Growing Tomatoes for Profit with Conor Crickmore of Neversink Farm (FSFS169)

 

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            Tomato is a crop well-loved by gardeners, consumers, and growers. Tomatoes have a lot of variety and can bring in good cash flow for small farms. Tomatoes are easy to grow but are difficult to grow well and grow consistently. There are several techniques to growing tomatoes, and you also need to consider your own context—your climate, the weather, your farm set-up.

Conor Crickmore joins us today to talk about his thoughts about growing tomatoes in a small farm and how the tomato economics fits into that small farm.

 

Today’s Guest: Conor Crickmore

            Conor Crickmore is a farmer and educator at Neversink Farm. Tomatoes are one of the biggest crops in their farm, and it’s to no one’s surprise that he’s well-acquainted with tomatoes and how to market them. Today, Conor offers several courses over his farm’s website to walk you through growing tomatoes and marketing them.

 

Relevant Links

            Neversink Farms – Website | Facebook | Instagram

 

In this episode of Farm Small, Farm Smart

  • The importance of tomatoes in Neversink Farm (01:45)
  • Can you start with tomatoes? (03:20)
  • Deciding on varieties (04:55)
  • Approaching marketing heirloom tomatoes (09:55)
  • Rules of thumb when grafting tomatoes (12:45)
  • What to look for in rootstock and why choose it (15:25)
  • Ensuring healthy growth: starting tomatoes from trays to soil (21:00)
  • From tray to the field (26:10)
  • Winstrip trays (29:10)  
  • Prepping field soil (33:20)
  • Dealing with above ground diseases (36:50)
  • Indoor culture and investing in tunnels (38:40)
  • Neversink market farming course (41:25)
  • Selling tomatoes in Claryville, New York (44:50)

 

Resources

 

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FSFS169_ConorCrickmore_Tomatoes

Diego: [00:00:00] Today, it's all about growing tomatoes for market with farmer Conor Crickmore of never sink farm coming up. Welcome to farm small farm smart. I'm your host Diego DIEGO. Today. We're going to jump right into the episode. An episode that focuses on one of my favorite topics around vegetables, growing the tomato.

Gardeners love them. Farmers love them. At least most of them, I think love them and consumers have loved them and given their universal appeal, it's a crop that can provide a lot of cashflow for a small farm. You can grow a lot of tomatoes, typically in a relatively small space and sell those tomatoes usually for pretty good money.

But there's a lot of techniques involved. There's a lot of practice and experience needed to get them downright in your given system, whether that's growing them in a field or whether that's growing them in protective culture. Because tomatoes are easy to grow, but they're difficult to grow well and grow consistently.

Hopefully this episode can help you grow them better and grow them for a longer period of time. Because today I'm talking to Connor, Creekmore the farmer at never saying farm. Connor's going to be talking about his thoughts on growing tomatoes and how they fit into a small farm, how they work in terms of economics.

And then we're going to touch on production, going from seedling to transplant. There's a lot in this one. I hope you enjoy it. It's growing tomatoes for profit. With farmer Connor Crickmore.

Diego: [00:01:46] So Connor, when you think about it, tomatoes and growing them, some farms are very heavy, dependent upon tomatoes.

When it comes time for cashflow, for income, some farms, it's just another vegetable that they grow. And it's not necessarily an oversized piece of the pie. On your farm, never sink farm. How did tomatoes fit into the general. Bigger picture of the farm. And how important are they to the farm?

Conor Crickmore: [00:02:14] If it's the time of year, once tomatoes start producing, they are super important, mostly because we're growing early and growing them late.

And that we've done because we're always trying to avoid August where the heaviest producers are pulling them out of the field and the price drops dramatically. But when you have tomatoes, the table can spread, it changes everything. Customers love that and they'll pick tomatoes over anything over that into the radishes or any of the carrots, even.

Man, it's just become so ultra-important. And also they're just incredibly fun to grow, when you get it right. And you're swimming in tomatoes early in the season, you feel like you've got money in the back. you can walk down those roads and just, feel confident that the farm is doing well.

Diego: [00:03:23] Your farm, at this point, you're established, you have a lot of. Structures to grow tomatoes under protected culture for a new farmer, starting out, people that might join the never saying farming course. How would you advise them to think about tomatoes? Is that a crop you start with? If you don't have big, fancy greenhouses to get started, can you start with just simple Caterpillar tunnels and do okay. In your opinion?

