Looking for ways to help new gardeners

sujiwan_gwJuly 2, 2014

I'm current president of a garden club in MD and saw this forum.

I'm looking for ways for our garden club to be of service to people who are new to gardening and am tossing around some ideas.

How would you like to learn about gardening? Do any of the options below appeal to you?

Impersonally- through a website Q&A, waiting for someone answers your question

A seminar--where someone has a program dedicated to what you are interested in learning

One on one--you have a meeting with a volunteer from a club who can show you

Small group confab--maybe comes to your yard and offer pointers

Joining a local club yourself.

We are all volunteers and look for how we can teach and help others. We just need to know in which ways we can be most effective.

Thanks for responding

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First question;

Why are tomato plants so difficult to grow?

What are the BEST tomato varieties for container gardeners?

What is the optimal time of year for purchasing seedlings?

When do most tomato plants reach harvest?

Can I grow tomato indoors during the winter months?

Thank you for any input/advice!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 6:12PM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

I'm not a new gardener (gardening 11 years now) but I learned the most from reading books, online articles, and especially from reading on various GardenWeb forums (I guess this would be considered Q&A). I'm not much of a people person so going out to meet with other gardeners does not appeal to me at all.

One important thing I've learned over the years is that you shouldn't listen to just one single source of information. Whether that be a person (in-person, blog, website, etc.) or a book. What that source does may not work as well in your garden as it does in theirs. Nor is there one single right way to plant things. The more you learn and experiment the better you'll be as a gardener.

Just my two cents.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 6:29PM
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Rodney, thank you for your input.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 6:51PM
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Sorry OP, misread your post. (((blush))))

I am a brand new gardener, and have made MANY mistakes this season.

It would be helpful to have a mentor teach me or show me the ropes, but time and resources do not allow that to be.

I have spent time on this forum, and reading general gardening books thus far, which has helped.

I wanted to start gardening years ago but have been prevented because of other pressing demands in my life.

I think, unfortunately, gardening is more or less a trial and error thing.

Unless you grew up with soil in your blood, you have to basically teach yourself.

It has been a challenging yet rewarding experience for me, so far. Even if none of my vegetables 'make it'.

Obviously, by my previous comment, I am obsessed with having my tomatoes survive and multiply.

Just like anything else, the more you do it, the better you'll be at it.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 7:46PM
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It sounds like you really are gung-ho to grow! It would help to know where you are located and what zone, because those things factor in to any decent answer.
Once you understand how, tomatoes aren't hard to grow at all. I grow hundreds of them from seed every year and have at least 75 in my garden on average.
First, many stores start offering tomatoes before the last frost date. In my case, that occurs in May, but stores put them out way early (April) to seduce customers into buying. Tomatoes are WARM weather plants that don't much like temperatures to fall below 55. They sulk and don't produce until they are happy with the soil temperatures. The best temp range is 70's to mid 80's.

I have grown tomatoes in containers-both indeterminate and determinate types. Big plastic containers that hold 5-7 gallons of loose, aerated potting soil with peat and perlite/vermiculite are what I used. And I supported that tomato with a cage or twine, etc. It doesn't matter what variety, but you will get more tomatoes per plant if you grow a smaller fruited variety. THe beefsteaks don't produce as many per plant. If you haven't got room for many, you can get small bushier growing types that are determinate. Take a look at a website that specializes in tomato seeds for writeups about varieties to try. Then you can maybe find them already grown as transplants to pot up.

I can only speak about my area of growing--I transplant after Mother's Day up to June 1. RIght now, my tomatoes are still green. But I have early, mid and late varieties, so some will be ready sooner. That is a piece of information you will find on the tomato seed sites--days to maturity. I will start getting tomatoes ripened within the next couple weeks and on until frost unless we get a late blight.

Yes, you can grow tomatoes in the winter indoors. But you have to have very strong light as they are sun lovers. You should look for indeterminate tomatoes with small fruit like cherry tomatoes for this. Since stores will not carry tomato plants then, you will need to start from seed under lights. It takes 6-8 weeks for me to grow a transplant from seed. So to plant out in May, I start seeds the first week of April. You would need at least that much time to grow a decent sized transplant to pot up for winter.

I hope this helps. Be sure to check the Tomato Growers forum here on gardenweb. They have a wealth of information.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 7:48PM
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Thank you sujiwan! I'm in zone 7, I believe.

I am very committed/dedicated to my portable little garden, this year.

Unfortunately, I've made some boo-boo's, but it's all a learning experience, right?

It would be really neat to be able to grow a little tomato plant indoors during the winter...but I don't think i'm in an area that is friendly to doing that (cold and dreary). I considered purchasing an indoor greenhouse shelf, but if i won't be able to grow much, i'll skip it.

That is AMAZING how many tomato plants you have! That would keep me busy all day long..

Next year, i'll definately stick with the determinate variety.

I think i'll get some grape tomatoes and tumbling toms.

I just planted my last seeds of the season (stringless beans).

Hoping they come up by the fall.

Thanks for your insight, and wish me luck!!

Happy growing! :)

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 7:19PM
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Hello Sujiwan,

I thought I'd take a minute to respond to your question; I was educated in the social sciences, so I appreciate how difficult it can be to collect information.

I'm very much a "student of the world" and derive great pleasure in developing new skills, and I usually do it on my own by reading and through a lot of trial and error. A bit of Q&A on the internet can really help fill in the gaps. The idea of having someone here to help me when I'm not very sure of what I'm doing is appealing, but I'm not sure something like a mentor or joining a club would really be right for me. To be honest, I'd rather learn in that way from someone who's already my friend, and I make friends based more on complementary personalities than on common interests. Yes, of course I might meet folks with compatible personalities by trying a club out, but that could happen by doing anything with people I don't already know. I don't really want more friends. If anything, gardening is more about improving the quality of my "me" time. I guess that's really what it comes down to. I'll share what I'm doing with my friends and invite them over, of course. And hopefully I'll make some new acquaintances here. But I have way too many hobbies to spend that much time on a single one of them.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 8:02PM
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