Day zero minus 45 days ..activity and questions

col_sprg_maters(Front Range 5)August 11, 2010

For this location by my calculations, I have a 50% chance of a frost around Sep 25. (colorado springs 6650 feet elevation, Northeast side)

So my in the ground plants would have ~45 more days to make semi-ripe tomatoes. (Frost may be earlier, may be later, but I can barely recall what happened last week, much less predict the future.)

All but one have green tomatoes already on them;

Lemon boys, Early Girls, Black Krim, Patio Picnic, Sweet Cherry 100, two heirlooms with lost ID tags.

Today is the day I started preparing for frost by removing their brand new flower buds. I will continue to do that till the plants expire, and at some point remove all buds.

This since new buds odds of making a full grown tomato is less than 50%, and, I would like plant resources to be expended on what is further along.

It feels rather odd, since today is predicted to be over 90 F here today, and maybe tomorow too. (but our high sunday here may not even reach 70F, low of 48F)

I have 30 plants in containers, many of which will be moved into the heated tent greenhouse as the night temperatures decline.

I will continue to water all plants as usual, am in a quandry though about fertilizing and about trimming new leafy growth.

Any words of advice?

Any one else considering upcoming fall yet?


Here is a link that might be useful: tomato ripening timeline

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That is a helpful series of photo's, D.

Today, there will be a bit of pruning in my tomato patch but it can't just be flower-specific. DW is in charge of most of the middle-of-the-patch harvest since I can't really get beyond the perimeter this year. Now, she claims that she is having too much trouble moving around in there!

The problem is that there are some very large cherries (Sweet Chelsea) that suffered the same as all the plants on the south side of the patch. The wind storms earlier blew them too much to the north. The next row was somewhat protected by the 1st so each of the 4 rows didn't flop over evenly.

We can't even see any of the path between those plants and the next row now! Did I say that the 4 Sweet Chelsea plants are growing well? I'm afraid that there's so little light that there won't be much in there even if the fruit could be harvested!

If only the growing tips go - production will not be hurt much, if at all, by the looks of things. And, this procedure has reached the stage of now being required.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 9:08AM
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col_sprg_maters(Front Range 5)

Last night it went down to 49F at my house ! And the 'in ground' tomatoes are still all green! Can you spell panic?

In a fit of web research, I found two references to cutting a trench around the base of the plants to shock the roots, causing the plant to do everything it could to ripen tomatoes. Two plants will be getting that treatment later today unless something or someone pries that trowel from my determined hands.

Yesterday while driving DW to various garage sales, I met a fellow with small tomato plants but lots of ripe fruit.
His plants were about one foot from his stucco walled house, nice and warm at night and shielded from the crazy winds. 400 feet lower in elevaton. Got only "Afternoon Sun", but thats ok here. They were wilted from lack of water, but he said "That happens", where as I do all I can to fight any wilt.

He only used 5 year old all purpose Miracle Grow, nothing else. Fertilized twice all season.

(maybe tonite about 11pm I will sneak over there and poach a few to see how they taste..... not really-but tempting)


I raised these seedlings in a greenhouse, have 10 different types of ferilizer, 30 containers, and sooo much research, But it seems nothing subsitutes for keeping that night time temperature as warm as posssible here in the Rockies.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 11:59AM
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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

This year I placed quite a few large cobble rocks all around my tomatoes. Not sure if it makes much difference but the thinking is that it will raise soil temperatures and raise the night time temps a bit.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 1:39PM
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col_sprg_maters(Front Range 5)

It is done. Plants #6 'lost tag' and #7 'lemon boy' have trenches 5" from the stalk 60% around the perimeter. Kinda like if I was starting to transplant them 6 weeks ago.
#6 might have been either a 'health kick' or a 'super fantastic'. several duplicates of both are in containers.

8 others in the ground left without the trench, just trimmed, pruned and flowers plucked.

Come on please ripen.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 7:25PM
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D, Health Kick was one of those varieties that never ripened during the season that I grew it.

I can't tell you how aggravating it is for me to have that happen. The plants were just covered with green fruit and we were expecting a frost by the next morning. I just turned my back and walked away from them!

It wasn't a 75 day tomato for me! My Big Beefs had been producing ripe fruit for 3 weeks and they are supposed to be 70 days, or so.

I have no ripe beefsteaks yet but the Jaune Flammé plants are ripening about 1 a day now! I am just delighted about that! Other than a persimmon-colored skin that's a little tough, Flammé is proving itself to be one fine tomato.

It was August 20th before I had a ripe beefsteak last year. If it wasn't for the early ripening gold cherries and the Early Girls, I'd be tearing my hair out. And, not having Bloody Butcher this year is a little disappointing . . .

A supposedly early Kimberley looks like it will ripen with the beefsteaks! I had 2 ripe Mr. Stripey (Tigerella) yesterday. They were very good!


    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 8:31PM
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col_sprg_maters(Front Range 5)

5 days since I cut the trenches, and no impact, other than the two trenched plants pouted for two days. Still lots of green fruit, nothing in the ground ripened.

The illusion of being in control.

This gardening thing, dealing with nature, humbling.
Just Humbling.

Come on its late August!

("He oscillated between depression and anger")

In 2007 and 2008 I did not know what I was doing in the garden. Harvested enough tomatoes for 6 weeks that neighbors locked their doors when they say me coming. Lucky I guess.

I think it might have the numerous cool nites with lows 48-52F. Maybe the windy days?

How does one research and verify such theories?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 12:06PM
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david52 Zone 6

We're forecast to get down to 41ºF tomorrow night.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 11:27PM
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col_sprg_maters(Front Range 5)

Still no freeze or frost, its September 25- my calculations for a 50% chance of frost from climate data charts.

Have seen a low of 41 F temp. but not a lot seems to be damaged, just slow.

A Few plants have gone all brown, a few are still all green and happy. Most are inbetween. hmmm... Might record the happy plant names for future analysis.

Weather forecasts looks like 6 more days of 70F + days and over 40F at night. Thinking about cranking up the greenhouse for those plants that are still somewhat happy.

Plants in the ground seem to be doing better than most container plants, (except the two in-ground guys that get no direct sunlite due to that stupid sun moving south; Why can't our Goverment fix that?)

Am wondering if soil temperature is more important than I thought. Found some old heating pads that a few containers could be set on with a timer.

I read somewhere that keeping containers at 70f and letting everything else track with that was a good way to keep the plants happy- will see if I can find that article.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 9:48AM
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On the "tomato review" thread:

Posted by david52
In mid-july, I looked at my row of AGGold - beautiful plants 4 foot high, I couldn't find a fruit. In late august, they started to show up, and now they're covered.

I've concluded that to really appreciate the wonderful variety of flavor, tomatoes has to ripen within certain temperature parameters - below 95 day time and above 55 at night. Here, that means 3 weeks in July. So to do this, I have to have flowers on the plants when I set them out in June.


D, I suspect that David is on to something there. Of course, ripening at the end of the season isn't quite the same as developing flavor and/or growing.

The professionals talk about "growing degree days" or "heat units." NOAA keeps track of them for us.

2700 GDD isn't bad for Colorado Springs. Seems like I read somewhere that 1700 GDD is required for even the earliest tomatoes to ripen. (With just over 2000 at the nearest listed weather station, I ain't got much more than that.)

Information on tomato varieties could be based on GDD instead of the seed companies' "days-to-maturity," which apparently means nothing much at all!


Here is a link that might be useful: Growing Degree Days, Selected Cities

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 12:53PM
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