Conor Crickmore: [00:03:53] Absolutely. I started with growing them out outdoors. And obviously your production is a 10th of what it would be indoors, but then we moved to Caterpillar tunnel, which it's difficult because of the height. But we did it and we had money, but the most important reasons to start them in your first year and get into that so that you get good at them.

And so that you can see the value in investing in that. Because the more you invest in tomatoes and then your infrastructure for tomatoes, they give back tenfold. So yeah, you can certainly do it in the field. The Florida we've, it's fine just like a Caterpillar is certainly fine, but as you move up in infrastructure, it's just amazing how much more production you can get out of a square foot rather than trying to get bigger.

Diego: [00:04:54] I know one other thing newbies struggle with and maybe don't struggle with, but they more enjoy is tomatoes are one of the most featured vegetables in most seed catalogs. They're going to occupy a lot of real estate on the pages. How would you advise a new grower to think about what varieties or what cultivars to start with?

One thing you mentioned is you want to be growing them when other farms aren't, that's a competitive advantage, but I'm also thinking you're going to want to grow varieties potentially that other farmers aren't or does that play into it? How do you think about what am I going to grow?

Conor Crickmore: [00:05:34] For me, we, early on, we were certainly, looking at the catalogs and buy any interesting seed and have all this variety of tomatoes. But I found that the consumer doesn't seem to care that there's a certain amount of variety that works. And then once you get beyond that, the return begins to go down.

This there's something called choice overload that when consumers are faced with a choice and that choice is too expensive, that they end up reasoning and they don't make a choice. So just have a reasonable amount of choice. I think you're going to do just as well. And you're going to increase your efficiency. Things are going to look neater at the market.

Because I like to separate my yellows, my red and my black, and then it looks really nice and it also helps to sell more because people will say, I like to get one of each color and that's only three, but once you have too many, they it's hard for them to pick those choices.

So the way I approach it, and the way I found work over the years is, and this is all going to depend on what its market what's more popular. But with heirlooms, as long as you have three colors, right? And that's usually a red, yellow, and black, and then for your cherry tomatoes, early red is always good because red is going to sell with everybody.

Everybody likes it. And then as the season progresses and you have more competition to have a mix and that mix doesn't need to be. That's you know, really expensive for charities, right? I, you have maybe a yellow in them. It'd be a black, maybe one of the oblong, right? Just the, reasonable mix that's going to look great in a pipe.

Cause once you got up to five, six, seven different cherry tomatoes, consumer won't even notice at that point, it's just too much to even look at. So that's how I approach it. And then if you're doing indoor tomatoes, then a good producing, solid beefsteak tomato, cause they're gonna produce incredibly well, even if you don't want to make it a huge part of, maybe a low percentage of the amount of tomatoes, maybe 10% they're gonna produce better than any tomato you have.

When it's grafted when the soil is right, the environment, correct, 12 fertilize, those plants produce an unbelievable amount of tomatoes in the right circumstances. So it's always nice to have them and those things freeze real well for the winter too, if you want to freeze them. So that's what I, cause I'm imagining at market what it's going to look like.

Is it going to look like a band or is it going to be nice and organized and, meet the demand early and because in the end, late and I also found with chefs that they're making, let's say their little tomato salad, they don't say, I need at least 10 types of heirlooms in my tomato salad because they're putting, three slices of tomato on a plate with a little olive oil.

So as long as you have the three colors, they're incredibly like soup. They not going to complain that you don't have some other weird tomato in it. And it's hard because you want to buy all those different types. And so what we do is we always reserve a little spot for us, maybe a 50 foot row and then we put the weird types of that for us.

And that we may bring to market if they produce really well and offer them on the side and that kind of satisfies our urge to get a huge wide array. Now twice, if you're the tomato guy and that's what you do, you're going to be all about tomato. Then you have no choice, but to go extensive in your variety.

Diego: [00:09:56] Yeah. I love the idea of thinking about how you're going to market it and present it and then going backwards from there to figure out what you're going to grow. When you think heirlooms, one thing that comes to mind, and I think a lot of people at markets have seen this farmers will take a whole table in just spread out heirlooms across the table, and you have all different shapes and sizes across the table.

I know you're big into kind of systems and simplifying things. For the heirlooms that you grow, how do you take some of that confusion and extra work out of selling heirlooms? Meaning are you trying for a consistent size? So they all weigh about the same, so you can charge one price or basket them versus having one that weighs 2.8 pounds and one that weighs one pound?

