- [Voiceover] Container gardening is well-suited for growing tomatoes, yet it still has it's challenges. Marty DeHart visits a grower who shares tips to minimize the blight and blossom end rot that is so common. And Troy Martin shows us around his day lily trial beds, as he tries his hand at hybridizing. Join us. First, working toward high yields. - [Voiceover] Everybody wants to grow great tomatoes, and this is Jim King, who is the wonderful gardener growing these massive plants. Your plants, for this time of year, look terrific. Tell me, how did you get started with this? - [Jim] Well, last winter I read a book by Craig LeHoullier Called "Epic Tomatoes". It turned out I read it just in time, in the January time frame, to begin planting for the spring. I'd never grown tomatoes. - [Marty] Yeah that's perfect. I'd never grown tomatoes before. I read Craig's book and basically just followed his recipe. I went through his book, I picked out a bunch of varieties that I wanted to grow. Ordered seeds from places like Seed Savers Exchange, Johnny Seeds, that kind of thing. All online, got the seeds, ordered the mix. Started off with the stuff called Metro Mix 360, he recommends. Put the seeds, with the help of my daughter, in a bunch of small seed flats. Started 'em on March 1st. - Under grow lights inside? - Put 'em on a grow light and a heating mat-- - Okay, so bottom heat. - Bottom heat, about 80 degree temperature. Once the seedlings came up I put 'em under a grow light. Two or three weeks later I transplanted the seedlings from individual, small pots into individual four inch pots. Again, using the Metro Mix 360. And then transplanted them out into these larger pots probably mid-April. - [Marty] Okay, right after the last frost date, which in our area, which is Middle Tennessee, is April 15th, tax day. - [Jim] It I had to do it over again, I probably woulda put 'em out a little bit later, 'cause we had some cold temperatures late in April and I think that contributed to some of the catfacing I got early in the season. - It can, yeah. Catfacing, for those who don't know, is where the bottom, the blossom end of the tomato has this weird kind of distortion, almost looks like scarring. Looks kind of like a weird cat face, so. - [Jim] I water 'em twice a day. This patch here has drip irrigation set up on it. So it's on a timer, comes on for five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the afternoon. Keeps the water level fairly constant. In these containers you really can't water too much. Because the excess water runs out the bottom. - [Marty] This, you've got some mulch on top of this too, right? Looks like- - [Jim] Got mulched to try and keep it from drying out. - [Marty] Yes, but this is, so this is the Metro Mix, this down in here. - [Jim] Uh huh, it's actually, the pots themselves contain a mix of Metro Mix and composted cow manure. - [Marty] Okay, so really rich soil. Tomatoes are fairly heavy feeders. And now you're caging 'em too, I see. - [Jim] I started off, some of 'em I'm caging. I started off with the intention not to cage them, but the work involved in tying 'em up every day and every week, got to be too much. - Yeah, I'm a huge caging fan. - Yes, I think next year I'll use more cages. I used the concrete reinforcing wire. - [Marty] What do you feed your tomatoes with? - [Jim] Okay, I've been using just the Miracle Grow Tomato and Vegetable fertilizer. - [Marty] Is that a liquid that you add or it is-- - [Jim] It's a powder that I dissolve in water. - [Marty] Right, yes. - And I supplement that with some added phosphorus, for the flowering aspect of the tomato plants that's so important. So about every two weeks I'll put some Miracle Grow fertilizer on there. - Okay, did you mix any fertilizer into the original soil mix? - There was about a half a cup of pelletized fertilizer. That I started with in the Metro Mix in the beginning. I also had to adjust the pH. Initially the pH was around seven. - Yeah, that's a little high. - Little high, so I added some sulfer to try to lower that, make it a little more acidic. And I got it down around 6.5. - That's good. Yeah, I wish they wouldn't do that with potting soil, they try to make it neutral. As if everything lives wants neutral. And actually most everything wants six to 6.5, slightly on the acid side, or almost everything. And you don't have early blight? Why? What do you do? - [Jim] Well, I trim off the fungal growth as it starts. - [Marty] You can see just a little bit starting. - [Jim] Little bit there, yeah. And then about every two weeks I spray it with a sulfur base spray, Bonide Tomato Spray. - [Marty] Sulfur is a very good organic remedy. But one thing, and when did you start, let me ask you this, when did you start your spray program? - Well, from what I've read you don't want the blight to get started, you wanna try to hit it ahead of time, so I started spraying the Bonide probably in early May. - Okay, before it ever - [Jim] Fairly early. - showed up. - Yeah, fairly early. I've just kept it up, concentrating mostly in the bottom half of the plant for the most part. I also keep the water off the plants. I try, I use the drip irrigation, which achieves that, but I work hard not to spray any water on the leaves. - [Marty] Yeah, it's a moisture born fungus. And splashing water, rain of course isn't you friend in that way, but how you water makes a big difference. - This is a potato leaf plant. But it's a Lilian's Yellow Heirloom. - Lilian's Yellow, yeah. - Delicious tomato, probably one of my favorites as well. - If you're wondering about what that means, potato leaf, tomatoes come in sort of two flavors of leaves. And it's just varietal, it doesn't have much to do with whether they work well here or not. This is sort of normal leaf. You can see that's what you're used to over