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Tomato Tuesday 2015

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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  Windmere on 7/8/2015, 8:46 am

It was lovely to see all the recent beautiful posts from everyone!  Well, I don't have a lot to report really... almost all my tomatoes are still green.  But here's some shots I took yesterday:

This Sungold is enormous:


The tomatoes on this Kumato are going to ripen soon!  (I hope):


This are Tiger Blush tomatoes (I think).  I was away for a bit and came back to find them so badly covered in fungus that it made me think of the afflictions of the Biblical Job:

 
Oh we hope these ripen successfully.  Can't wait to enjoy them.
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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  Turan on 7/8/2015, 12:47 pm

I am not saving any tomato seeds, feel a bit guilty about it too.

Here is are some Cherokee Purples getting all huge but still green.  This is one of those siamese triplet tomatoes I get sometimes on Cherokee Purples.



And here are the tomatoes and beans reaching for the greenhouse peak.  I guess when they meet I will start topping them.


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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  yolos on 7/8/2015, 2:29 pm

Windmere - they are looking good.  A few of mine are almost ready to be pulled due to diseases of one sort or another.  The Mountain Merit has got whatever is hitting the rest of the tomato crop.

Turan - Wow, those are huge and pretty green.
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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  Windmere on 7/8/2015, 2:39 pm

yolos wrote:Windmere - they are looking good.  A few of mine are almost ready to be pulled due to diseases of one sort or another.  The Mountain Merit has got whatever is hitting the rest of the tomato crop.

Turan - Wow, those are huge and pretty green.
Thanks yolos.  Sorry to hear about your tomatoes.  On a sad note... two of the Kumatos were gone when we went out this morning.   A clear deer hoof print in the center of the raised bed... and two gorgeous green tomatoes gone.  I forgot to put some more liquid fence in my daughter's bed (I remembered all the others)...  Sigh.  Shh... don't tell her, she doesn't know I forgot!
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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  Marc Iverson on 7/8/2015, 5:58 pm

Wow Turan, those are some tall tomato plants! I am green with envy(because I haven't ripened yet).
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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  sanderson on 7/9/2015, 3:09 am

Marc Iverson wrote:Wow Turan, those are some tall tomato plants!  I am green with envy(because I haven't ripened yet).
A virtual jungle!

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Tomato Question

Post  momvet on 7/9/2015, 12:15 pm

This has been by far my best year for tomatoes but I am curious as to why the ones in my beds are so slow (but appear healthy and are producing fruit) compared to the ones in bags. They are in different parts of my yard but seem to get plenty of sun and the ones in the beds probably have more consistent moisture. I have not fertilized at all since I am using MM in all. Just curious as to what you guys think. 

Bed One:


Bed Two:


Bags:


Would love your input! Edited to add:


These tomatoes were almost all started by me from seed. I just thought you might want to see the difference in the thickness of the main stems, since my pictures aren't that great.

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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  Marc Iverson on 7/9/2015, 12:43 pm

The ones you have in beds, if I'm seeing the pictures right, look like they spring from the ground right by the bricks, in picture 2, for example. That would mean their roots are being impinged. A nursery owner I spoke to on a tour last year told us that simply switching from square nursery pots to round ones increased the evenness of root spread and overall root perfusion in his pots some X percent, making for stronger plants. And the thing that growing in breathable bags is known for is fostering excellent root perfusion, since roots don't tend to circle the pots but branch out fully through the soil when they encounter an "air wall." So your bagged plants have a big advantage there. Your bedded tomato plants may have more limited root growth on the side that is facing the wall.

Also, little things like an hour more sun per day definitely matter. You said your plants get "enough" sun, but really tomatoes like it all day long if they can get it, and do very well with many hours of sun. Are your bagged plants getting more sun?

Additionally, your bagged plants appear to be fairly close to the house, which is a massive heat sink. It will radiate heat to the tomatoes at night, which your bedded plants won't get. That's again to the benefit of the bagged plants.