Conor Crickmore: [00:10:44] Well going for consistent sizes, it would be really difficult.

The bigger that heirlooms are, the harder they are to sell. So you have three, four pound downloads. it's very difficult to sell, but I always tell them by weight. And when we harvest them straight into the box cause we're going to display them in. So when they come out of the van, they go straight onto the table in those boxes, which are really nice boxes, rather than, something that's plastic.

For the plastic we'll put the, the B stick tomato, then. But we always do it by pound except for the charities, but the medium of heirloom, that's the one that you're looking for. That's the one that's going to sell the best. The small ones are harder to sell and the huge ones, the hardest to sell, but trying to gear your crop to be able to do that is tough.

But when the soil is right and your moisture is right, then you can achieve it. The plant's going to want to do that. The plant's going to want to be equal in its production

Diego: [00:11:47] And thinking about the, having them basketed, when you go to sell them. So somebody picks a basket off the table, you weigh that individual basket, that's what they pay or do your harvesters know, okay. Each basket's gonna look like this. So each baskets we're going to say, it's going to weigh. Three pounds or whatever that weight is.

Conor Crickmore: [00:12:08] No. we're doing this. We're actually harvesting rates were flat. So it's a big wooden flat that says never sink farm on it.

And right. So all the reds go into their own flats, all the yellow score to their own flat and then the blacks going to their flats. So we just put them out on that people free selection. What happens I find is when we have all three colors, people will get one of these. A lot of people will. Since people come and get a hug, tons of tomatoes people would just get one, but having the three drive, at least three tomatoes, not to the scale I five.

Diego: [00:12:46] So when you think about producing these tomatoes, any one thing you mentioned was grafting the beefsteaks for protecting culture growing. What are your general rules of thumb for grafting or how do you approach it at this point? Do you look at it like. If I'm going to grow a tomato indoors, any tomato�s going to be grafted, or are you only doing the beef steaks, and if so, like, why aren't you grafting the heirlooms?

Conor Crickmore: [00:13:12] So I grabbed everything. If it's a tomato, I'm going to graft it. And the reason behind that is because it's at least the way I do it. I've watched videos where people make it really complicated, but I do it very simply, and it takes no time at all.

It usually takes about four or five hours to do all of our earliest tomatoes and the price of actually grafting that, maybe just a couple of dollars less, when it comes to my time to, the extra seed, but the return is so great that it makes sense to do it for all the tomatoes. But if you're starting out, you want to lower your risk and make sure that you have backup, make sure that you have a whole set ready that's not crafted if there's any failure while I, while it is easy. And I think anybody can do it. I want to throw in too much risk into the system, especially with tomatoes where you can't go back, you can't go back six weeks.

But I do them all. Every single one of them, I have grafted, I have, there was one year when I don't remember why, but we only did half of our support. The house is 120 feet long and right in the middle, it switched from the grafted to the not grafted and the difference was incredible just look at the plant. And you just see these monsters and Friant with big tomatoes, fruiting spurs, as long as your arm. And then when he went to the ungrafted, there was a big shift.

Suddenly the plant was a little bit smaller. Tomatoes were slightly smaller of including spirits where in his law. Right now it's the only change, right? That we're always treated the same. The soil, the same houses, the same temperatures, the same whites, just the same. It's just that active grafting that's such a huge difference.

Diego: [00:15:25] And for anybody listening to this, you have a growing indoor tomato and cucumber course within the never sink farm course. So people can watch that if their course members or if you want to see that process and learn more about grafting, they can sign up for the course.

When you think about grafting there's various rootstock choices out there. So you have ones that are root heavy that increase root growth and provide a lot of disease resistance through the roots. You have ones that provide balance growth, help balance it out, and then you have ones that force vegetative growth upward. What do you target when you're looking for a rootstock? And why are you looking for that particular root stock?

Conor Crickmore: [00:16:07] we're expecting it very complicated depending on what you're trying to do, and also it's going to depend on how much control you have over the environment, right? So an environment where you have a lot of control, and then you're going to be pushing the plant differently.

If you don't have a lot of control, then you're going to be doing something. But for me, I simplify it and just say, how long are these going to be in the ground? And so for my early plants, right? Then I'm looking for something that's going to work for an extended period of time, because those are very different.

