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Bummer, Tomato Trouble

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Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  jazzycat on 5/5/2013, 7:40 pm

Some of the blossoms are falling off my tomato plants. Not many so far, but a few. I hope it's because of the freakish temperature changes and nothing I've done. I read that this can happen if night time temps fall below 55 degrees and daytime go above 85. The temperatures have fluctuated wildly this year. The plants are very healthy and growing like mad, and there are lots of blossoms and new buds, but no baby tomatoes yet. Any thoughts?


Last edited by camprn on 5/5/2013, 8:19 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : expand title)

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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  camprn on 5/5/2013, 8:19 pm

How big are these plants and are they showing anything else odd?

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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  jazzycat on 5/5/2013, 8:27 pm

They're about 3 feet tall now. And no, nothing else odd. They look very healthy and are growing like crazy. I can go take some pictures and put them up if it would help.

*edit to add*

I did trim the lower branches off several days ago to give them some airspace and to keep the lower leaves off the ground. But there is still plenty of foliage, and I only trimmed the lower leaves and took out the suckers.

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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  camprn on 5/5/2013, 8:42 pm

ok, next question, what kind of tomato plants are they? And what has your weather been like, how hot, how cool?
http://gardening.about.com/od/problemspest1/a/BlossomDrop.htm

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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  jazzycat on 5/5/2013, 9:34 pm

Well that's why I'm hoping it's the weather, because it's been fluctuating so randomly. It's been mostly above 55 at night (unseasonably cool for this time of year here), but there have been a few nights here and there where it's gone down below 50 over the last month. During the day it's been mostly between 70-85 degrees, but there were a few days earlier in April when it was in the 60s. It rained 9 days in April (not all at once, but here and there) and it's rained 3 times over the last 6 days, after 9 days without rain. Because I have a self-watering bed and containers, I haven't had to water the plants at all, but I did add some water to the reservoirs (last week I think), even thought they didn't really need it.

They are all indeterminate varieties.
Solar Flare
Beauty King
Berkley Tie Dye
Pink Berkley Tie Dye
Pink Boar
Red Boar
Black and Brown Boar
Pork Chop
Green Zebra Cherry
Sweet Caneros Pink

They all came from Wild Boar Farms in California.

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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  camprn on 5/5/2013, 9:40 pm

The weather seems relatively stable and is most likely not the problem.

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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  jazzycat on 5/5/2013, 9:44 pm

hmmmm... bummer then. I don't think it's too much nitrogen. How do I figure out what the problem is?

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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  camprn on 5/5/2013, 9:53 pm

Did you read the article at the link I posted? I found it by Googling 'tomato blossom drop'.

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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  jazzycat on 5/5/2013, 11:08 pm

Yes, in addition to many more before posting this thread. I guess I'll just wait and see what happens.

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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  Pollinator on 5/6/2013, 4:40 am

@jazzycat wrote:Some of the blossoms are falling off my tomato plants. Not many so far, but a few. I hope it's because of the freakish temperature changes and nothing I've done. I read that this can happen if night time temps fall below 55 degrees and daytime go above 85. The temperatures have fluctuated wildly this year. The plants are very healthy and growing like mad, and there are lots of blossoms and new buds, but no baby tomatoes yet. Any thoughts?

Got bumblebees visiting? That's your best insurance of blossom set.

If you had too much nitrogen, you would not be getting blossoms. I did that one year when I put a lot of duck poop on my garden. I had beautiful tomatoes higher than my head, with no blossoms. Corn loved it though.

http://pollinator.com/tomato.htm

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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  jazzycat on 5/6/2013, 11:37 am

pollintor, I've had tulle over my tomatoes to keep debris out of the bed, but I've been pretty diligent about hand pollinating by "buzzing" the flower stems. I took the tulle off this morning. While I was out there, I also noticed a leaf with purple veins. Here is a picture...





Here are a couple of pictures of the plants, and also of a few blossoms.

The leaf next to these blossoms also has some discoloration.



plant with a few blossoms on it.



close up of blossoms.



more blossoms



Plants. See how tall they are? Shouldn't they be growing tomatoes by now?









Pictures of plants in buckets.






I called the County Extension Office a few minutes ago, and he told me the plants are under extreme stress right now, because of the weather. It's been fluctuating very bad, and last week we had cold rains and it got down into the mid-low 50s. He said his were stressed as well. He also said the purple veining in the leaves is because of the stress. Nothing I can do, but wait it out.

It's funny, I didn't plant them until mid-April. I waited, and waited, and waited, to plant them. And they're STILL not happy because of the weather. Oh well.