Further, variety matters. Each one fruits differently, and cherries fruit the most and usually the earliest of all. I'm not sure whether that plays into your scenario, but there it is.

Still, there are many advantages to being in a bed, and just because your bagged tomatoes are doing better now doesn't mean they will continue to do so. The hotter it gets, the harder it is to stay hydrated in a bag, and the more the wind blows, the quicker plants dry out, which can happen more quickly in pots and bags. Trying to compensate by adding more water can sometimes just cause your tomatoes to take up water too quickly and crack, and cause cellular damage in the rest of the plant too.

Your bedded plants may come along just fine and even surpass your bagged ones at some point.
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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  momvet on 7/9/2015, 2:02 pm

Marc Iverson wrote:The ones you have in beds, if I'm seeing the pictures right, look like they spring from the ground right by the bricks, in picture 2, for example.  That would mean their roots are being impinged.  A nursery owner I spoke to on a tour last year told us that simply switching from square nursery pots to round ones increased the evenness of root spread and overall root perfusion in his pots some X percent, making for stronger plants.  And the thing that growing in breathable bags is known for is fostering excellent root perfusion, since roots don't tend to circle the pots but branch out fully through the soil when they encounter an "air wall."  So your bagged plants have a big advantage there.  Your bedded tomato plants may have more limited root growth on the side that is facing the wall.  

Also, little things like an hour more sun per day definitely matter.  You said your plants get "enough" sun, but really tomatoes like it all day long if they can get it, and do very well with many hours of sun.  Are your bagged plants getting more sun?

Additionally, your bagged plants appear to be fairly close to the house, which is a massive heat sink.  It will radiate heat to the tomatoes at night, which your bedded plants won't get.  That's again to the benefit of the bagged plants.

Further, variety matters.  Each one fruits differently, and cherries fruit the most and usually the earliest of all.  I'm not sure whether that plays into your scenario, but there it is.

Still, there are many advantages to being in a bed, and just because your bagged tomatoes are doing better now doesn't mean they will continue to do so.  The hotter it gets, the harder it is to stay hydrated in a bag, and the more the wind blows, the quicker plants dry out, which can happen more quickly in pots and bags. Trying to compensate by adding more water can sometimes just cause your tomatoes to take up water too quickly and crack, and cause cellular damage in the rest of the plant too.  

Your bedded plants may come along just fine and even surpass your bagged ones at some point.  
Thanks Marc - The bedded tomatoes are were put close to the center of a one foot square (I did lay them down to promote root growth). The ones in bags do get more sun (the beds have neighbors stupid palm trees shading them a little during the day). I am asking because I am trying to do SFG and the whole point is you can get a productive tomato in 1SF, right? So the comments about root spread confuse me because I am thinking I should plant fewer tomatoes per square foot? So far the only reason the bagged tomatoes are doing so well is because I did place saucers and I water them twice a day - it is amazing how much they suck up. We're in a drought so this seems to work the best - I only put water in when the saucers are dry.
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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  boffer on 7/9/2015, 3:18 pm

My first thought was to wonder if there was a temperature difference in the MM earlier in the season.  To a point, toms like warm feet.

It's recommended that toms get a minimum of 6 hours direct sun per day.  I don't know how much effect more sun will have, but I know from experience that less sun slows down growth and fruit-setting despite the temperature being in a tom's preferred range.

I plant 1 per square, and am happy with the results.  Others prefer several squares per tom.

I think that planting toms in a box is more forgiving than in a container.  When I pull tomato plants out at the end of the season from a square, sometimes the roots are compact and haven't grown beyond their square, and sometimes they have traveled across 3-4 squares.  My opinion: the roots develop as needed to supply nutrients and water to the plant.  The small root structure found everything needed within one square; the traveling roots had to look farther for adequate water and nutrients.  In a box, if the MM quality or water availability is less than optimal, the roots can go looking for them.  In a container, the roots are limited to whatever is in the pot.

