Year one - dissect my plans, please!!

Amisoup(8B)August 28, 2012

So, my husband and I decided to start a garden this year. In the spring, we grew 4 varieties of tomato, mostly from Home Depot, and grew them in 5 gallon buckets. Pretty good yields, and we learned the joys of BT and caterpillar crushing.

We are ready to go with our fall garden. We have beets, butternut squash (see previous post about the stinkin rain), carrots, okra, black eyed peas, lima beans, sweet peppers (left from spring, in 5 gal bucket), and are attempting to get tomato seedlings started from direct sown seeds.

For the above veggies, we have constructed 3 different raised beds and added Mels mix. We have BT, soap spray, blood meal and bone meal on hand for when it's needed. The HARDEST THING we have run into (other than the caterpillars) are the tomato seedlings. I have tried peat pellets, a variation of mel's mix, and now have resigned myself to direct sown or bust mode. If these don't survive, I plan on going with the tasteless hybrids at HD that come in pots. I got my maters to sprout with blue solo cups placed on them upside down, and had 100% germination rate. My Black Krim's sprouted, grew 2-3" each, and then died. The Sungold's, Brandywine, Beefsteak, and Sweet100's have done beautifully so far, but I'm wondering about all this rain and our new buddy Isaac that's come in. The seedlings are OK so far, but they've been in the ground for 3-4 weeks and don't have any true leaves yet. Can they be damping off? Should I be spraying them with some type of foilar spray? Should I scrap the plan and head to Home Depot before it's too late? What do you think?

Also, my beans are looking good except for the holes from the caterpillars. We've taken care of the caterpillars but the lima's haven't produced any fruit. Should I be hand pollinating them?

Also, do any of you grow fall tomatoes? I'm stoked for another chance with them this year, and in the ground vs. buckets. If I can't get them to grow though, I will be so sad!

Thanks in advance for any advice you want to give!

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deannac(9b/S26/H10/Oviedo)

HI! I grow toms all year long. The toughest time is summer, of course, but the cherry types thrive in the heat! If you have any plants from last year, you can clone them..Just take a cutting from a side shoot, put a bit of bone meal or rock phosphate in the planting hole, and slip the cutting in, press the dirt down and as it settles, keep adding. Roots will come off the sides as far up as you plant it. I straight seed mine and I have a LOT of success. This year I've just put in Roma, Cherokee purple (my mortal enemy, but I refuse to give in) Table Talk and better boy. All did just fine through Issac. I DID however lose a ton of fruit to the first rains of the season. I didn't see what kind of beans you'd planted, but I'm planting Great northern now, a full bed, I also have about 1000 crowder pea plants that are about 4" tall right now (third planting this year..missed one) I lose all the sun in one of my raised beds in Dec, so I plant vining plants in that bed and hope for the best. Watch for aphids on the beans, they LOVE them. I use sevin dust to keep them going.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 7:44PM
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amberroses(10a)

I start my tomatoes inside and grow them to a nice size before transplating them in the garden. This time of year is hard on tiny baby tomatoes. They have to deal with insects, diseases, heat, rain, nematodes, and so forth.

I grow them on the windowsill in dixie cups. Once they develop true leaves, I put them in tall red solo cups and bury them deep. I put the solo cups on my screened porch and they get morning sun. That's where they are now.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 8:51PM
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whgille(FL 9b)

Amy, we all have a different methods for starting seeds and as long as they work and get the results that we want it is fine.

What I do is to get a starting medium that is lightweight and available anywhere at the stores. I start the seeds inside in bathroom cups and once they come up, I put them in the porch in plastic bins. They stay there till transplanting time in the containers.

Depending on your zone is the timing, mine are getting morning sun and will soon be moving to the garden.

If your garden is new and has a fresh soil, then is safe to plant them in raised beds, later on the nematodes can be a problem. I avoid this problem and plant them in containers, the raised beds are used for other crops.

If you miss the timing to grow tomatoes from seed, then try to look for a nursery around your area that has transplants. Before you buy them, inspect them for bugs or disease.

In my area, I am planting now tomatoes, beans, winter and summer squash, cucumbers.

When it gets cooler, I will be getting the cool season crops like carrots, broccoli, beets, greens, cabbage, onions...

One of my neighbors did the first time garden last spring and planted in Mel's mix, they also went by the book. I gave them some tomato seedlings to plant and they were gorgeous! same with the collards. This season they will be planting again, I will see the results...One of the things that they told me was they planted too close following the book.

My tomatoes this morning

And the ones for the community garden

Silvia

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 8:48AM
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deannac(9b/S26/H10/Oviedo)

EEEK! (a naked Schnauzer!)

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 9:39AM
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whgille(FL 9b)

deannac, you should know what you are talking about, she is not a naked Schnauzer, but a well groomed and taken care of Jack Russel/Schnauzer mix. I pay for her grooming at my house, I am very offended by your remarks!

Silvia

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 10:19AM
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whgille(FL 9b)

deannac, this IS a garden forum, so next time that you grow tomatoes All year long, please show us the pictures, we will want to see that for sure! Pictures are the proof of what we are talking about is true!

Silvia

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 10:29AM
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Amisoup(8B)

Wow, thanks Silvia! I see you all the time on other threads, thanks for taking your time to explain that to me!

I am trying to plant marigolds close to the seedlings, and throw the cut up marigolds (I've had to remove a few since they are getting to be mondo huge in my beds) in the bottom of the beds, will that help at all?

My seedlings are all. Damping. Off. Every one of them. Whether in Peat pellets, mel's mix in a small container, potting soil - it doesn't matter. They are all dying when I try to sow in anything other than the ground. I am watering from above, from below, withholding water and sometimes over watering to see if I can find the balance. (Different plants, not all these experiments on one plant!) I think that "in the ground" is the way I will go.

Also, what do you guys think about Fish Emulsion? I have read that it's a miracle worker, but I'm worried about the smell and attracting MORE terrible things to my garden.

Such a cute schnauzer!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 12:43PM
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whgille(FL 9b)

Amy, you are welcome and I have to tell you that you are not alone having difficulty raising seedlings. I know of few gardeners like that but once you start practicing, you will be successful.

Sometimes direct saw or volunteers are very strong but in the long run tomatoes do better started inside otherwise most of the people would be starting them like that, especially the ones that get very good crops in the tomato forum, they have a detailed explanation there about growing tomato seedlings.

I would not bother with the marigolds, a very experienced farmer one time told me that there is nothing that helps with the nematodes except the stuff that is only available to farmers and is not organic.

When I use the mix, the brand that I use is Farfard super fine germinating mix and has fertilizer already added. When the seedlings are bigger you can use a very diluted fish fertilizer, I prefer seaweed as one of my fertilizers.

To avoid the problem of damping off, you have to water the seedlings when the medium looks dry, they have to have good air circulation and try not to touch or wet the leaves.
Little by little, you will learn what works best for you and what varieties to plant, this is a very friendly forum and you will learn from all the gardeners that post here to share their knowledge. I know I get happy to see success stories in gardening. Keep trying!

Silvia

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 1:13PM
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