Bill McNeese has again obtained amazing vegetable trial results in California using the Groasis Waterboxx®plant cocoon!
The extreme temperatures he experienced during the month of June this year were of big concern. Temperatures reached triple digits (Fahrenheit) almost every day. He has never seen anything like it – temperatures rose to 110˚F (43,5˚C). It has been hard for the plants, even with the protection that the Waterboxx® plant cocoon offers. Some tomato varieties Bill tried stopped growing and flowering as soon as the heat hit. But two varieties, Early Girl and Stupice, tolerate the heat better than you would expect and are flourishing in the Waterboxx® plant cocoon. Bill has devised a way to install shade cloth and remove it quickly when it’s not needed. He will be installing it this week. Better late than never!
Waterboxx® plant cocoons have 3 wicks, Bill is growing one plant per box.
Variety 1 – Early girl: The main stem is 8.5 feet (2,6 meters) tall and is still setting fruit, despite the heat and intense sun. Bill has harvested 217 tomatoes with a total weight of 44.2 lbs (over 20 kg) between April 22nd, 2016 and July 4th, 2016. Most of that harvest came during the month of June. These results show that if you plant with care, use the right varieties, and meet the plants’ needs, small growers can make a good living. You don’t even need a greenhouse!
The plant has 10 strong vines (suckers) that were allowed to grow on it. Most gardeners/farmers would argue that that is a problem, but according to Bill it is not. Charles Wilber, who holds the world record for tomatoes (poundage) grown in the ground – not hydroponically – found that 19 stems are optimal.
Many of the fruit on the lower stems have now been picked. There’s plenty left on the upper part of the plant, and the plant hasn’t stopped growing yet. Bill expects that by the end of August the plant should have easily surpassed the 50 pounds mark (almost 23 kg)!
Variety 2 – Stupice: This is Bill’s heirloom treasure and it is also doing very well. It is the younger one of the two plants. This plant (see photos below) has been producing since May 26th, 2016. Since then it has yielded 88 quality fruit with a total weight of 9.9 lbs (4,5 kg). The average fruit size is holding at 1.80 oz. (51 grams), which is a good size for this variety.
Last year Bill grew Pruden’s Purple in the same Waterboxx® and he harvested 14.3 lbs (6,5 kg) of tomatoes in the season. This year Bill expects to go way beyond that.
Stupice may be one of the only heirloom varieties that has a built-in disease resistance (not formally documented, but widely reported by growers) and it has tremendous vigour.
With the new 30% shade cloth, Bill hopes that both plants keep producing tomatoes until fall. Both varieties are, it seems, adapted to grow and produce a good harvest of tomatoes anywhere in the world. Trials have demonstrated that they tolerate both cold summers – setting fruit early – and hot summers – as per the one Bill is experiencing now.
Bill is very proud of his trellis design, which measures 7 feet (2.1 meters) tall and has 3 horizontal bars that support the plants. Using Bills’ trellis, the plants have 12 square feet (1,1 m2) in which they can grow vertically.
‘’If somebody tells you they harvested more than 50 lbs. of tomatoes from a single plant, take it with a grain of salt. I can tell you first hand that is a BIG harvest from a BIG plant.’’ – Bill McNeese
“The indoor photo shows I have been busy picking and weighing tomatoes. I have several neighbours now who wait for me to give them tomatoes. And my wife makes good use of the rest.’’ – Bill McNeese
The next two months will be the hottest part of the summer. It will be an interesting time in the garden. The plants only get rainwater from Bill’s 55-gallon (208 liters) collection barrel. The wicks of the Waterboxxes® are still working. Bill is using about 1.5 to 2 gallons (6 to 7,5 liters) a week per plant.
Update on August 7th
Variety 1 – Early Girl: Bill picked 1.8 kg fruit on this morning. The quality is good, but the fruit sizes are getting smaller.
Variety 2 – Stupice: Bill picked 0.81 kg fruit on this morning. A total of 10 lbs (4.5 kg) would be considered as good for this variety.
What finally killed the production was not only the daytime temperature, but the night temperature the last couple of weeks. The night temperature stayed around 80˚F (more than 25˚C)! The night temperature is beginning to moderate, and they are dropping below 75˚F. Also, there hasn’t been rain since early May!