Lots of folks successfully grow toms in containers, they just need more babysitting with regard to adequate water, and possibly a top dressing of more compost during the season.
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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  Marc Iverson on 7/9/2015, 3:23 pm

With enough nutrients and water, you can get a productive tomato in almost zero root space, as people doing hydroponics in greenhouses sometimes do. For the rest of us, we can get by with little space, but more space is always optimal. And an even spread around the root ball is always optimal.

More space for roots to spread means the plant cools down easier in the heat, can be more firmly rooted against the wind, and can search farther and in more spaces in the soil for water and nutrition.

And less cramped conditions up top means less and slower transfer of disease and, possibly, bugs, as well as more sunlight per plant. It also makes for easier treatment of disease, easier stringing, and easier picking. Last year I planted too close and one tomato that fell over started pulling two more with it!

If I recall correctly -- I don't have my ANSFG book with me right now -- the SFG method does not suggest planting a tomato in a single square foot, but planting one tomato per two square feet.

For what it's worth, I've grown tomatoes in 5-gallon buckets whose roots took up every inch of that space, right down to the bottom. That's a lot more than a six-inch-deep, one square foot amount of soil. They did it because it was their healthiest option. We can get by with less, but it's not always desirable to get by with less.

Another example: I plant bush beans at a density of nine per square foot. They can grow very well that way, but it becomes quite difficult to water them. Even trying to sneak a long water wand in, you wind up breaking off stems sometimes. I'm succeeding two years in a row doing it ... but I'm STILL pretty sure I will plant only six per square foot next year. And I may do the same with at least some of my peas this fall to see how well it works for both me and the plants. So there's possible, and there's optimal ... perhaps the balance will be different for different people, depending how tight they are on space.

Some people who want to grow tomatoes in a tight space opt to keep only one main stem, and string it straight up and keep it heavily trimmed. They may not get as many fruit per vine, but can get more vines per foot. That might be a solution for you too.

But anyway it may still be too early to jump the gun. Your lagging tomatoes may catch up and be just as productive. Laggards -- that aren't actually diseased or stunted plants -- often do.
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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  sanderson on 7/10/2015, 2:14 am

Marc Iverson wrote:  If I recall correctly -- I don't have my ANSFG book with me right now -- the SFG method does not suggest planting a tomato in a single square foot, but planting one tomato per two square feet.
Is this for head space (sprawl) or root space?

But anyway it may still be too early to jump the gun.  Your lagging tomatoes may catch up and be just as productive.  Laggards -- that aren't actually diseased or stunted plants -- often do.
Slow but steady.

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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  Marc Iverson on 7/10/2015, 1:43 pm

sanderson, I downloaded my ANSFG book again and stand corrected -- Mel does recommend one vining tomato per square foot, and one bush tomato per 9 square feet.

He recommends pruning "off all side branches(suckers) weekly." I usually let my tomatoes keep a double stem if they want one and let them have some of their suckers, too.

Still, even regular branches on an indeterminate tomato can be a couple of feet long, and tomatoes can have big root balls, so I would give them more space even if they're only grown on a single stem. I've certainly noticed more disease on tightly-packed tomato plants than on ones given a little more space.

But I'm talking about my way now, not Mel's official way. Same with my considerations of beans above. It's not that Mel's way doesn't work; it's just that I think, after a couple of years of seeing how Mel's way has worked for me, that trying a little less-dense planting of beans next year may still have some benefits when it comes to watering and maintenance. I'll have to keep experimenting and see how I feel about the results.


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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  Windmere on 7/10/2015, 4:21 pm

Marc Iverson wrote:sanderson, I downloaded my ANSFG book again and stand corrected -- Mel does recommend one vining tomato per square foot, and one bush tomato per 9 square feet.

He recommends pruning "off all side branches(suckers) weekly."  I usually let my tomatoes keep a double stem if they want one and let them have some of their suckers, too.  

