My name is Sinclair Welch, currently a sophomore at the University of Vermont majoring in Environmental Studies concentrating in Food Systems. Prior to my studies at UVM, I attended the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan, where I received a culinary degree. This summer I am working for Barcelona Wine Bar and bartaco in their South Norwalk offices with Farah Masani, a farmer and the Director of Culinary Procurement helping with food sourcing, inventory, distribution and farming. I will be writing weekly blogs to give you a peek at what goes on behind the scenes.
Rooftop Garden Update
A lot of work has gone into our garden since we planted on June 1. Our cucumbers had to be trellised and our tomatoes staked. In fact, we had to care for our tomatoes in a variety of ways.
There are two different kinds of tomato plants — determinate and indeterminate. Indeterminate tomato plants (also known as “vining” tomatoes) grow up to ten feet tall and produce fruit throughout the season. They will continue to grow and produce fruit until they are killed by the first frost.
Determinate tomato plants (also called bush tomatoes) are more compact and grow only three or four feet tall. They will stop growing once the fruit has ripened on the bud, but all of the tomatoes ripen around the same time.
We have both types of tomatoes on our rooftop garden. These kinds of tomato plants require different care. Indeterminate plants should have the “suckers” pruned so that they can use their energy to grow “up” and not “out.” Suckers are the small shoots that grow out of the joint of the plant. Since they grow like a vine, indeterminate tomato plants require lots of staking. Determinate plants, however should not have the suckers pruned and don’t need to be staked because of their bush shape.
We staked our tomatoes using the stake and weave technique, using one stake for each planter and then looping the string around each stake. We used three strings each, eight inches apart.
A month and a half after planting, we have our first signs of corn! We have lots of green tomatoes and we are seeing the start of our cucumbers and peppers.
We have trained our cucumbers to grow vertically on a trellis made of twine. This makes it easier to harvest the cucumbers and keeps them off the ground, which helps protect them from pests and disease. This technique also helps us save space, which is limited on our roof top garden.