here. And this is what's called potato leaf because it has leaves that are reminiscent of the potato plant leaves. And potatoes and tomatoes are related, so that's not super unusual. So Jim, here's another bunch of tomatoes, and these are not in full blastings all day sun. - They're not, they miss the morning sun. They get good midday and late afternoon sun. - Okay, and that's obviously enough. - Yeah, and this is where I started early in the season. But I realized that more sun would be better, and so one of the advantages of container growing is that you can move the plants to a better location. So that's what I did. I moved these to the other location in the front of the house. And they get much better sun there. - Right, these look good. - These still grow well, they grow well, yeah. But it's just not ideal. - Yeah, and I can see you've got an interesting system going here where you sorta planted to the back of the pot. - Well yeah, the idea was to plant off to the side and then to put the stake right next to the pot here in the grass. Unfortunately next to my driveway, a concrete foundation underneath it, I couldn't get the stake in the idea location. So I had to put the stake further out, which caused a fairly bad distortion and kinking of the stem. - [Marty] You had to sorta swoop it out to meet the stake. - [Jim] Yeah, it's not ideal. It's a lesson I learned this year that I'll hopefully not repeat next year. It seems to have worked and they've done okay. - Yeah, no they don't seem to be suffering that badly at all. And you were saying you had some blossom end rot early on, right? - I had a lot of blossom end rot in the first, first batch of tomatoes. The second, subsequent batches of tomatoes have not been affected by that. But really the first batch was badly affected. - Yeah, that's where you see it is with the first tomatoes of the season. It's 'cause the calcium hasn't made its way through the plant, moves extremely slowly through a plant. But that's so you'll get the first tomatoes that look crummy and you wonder what's wrong, and then the problem sort of takes care of itself, it disappears. Well thank you so much for sharing all your expertise, this is just wonderful. - [Jim] Oh, well thanks for visiting. - [Marty] Oh, it's lovely. Like Jim, I've always wanted to grow, there are so many varieties and I've always wanted to grow more tomato varieties than I ever had room for. Or could deal with once they started producing. So over the years I would trial. Every year I would do some new varieties in addition to my favorites. And I've made a list of the ones that have worked best for me. And I'm sharing them with you as well as with Jim. And I hope you try these and love 'em. - Well it's been a couple of seasons since we came and took a look around in my garden. And it is peak daylily season. I've always loved daylilies, but I've really gotten into them again the last couple of years. So, I thought I'd show you around just a little bit. Let's go take a look. Well I've grown daylilies all of my life. My first daylily came to me from an aunt, actually, back home in Kansas, 35 years ago probably. And I still have pieces of that original plant here in the garden. It's not quite in bloom yet, but there are some really beautiful plants that are in bloom. I started this project, I guess about four years ago now and decided that I wanted to get into some daylily breeding and hybridizing. And so I began collecting plants, plants with really good plant habit, really good branch structure, really nice scapes, and the scape is what we call the bloomstalk on a daylily. And then, the most interesting, modern flowers that I could find. Some of these that have a really beautiful pattern in the eye zone and flowers that have a really good, thick, waxy substance in the bloom that hold up well in this hot summer sun and that don't melt, as we call it in the daylily world, by the end of the day, that are still looking nice. And I'm also looking for plants that really thrive and grow well and don't require a lot of coddling. I don't wanna have to baby a daylily. I want a daylily that will just be planted and grow and thrive for me in our Tennessee summers. That's what I'm looking for here. I really like these flowers like Moonfeather, that have these very complex patterned eyes. There are many of them here in the garden, we'll look at several. But Moonfeather is really distinct because it has almost a striped effect in the eye zone of the bloom. When I mentioned waxy substance in a bloom, let me show you the difference here between these two flowers. This little guy is a great little plant because it reblooms all summer long. But you can see that the petals almost have a crepe papery kind of texture to them. And by about two o'clock in the afternoon this flower has almost started to wilt. This big flower, this is almost like it's been carved out of wax. The petals are so thick and heavy that at five o'clock, six o'clock tonight this bloom will still look just as good as it does right now. Here's a unique thing that happens once in a while. This is a great variety that I love called Ruby Spider. And if you count the petals and the sepals, you'll notice that instead of the normal six, this has eight, so it gives a little different effect to the flower. It doesn't always happen, but once in a while we get one like this and we call this a polybloom, P-O-L-Y. So poly petaled, many petaled instead of just the typical six. This is a great plant, Ruby Spider, for those of you who want to add daylilies to your garden. This plant is four years old, it's 56 inches wide from leaf tip to leaf tip and has 47 scapes on it this year. Another thing that modern day hybridizers are looking for is great branching on these scapes, or the bloomstalks. And this is a great example