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TOMATO SEEDING TIME IN MAINE. Thirty-five years ago we gave up on on risky practice of field-growing Tomatoes in Short-


TOMATO SEEDING TIME IN MAINE. Thirty-five years ago we gave up on on risky practice of field-growing Tomatoes in Short-season Maine. Rob Johnston, founder of ‘Johnny’s Selected Seeds’ here in Maine, had received a technology-transfer-grant to write up a public report about Hoophouse growing in Europe.

Inspired by that Hoophouse concept and tired of unreliable field production we became quickly enamored by the idea. With grid power to our isolated farm yet a decade away, we put together a crude direct-current-arc-welder from a 5 hp gas engine and an old car battery as had been written up in ‘The Mother Earth News.’ We salvaged three one-foot-diameter pulleys off of an old Potato harvester and fashioned them into a manual hoop bender machine

We then took twenty-foot-long 1/2″ black metal pipe and made hoops that measured 11-feet wide and six-foot-high. We welded the hoops to threaded one-inch-pipe twenty-foot-long runners. Using simple pipe couplers and three-foot-lengths of threaded pipe, we could couple together the portable 20′ Hoophouse sections to our heart’s content. We eventually stopped at four sections giving us a Hoophouse eighty-eight feet long.

We planted Tomatoes into rotated garden soil and opted for two Dutch Greenhouse Tomato varieties – “Dombo” and “Dombino”- offered by JSS. In our hey day, planting Tomatoes out in April and with a woodstove providing heat on cold nights, we harvested delicious ripe Tomatoes beginning the 4th of July. Many of the longer-season “Dombos” would weigh a pound to a pound-and-a-half and they were a hit at the Farmers Markets we attended.

Megan took this photo last Fall of Organic Tomatoes she harvested one day from our upgraded “High Tunnel.” Clockwise from Middle Left are: Organic Cherokee Purple, Organic Pruden’s Purple, Organic Cosmonaut Volkov, Organic Spreckled Roman and Organic Orange Banana.

Caleb, Megan & Jim
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