Still, even regular branches on an indeterminate tomato can be a couple of feet long, and tomatoes can have big root balls, so I would give them more space even if they're only grown on a single stem.  I've certainly noticed more disease on tightly-packed tomato plants than on ones given a little more space.  

But I'm talking about my way now, not Mel's official way.  Same with my considerations of beans above.  It's not that Mel's way doesn't work; it's just that I think, after a couple of years of seeing how Mel's way has worked for me, that trying a little less-dense planting of beans next year may still have some benefits when it comes to watering and maintenance.  I'll have to keep experimenting and see how I feel about the results.


Marc,
I've also veered a little from one tomato per square.   My EarthBoxes are a standard 1 foot by 2, and I have one marigold or basil per one tomato.  That's standard SFG.  However, in my raised beds, I have three per side with flowers planted in the center.  They get about 1.33 feet that way.  I like the results I'm getting this year, so I might continue to do this for myself (not strictly SFG, but working for me).
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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  Marc Iverson on 7/10/2015, 4:38 pm

I hope it continues to work well for you. I like planting with basil and/or marigolds close by, too.

It's best to always keep Mel's methods in mind, as this is a SFG site, after all! But sharing our own experiences is also what any forum is about. I think we find a happy medium here. And using Mel's methods as a springboard for further exploration is something I've seen done and discussed positively here any number of times. I think we'll all continue to experiment, in ways large and small, throughout our gardening days. As long as we don't get too far off track, it's still basically Mel's methods anyway.
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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  Turan on 7/10/2015, 5:00 pm

It is fine tuning to fit your own particular circumstances.
The book makes a starting point that got us doing and not just dreaming.

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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  yolos on 7/10/2015, 5:56 pm

Marc Iverson wrote:I've certainly noticed more disease on tightly-packed tomato plants than on ones given a little more space.  

My tomato plants in my SFG are in my 3' x 8' beds.  I have a tomato plant on one end in a Texas Tomato Cage, then a trellised cucumber, then another tomato plant on the other end.  So each tomato plant has about a 3' by 2.5' area and the planting holes are separated by about 5 feet.  They are still covered with diseases.  Here is my Gilbertie just before I picked todays fruit.  Got lots of tomatoes off it and they are still ripening.  Maybe it would have been worse if they were more closely planted, but it is still bad when I give them plenty of room.  Also, I don't prune so that may be one added problem but our sun is relentless and the tomatoes will actually get hot and blistered if there is not plenty of foliage to protect them.  I Can't really complain because I have gotten such a good harvest this year.
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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  Windmere on 7/10/2015, 6:17 pm

Oh my, that's worse than I imagined yolos.  Ouch, but still very productive I see.
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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  Marc Iverson on 7/10/2015, 6:47 pm

It's so hard to get rid of disease once it gets any kind of foothold. Sorry you had such problems, yolos. But your vine does look productive!

It's so hot around here for so many weeks in the summer that I know what you mean when you say you keep some of your leaves and branches around to protect the fruit. Sun scorch is a major problem around here for peppers and tomatoes, and sometimes can kill or stunt bean plants in a single day. Or almost anything, if it gets hot enough. I read somewhere that "pepper plants like to be touching," and plant peppers quite close because of scorch. It isn't even the hottest part of the summer yet, though, and I already have a number of scorched peppers.

I've read and am convinced that putting plants too close together, or in creating any environment in which different plants can touch each other or create a high-humidity canopy around each other, can dramatically increase disease transfer. It did last year, in the garden of a friend who gave me one of his garden beds to grow in. Our beds were right next to each other, and his tomatoes had much more disease than mine did. That year, instead of planting one tomato per home, he planted a four-pack! Wow talk about crowding! The plants did set a whole lot of fruit, but got a whole lot of disease too.

Around here, the past couple of years, it's all about how strong the plants can get before late blight sets in anyway. I was clipping away leaves and branches at a prodigious rate daily last year when late blight set in, and I could see the spread from one leaf to the next one it was touching.