of that. You can see we've got one, two, three and then a Y up here, which would be considered two more, so five branches on one stem, and as many as eight or 10 buds, eventually on each one of these little branches. So, one stem can produce 30 or 40 blooms. And if you have 10, 15 stems on a plant, flowering scapes on a plant, with 30 or 40 blooms, you've got three or four hundred blooms on one plant over a period of about six or eight weeks in the garden. So that's a way that we can extend the bloom season of the daylily by creating this great branching habit, and you also get this bouquet like effect when the plant comes into bloom. Here's a good example of a daylily that for my purposes may not make the cut. The only reason that you can really enjoy this daylily in my garden is because it's planted right here by the path and the reason that I say it probably won't make the cut is because you can see that the bloom is down in the foliage and in another year or two when this clump is even bigger, the blooms will almost be hidden by the leaves. I want stalks that come up above the leaves. So the leaves either have to be short with a slightly shorter stalk, or that stalk has to be elongated and come up above the level of the bloom. And a great example of one that always blooms above its foliage is this pretty little double yellow here, called Double River We. And this is a plant that I've had in the garden for years. You can see that it's also a big clump, it's really mature, lots and lots of scapes. This will bloom for six weeks this summer. And always its blooms are lifted up above its foliage and its up here where you can see it. So 20 years ago in daylilies, the big thing that was happening were really strong, ruffled edges and bold, beautiful eyes. Everybody was working on eyes and edges. And today in the world of daylilies, things, you know gardeners have trends too, so do daylily breeders. And the trends today, these new things that we're seeing are beautifully patterned eyes like on this flower of Weaver's Web, where you have this soft tangerine orange color but this beautiful broken or patterned eye with that veining, that really beautiful effect in the center of the flower. Another thing that is happening in the world of daylilies today is what we call sculpting in a flower. And if I move this back and forth a little bit and we change the shadow you can see where these petals have almost pleated or puckered a little bit. And it looks like somebody has sculpted that out. So that's another unique characteristic of some modern daylilies. And the other thing that people are really working on today instead of ruffles around the edges of a flower, are what we're calling teeth. And on a great bloom, sometimes it'll be a darker colored bloom with an almost white tooth, so pointed and so sharp that it almost looks like a shark's tooth. And Forbidden Fantasy is a great example of that. This one doesn't have too many teeth on it today. But there are a few that you can see really clearly. So when you grow all of these daylilies, you can't resist just passing some pollen back and forth between flowers and then eventually those set seed you germinate the seed, sprout the plants and then you wonder what you're going to do with all of them, because it doesn't take very long if you have 30 or 40 pods with 10 seeds in a pod, all of a sudden you have three or four hundred new plants to evaluate. So, space is always an issue. And I'm always trying to figure out new places to put the little seedlings. But what's right here in front of me are first year seedlings. These were planted in the ground, planted from seed in 2014, planted in the ground at the end of 2014, or late summer of 2014, and a handful of them blooming for the very first time this year. What you're seeing here are very first blooms. Nobody's ever seen them before, except for me. I'm looking at colors, different attributes about the flowers and most of these will stay in place for one more year and then I'll make some difficult choices about which ones I keep and which ones have to go to the compost pile. Okay, so the next step in this process is what you're looking at now. These flowers were first time bloomers in 2014 and they got reselected, or selected for growing on. There was something about the plant, something about the flower that I really liked. For each different one of these and so I moved them to a more permanent home to allow them to grow bigger, to clump up and really show me what they're made of. So I'll evaluate these plants in place for about two or three years. And eventually, maybe out of these 40 or so plants that I selected in 2014, three or four of them may make the final cut. So right in front of me are some 2014 seedlings that, again were selected last year, transplanted to clump up and you can see that they're really beginning to show off now. And these are exactly the kinds of things that I am looking for in great seedlings. Tall scapes, well up above the foliage, great branching, beautiful flowers, this one happens to also be fragrant, which is a really nice thing. And there are several really unique blooms in here. One with a patterned eye that I think is really unique, and then another one with almost a stained glass effect to it. And they don't have names yet, they're just seedlings and they're still under evaluation, but some day if they prove themselves worthy, they'll have an official cultivar name and we'll register them through the American Hemerocallis Society and they will maybe make their way to market and you'll be able to have them in your own gardens. One thing I wanna show you. All of us who are hybridizers have people who we look up to as fellow hybridizers, as people who are doing great things in the world of daylilies. And we've been to our friends