Because if you want it, if you have a very short window, you're going to want to push everything towards the fruit. And to produce it. But if you have a longer window, because we've all seen tomatoes where they just choose the time, hire out, and then you have not a lot of tomatoes after that.

So for my early tomato, I'm looking for a rootstock that's going to balance that production for many months is potting them on today. The go in the ground, maybe first week in March, somewhere around there. And then they're going to be in the ground, March, April, May, June, July, August, September. That's a long time. I need something that's going to do that.

For those I use, the back support from Johnny, but there's a lot of choices when it comes to rootstocks. but it's going to be how much control you have over their environment and how long that harvest is going to be, and in some ways it also depends on th type of tomatoes you're growing as well, I try to keep it real simple and not get too overcomplicated with it.

Diego: [00:18:17] And it sounds like from hearing that, the time in the cost and the little bit of work required to do the grafting overall throughout the years, it's paid off for you in a big way, both in terms of yield disease, resistance, and just extending the season.

Conor Crickmore: [00:18:33] Yeah. Because if you're using ungrafted tomatoes and you want to have a very long season, I don't think it works as well. This man is just doesn�t at least in New York, this doesn't have the vigor that it needs to produce for a very extended period of time. But the production is the thing that Diseases instance is very hard to see. Cause, I think there's a myth that if that you can control diseases above the root, which you can't, like you couldn't control the smalls or anything that happens above the ground is not going to transfer to do our tomato clap for root diseases for things inside in the grounds.

it has high resistance, but it's harder to see that it's hard to see that. Result, It's hard to see it negative, but the production very it's, quite dramatic. The difference. Tomatoes have been, cross, for years, and everyone's been looking for, great tastes, maybe for great color, for size for all of that. And when you try to do that, as well as, vigor and production, they get very complicated. So when you can separate those two and create a rootstock, that's all about, production or, growing a strong vine to be able to produce and then keep your tomato just say let's, work on, the fact is that I want in the tomato plant, then it makes it a lot easier.

I want you to put those together. You have an incredible plan that just worked so well and. No stings like a beef steak or chorus, the certain plants that they get combined with a, when they get crafted, they have an even more dramatic. And you can look at charts and charts where they'll show the amount of production compared to their non grafted, when they're not grafted.

So each plant will have a different level of production increase and some are even more dramatic than others, but they all will have some production increase.

Diego: [00:21:03] one of the keys to getting tomatoes off to a good start is starting with really healthy plans. Can you talk a little bit about how you start your tomatoes from trays to soil?

What do you do at the beginning to get good healthy plants, establish both the root stock and the plants that will become the cyan to ensure that when you graph these, you're starting with two really healthy plants on each side, they then get combined into one.

Conor Crickmore: [00:21:34] I've been planting all of my tomatoes, winstrips for years, and I switched from soil block to winter chip seven or eight years ago, I think. And, so they all get started in that in the 72 tray, which is, a reasonably sized tray. They go uncovered, the seed is uncovered. I'm using Vermont compost, potting soil, and we used to mix our own potting soil. And I think there was just too much unknown when we were doing that.

Because if at any point it's not mixed correctly, you don't get fertilizer. And every cell that you're bringing in a lot of risk into the system. So I use a. Potting soil that I buy that's well mixed that is going to produce evenly. And so that goes into the winstrip. It's seeded by hand and then put into a germ chamber to get it to germinate. Just starting out, at Europe chamber isn't necessary. What we used to do is just take a heating pad and I'm talking about one that you use a necessary that.

What did you put onto your head, but under street heating pad and I just put some plastic over it and that works. That's going to work fine for your tomatoes. And once they germinate, you want them to germinate evenly. And that's why you would use shooting patches. Tomatoes need a lot of heat. And then once they come out and they grow and they fill out that pot, we take our Gregg. It stopped and put them into their own pots. So they're going to go into a two inch pot and that's when they get grafted, then as they grow, we're actually going to change them up.

And that's what I'm doing today. We're going to go from the two-inch pot to a four-inch pot and. Not only does that give them more room to grow, but tomatoes hate being crowded. So this just gives them a lot of space. And then as they grow, they have to move the part because otherwise, and I'm sure that everybody, they'll get leggy, it'll get long and thin and weak.

And that happens when either they're not getting enough light, but usually in your prop house, that's not a problem. It's that they're just too crowded, right? The more you separate them, the more they're going to be thick. And that's what you want. You want a nice thick, like an Oak tree, like a little mini Oak tree, that's going to be the tomato plant that starts off.

