Archive for April, 2012

Picking Tomatoes

Since we are just starting tomato season, I thought I would give a glimpse into tomato picking and tomato pollination.

Tomato pollination needs to be done in the greenhouse since there is no wind or bees to shake the pollen from the anther part of the blossom to the stigma of the same blossom.

Dave uses what I think is a retrofitted “doodle pen”.  (I had one of these said pens sometime in the late 80s.   I remember it well.)  There is a counterweight on the end that spins, causing the long plastic stick on the end to vibrate, thus loosening the pollen when it is touched to the blossom.

If Dave wouldn’t pollinate, there would be no tomatoes.  He goes through the greenhouse once a week, briefly touching the end of the pollinator with each blossom.

Tomato picking comes two or three times a week once we get into warm weather.  Dave picks the tomatoes and places them carefully into white crates.  They typically have a little green on them, and are ripened as they sit in trays in a cool (but not too cold) location.  We wouldn’t want to pick them dead ripe because they would be overripe by the time we got them to market.

You can see how close the rows are together. The tomato rows are not great places for four year old Caleb to have a race.

When Dave has the white crate full, he transfers the tomatoes to the trays which display tomatoes at market.

This picture captured the five seconds that Caleb helped to transfer tomatoes. Some day this will be his job. Today, Dave was glad when he stopped being so helpful.

In other news, this is the progress that our peaches are making.  Thinning will be happening very, very soon.

The apples are coming along as well.  They have all lost their bloom and are working on swelling to be real apples.  This cluster will be pruned down to one apple at some point, but not until it grows a bit more.

We are also excited to introduce you to our new puppies (!).  Jack and Sarah arrived last Monday night and will eventually keep deer and other varmints out of the orchard.  For now, they are just a whole lot of fun.

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Bloomin’ Apples and BLTs

April 19, 2012

Things are moving along here in Lancaster.  The peaches are totally out of  bloom and are starting to grow.  Soon we will start thinning the peaches.  We’ll leave one peach about every three or four inches.  If we didn’t do this the tree would grow a whole bunch of tiny, tasteless peaches.

This is what our peaches look like right now. If you look to the left of my fingers, that particular peach and most of the peaches in the orchard still have what remains of the blossom called the shuck. And no...you can't eat it yet. Micro-herbs are totally different from micro-peaches.

The apples are just finishing up their bloom.  I was a bit lazy and didn’t get out to the orchard to take pictures until today.

Did you know that bees can be rented? Yup. It's true. We rent bees for the period of time that the apples are in bloom so that they will be sufficiently pollinated. Peaches are self-pollinating, but apples need a little help. The beekeeper will come pick them up in a week or so.

The other exciting news is that we are coming to Rittenhouse Square this week with tomatoes.  These babies are red, juicy and delicious.  I just had my first BLT of the season for lunch.  It was summer on a plate…and it’s only April.

These guys are making the trek to Rittenhouse Square this Saturday. They are very excited.