Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE95-085
Ms. Giambrone would like to be able to bring a steady supply of fresh vegetables to her farmers’ markets over a longer period. She obtained a SARE grant to explore ways of starting her tomatoes, eggplants, melons, and peppers as early as possible in the spring.
She purchased seedlings from a greenhouse in March, and transferred them to a cold frame on her farm. Early in April she transplanted them to pots, which she placed out-of-doors, in a protected location. Her hope was that the vegetables would continue to grow there, until the weather was warm enough to permit them to be placed in the ground; she found however that the melons and peppers suffered substantially from the cold. Besides the cold, the peppers also suffered from an infestation of aphids, which destroyed the eggplants as well. The tomatoes fared better than the other species, and in late April and early May she placed the surviving tomato plants in the ground. Ms. Giambrone reports that at this point they were already carrying green fruit three to four inches in diameter. Even so, she was not able to harvest any tomatoes from these plants before mid-August, which is about when tomatoes ripen in her area anyway.
Ms. Giambrone still has faith in the idea of starting vegetable plants early. She believes that what’s critical is the choice of sheltering locations while the plants are awaiting removal to the field.