Author Topic: Growing tomatoes  (Read 7426 times)

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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.
   

Today I set them free:

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!

~ Ron

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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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Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #60 on: May 04, 2011, 06:30:28 PM »
« Last Edit: May 04, 2011, 06:32:50 PM by Bill/SFNM »

Offline Ronzo

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #61 on: May 04, 2011, 06:32:39 PM »
Ron,

How about something like this?

]http://www.amazon.com/Tomato-Trellis-Netting-Feet-Wide/dp/B004C7OFTO]



Looks good but I don't need 60 feet of it. I'm going to see if I can find some shorter sections. Thanks for the tip, Bill!
Fuggheddabowdit!

~ Ron

Former NY'er living in Texas
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Offline Ronzo

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Fuggheddabowdit!

~ Ron

Former NY'er living in Texas
http://newtexianbrew.com - http://pinterest.com/NewTexianBrew

Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #63 on: May 04, 2011, 06:59:29 PM »
Is netting for birds?

Offline Ronzo

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #64 on: May 04, 2011, 07:28:29 PM »
Is netting for birds?
For support of the plants, in the place of cages.
Fuggheddabowdit!

~ Ron

Former NY'er living in Texas
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Offline matermark

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #65 on: May 04, 2011, 07:32:01 PM »
The cages don't really do it for me. Looking for a better way... the netting looks good.

What kind of cages do you use Ron?

Offline Ronzo

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #66 on: May 04, 2011, 08:08:39 PM »
What kind of cages do you use Ron?

The old round, upside down cone shaped cages.
Fuggheddabowdit!

~ Ron

Former NY'er living in Texas
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Offline matermark

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #67 on: May 04, 2011, 09:05:18 PM »
Wow, can't believe I lost everything I just typed because a pic was too large!

Have you guys ever considered Concrete Reinforcing Wire (CRW) to make REAL tomato cages? Buy & make once & they last FOREVER! I'm not ready to retype everything all over again but will try to post some pics. You can make round cages, triangular cages with a plant in each corner, "pens" or stalls, etc. You can cut the bottom wire certain ways to use as prongs to stick in the ground or even extend height. Typical height is 5ft tall. Usually available in rolls 5ft x 50ft or 5ft x 150ft, or sheets 5ft x 10ft. Some of it in my pics are galvanized sheets. The wire can be cut best with $10 Harbor Freight bolt cutters, though some use 4" grinders and some use linesman's pliers. The wire is 9 or 10 gauge (around 1/8" thick) and openings are 6x6" to reach through easily.

Hope this helps.
 
P.S. Those 3-ring cheap hardware store cages are only good for dwarf plants and especially good for pepper plants... that's about it.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2011, 09:24:35 PM by matermark »

Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #68 on: May 04, 2011, 09:21:52 PM »
Is that a TT grand national?

Offline Ronzo

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #69 on: May 04, 2011, 10:02:00 PM »
Is that a TT grand national?
Looks like a Monte Carlo SS to me.
Fuggheddabowdit!

~ Ron

Former NY'er living in Texas
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Offline matermark

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #70 on: May 04, 2011, 10:06:42 PM »
Is that a TT grand national?

1984 Monte SS w/383ci

Offline Ronzo

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #71 on: May 04, 2011, 10:09:05 PM »
1984 Monte SS w/383ci
We are not worthy. We are not worthy.  :o
Fuggheddabowdit!

~ Ron

Former NY'er living in Texas
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Offline matermark

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #72 on: May 04, 2011, 10:15:19 PM »
We are not worthy. We are not worthy.  :o

Thanks. It's a real money pit. Many, many mods. We bought it brand new. Around 50K miles now I think.

Offline dellavecchia

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #73 on: May 20, 2011, 01:31:10 PM »
My san marzano, principe borghese and cuor di bue are in - we have had a huge stretch of rain, and it is just stopping. The next 3-4 days will be cloudy, so it is a perfect time to transplant. I did hardening last week for 5 days. Nearly 50 tomato plants this year as I expanded my garden space. Here's hoping for a good season!

John

Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: Growing tomatoes
« Reply #74 on: May 20, 2011, 01:59:58 PM »
John that garden looks really nice and neat. I can't believe how much its raining either, it was driving me crazy. I've had a tarp over the tomatoes for the last 3 days.


 

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