Square Foot Gardening Forum

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.


Search
 
 

Display results as :
 

 


Rechercher Advanced Search

Latest topics
» Senseless Banter...
by CapeCoddess Today at 7:31 pm

» Bare Root Fruit Trees
by countrynaturals Today at 7:13 pm

» Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG
by BeetlesPerSqFt Today at 6:12 pm

» So. California & Inland Valleys -March / April Planting Guide
by No_Such_Reality Today at 5:55 pm

» Invasive Tree Roots - Very important topic for newbies.
by sanderson Today at 4:25 pm

» Hello from Pottstown, PA
by sanderson Today at 4:13 pm

» Northern California & Coastal Valleys - What are you doing this month?
by sanderson Today at 4:11 pm

» Compost for Mel's Mix
by sanderson Today at 4:10 pm

» Happy Birthday!!
by Mellen Today at 1:16 pm

» February 2017 Avatar: Time to Wake Up!
by Mellen Today at 12:55 pm

» Winter Gardens - Photos
by BeetlesPerSqFt Today at 12:45 pm

» Turan in the Western Mountains
by Turan Today at 12:23 pm

» Lower South Feb 2017
by ralitaco Today at 11:59 am

» My Solar Dehydrator at Work
by ralitaco Today at 11:32 am

» One Very Happy Earthworm!
by countrynaturals Today at 11:14 am

» My experiences with commercial cedar raised beds
by ralitaco Today at 11:06 am

» Advice and Preparations for Sweet Potatoes in Wisconsin
by Dhooy77 Today at 9:37 am

» Third Year SFG in Canada
by sanderson Today at 3:18 am

» Ground Cherries
by countrynaturals Yesterday at 10:50 pm

» Cold garage starters
by Ginger Blue Yesterday at 8:47 pm

» Butterfly Junction
by BeetlesPerSqFt Yesterday at 5:44 pm

» A really, really Frugal Gardener
by CapeCoddess Yesterday at 2:22 pm

» New England February 2017
by CapeCoddess Yesterday at 1:45 pm

» Spaghetti Squash Recipes
by newbeone Yesterday at 9:20 am

» New compost bin and 4x8 cedar bed
by newbeone Yesterday at 8:29 am

» N&C Midwest: February 2017
by CitizenKate Yesterday at 12:19 am

» How's the Weather Where You're At?
by Scorpio Rising 2/23/2017, 11:49 pm

» 2017 SFG Adventures in Hampstead, NC
by ralitaco 2/23/2017, 12:38 am

» Our 2017 garden makeover
by CitizenKate 2/22/2017, 11:16 pm

» Fall means apples....
by reynajrainwater 2/22/2017, 10:43 pm

Google

Search SFG Forum

Tomatoes: lessons learned?

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Tomatoes: lessons learned?

Post  1airdoc on 9/26/2012, 4:59 pm

Well, I had quite an experience with tomatoes this year, and am not exactly sure what lessons to take home from this season. I'd be interested in your advice.

I used a new 8x2 bed with really good MM, including great homemade compost. I used a narrower bed to promote air circulation and to allow sunlight to get through to all the plants. I planted the plants (store bought, except for 3 squares that I planted directly) spaced 1/square, buried sideways, and used string trellises. I pruned half the plants to single vines, and the other half to two vines (was trying to see if one vs two impacted fruit quality or quantity). I used organic methods. Early on (first 2-3 weeks), I watered the bed directly (overhead) using a hose, but afterwards I mulched the bed with straw and either used the soaker hose or wand directly at the base of the plants.

Initially, the plants all took off like gangbusters. They all reached 4-6 feet in height within a few weeks, and most were covered with blooms and fruit. Very quickly, however, early blight set in (within first 2-3 weeks). Initially I had wonderful fruit. Ultimately, despite my aggressive pruning of infected leaves/branches, the blight overcame all the plants. They stopped producing in early summer, and never recovered. Finally, the tomato hornworms finished them off one week while I was out of town.