David Kirchhoff and Mort Morss' nursery Daylily World up in Kentucky and we visited there. And David and Mort did a great segment with us. And I wanna show you one of David's newest varieties. David and Mort were nice enough to name a couple of new daylilies for us. One for Pam Tillis and one for Lorrie Morgan. And this is Lorrie in bloom today. And these plants will be planted at the Nashville Music Garden and be on display in downtown Nashville. So daylilies are really often thought of as a great beginner's plant. They're easy to grow, they don't take a whole lot of maintenance other than occasional feeding and watering and a little bit of deadheading. And they're a great plant to sorta get started with. But as you can see from what I have here, they're a plant that can also carry you on through your gardening years in every shape, form and color imaginable. So if you're looking for something to get started with, or if you are an experienced gardener and you're looking for something new and unusual, there's a daylily that will fit every bill. - I grew up on the beautiful, black soils in Illinois, where corn was king. Nothing tasted like summer like fresh sweet corn. Corn takes a lot of nutrients and needs a rich soil. So, corn often follows beans in the rotations. These are October beans that are bringing in nitrogen from the air with their symbiotic relationship with the soil bacteria, and they're really good for building soil for a crop that takes a lot of fertility. A winter cover crop of crimson clover, another legume, along with 10 loads of bio-dynamic compost, got our corn ground in good shape. The sheer mass of organic matter in a corn patch can really build good soil. Corn is truly a miracle. From a lowly grass, Native Americans developed and bred the corn that we use now, far surpassing the small grains that our ancestors in the old world were working with. Wheat, barley, rye and oats. Modern day plant breeders and scientists have no clue how the Native Americans accomplished this. First we make furrows an inch or two deep, about three and a half feet apart. Then into these furrows we drop the corn seed, oh about eight or 10 inches apart. And then we step on it and firm it into the ground. Seeds need to be really tightly touching the soil so that they can absorb the moisure in the soil, swell up and sprout. Then we go back over the rows and we just kinda do the duck walk and cover 'em up. We like to plant our corn and all of our direct seeded crops before a dry spell, never before a rain. The humus rich soil will have enough moisture to sprout the seeds anyway. And we like to go over the rows three days later with our rake. This destroys weeds that are sprouting right on the surface but is not gonna bother our corn kernels that are deeper down. Then when they sprout up, they have a headstart on those pesky weeds. As soon as our corn sprouts outta the ground we're busy cultivating. We have to keep that soil surface loose and friable. Because that's what conserves our soil moisture. Water in the soil will wick out through capillary action, but we can prevent that by keeping the soil surface cultivated. So we're continually cultivating our soil but not only to conserve moisture, we're bringing in the all important air that has the gases of nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide, that help to feed the soil and microbes and our plants. On our last cultivation, we pull the soil up to, well beans or corn or whatever we're growing. And by hilling it we're again, conserving moisture and in the case of corn, we're actually helping the corn to withstand blowing over from those July thunderstorms. Green cornstalks have sugar in 'em. And I take advantage of this. After the last ear is pulled off, I immediately mow the patch and disc it into the soil. This feeds the soil microbes who them proliferate and improve the land. The main pest in sweet corn is raccoons. We use an electric fence a few inches off the ground to keep the raccoons from ravaging our corn patch. When we plant our sweet corn, I oftentimes put a pile of shelled corn near the field. Crows who are pretty pesky about going down the row and getting the kernel out of the newly sprouted corn, will just go to that pile of corn that's on top of the ground because it's easier to get and by the time that's gone my corn is past the point where they can be troublesome. Japanese beetles sometimes get into the silks, but they don't bother me, because the birds that come by to eat the beetles oftentimes get the corn ear worm out of there too. Sweet corn is always grown in a patch so that it pollinates better. It doesn't make full ears if it's grown in single rows. After one of my master gardener's talks, an old friend came up to me and handed me a big sack of sweet corn seed, it was open pollinated corn that he'd been saving for 35 years. He had got the seed on our farm at a conference we had had way back then in the 80s. With open pollinated corn, we can save our seed from year to year. Like my friend Darrell had been doing. So we have flagged a lot of the stalks in here that have two ears and the ears are nice looking and the plants are healthy. With the hybrid sweet corn, we don't save the seed. It won't come true. Hybrid sweet corn may be sweeter and yield more, but the old fashioned flavor of this old timey open pollinated corn is summer at its best. It's good eatin'.
September 10, 2015
Season 24 | Episode 11
Container gardening is well-suited for growing tomatoes, yet it still has its challenges. Marty DeHart visits a grower who shares tips to minimize the blight and blossom end rot that is so common. Troy Marden shows us around his daylily trial beds as he tries this hand at hybiridizing. Jeff Poppen guides us through his corn patches, both open-pollinated and hybrid varieties.