A lesson relearned

rustynail(z7 MD)August 26, 2001

Had a zillion volunteer grape tomatoes this spring which I potted up. Didn't plan to garden this year but after giving away as many as I could, I decided to plant most of the rest. I always stake or cage tomatoes but this year got lazy and let them wander. Digging through the jungle to uncover ripe fruit is torturous! Not only are they spending more time "rooting" than making tomatoes, the fruit touching the ground has more insect damage and shaded by the leaves, ripening is stalled. Too late to corral them now but never again!


BTW, if you live near a large funeral home and aren't squeamish, the triangular racks that hold wreaths are often thrown away and can be used for cages. Not perfect but they work.

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LOL, I have had great luck this year doing the same as you, but I have an advantage, no more than .1 in of rain from mid-april to at least mid-september most years. Drip irrigation gets subsoil moist, but leaves the surface dry. No rooting for me.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2001 at 2:38PM
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As a control, I performed the same experiment with grape tomatoes but did not first pot up the self-seeded plants. I simply weeded around them right there in the garden and let them stay where they popped up.. Egads!! What a mess out there, and the vines clambered up from the 'hidden' terraced veggie area, and traversed the lawn and the nearest perennial bed. They're draped over the Angelica and shooting up through the Oriental Lilies. I picked a peck last week-end and there's probably a bushel more I couldn't see for the vines. Some animal is having fun though and bringing them up to the patio half eaten. I'll have these growing from the cracks in the patio next year. I've never had tomatoes seed as heavily as those grapes (Juliettes) did.

(I feel reprieved now that I realize this was a failed experiment, and not my slothfulness. Thank you!)

    Bookmark   August 27, 2001 at 12:45AM
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rustynail(z7 MD)

You're welcome, Cynthia, but in all fairness I readily admitted laziness without attempting to sugar coat it under the guise of "experimentation"! If you're inundated with that first peck and like dried tomatoes, you can't beat grapes. Slice them in half and dehydrate. Perfect bite sized pieces!


    Bookmark   August 27, 2001 at 4:13PM
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Mine went berserk too! I hear it's just how they grow. So why are grape tomatoes so expensive in the store?

    Bookmark   September 1, 2001 at 6:42PM
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colleen_mi(5b/6a SE Mich)

I've been wondering the same thing. While I'm practically buried in the things, a pint is still $1.50 to $2 at the store. I can only guess the supermarkets import them from California and the transportation costs are the biggest part of the price. Another reason to look for locally grown stuff.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2001 at 9:54PM
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Sorry to be cynical but: "why do supermarkets charge so much?". Because people are willing to buy at that price.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2001 at 10:48AM
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envireng(Z6 MD)

Same overabundance here. Started maybe 4 little yellow plum tomatoes from seed (Burpee). Plants were (are) absolutely covered with tomatoes. I don't need THAT many. My entire family doesn't need that many--and I only put FOUR plants in.

So, I dehydrated some. Froze some. Gave some away. And, am planning to let the rest rot. Since, I did not stake the plants (strictly due to laziness on my part), it is a pain in the back to pick them.


    Bookmark   September 7, 2001 at 2:39PM
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ellens_joy(NE okla)

Hi All, Just passing thru the forum and had to respond to this posting. A friend of mine grows his tomatoes upside down. Thats right, he cuts a hole in the bottom of a 5gallon bucket with a wire bail on it. The kind that you can get from restraunts. Then he cuts a slit half way in a coffee filter. Stuffs the roots and as much stem as he can into the hole. Put the coffee filter around the stem to hold in the dirt and fills it 3/4 of the way with dirt. You can hang it in the sun or move it to a protected area if the sun is to intense or there is a storm brewing. He says its the only way to go. Uses this method with all types of tomatoes. Plenty of room for water and very easy to pick. No more weeding and the varmits don't get them before you do :) I have to try this. Just think no more staking and crawling around trying to get to the tomatoes. He say's the stems will have an upward tilt to them and it is quite the conversation piece. Ellen

