Author Topic: Growing tomatoes  (Read 6110 times)

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Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #40 on: April 27, 2011, 10:44:15 AM »
It's supposed to be sunny friday-monday but it's going to be in the low to mid 60's. Should I take them outside to harden them up for few hours or should I leave them under the lights?


Offline dellavecchia

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #41 on: April 27, 2011, 10:56:14 AM »
It's supposed to be sunny friday-monday but it's going to be in the low to mid 60's. Should I take them outside to harden them up for few hours or should I leave them under the lights?


David - I don't think it will harm them in any way. I always thought hardening was done by restricting water for a week before you plant outside. I am banking on getting them out there by May 15. According to this website, frost is virtually guaranteed not to be an issue  ;)

http://davesgarden.com/guides/freeze-frost-dates/index.php?q=01760&submit=Go

John

Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #42 on: April 27, 2011, 11:24:49 AM »
Thanks for that link John. This was a good read. http://gardening.about.com/od/gettingstarted/qt/Hardening_Off.htm. The idea of witholding water didn't sound to attractive. Acclimating the plants to the weather sounds a lot better.

Offline dellavecchia

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #43 on: April 27, 2011, 11:40:52 AM »
Thanks for that link John. This was a good read. http://gardening.about.com/od/gettingstarted/qt/Hardening_Off.htm. The idea of witholding water didn't sound to attractive. Acclimating the plants to the weather sounds a lot better.


Yes, it does sound much better. I was going to try the cold frame, but I just don't have the time to build right now.

John

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #44 on: April 28, 2011, 09:57:30 AM »
Bummer, last night I picked 30 thumb sized tomatoes and threw them away.  I let the pots dry out one day last week and they got end-rot.

Offline dellavecchia

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #45 on: April 28, 2011, 10:02:21 AM »
Bummer, last night I picked 30 thumb sized tomatoes and threw them away.  I let the pots dry out one day last week and they got end-rot.

Last year I got some end rot on potted plants as well. So lack of water causes that? At the time I thought it was a lack of nutrients in the soil. I added some organic bone meal and the next round did not have the rot.

John

Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #46 on: April 28, 2011, 11:09:06 AM »
Didn't know what end rot was so I read up on it just now and realized it happened to my bradywines last year. It said one of the causes can be overwatering which dilutes the calcium. Which made me think how do I know if I'm over watering? Will the plant look a certain way if its over watered? They are still in the 3" pods and the soil looks like its always wet. The last time they were watered was 2 days ago and the soil still looks moist.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2011, 03:09:03 PM by BrickStoneOven »

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #47 on: April 28, 2011, 11:15:16 AM »
I poke my finger through the mulch and feel it.  If it is moist, I don't water. It is already 90 degrees and windy here, so I have to water every other day, but every 3rd days is probably enough at 70-80.

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #48 on: April 30, 2011, 07:55:19 AM »
A mistake you can make with walls of water is to leave them on too long.  The leaves spred out and touch the walls and get cooked.  The plant gets stunted also. 

For the past 3 weeks, my plants have been thriving in the walls of water - most have blossoms - even though nighttime temps have been dropping below freezing. It is definitely time to remove the walls, but snow is predicted this weekend with temps in the 20F's. It should warm-up by Wednesday with temps expected not to drop below 40F. I'm hoping to remove the walls then and to have some plastic sheeting ready to cover them in case of unexpected freezes. May 15 is the official frost-free day here. Fingers crossed.

   

Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #49 on: May 01, 2011, 03:59:16 PM »
This is going to sound like a weird question but when you plant the tomato in the ground how much area do u think the roots spread out? I was at Home Depot and was looking at pots, the biggest one they had was a 20qt pot, it was pretty friggin big. Do you guys think a tomato plants roots spread out more than a 20qt pot? It was this one http://www.homedepot.com/Outdoors-Garden-Center-Planters-Accessories/h_d1/N-5yc1vZbx81/R-100574625/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053. And is there any difference between having a terra cotta pot to a regular plastic one other than looks http://www.homedepot.com/Outdoors-Garden-Center-Planters-Accessories/h_d1/N-5yc1vZbx81/R-100182204/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053? Does the terra cotta have a mulch like (temp/moisture control) effect on the soil?