Here are some lessons learned/questions raised for me:
--I really liked the string trellis method and will keep that.
--I will not ever water my tomatoes from overhead again.
--Is one plant/square too crowded to permit adequate air movement? If so, what should the spacing be?
--I might try to grow my own plants indoors from seed next year, though I don't look forward to trying that. Any advice?
--How do I identify fungus-resistant tomato varieties?
--Is mulching with straw a good idea (does it hold moisture or does doing so just harbor molds? - the straw definitely harbored mold in my strawberry beds this year)?
--I won't be afraid to use non-organic methods within reason.

Your comments and lessons will be appreciated. After all, why have a garden if you can't have delicious tomatoes all summer? Wink

1airdoc

Male Posts : 188
Join date : 2011-05-04
Location : 7a (Northern middle Tennessee)

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Tomatoes: lessons learned?

Post  Ericka2385 on 9/26/2012, 5:22 pm

Here are my notes so far this year, which sound a little similar, minus the blight (knock on wood). This is my first year, and I'm no expert. I love this forum and how easy it is to share experiences.

I spaced mine 1 per square on a string trellis, and they are all side by side. There is only 2 plants out of my 10 indeterminates that I suckered will enough to only have one main vine. Most of my plants have three or four, oopies. With that being said, my garden is pretty crowded right now. It looks like attack of the killer tomato plants out there.

With them that crowded, I do think there is adequate room for air flow. None of the leaves are showing signs of mildew and they aren't matted together, as if they got wet and couldn't dry. All the leaves seem to flutter with a breeze.

I also use dry grass and garden clipping for mulch. If it harbors mold/mildew, it hasn't made it's way to my plants. After a fruiting branch has ripened, I cut it and any branches below it off of the plant. There is probably about 18 inches between the ground and my tomatoes right now. I think this also might help with airflow, and there are no leaves touching the ground, which I've read helps with disease.

We'll see my plants make it through the rest of the growing season down here. My fingers are crossed...

Ericka2385

Posts : 58
Join date : 2012-05-25
Location : Central Florida

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Tomatoes: lessons learned?

Post  lonewolfrissy on 9/26/2012, 8:05 pm

I just plucked two more hornworms off my precious tomato plants and gave them to the chickens. I'd rather do that then spray something on them. =/ by the way, my tomatoes are in the actual ground. I tried keeping them contained in a container and the roots just went through the drainage holes to the ground.

Lessons learned: Chickens love hornworms, and tomato plants don't do as well in containers as some think they do. lol

lonewolfrissy

Female Posts : 150
Join date : 2012-02-27
Age : 28
Location : Joshua Tree, CA (Near Palm Springs, CA)

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Tomatoes: lessons learned?

Post  southern gardener on 9/27/2012, 12:39 am

I'd say my lesson learned is tomatoes love pig manure as a compost. We have a plant that has produced literally hundreds of cherry tomatoes, with no end in sight. It's 12 feet across and has been pruned back hard, and came right back. It's actually probably more like 14 feet across at this point! We call it "the beast". I've had the neighbors pick all they want, and there's still hundreds of them!

southern gardener

Posts : 1887
Join date : 2011-06-21
Age : 36
Location : california, zone 10a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Tomatoes: lessons learned?

Post  ezzirah on 9/27/2012, 6:58 am

I am try to see from your post if you have determinate, or indeterminate plants. From my experience, the answer to the spacing would be no for the determinate tomato plants. I say that because when I grow mine that just is not enough space, and I find the recommended 6" is not deep enough. I put my tomatoes in their own 5 gallon buckets. Now some would even argue with that not being enough space, as tomato roots could grow up to three feet down.

I don't garden organically, so I cannot comment on the blight.

I don't use straw for that very same reason, I would have to buy it, and you never know if there is weed seed in it or not.

Usually when you look on the seed packet they list the variety, if you have looked up that variety before hand you'll know what it is resistant to. Some seed packets list it on the packet. A good seed packet is a wealth of information about how to grow the plant! Now if you order the seed from a catalog, they should say in the catalog what it is resistant to.

Hope it helps!

ezzirah

Posts : 13
Join date : 2012-01-14
Location : Oklahoma

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Tomatoes: lessons learned?