    Bookmark   September 11, 2001 at 4:35AM
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I got lazy with mine too, planted them with a gourd vine that kept them wrapped up against the trellis. Still had tons of them. Also had a second year cherry tomatoe that was actually well behaved.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2001 at 7:07PM
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MeMyselfAndI(5/6 central OH)

I'm guilty, too. I planted tomatoes & let them "wander." What a mess! They got out of control over night. We're having drought conditions too, so no problems with rooting, very little rotting, but it is hard to reach the fruits without a physical forage into the foliage patch. I'm glad to hear someone mention hanging them. This would make great use of fence space and I would actually be able to reach the fruits!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2001 at 5:47PM
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Gee and I thought it was my gardening expert that spawned so many grape tomatoes. I dread going into the garden because there is another bucket to fill with those grapes.
Growing them in hanging buckets sounds like a great idea I must remember that next year so I can retire my machete.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2001 at 7:27AM
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weedlady(Central OH 6)

I have learned to be ruthless with the volunteers, thinning to only a few early on and then selecting the best one from those later to allow to keep growing. (This lesson in ruthlessness has taken about 30 years--after all, how could I kill my "babies"? LOL)
I put mine in a cage, but always somewhere along my 35' row of asparagus. Invariably, the vines fall victim to wanderlust, shoot over the top of the 4' high cage and take off. The two species make good companions, and the tall, sturdy 'gras ferns do not mind the 'maters clambering all over 'em, keeping the fruits out of the line of sight of my voracious neighborhood groundhog. CK

    Bookmark   September 20, 2001 at 8:12AM
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I think that part of the reason the grape tomatoes are so expensive is because they were developed kind of recently and the seed is proprietary. I am not exactly sure... there was a lot of talk about these in the tomato forum last spring but I didn't pay too much attention.

Most of my tomatoes are all over the ground too. It is a pain to find them but I love the spicy way I smell when I emerge triumphant from the tomato patch.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2001 at 5:47PM
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why here is an article someone linked on the vegetable forum telling all one could wish to know about the price of grape tomatoes.

Here is a link that might be useful: grape tomato article

    Bookmark   September 20, 2001 at 6:24PM
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Don't feel bad about not staking your tomatoes. I staked mine between 8' post and tied baling twine to the post from both sides. It worked great, until I got to the top of the post. Then they cascaded over, down to the ground and over to the next row of beans. If trying to pick them through the jungle wasn't bad enough, I had a HUGE garden spider decide to make it's home there. If frost doesn't get them soon, they may make it to the house.LOL

    Bookmark   October 19, 2001 at 8:06PM
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Love your friend's idea Ellen. Just might try that one myself. How high does he hang the bucket?
I had the same trouble as everyone else. Luckily I'm from a large tomato eating family. Still lots will rot this year. Too bad. I hate to waste good homegrown food.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2001 at 1:40AM
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I just did a search to find directions of how to do the upsidedown tomato thing, and came up with a great discovery channel web page with good step-by-step instructions and pictures.

Here is a link that might be useful: Discovery Channel

    Bookmark   October 24, 2001 at 8:54AM
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Thanks Dianne. Now why didn't I think of that. I have everything needed. Now if only I could grow tomatoes in the winter, lol!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2001 at 2:18PM
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Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything on the Discovery Channel link about growing the tomatoes upside down. I did a search on the site for tomato and tomatoes and nothing came up. If anyone has a copy of the info, I would really appreciate it. It would work really well in our community garden!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2002 at 4:37PM
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sharon_9_fl(z9 FL)


Try again. I clicked on Dianne's link and went directly to the article. Here is the address: http://dsc.discovery.com/fansites/michaelholigan/project.jsp?segment=6723


    Bookmark   June 29, 2002 at 12:46PM
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    Bookmark   January 29, 2003 at 8:30PM
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