Cause if you put a thin scrawny plant, then it's going to take weeks before. It gets back to being healthy again, and I don't think it will actually ever go back to being a hundred percent. So keeping space, how to get on very important.

Diego: [00:24:51] You mentioned you're using the Vermont compost potting soil to get them started. Given the amount of time that tomatoes are in some form of pot either initially, or when they're potted up at any point, are you adding extra fertilizer into the mix or it's just, whatever was in the potting soil is what they get?

Conor Crickmore: [00:25:12] whatever's in the product. So I never asked, if something's going to be too long and, we tried to put it off if we really need it.

Or if it's something that's not valuable, we may just throw it out, set up a fund to fertilize. Yeah. I just don't like spraying, mostly what it's going to be is fish. This is what you're going to spray in a prop house. And the prop house is a really nice place to be. And I don't want to spray a whole bunch of nasty fish in there and make it an unpleasant today.

As long as you have everything sized correctly, your pot size correctly, then things should be okay. And the good thing about a winstrip is it's, it works just like a soil block in that it there proves the roots. So you get a little bit of extra time even on the table, even without a little bit of fertilizer before we need to plant it out.

Diego: [00:26:09] If the conditions were right, like saying in the field, you could go from a 72 winstrip cell tray straight into the field. Or do you think that potting up is a requirement?

Conor Crickmore: [00:26:20] Yeah, you can plant it whatever stage you are. As long as it's warm out there and you harden them off, it's going to go out into the field. The tomato plants from the prop house has never been hit by wind. So it's going to be really upset if you go straight up there. So it has to be hardened off, but you could.

The reason why it's potted on is so that you can get ahead of things set up really nice plant that's gonna start producing earlier, but the big farms they're not potting into big pots, right? They're going to be in like a 72 tray, maybe even smaller and harder them off and just stick them in and do acre after acre. So you certainly could do it, but on a small farm, you have that ability to take the time to pot things off and just get an extra week. Which makes it shoes different box. So it's a couple extra weeks. This could be a lot of mileage.

Diego: [00:27:33] And people listening to this winstrip trays, which you've mentioned a few times, that may be a little bit of a foreign word. But when strip trays, they're a really interesting story.

It's a cool story, because this is something that you use for years and they were somewhat easy to come by years ago, then they disappeared from the market and it was something that you'd always use. You'd always liked. And you actually brought them back and now make them available. Can you give a little bit of backstory to when strip trays, why you like them so much and what it took to make them happen and where people can get them now?

Conor Crickmore: [00:28:13] Yeah, we used to, use sort of blocks, soar blocks to do some very good transplant. the problem with soil blocks is. Yeah, a huge pain in the ass, you have to soil, get it the right consistency, press them out, practice with it. You press them out on the ground and then you have to lift them up and that's all tiring.

Then they can try out, it's just a lot of problems facing us so long to do it. And so we got our first winstrip years ago and it just changed everything. It just changed the quality of our starts, even though we were using soil blocks, it's just so hard to take care of the soil blocks that we weren't getting some really good still in that depth.

But if you don't have to worry about having to water them all the time, carry them easily. They're already in a container not to put them in something else. You can actually hold them. So they don't to tell you one trip and carry two trays. It's just a positive effect. But yeah, they disappearing. I think a lot of that would be so Wellsville.

It lasts for so long. It's not the smartest thing to sell because people aren't coming back and buy it more because people have done for 20 years.

I don't know if I do any Ken, it was really hard to, to bring them back, but now that they're back, they're going to stay back, but I'm glad that we can offer them an alternative to plastic and say, great to have a place that, And you're not, there's also not a lot of benefit with it cause you don't get a lot of air movement around them. There is no air through the winstrips, but air passes through the whole tray, which takes a huge different style whether you have loss, your early seedlings gapping off or something.

And then she has tables that allow parents through it. It just creates a system where things grow quickly. They go straw and your that's straight. That's really hot. so combined in my house with germination chamber had tables, airflow on the table. We suddenly, hold on stage a lot less success rate and stuff.

Diego: [00:30:54] Yeah. So overall a great tree. I mean something that's going to last a long time, give you beneficial propagation and growing advantages over traditional 10, 20 trays. I love the idea of them. Currently, you have the 72 cell winstrip trays available. It neversinktools.com. So now that you take strong, healthy tomato, that's been growing in the greenhouse for a few weeks and it's ready to go into the field when it comes time to moving them from greenhouse into the field.

