/2016       Day 0
Seed germinated   26/10/2016       Day10
Flowering              06/12/2016      Day 51
First harvest          01/01/2017       Day 77


Days to maturity Mexican Sour Gherkin (Melothria scabra)

Planted                       11/10/2016                  Day 0
Germinated                 03/11/2016                  Day 23
Flowered                   28/02/2017                   Day 140 
First fruit ripe              06/04/2017                  Day 177 - lots of fruit aborted


Cape Gooseberry

Days to maturity Cape Gooseberry (Physalis peruviana)
Planted             20/08/2016       Day 0  No germination, seeds rotted so I needed to re-plant.
Replanted         10/09/2016       Day 0 again
Germinated       26/09/2016       Day 16
Flowered          09/12/2016       Day 60
Harvest began  14/01/2017        Day 86


Lettuce

Days to Maturity Australian Yellow Leaf Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

Planted                       24/09/2016                  Day 0
Germinated                 29/09/2016                  Day 5
Started harvesting        04/11/2016                  Day 42


Days to Maturity Freckles Lettuce  (Lactuca sativa)

Planted                       23/10/2016                  Day 0
Germinated                 28/10/2016                  Day 5
Started harvesting        03/12/2016                  Day 41


Days to Maturity Red Salad Bowl Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

Planted                       23/10/2016                  Day 0
Germinated                 28/10/2016                  Day 5
Started harvesting        03/12/2016                  Day 41


Melons

Days to Maturity 'Billeberga' melons (Cucumis melo).

Seeds planted       16/10/2016       Day 0
Germinated           30/10/2016       Day 14
Flowered              30/12/2016       Day 75
Harvest start         14/04/2016       Day 179 - lots of flowers aborted for some reason


Pea

Days to Maturity Lacy Lady Pea (Pisum sativum)

Seeds Planted   29/10/2016       Day 0
Germinated       03/11/2016       Day 5
Flowered          12/12/2016       Day  44
Start Harvest     28/12/2016       Day 60


Days to Maturity Oregon Dwarf Snow Pea (Pisum sativum)

Planted               25/10/2016       Day 0
Germinated                                  Day ?
Flowering                                     Day ?
Harvest began     06/12/2016       Day 42


Pumpkin

Days to maturity Kaempw Melon Rilon Pumpkin (most likely Cucurbita maxima)

Planted                       16/10/2016                 Day 0
Germinated                 26/10/2016                 Day 10
Started flowering         01/12/2016                 Day 46
Harvest                       05/03/2017                 Day 180 (possibly Day 70 if picked at Christmas)


Strawberry

Days to maturity Attila alpine strawberry (Frageria vesca)

Seeds planted             08/10/2016                  Day 0
Germinated                 21/10/2016                  Day 13
First Runners              21/12/2016                  Day 73 (more runners every few days, like a spider web)
Flowered                   03/03/2017                   Day 145 (5 months)
First fruit ripe              09/04/2017                  Day 182


Days to maturity Regina Alpine Strawberry (Frageria vesca)

Planted                        08/10/2016                  Day 0
Germinated                 19/10/2016                   Day 11
Flowered                    13/02/2017                   Day 125
First fruit ripe              13/03.2017                   Day 153 (about 5 months)


Days to maturity Yellow Wonder Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)

Planted                       08/10/2016                  Day 0
Germinated                 22/10/2016                  Day 14
Flowered                   17/02/2017                   Day 129
First fruit ripe              28/03/2017                  Day168


Tomato

Days to maturity heirloom and rare tomatoes
I grow many different varieties of tomatoes so instead of writing one massively long post I broke it up a bit.  Previous year pages can be found here and here while the 2016/2017 season can be found here.


Days to maturity Micro Tom Tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum)

Seeds planted       02/10/2016       Day 0
Germinated           11/10/2016       Day 9
Flowered              22/12/2016       Day 81
Harvest start         07/01/2017       Day 97


Zucchini

Days to maturity Zucchini: Gron Busk 'Veribo' (Cucurbita pepo)

Planted 16/10/2016                  Day 0
Germinated 25/10/2016            Day 9
Flowering 29/11/2016               Day 43
First small fruit 03/12/2016        Day 47
Large fruit ready 07/12/2016     Day 51


I sell seeds of some of these vegetables through my for sale page.