I planted less densely this year, just a little, and hope it helps.
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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  Turan on 7/14/2015, 11:02 am

On Sunday DH and I stood in the greenhouse and ate a handful of ripe Sungold cherry tomatoes.  Today I picked another handful for my lunch salad. 
   cherry cherry   cheers

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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  sanderson on 7/14/2015, 2:55 pm

Very Happy

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Dramatic Problems

Post  FRED58 on 7/21/2015, 5:33 pm

To prune, or not to prune?


That is the question.


Whether ‘tis nobler in the garden to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous foliage; or to take up a kitchen knife against a sea of unwanted growth, and by chopping, compost them?


To chop, to thin no more; and by the thinning to say we end the blossoms and the thousand unnatural extra suckers that heirloom tomatoes are heir to? Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. To trim: perchance to lop. Aye, there’s the cropping! For in that snipping what new growth might be encouraged when we have shuffled off the immortal shoots?


Uh, what I mean is: my heirloom tomatoes are covered in suckers, both in the crotch of the branches and at the base of the plant (especially the Brandywines). Do you remove them to encourage tall growth or keep them and accept wide growth?  I’d especially like to hear from people in short season areas.


Ah, well, back at it tomorrow (and tomorrow and tomorrow…)
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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  quiltbea on 7/21/2015, 6:10 pm

FRED......One removes the suckers to open up the area to more air movement and because they don't want all those suckers to produce tomatoes.  I always did the same but this year I'm not.
Reason:  I'm in a short season area with frost dates from mid-May to mid-Sept which means not a very long time.  That means I don't even get any ripe tomatoes til the end of July to early Aug, depending on the maturity date.  I'm thinking I want as many tomatoes to grow as the plant can manage because they don't have long to do it. 
As for air circulation, I remove any of the bottom branches that get leaf spot or any discoloring anyway, so that opens up the plant to air.
When the end of August arrives, I'll then remove the branches with tiny tomatoes which don't have any chance to grow and ripen, thereby giving the others a chance to get larger.
That's my plan for this year.  I'll see how it goes.

Today I ate my first two tomatoes from the garden, both Totems.  They are patio tomatoes and they were very tasty so I was thrilled.

They were nice and juicy and sweet.
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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  MackerelSky on 7/21/2015, 7:45 pm

Hey Fred, if you happen to have a couple of different plants from a couple different varieties trim one of each back and see how you make out by the end of the season. Not sure when your first frost date is, but there's nothing worse than 40 or more small toms unripened when the season is winding down.

Since moving into my current/last location in '89, we have tried it both ways each year and over the long haul, I get into the first week of August and remove all suckers that still have flowers with no tomatoes and also pinch the top right off of the plant. No more growth up or out. By the end of August, if they are not going to ripen by mid September in our minds, they come off and get fried up as greens, leaving just what we feel has a chance.

We have ten plants growing this year, 5 glamour and 5 celebrities and we are treating them both the same way. Like quiltbee, my growing season is very short(as in the map in my signature) and the plants will most likely have to be covered a few times in September until we get tired of it and pull them all.

All the Best
Brad
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Re: Tomato Tuesday 2015

Post  Marc Iverson on 7/21/2015, 8:28 pm

Plants benefit from the stability that having wide low branches gives, but any too near the ground are often the first to pick up soil-based diseases, either from simply touching the ground or from water splashback.

I always have branches near the ground for a while, because I plant deep, and what later become the very low branches are at first the top branches on the plant. After a while, they often simply turn yellow from age or start catching some disease or another, and I may wind up picking my way up the plant, trying to keep diseases in check by trimming suckers and branches and hoping the plant keeps outgrowing the trauma. It usually works fine if the plant is in good soil and well-established.

So sooner or later the bottom-most often get trimmed, but I usually don't do it unless the plant is already big and healthy. The exception for me is when the branch/sucker is growing toward or into the ground, which sometimes happens. That's just asking for trouble, so I'll trim early.
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Marc Iverson

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