What type of things are you doing in the field to prep the soil? Are you doing it on a bed basis? Do you do it on a hole by hole basis? How do you prep the soil in general before tomatoes go in?

Conor Crickmore: [00:31:39] Hopefully it's been that long before, I think that special attention to the house I'm going to go ready, make sure that soil is completely well balanced and perfect is Moffitt. And then start feeding it all with the organic material. And just before I plant that, we're going to print it. yeah. again, more than anything just to get that really good start.

So I don't want to, things were interplanted to effect the growth of the tomatoes. So it's No very impossible to do because it's just to matter that we're adding. But at that point I'm not adding any organic material natures and, all of that would fall based out of the soil that already loaded up with that. Now I'm just feeding the soil. I don't tell the soil, we don't turn it, so we're just eating in the, it should have air. Loose.

And then we actually start grafting the plant itself first, so that we'll go into the lab and we've already started putting, so does actually be on those beds. I was taking out the rector letter. I'll put it on there. Tiring. Before they haven't made a thing. and the organic material that I've added, I have a custom blend. Lots of seaweed in it. It has a fishing out downtown

Diego: [00:33:44] on them. One thing you mentioned earlier was there's this myth rootstocks will prevent diseases that occur above ground on the above ground portion of the plan and that not being true. One problem that a lot of growers struggle with is above ground diseases on the above ground part of the plant. What's been your experience with disease above ground. And if it's been a problem, how have you done?

Conor Crickmore: [00:34:14] Once you move in doors, one thing I think everybody's going to encounter leaf molds. It's very common in store, indoor grow tomatoes, even in the most perfect environment it's trying to exist and the best way to find it and have it not tomato is that a resistant to it? We've had nonresistant varieties growing right down the middle of the greenhouse right next to resistant variety. The other one won't have a spot of it. So resistant varieties works really well for things like that.

Also once you can control the environment better, to be able to get to immediately out of the house is really important. That's another level that usually, is ignored, right? And you're going but you're affecting based on temperature, but venting based on she admitted it can really make a difference with a leaf diseases. Cause a lot of them are fungal. And so what we do is we power vents the house, meaning that we need checked all the moist air based on humidity readings in the house. And that just happens automatically. And that makes a big difference. So having the right space. Is that good variety and is the humidity controlled.

Diego: [00:35:48] I know this might be a complex subject and it's probably more than we can cover in this conversation. But for somebody who is looking at an investing in, let's say an expensive, higher tech tomato tunnel versus a cat tunnel, that's very passive and low tech.

One of the things they're probably trying to figure out is I'm going to spend the money on the tunnel. How much is it going to increase my production or yield? And if we think about that with tomatoes, what's your thought around that. Are you getting, you see a massive increase in yield? When you go from cat tunnel to indoor culture, are you going to see disease pressure go down when you do that shift?

Because you can do some of these measures, like forcing humidity out.

Conor Crickmore: [00:36:37] Yeah, I'm not sure it's going to be dramatic. The first year takes time to get to know it, to be able to balance your house because you want to be able to water correctly, get the sheet correctly, got the heating at night, compared to heating during the day I'm getting that she made it a control, right?

It's just gonna continue to rise as you get better and better at it. with a better house with more climate. Sure. It is just really like climate control. Now, even if you're just thinking about getting a really nice house, you're going to be growing a lot more than just tomatoes. There's so much more you can do with it.

And so it's trying to have a benefit. from many different sides, but once you move from that Caterpillar tunnel to a better house where you can heat, you suddenly, maybe a month earlier, I guess Amanda. And so you just calculate, having a month, more tomatoes on your table, the difference that makes.

But, it's hard to calculate everything because not only. Are people buying tomatoes from the book, the choose your table has tomatoes. Now they're buying the lettuce from you as they're buying the tomatoes. And so it has a multiplying effect for the farm.

Diego: [00:38:06] Got it, yeah. it makes a lot of sense. Overall, like thinking about these tomatoes are one of those crops that can be very profitable but can also be a little bit complex to grow when you compare them against some of the other crops out there. Now within the never sink market farming course, you have a whole course dedicated to tomato and cucumber production.

Can you talk a little bit about what's in that course and how both new growers and growers who have some experience can benefit from what's in there?

Conor Crickmore: [00:38:39] For me, the end of it, tomatoes and cucumbers are so important that they needed their own section. It gives them enough time and go in. Think we have enough detail because they are more complex.