Sorry to bother y'all with all my concerns. I've never done this before, and I'm a very obsessive person, and prone to worry, so when something seems to go awry I go a little nuts. What a Face

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Weird Weather

Post  Windmere on 5/6/2013, 5:53 pm

Jazzycat, I feel your pain. This GA weather has been really bizarre. Your plants do look pretty good though. They've gotten tall. Like the fellow at your extension office said, it's probably just a matter of waiting it out till the weather stabilizes.

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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  No_Such_Reality on 5/6/2013, 6:24 pm

Clue a tomato newbie in. What's the purpose of the white PVC pipes in the buckets?

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yay! better news!

Post  jazzycat on 5/6/2013, 7:09 pm

About the pvc pipes, one is a water gauge and one is a fill tube. We figured out we actually only need one tube and it can serve both purposes. Live and learn. Very Happy

And hey, guess what? I went out a little while ago and checked my plants, and lo and behold, some baby tomatoes had magically appeared! I guess 6 or 7 hours of good sunlight make a lot of difference in the life of a baby tomato! What a Face





There were a couple more, but the pictures were even worse than these. It's hard to get a close up of something this little when there are leaves and stems and stuff in the way.


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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  No_Such_Reality on 5/7/2013, 11:27 am

That's good news on the baby toms.

Do you have it set up as a self watering rig or do you just have the pipe so you can see and get water to the bottom?

Most self watering bucket setups I've seen use two buckets.

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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  llama momma on 5/7/2013, 12:06 pm

Is there an advantage to watering only the bottom?
Roots form all along the stem. thinking

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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  Roseinarosecity on 5/7/2013, 1:04 pm

On your containers, which I must say your plants look great, do you let them dry out a little or are you keeping them moist all the time?

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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  jazzycat on 5/7/2013, 1:09 pm

@No_Such_Reality wrote:That's good news on the baby toms.

Do you have it set up as a self watering rig or do you just have the pipe so you can see and get water to the bottom?

Most self watering bucket setups I've seen use two buckets.

It's self watering. Here is the process...

We cut the edge off the lids and used that as the base. (see the lids in the background, and one that has been cut and has holes drilled in it?)



We used a large pvc pipe as the wicking container and drilled holes in it. You can't see it in the this picture, but we lined the pipe with weed cloth to keep the soil mixture contained from leaking into the water.



The lid is placed on top of the wicking column. (you would, of course, add the soil mixture, or whatever you're going to use as the wick, before putting it together for planting. You could just use a fabric wick, like a strip of an old tee shirt, if you wanted. Also not seen here, once the wick is in place, we put weed cloth over the lid, again, to keep the soil mix from falling through the air holes. The large holes are where the pipes go, for adding water to the reservoir and the gauge, to tell you when it's low. As I said, we figured out we only need one and it can serve both purposes.)



Then plant!




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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  jazzycat on 5/7/2013, 1:21 pm

llama momma, the plants will draw up the amount of water they want, so there isn't an issue with overwatering. When it rains, as it does here frequently, any roots near the surface will get what they need, if they aren't getting it from the bottom. All I do is make sure the reservoirs stay full, or at least half full. Water will only wick up so far (because of gravity) so it has to have at least a foot of water in the bottom in order to work. These aren't that deep though, so no worries as long as they don't dry up.

Roseinarosecity, thanks!

I don't water them at all. They get the water they need from the reservoir. They draw the water up through a wicking column. All I do is add water to the reservoir periodically, once every week or two.

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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  llama momma on 5/7/2013, 2:02 pm

Hope you don't mind another question!
You said the bucket needs at least a foot of water. Or did you mean a foot is the maximum depth of water allowed? When I measured my 5 gal. bucket it is only 14-1/2 inches tall. You seem to have much more than 2-1/2 inches space for the planting depth, mulch, and soil. Your large pvc pipe looks shorter in the picture than a foot tall, right?? So - I'm guessing the rest of your plant and soil mix went down past the weed block lined lid in the large pvc pipe lined with weedblock? Or did I totally blow my understanding? I'm very curious since I have 9 planned plantings of toms and 15 extra plants from an unexpected seedling survival rate.

