Tomato clones transplanted and safely ensconced within Walls O’ Waters in greenhouse. (Mary Lowther photo)

Tomato clones transplanted and safely ensconced within Walls O’ Waters in greenhouse. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: An experiment with early cloned tomatoes

Six of the 12 sprouts I potted up survived

By Mary Lowther

Last fall I cut suckers sprouting from branches on my best tomato plants, which I think were Oregon Spring, but since the labels in the ground disappeared, they could be Manitoba or Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifters. I think this year I’ll draw a map of what variety goes where; tomatoes are in the ground for so long that name stakes disappear or the words fade completely. I’d like to blame David but he doesn’t hang out in the garden.

Six of the 12 sprouts I potted up survived and these I’ve transplanted into the unheated greenhouse, each protected by a Wall O’ Waters and we’ll see how they do when compared with tomatoes sown now in the seed table. I kept the clones in a sunny window in the house all winter, watered them when they looked dry with leftover cold tea, vegetable water and plain water and didn’t fertilize them. I recently trimmed and potted up sprouts from these clones too.

I dug six holes one shovelful deep and four feet apart in the greenhouse, poured a quarter cup of organic fertilizer and one cup of compost into each hole and filled them with water. Then I filled up six Wall O’ Waters and put them aside in the greenhouse to warm up for a couple of days. When I first used these Wall O’ Waters, I filled them up in place around the plants and the cold of the water stunted them terribly, so now I warm the protective caps up before placing them over the plants. It’s a hassle picking them up full of water to put over each plant and not squish the plant doing it, but these Wall O’ Waters give me quite a jump on the season so are worth it.

I removed all the lower leaves and flowers to reduce the amount of work for the plants so they can expend their energy making more roots. I laid the plants sideways in their holes, covered up the stems with soil where they will develop more roots, left the top few leaves above ground, then laid a soaker hose along the ground. I’ll water for the next month with warmed water from watering cans I’m keeping in the greenhouse. I don’t want to use cold water directly from the tap yet because it would probably stunt growth. When it warms up I’ll water with the soaker hose for half an hour every four days. I lifted the filled and warmed Wall O’ Waters and placed them over each plant and the hose. When leaves protrude out the top of the Wall O’ Waters it’ll be time to remove them. Since I always manage to spill some water on myself, I don’t wear my dancing slippers for this job.

I attached two lengths of twine for each plant to a wire strung across the ceiling and will tie one per plant to the bottom of each stem once the Wall O’ Waters are removed. As the plants grow, I’ll wind them up around the lengths of twine and allow them to grow to the top of the wire, then I’ll nip off the end so energy will go to developing the fruit remaining on lower branches. I’ll allow one sprout per plant to grow and tie this to the second length of twine. I’ll nip off the rest of the sprouts as they appear, allowing for more air circulation and bigger tomatoes.

Author A. G. Puttoch suggests spraying the first truss of flowers lightly with water or a fruiting hormone each day as they appear in order to ensure a good “set”. This is not necessary for future trusses. I’ll try both sprays and compare results.

I’ll make compost tea in a bucket inside the greenhouse and irrigate the soil with it every two weeks, and will sprinkle organic fertilizer on the soil around each plant every three weeks so maybe we’ll be eating tomatoes early this year.

Please contact with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.


Just Posted

Island Health is bringing a vaccination clinic to Lake Cowichan starting June 23. (Submitted)
COVID vaccine clinic coming to Lake Cowichan as area numbers lag

Clinic will operate at arena starting June 23

The Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society, which has been operating a treatment centre on land leased from the Nanoose First Nation for 35 years (pictured), has begun a fundraising campaign to open a new centre near Duncan. (Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society photo)
New Indigenous treatment centre to be built near Duncan

Centre will help survivors of residential schools

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Mariah Segee (centre) was named 2021 Lady of the Lake last Saturday, with Megan Rowbottom (left) as first princess, and Macey Anderson (right) as second princess. (Submitted)
Lady of the Lake returns to Lake Cowichan

Mariah Segee takes the crown in first pageant since 2018

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

For more than a year, Rene Doyharcabal and a small group of neighbours in Langley’s Brookswood neighbourhood have been going out every evening to show support for first responders by honking horns and banging pots and drums. Now, a neighbour has filed a noise complaint. (Langley Advance Times file)
Noise complaint filed against nightly show of support for health care workers in B.C. city

Langley Township contacted group to advise of complaint, but no immediate action is expected

A nurse prepares a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Thomas
Vancouver couple pleads guilty to breaking Yukon COVID rules, travelling for vaccine

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission,

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An inmate in solitary confinement given lunch on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. THE CANADIAN/Lars Hagberg
22-hour cap on solitary confinement for youth in custody still too long: B.C. lawyer

Jennifer Metcalfe was horrified to hear a youth had spent a total of 78 straight days in isolation

Flowers and candles were laid on the driveway of the Weber home, where Kerri Weber was found dead in November 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria man to stand trial for death of his wife last November

Ken Weber is charged with second-degree murder of his wife, Kerri Weber

The discovery of a missing woman’s body in Nanaimo earlier this month is now being treated as homicide, say Nanaimo RCMP. (File photo)
Discovery of woman’s body in downtown Nanaimo now being investigated as a homicide

Amy Watts was found dead near Albert Street and Victoria Crescent on June 3

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Most Read