Ecclesiastes 11:6 "Sow your seed in the morning and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well."

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Micro Tom history

I have been growing Micro Tom tomatoes for a short time now, over that time I have grown several generations of them, saved pure seed, and crossed them with various other tomatoes to try and create new micro tomatoes.  Micro Tom tomatoes are a delightful little plant, the more I grow them the more I like them.

I have read a few different things about Micro Tom on the internet, unfortunately much of it is very different from my observations.  I thought I would write a blog post to clear up some confusion about Micro Tom tomatoes.
Micro Tom tomatoes
Where did Micro Tom come from
Micro Tom has been declared as the world's smallest tomato variety.  It was released from the University of Florida in 1989 where it was developed by Dr. J.W. Scott and Dr. B.K. Harbaugh.

I have read various people on the internet claiming that because Micro Tom was bred at a university that it must be a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO), others that say it is not, some that say it is a hybrid, some that say F1, others that say Micro Tom is open pollinated.  So I did some research on Micro Tom tomatoes.

The truth is that Micro Tom is a stable tomato variety which is as stable as any other tomato variety, it can be grown open pollinated and seeds will grow true to type unless it is crossed with another variety.  Micro Tom is NOT a GMO and was bred conventionally in the same way as almost everything else that you have ever eaten.  The reason Micro Tom grows so small is due to at least three different genes that were bred into it conventionally, the same way that red colour was bred into tomatoes.  These three genes were all spontaneous mutations so nothing untoward has gone on here.


How is Micro Tom so small
Micro Tom has a combination of three different genes which make it grow tiny.

One gene is for dwarf growth that is common in dwarf tomatoes, it is most likely d.  Strangely this dwarf gene also has a mutation in Micro Tom, but that is a rather complicated story for another time.

Micro Tom has the self pruning gene which is responsible for creating determinate tomato plants, it is most likely sp.

Micro Tom also has the sun dwarf gene which creates extremely short internodes under high light intensities, it is most likely sd.  I assume that if grown in low light then Micro Tom would be a bit taller, but even when grown in winter my plants are always under 10cm tall.

All three of these genes are recessive, which makes breeding new micro tomatoes using Micro Tom as the female parent a reasonably straight forward process.


How productive is Micro Tom
I have read a lot of differing views on the productivity of Micro Tom tomatoes.  Various seed sellers have the following listed on their web sites:
  • "produces a crop of around 40-plus cherry tomatoes per plant"
  • "bear 1-3" good flavored tomatoes in heavy quantities"
  • "The plants are suprisingly productive, a 6" plant can produce up to a couple dozen fruits."
  • "is loaded with tasty fruit"
  • "bearing loads of flavorful, 1 oz., deep red fruits"
  • "Plant produces good yields of tiny pea size red tomatoes"
  • "I am able to harvest about 20 - 30 tomatoes from this plant growing in a 6in pot"
My growing conditions are a lot more harsh than most, so perhaps I get less fruit per plant than I could.  I dare say that your growing conditions are also not perfect.  Keeping that in mind, I would not consider any of the above reviews of crop size to be accurate.

I normally get around 10 tomatoes per tiny Micro Tom plant.  Sometimes a few more, sometimes a few less.  If I used fertilisers and coddled the plant I think I could get around 20, but I am happy with it producing 10.  I certainly would not say that it is 'loaded' with fruit or produces 'heavy quantities' or produces '40 plus' tomatoes.

I also found a Japanese research company that sells Micro Tom seeds to scientific organisations for the purpose of genetic research, they said "It yields about 20-30 seeds per fruit. One plant yields about 200-300 seeds"  in other words, about 10 fruit per plant, much the same as I am getting.


How tall does Micro Tom get
The internet seems to have a large range here.I have found reference on the internet to the following:
4-7 inches, 4-6 inches, 5-8 inches, 6-8 inches, under 12 inches, 8 foot (I hope that this one is a typo and they meant inches).

My Micro Tom plants are all descendants of one old seed, so the genetic pool with which I work is rather narrow and may not be indicative of overseas strains.  Personally I am yet to have a Micro Tom plant reach 10cm (about 4 inches).  Mine have all grown between 4cm and 9cm tall.  Growing in a cup of soil or in the garden has not changed the height noticeably.