Offline matermark

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #50 on: May 01, 2011, 04:18:14 PM »
Uninterrupted, the roots can spread many feet. I will try to find an old publication that shows what many types of plants look like BELOW ground.

I should also point out that depending on your climate, and your growing/watering/fertilizing methods, you may be able to grow tomatoes in quite small containers if it's not too hot and they get watered at least daily and fertilized regularly. The biggest problem with container growing is that you don't use dirt or soil but use a soilless mix that is pretty void of nutrients (except Miracle-Gro types w/fert) and you wash nutrients out regularly with watering. Regular soil shouldn't be used in containers especially due to compaction and hardening.

That said, I grow about 30 tomatoes in raised beds and about 36 tomatoes in 4 or 5 gallon containers right on my driveway using drip fertigation (drip irrigation with a fertilizer injector installed.) I've grown Supersweet 100 cherry tomatoes in a 6qt pot with drip. Most of my oxheart types and plums I grow in 5 gallon buckets.

EDIT: HERE is the root growth of tomatoes--quite surprising:

http://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/010137veg.roots/010137ch26.html

Just one outtake:

"Other Investigations on Tomatoes.--A tomato plant was examined at Geneva, N.Y., Aug. 13. The greater part of the roots appeared to extend horizontally and were about 8 inches below the surface. The horizontal roots were traced to a distance of 24 to 30 inches from the base of the plant.

  From this it appears that the plant drew its nourishment from a circle about 4.5 feet in diameter or from an area of about 16 square feet. A single root was traced downward to a depth of 2.5 feet. The taproot was clothed with a multitude of fibrous roots to the depth of 8 inches, where it separated into many branches."
« Last Edit: May 01, 2011, 04:27:38 PM by matermark »

Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #51 on: May 01, 2011, 06:33:21 PM »
Wow thanks matermark. I was growing tomatoes in 8" pots last year and the main reason I think they didn't perform to full potential was because of the pot size. They were in a compost mixed soil which worked really well. Thanks again.

Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #52 on: May 01, 2011, 09:03:09 PM »
Should I put some gravel on the bottom of the pots for drainage.

Offline matermark

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #53 on: May 02, 2011, 01:37:57 AM »
Should I put some gravel on the bottom of the pots for drainage.

No gravel, it's a waste of valuble space; same with broken pots, I wouldn't use more than 1 piece over the drain hole if it's a large hole. Just use a good compost on the bottom--the roots will seek it out for nourishment.

I get compost from a municipal compost facility in the suburbs, they dump a big load nearly filling a pickup truck to the top for around $18. It's much more economical than trying to buy bagged compost. Or they fill a garbage can full of compost for $2.50 to $3.00.

For the 5 gallon buckets, I add about an inch in the bottom, then mix about 50% pro-mix and 50% compost together and fill the remainder. If you are not 100% organic, your best bet is to add a time released fertilizer like Osmocote 14-14-14 or Walmart's own brand, I think 17-17-17. The last couple years I even used Miracle-Gro Shake N Feed for Roses, I think that was around 9-18-9. Higher middle #s have more phosphorus, which increases blooming and hence fruits. It also promotes strong roots.

If you use drip irrigation, or even a hose end fertilizer sprayer with a water soluble fertilizer, I start the season with a hi-phosphorus (middle number) fertilizer, like 10-52-8 for the first month to get strong roots and more blooms, then switch to a more balanced fertilizer like Miracle-Gro for Tomatoes 18-19-21, Peters 20-20-20, or Plantex 15-15-18 soilless for potted plants after fruit set. If you can't find any 10-52-8 (or 10-52-10 or similar #) you can use miracle-gro bloom booster (15-30-15.) Just don't use anything with a high first #.