Post  1airdoc on 9/27/2012, 9:13 am

All of my varieties were indeterminate.
BTW - I did plant 3 directly in the bed from seed. All sprouted. All died from wilt before they were 12" tall.

1airdoc

Male Posts : 188
Join date : 2011-05-04
Location : 7a (Northern middle Tennessee)

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Tomatoes: lessons learned?

Post  ezzirah on 9/28/2012, 6:08 am

What I would do is this, call your local extension office. They would have the "word" on what diseases is an issue in your area, and also can tell you how to get your soil tested, just in case there is something in the soil. I gather you are using mel's mix, but it is not unusual to get a bad bag of soil. ( I have one friend that opened a bag and found a rubber glove in it! Freaky, to say the least)

Of course, making sure you are getting wilt resistant varieties when you get your seed would be critical.

If you get no satisfaction that way, I have a friend I can ask, he is master gardener. Do you have pictures?

ezzirah

Posts : 13
Join date : 2012-01-14
Location : Oklahoma

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Tomatoes: lessons learned?

Post  1airdoc on 9/28/2012, 8:05 am

Thanks, but I just pulled everything up last weekend and tossed it all in the woods, far away from the beds and from the compost piles, so no photos now. Earlier in the season I posted photos, however, showing the blight and showing the beds. The blight photos are here and the garden photos are here. The garden photos were taken very shortly after planting the tomatoes, however.

I had my old MM soil tested last year, and it was good. All nutrient results were "very high," except nitrogen, so I added in fresh compost and blood meal. In my new garden I made new MM, and it contained MUCH better and MUCH more varied composts, and everything I planted in the new beds/MM grew and fruited like crazy, so I'm confident in its quality. It was not so much a nutrient issue as it was a disease and pest issue for me. You can see my comments about that at this post.

1airdoc

Male Posts : 188
Join date : 2011-05-04
Location : 7a (Northern middle Tennessee)

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Tomatoes: lessons learned?

Post  llama momma on 9/28/2012, 11:25 am

@1airdoc wrote:
--How do I identify fungus-resistant tomato varieties?

Here are some definitions of the letters on tomato transplants that might help:

When buying fungus-resistant tomato plants, look for nursery tags with the initials “VF” on them. This signifies the plant is resistant to Verticillium wilt and Fusarium wilt, which are two common tomato fungi. If the plant is marked “VFN,” it is also resistant to root-knot nematodes. Other letters to look for on nursery labels include “A,” which means the plant resists Alternaria alternata fungus, and “St,” which indicates the tomato resists Stemphylium solani fungus (or gray leaf spot).

Varieties
According to the Mississippi State University Extension Service, some examples of tomato plants resistant to fungal diseases include Park's Whopper Improved, Better Boy, Enchantment, Lemon Boy, Celebrity, Abraham Lincoln Improved, Sunmaster, Mountain Delight, Mountain Spring, Mountain Pride, and Sunny. These all produce large fruit. For beafsteak type tomatoes, Beefmaster, Big Beef and Burpee Supersteak are appropriate choices. For smaller fruit, consider Small Fry, Cherry Grande, Supersweet, Maya and Suncherry.


V = Verticillium wilt
FF = Fusarium wilt, races 1 & 2
N = Nematodes
T = Tobacco Mosaic virus
A = Alternaria solani (Early blight)
St = Stemphylium solani (Gray leafspot)




llama momma

Certified SFG Instructor

Female Posts : 4688
Join date : 2010-08-20
Age : 60
Location : Central Ohio zone 6a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Tomatoes: lessons learned?

Post  1airdoc on 9/29/2012, 10:07 am

Great info, Llama Mama. I'll be sure to look for those letters next season, especially for the "A" varieties. Thanks.

1airdoc

Male Posts : 188
Join date : 2011-05-04
Location : 7a (Northern middle Tennessee)

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Tomatoes: lessons learned?

Post  llama momma on 9/29/2012, 10:29 am

Your Welcome

llama momma

Certified SFG Instructor

Female Posts : 4688
Join date : 2010-08-20
Age : 60
Location : Central Ohio zone 6a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Tomatoes: lessons learned?

Post  Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum