Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sungold F2 Update, July 2009

It has been a busy harvesting time in the garden, but of all the things harvested two stand out. I ate raspberries on my cereal this morning for the first time this year. Then Alice gave me my first tomato. Go Alice!

I haven't done an F2 Sungold update in a while so I figure I ought to. It is harder now to figure out how the tomatoes are doing. They are a jungle and some have grown into the others' cages in their search for more space.

Four tomato plants: Alice, Betsy, Gabrielle (taking over her neighbors) and Debra

Alice is still the smallest plant. That being said she has also outgrown her cage, so maybe small isn't a bad thing. She did produce the first tomato and despite her size she is putting out flowers and setting trusses of tomatoes about as well as the other larger plants. Her flower trusses are amazing. They often branch into four sets of trusses. Some of the other plants are doing this as well but not nearly to Alice's extent. I was going to count the trusses that have set, but when I got over 10 for Alice I figured it was a futile attempt to see which ones had set and which ones were still just flowers.

This give you an idea of Alice's flowers. There are four trusses in this little section of photo.

Betsy is a sad case. She is a bit bigger than Alice, but she doesn't like to bloom. I see absolutely nothing going for her. I probably won't even save her seed.

Gabrielle is doing well. She is a big plant with lots of flowers. She didn't have much disease on her (a leaf spot disease is endemic here - probably Septoria leaf spot ) so when I cut a lot of foliage off of the other plants to open them out on the inside, I didn't do it as much on her. This means when I got back after a week, she had more leaves turning yellow in the middle that doesn't get any sun. I'll have to get out and trim up the plants a bit more.

Debra is doing OK. She is a large plant with lots of flowers. She isn't growing quite as fast as her neighbors and is getting a bit shaded out. Her neighbors to the west, Emma and Zelda, are the biggest of the lot. They are over two feet above their cages with very thick stems. They have innumerable flowers. When all those flowers set at the top I'm worried that the plants might come crashing down. The rusting 18 year old cages just aren't holding up anymore. They were starting to tilt over. I threw some wire supports in the front to hold the cages from falling. I attached them to the fence. I hope it is enough, but I'm not really sure. Right now it is hard to walk back there. The stray stems are poking out and seeking light. I have one that came out of the middle of the cage, dipped down to the ground then started growing up again.

Now Seedman told me that he thought Sungolds might already be stabilzed and no longer a hybrid. That might well be true. I'm only growing six plants which is really not enough to statistically tell. If I knew what the original parents were it would be easier to look for those differences. I do see differences in the growth of the plants. Two are very slow growing (Alice and Betsy). Three are very fast growing and one is in the middle (Debra). With the number of blossoms Alice has a very prolific output, Debra has very very little and the other four are about the same given their growth. The tomatoes that are starting to ripen are all the Sungold color. Only Debra isn't showing any color yet. They are all about the same size (1", just like Sungold) except Emma. Emma's tomatoes are a bit smaller at 3/4".


  1. Daphne, congratulations on your beautiful sungold tomato!

    Look delicious!!! How was it?

    I saw on the weather this morning that it's raining all up and down the eastern seaboard... man... It's even overcast here in typically sunny Wyoming!

    Daphne, do you have a post about saving seed?

    Have a great day!

  2. Hi Daphne, your girls are winners, all of them. Even though we are ahead of you, it won't be long before you catch up with everything and we will be neck and neck. As for tomatoes, this year I only bought one yellow cherry type, it was just labeled yellow so don't know if it is Sungold or not, but the taste is exquisite and it outproduces all other tomatoes 50 to 1. That is why only one one plant was bought, and we cannot even keep up with eating those. What is it about the little yellows that make them produce like that? Self sowns from the compost are popping up everywhere too, I'll bet most of them are little yellows as well. Good thing they are so yummy.

  3. The first Sungold, woohoo! Around here, we have to wait until we have two ripe ones, so each daughter gets to taste that sweet taste at the same time. We practically build a holiday around the ripening of the Sungolds. We are still running way late this year, so late that I'm wondering if we'll get much to ripen among the big slicers. I am living for my Persimmon and Ruby Gold. Sigh.

  4. Quite interesting watching the differences in these plants. The clutches of flowers on Alice is very impressive. My tomatoes are a jungle as well. I pruned almost half the stems a couple weeks ago and they seem to be back to the same size again. I think I will put my pruners away now.

  5. Toni, Well to be perfectly honest it wasn't the best sungold in the world. The first ones usually aren't and this year has been so cold and wet that it isn't shocking that the tomatoes don't taste as good. Last year was an even wetter year and all the tomatoes were a little bland. I do have a post on tomato seed saving from last year.

    Frances, I don't know what makes them produce so much, but I'm happy they are so productive. I love them so much. Even with their productivity I couldn't live with just one plant. Last year I grew two and it wasn't enough. I'm thinking six might just be too many, but time will tell.

    June, I'm lucky that most of my tomatoes this year are cherry tomatoes (I have three different black cherry tomatoes too). They ought to ripen quickly enough. I'm surprised that the Sungold was this early. Last year I picked the first on July 10th, so this isn't very late for them. They really can produce even in the cold weather.

    Dan, tomatoes are so unruly aren't they? When they want to grow they just will.

  6. Seeing and reading about your sungolds makes me wish I had grown them again. They were my most successful tomato last year. Did you grow them last year as well? Are you noticing anything different from last year?

  7. I did grow them, but I grew the typical F1 hybrids. Last year I saved seed and am growing out the F2 seed. This year they are very different than last year, but I think it is the changes I made in location (sunniest spot in the garden, last year was the shadiest), fertilizer (added crushed eggshells and Azomite) and companion planting (now near marigolds, carrots, peppers and basil - though most of the basil died, last year just peppers). This year they are growing so much better than last year. Never in the history of my garden have I had them grow three feet over my cages and it is only mid July. I wish I had a more controlled experiment and could tell which of the changes were the real important ones, though they all make some difference.