The leaves on the trees have finally fallen and been gathered up or blown away. Now we can give our undivided attention to rearing what will certainly be called by others, if not by ourselves, the Millennium Tomato Crop!
The glass has been cleaned and the propagating house is in full swing with the young plants ready for potting up into the large Grodan blocks in which they will grow for the next nine months. This part of the propagation cycle is always a bit nerve wracking, wondering if some crisis is going to occur such as the breakdown of the heater during the night! It did just that last year and we have since learned our lesson to be better prepared in advance. Apart from anything else, the seed itself is expensive and one cannot afford to waste it at 14 pence (UK money) for a single seed.
So here you see the seedlings, 2 inches high, on December 6th, having been sown on November 26th. The temperature is kept at 23 degrees Celcius day and night for the first part of the propagating cycle. During this time they receive 16 hours a day of extra light and carbon dioxide enrichment to help them become sturdy plants in the generally poor winter light. When we pot the seedlings on to the large blocks, the temperature will automatically fall, controlled by the computer programme, by .5 day and .6 night, until it settles at 20 day and 19 night. We hope to be able to plant out in the main glasshouse on December 18th or December 20th, depending on the height of the plants. They need to be about six or seven inches in order to be supported by the self closing troughs in the glasshouse. All being well, they will be bedded down by Christmas. In three months time we ought to be picking some fruit. Think of us!