Growing organically is tougher in containers because you get much less bang from the fertilizers. I'd recommend Neptune's Harvest 2-4-1 Fish & Seaweed fertilizer. Things like Bonemeal are great for calcium and may help prevent Blossom End Rot (BER), but in containers, they usually wash organic nutrients out the bottom before they have time to break down and work. Use lots of compost and add some cow manure too. Both are usually under 1-1-1 NPK (N=nitrogen, P=phosphorus, K=potassium.) For K, use your wood ashes!

Your climate is probably similar to mine, summers 80-90 high and 60-65 lo temps. I water daily.

Hope this helps.

Offline dellavecchia

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #54 on: May 02, 2011, 06:34:53 AM »
For K, use your wood ashes!

matermark - Thanks so much for your posts. They are invaluable. I am doing organic gardening, and it is much harder as you mentioned. So how much is too much with wood ashes? Alot of what I read is contradictory - is there an acceptable time of year to apply a thin coat to the soil? I have a full garden this year, and no pots.

John

Offline matermark

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #55 on: May 02, 2011, 11:24:40 AM »
matermark - Thanks so much for your posts. They are invaluable. I am doing organic gardening, and it is much harder as you mentioned. So how much is too much with wood ashes? Alot of what I read is contradictory - is there an acceptable time of year to apply a thin coat to the soil? I have a full garden this year, and no pots.

John

Unfortunately, there's no real formula like bakers percents! If growing in-ground, you're best off to get a baseline to start from. I would recommend getting a soiltest. You can usually get one from your local county extension service or sometimes thru a local university. I'm in NY and we have the Cornell Cooperative Extension Service but got one from Penn State a few years ago for around $10-$12 depending on "options" added. I also requested the organic matter test.

The test usually includes pH, amount of calcium & magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, etc. You say what type of crop you are growing (TOMATOES) and they will give recommendations, usually in something like pounds per acre, so you may need to do some math though some may give the recommendations in lbs/100 sq ft or 1000 sq ft.

If pH is low (acidic) you usually add lime (garden lime/limestone.) If your soil is alkaline, you can add sulfur or peat moss. They usually give recommendations on adjusting pH too. 7.0 is considered neutral. Most crops including tomatoes do well between 6.1 & 6.8, some others are more extreme, like blueberries (around 5.0 or less.)

Wood ash can make your soil alkaline, so you don't want too much, especially if your soil is already alkaline! Most compost from plant refuse is alkaline or near 7.0 to 8.0 so be careful you don't go too heavy. I use a Rapidtest pH & Fertility meter to get a rough estimate when out in the yard, Ferry-Morse also sells the same meter with its name on it.

Now is a good time to get a test, then you'll know what you'll need before you plant. We plant out tomatoes around Memorial Day weekend here. Here's a copy of mine from 2005 where I was growing giant pumpkins, there's been over a foot of compost added, hence the high pH, but also the high nutrients...

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #56 on: May 04, 2011, 05:44:24 PM »
For the past 3 weeks, my plants have been thriving in the walls of water - most have blossoms - even though nighttime temps have been dropping below freezing. It is definitely time to remove the walls, but snow is predicted this weekend with temps in the 20F's. It should warm-up by Wednesday with temps expected not to drop below 40F. I'm hoping to remove the walls then and to have some plastic sheeting ready to cover them in case of unexpected freezes. May 15 is the official frost-free day here. Fingers crossed.
   

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Offline Ronzo

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #57 on: May 04, 2011, 05:52:53 PM »
Bill, pardon my ignorance, but do you buy that netting that way, or make it yourself?
Fuggheddabowdit!

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Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #58 on: May 04, 2011, 05:56:08 PM »
Bill, pardon my ignorance, but do you buy that netting that way, or make it yourself?

I bought the boxes (unused) at a garage sale and they came with the netting and the supports. I have a bunch of cages that I can press into use, but I think the nets may work out well.

 

Offline Ronzo

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #59 on: May 04, 2011, 06:26:39 PM »
The cages don't really do it for me. Looking for a better way... the netting looks good.
Fuggheddabowdit!

~ Ron

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