They do take a lot more discussion. I think just the trellising is three parts, two hours just in trellising because it is a complex. we use the clipper system, which is a very different system. So that takes a long time to go into and sane on how it's done. That. It doesn't use a ladder that there's only two clips involved it's much faster and easier while discussing different types of trellising and joining into, not just starting down the grasping down how to graph, I'm going to detail on how to graph that.

Also, as you said before, tomatoes are the different diseases, but that has to be gone into step by step on what different diseases to look for. What did they look like? How to know the difference between one disease and another what to do to stop it. If you have to stop it and what to do to prevent it for the future, and then going over all these, and how to set up Charlotte's thing in a house.

And then how to harvest them correctly, how to store them correctly. How to market not only goes from, how to choose your seed, but all also to how to market that, with me at the market, seeing how I sell them, how I display them, how I think about pricing. So that takes a long time and that's why I needed to be in its own section.

There is a little special thing on jealousy peppers as well in there, which I helped to expand on, this year and put even more on indoor peppers. There's a reason why there are, many square miles of indoor greenhouses that grow from pepper? It's because they're popular, they're profitable and people love them.

Pretty much everything about how we grow, made us at the farm, along side, me as I do it. from how to spark this, how to start traversing, the title, any little plant, the only one that's like a foot and a half tall all the way. So we're lowering and leaning them, near the end of the season too. when we have a 20, 30 plan.

Diego: [00:41:15] Yeah. So somebody wants to get that indoor tomato and cucumber intensive. It's part of the never sink market farming course. You can learn more about that. Never seen courses.com and just to close this out and bring it back home, come full circle.

You're growing tomatoes in Clairsville, New York. It's a cooler climate. For you on your farm, What's your tomato selling season. Like when are you selling tomatoes? Starting when and ending when. To give people some perspective on how big of an impact this can be over a long period of time.

Conor Crickmore: [00:41:54] So what at zones five, a M it's a chiller zone five to eight.

So then what's called frauds Valley. And, if we're lucky, if it's a year, because It's not just about heating it's about whether we're getting sunshine, but if it's a good year, the tomatoes will start ripening end of April. And we may have our first cherry tomato, like in the last week of April.

And that doesn't mean we're selling the ever first one. And then we know things are going to start. So in may, we'll start selling a little bit and then it will increase as it gets to the end of the month. And then. June will be at, probably full production of all the tomatoes they'll be in the starter house.

And then we'll produce all through the summer. And then in September, the house gets, converted to winter growing, but we also grow them in the movable later on. And those will continue until they're frozen out and that will happen. And it really depends on the year, but we might actually be able to get somewhere into November for lucky, with those tomatoes.

But just before they're going to get frozen, we'd grab off. And then we ripen them through November and December inside the washing station and continue to bring them to market as wait for the seasons we can.

Diego: [00:43:27] overall a really long season for a crop that may seem like just a summer crop. You're showing that smart varieties, smart management technique, culture, protected culture can all extend that season from everybody's favorite summer crop to something that goes into the spring and into the fall, and maybe even touch into the winter.

Conor Crickmore: [00:43:50] And with a little bit of luck.

Diego: [00:43:52] And a little bit of luck in there. Yeah. So I want to thank you Connor for coming on today and sharing everything that you're doing. You have a great Instagram feed. People can follow along with that. I'll link to that. And again, if people want to learn more about the winstrip trays, go to dot com or your online course@neversingcourses.com.

Diego: [00:44:13] There you have it. Farmer Connor Creek, more of never seeing farm on growing tomatoes for profit. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope you got a lot out of it. One takeaway for me from this one was when Connor said, when you're selling something to consumers have a reasonable amount of choice. Not too little, not too much a reasonable amount.

I like the idea of that. And I think it applies to most products, transcending the humbled tomato itself. If you enjoy this episode and you want to learn more from Connor, be sure to check out all of the resources that he has to offer neversinkcourses.com. And if you're interested in growing your own tomatoes, whether you're a home grower or a farmer consider starting them this year, or@leastyournextroundoftomatoesinwindstriptraysavailableatneverseeingtools.com.

I've linked to both of those in the show notes for this one, along with Connor's Instagram. So check them out, follow along and have fun growing tomatoes on your farm or in your garden this year. That's all for this one. Thanks for listening until next time. Be nice. Be thankful and do the work.

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