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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  jazzycat on 5/7/2013, 3:09 pm

@llama momma wrote:Hope you don't mind another question!
You said the bucket needs at least a foot of water. Or did you mean a foot is the maximum depth of water allowed? When I measured my 5 gal. bucket it is only 14-1/2 inches tall. You seem to have much more than 2-1/2 inches space for the planting depth, mulch, and soil. Your large pvc pipe looks shorter in the picture than a foot tall, right?? So - I'm guessing the rest of your plant and soil mix went down past the weed block lined lid in the large pvc pipe lined with weedblock? Or did I totally blow my understanding? I'm very curious since I have 9 planned plantings of toms and 15 extra plants from an unexpected seedling survival rate.

I don't mind answering questions, and sorry I confused you. Smile

I probably shouldn't have even mentioned the water depth as it doesn't really apply to buckets or most containers, unless you have something really big, and deep, like a half barrel. I'm not an expert, but this is my understanding. When building a self-watering bed, or container, you have to remember that the water will only wick up about 300mm, which is close to a foot. So you don't want the water level to ever go below that depth or it won't wick up. I think my buckets probably have about 5 inches of water capacity, so even if there was only an inch or even a half inch of water in the bottom it would still wick up.

The pvc pipe is cut tall enough to allow an inch of air space between the soil line and the water line. I'm not sure how tall it is, but I'm guessing about 6" or so. The overflow hole is drilled into the side of the bucket 1" below the height of the pvc wick (to leave an air space). There is a mixture of some wicking material (I think we used a mix of some coconut coir and soil mix along with some rocks, that MM blend is too pricey to use as a wick!). This mixture is stuffed tight into the wicking column, inside the weed fabric. The lid sits on top of the wicking column, with more weed fabric on top of it, and we cut an X where the column is, in case, over time, it settles, more mix will settle down into it as well. (I hope I'm not confusing you more!) That leaves about 7-8 inches on top, for the Mel's Mix blend to plant in.

These pictures might help explain it. This is my self-watering bed. We used big plastic bins as the water reservoirs. It's a little more complicated because we also used rope wicks in addition to a wicking column.

If you look closely at this picture, you can see the wicking column under the lid. This one has the wicking material in it. These columns are much taller, because the reservoir is a lot deeper.



This one has the weed fabric covering it, with the hole cut in over the wicking column.



This photo shows the rope wicks. There is one wick for each square foot.



I hope that helps! If not, feel free to ask me more questions. Very Happy

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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  llama momma on 5/7/2013, 3:42 pm

The pictures helped a lot as did the part about stuffing the center tube with other things besides MMix, as well as the overflow information. Very good!! Thanks a bunch for all the details and pictures! I believe I've got it. Thank you again.

Final question for today.. sure sounds like you used this method before? Just wondering about prior results. It's sounds great and I sure need new homes for the extra toms.

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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  jazzycat on 5/7/2013, 3:59 pm

This is my first real attempt at gardening llama momma. (I had a few plants before, but I had no idea what I was doing, and I wasn't looking to feed myself.) I just did a lot research about how to build them, looked at earthboxes and other self-watering containers on the market, talked to the guy at the local hydroponics store, and I looked at how other people built them, and then I told my mate. He's brilliant (he's an engineer, well, a sound engineer, but he just understands how things work), and he thought about it, and came up with the design. So far, it's working beautifully.

I got all the buckets for free from my grocery store. I just hit the deli and bakery sections once or twice a week and they give me what they have. They've started saving them for me. lol

One thing I learned recently, is rocks will draw water up from the ground and they will also store it. So if you have a plant and you want to draw water up to it, or store water for future use, you place a small rock (or few) next to it. Cool, huh? What a Face

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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  jazzycat on 5/7/2013, 4:12 pm

llama momma, I don't know if you're thinking of building a bed, or using buckets. If you want to build a bed, these pictures will help. They show the plumbing and overflow holes.

This shows the holes in the back of the bed, from the outside. The reservoirs are buried in the ground.



This shows them from the side. You can see how they come out of the top of the reservoir and flow out the bottom of the bed.



This shows from the interior of the reservoir.



This is the finished bed, with all the plumbing in place, before adding the MM.


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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

Post  llama momma on 5/7/2013, 4:16 pm

Thanks but I was going with buckets in my mind, at this point anyway..

What? Rocks can store water? You got me on that one, Jazzy. Really, I'm having a hard time with it, but ok.. Shocked
Alright, I am grateful you did so much groundwork on all this information. Within a 1/2 hour of here I can think of at least 6 supermarkets to visit for free buckets, or just buy the buckets from a big box store.
I have a new concern. It's about the 12+ hours of sunlight the buckets would receive.. Will the containers have too little mass and heat up too much? Picking your brain here, or anyone else reading this, Whaddayathink?

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Re: Bummer, Tomato Trouble

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