Heirloom Tomatoes - new tomato gardener

summitgardenMay 26, 2008


I am new to growing heirloom tomatoes this year, having grown mainly herbs in the past, and mainly in containers on the deck. Am trying out the following bought as established plants in 8" pots from a quality local nursery:

Lemon Boy

Black Krim

Old German

Green Zebra

I planted all in the ground by digging up the old soil - which was mainly rocks and weeds - in a sunny south to southwest location; putting flower/vegetable soil mixed with an inch of compost, a tablespoon of osmocote, and a bit of bone and blood meal for each plant. Also placed a small heap of composted manure around the top of each plant, after planting. Spaced about 18 inches apart with marigolds planted 6 inches in front and half way between each tomato plant.

I'm strongly opposed to herbicides/chemicals, but would like to keep pests to a minimum, is a floating cover my best bet? And if the plants are only 18 inches from the wall behind them, do I have enough room for that? My primary pest concerns are rabbits and hornworms (although I hear that I may not have to worry about hornworms until next year's crop since nothing was growing in this space last year... is that true?).



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I have a lot of rabbits. They have never bothered the tomatoes.

Horn worms don't eat a lot if there are not to many of them.Some folks around here let them be.They turn into a beautiful moth.Hand picking works well enough if you need to kill them.

My worst garden pest is the road runners and turkeys. I have learned to share with them.

Over all tomatoes are tough. They have never been a problem.

One thing you might add is a tea spoon of epsom salt.

We have a tomato forum here at garden web. You should check it out.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 6:43PM
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Sounds like you have a sunny spot and have amended your soil well, your tomatoes should do very well. I am growing 5 different heirloom tomatoes this year and have grown heirloom tomatoes for 3 season now, they are the best tasting tomatoes you can grow.

The only real problem you can run into with tomatoes is fungal diseases. This can be solved by mulching around the base of the plants so when you water it does not splash on the leaves.

You can also grow tomatoes in large pot beside your herbs. I have always grown tomatoes in half whiskey barrels and they do very well.
Check out my veggie garden blog:

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 6:05AM
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As you are in zone 6 you are going to have a long season and your space might be a bit tight even with cages keeping the plants up. So enjoy your flowers as long as you can see them.

Ventilation will be a major factor in your plants fighting off disease, but if you have a breeze and enough sun the normal dampness will burn off during the day.
I live in a drier location so I use coffee cans around my plants to be certain what kind of water they get and to add some horse manure tea to feed them.

Rabbits might nip a tomatoe to taste it once, but they will not be back. The worms will require your picking them off and have little to do with having plants there before as pests always find what they think is yummy to eat.

I agree though with the epsom salts in trying them this year and seeing results.

Your plant choices in Green Zebra will give you a huge amount of fruit. Krim gives nice big complex fruits. The Germans all are wonderful and reliable producers, but the Lemon if it doesn't work out try Azoykcha if you can get it as it is my reliable yellow favorite.

Good gardening and God bless.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 5:03PM
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I have never had a rabbit problem, but dried blood might help if they are a problem, adding nitrogen to your soil at the same time. Hornworms are a pest and will have to be hand picked, they bite, so haul them off and squish em. Old Germans are my absolute favorite!!! I had one that was 2.6 pounds, and the best tasting tomato I ever had!! Unfortunately mine didn't start well this year so I only have Green Zebras and Cherokee Purples. I usually dig a 1 1/2 foot deep hole about 14 inches in diameter, put 2 shovels of well rotted cow manure in the hole, mix in some soil at the top, and plant my tomato. It won't matter what your soil's like, the tomato will be growing in manure. I've seen my dad grow squash in a pile of rocks this way!!! About the only things that don't like manure are beans and potatoes. Plant the tomato as deep in the soil as you can. I'll usually cut off the bottom few leaves and put it a foot deep [ tomatoes will root from the stem] . I usually don't put manure at the top because I worry about burning, but if it's well rotted and cow this should not be a problem. Happy gardening.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 4:16PM
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