What size is Micro Tom fruit
This is one of the claims on the internet that makes me think that many seed sellers have never actually grown the plant themselves, and don't care enough about the buyer to bother putting accurate information.  Many have gotten confused when they read about micro dwarf and think it is talking about fruit size, when it is talking about the height of the plant.  I have found reference on the internet to the following:
  • "pea size"
  • "cherry tomatoes"
  • "1-3 inch"
  • "1 oz deep red fruit"
  • "1 inch fruit"
"Pea size" being the most common fruit size that I saw, but probably the furthest from the truth, although I can not even begin to imagine a 3 inch (7.5cm)  tomato fruit on a 4 inch (10cm) plant!!!

My fruit are reasonably consistent in size, around 2cm, this photo shows how large they are for me.  I have given seeds to a few other growers, they all report Micro Tom tomatoes mostly being about 2cm.
Micro Tom fruit size
How many days to maturity for Micro Tom
This is another weird one when you look up what the internet says.  I have found the following listed on various seed company's web pages:
Days to maturity: 50, 60, 120  
Days from seed germination to ripe fruit: 50, 60, 70 
Days from transplant when grown under lights in winter/early spring, 39, 75-85, 70-90, 88.

As you can see, that makes no sense at all when you try to compare the same information on different web sites.

The first time I grew Micro Tom I recorded around 113 days from planting the seed until harvesting the fruit. Then I grew it a few times without recording the dates.  This last time I recorded 97 days from planting the seed until harvesting the first ripe fruit.


What does Micro Tom tomato taste like
They are ok, Micro Tom lack any real depth of taste and will not be anyone's favourite tasting tomato variety.  They taste much nicer when ripened in warmer weather than they do in cooler weather, and at some times of the year they taste a bit nicer than cherry tomatoes that I can get from the shops.  While Micro Tom is certainly not the best tomato you will eat they are far from the worst.  I have never seen someone who ate one and disliked it. 


More people should grow Micro Tom tomatoes
I really like Micro Tom tomatoes, the plants are tiny and the fruit tastes ok.  I don't see the point in exaggerating when describing plants.  If people want to grow them, then they will grow them even if they do not produce millions of fruit on a tiny plant.  I have shared seeds with several seed savers and a few dedicated growers.  I also list organic seeds for sale on my for sale page when I have enough to spare.  At this stage this is the only place in Australia to get Micro Tom tomato seeds.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Days to maturity Australia Yellow Leaf Lettuce

I was given some seeds of a lettuce variety named either 'Australian Yellow Leaf' or 'Australian Yellow'.  I am not sure why it is called that, they all looked light green to me.  It was another leaf lettuce as I don't see the point in home gardeners growing head lettuce.

Days to Maturity Australian Yellow Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

Planted                       24/09/2016                  Day 0
Germinated                 29/09/2016                  Day 5
Started harvesting        04/11/2016                  Day 42

For a full list of vegetable days to maturity please click here.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Which are hotter, ripe or unripe chillies?

The question of "which are hotter, green or red chillies" makes no sense, as different varieties of chillies ripen different colours.  So the actual question should be: "which is hotter, ripe or unripe chillies?"

The answer is: ripe chillies are hotter than unripe chillies.  I am yet to hear of any exceptions to this.  If you know of a variety that is an exception to this please let me know as I would love to grow it.

Ripe chillies tend to have higher sugar content, so sometimes in mild varieties it may be easy to overlook the heat, but ripe chillies are still hotter even if they are sweeter.

I have some varieties of chilli that I can happily eat raw when unripe and feel absolutely no heat, but when they are ripe I feel like I have been stung in the mouth by a bee.

I also did a little searching on the internet and found proof to back up what I have experienced.  Below is something I found on a chilli forum, hopefully the person who owns this picture does not mind me using it.  I have linked to their thread so I figure that should be ok.  With Scoville Heat Units, the higher the number the hotter.

Apparently 25 unripe chillies and 25 ripe chillies were picked from the same plant and analysed.  The ripe chillies came out about twice as hot as the unripe ones.  I think that it is pretty conclusive.


SHU comparison from http://thehotpepper.com/topic/62026-whats-hotterripe-or-unripe/?hl=%2Bheat+%2Bripe+%2Bunripe