Best slicing tomato for Central MD

kpev7hard(7)January 29, 2013

I have an urban garden in Central Maryland (Baltimore City). It is about 5'x8'. I have never had much luck growing slicing tomatoes. I grew Sungold last year, and a yellow pear the year before, both did amazingly well. I know slicing tomatoes won't have near the yields of the smaller varieties, but I was hoping for a plant that gave me more than 1-2 fruits per month!

Can anyone suggest varieties (preferably heirloom) that do well in Central MD? So far I have tried Early Girl and Better Boy.

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Any tomato should do well in Maryland. Does your garden plot get full sun? How is the soil? Sioux is a very heavy producer, and the tomatoes are delicious. However, given the relatively small size of your plot, you might want to try some of the newly-developed dwarf tomatoes. That would let you try a variety of colors and flavors. Most of the releases are available at the link below. Many of the new dwarfs produce full-size slicing tomatoes on a very compact plant. And the tomatoes are delicious!

Here is a link that might be useful: The new dwarfs

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 6:00PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

As seeker said, any variety should do fine. When there are problems the cause is usually the growing conditions provided, NOT the variety.

Neither Better Boy nor Early Girl are heirloom types of course and both should have given you excellent production given the right planting times and growing conditions. Both are noted as excellent hybrid producers.

So why not tell us more about those conditions? Had the soil tested? What amendments have you added? Fertilizers and feeding plan used (excess N gives you low-production), sure you aren't over-watering (that is once of the most common problems), sun exposure, using containers possible?

Consider Jet Star, Supersonic, Box Car Willie, Mortgage Lifter, as all are noted for good production. And of course the more plants the more the production so in your 5x8' plot you should be able to plant 6 or 7 plants with good supports and some pruning.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 6:33PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Celebrity is the tomato of choice of a few of the local growers here (southern Maryland). We are rather sandy loam over here, though, and I have no clue if that is true of your location. Anyway, a reliable producer here, if not the "best". I'm still looking for the "best" :)

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 10:53PM
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Thank you all for your responses.
Dave, to answer your questions, I have not had my soil tested (it's on my to-do list!). Can I get that done any time of year? I don't typically fertilize during the growing season. I guess I water about once a week.
In the fall I have been mulching with a mix of shredded leaves/grass from my yard, as well as a little horse manure. Now that you mention it, I suppose it's possible I have too high N. The site gets full sun in the morning, a few hours of shade in the early afternoon, then full sun again until dark.

I like to grow a few other vegetables in my modest little plot so planting 6 or 7 plants wouldn't allow me to do that. I usually do 3 or 4.

Thanks again!!!!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 12:44PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Based on that info a couple of problems come to mind. First you never feed during the season? Sorry but that needs to change. Nitrogen leaches off into the air and plants deplete nutrients as they grow and those nutrients need to be replaced if you want healthy plants with good production. How and what you use to do that is your choice but it needs to be done.

Second that your soil may be too acidic due to all the leaves. If the pH is out of whack then it makes no difference how or what nutrients you add as the pH binds them up in the soil and the plants can't use then.

Third, watering. Once a week whether they need it or not? More often as needed - hopefully.

Fourth, in a plot that small if planting a diverse number of crops then competition for nutrients is a common problem. Each crop has different nutrient needs - so it is a robbing Peter to pay Paul approach.

So a soil test is where to begin. Professional soil tests are available from your local country extension office for $10-12 each and while available year round, early spring before planting or late fall is the ideal time for testing and soil improvement.


    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 2:21PM
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Thank you, Dave. Teach me the errors of my ways!!!!

I have already sent a request to the Cooperative Extension for a bag to send in a soil sample for testing. I will send that off in early spring. Maybe March/April?

For fertilizing, do you have a product you recommend? I've always avoided things like Miracle Grow because I was concerned about too much nitrogen (and I prefer to keep things as organic as possible). Would compost or worm castings be appropriate during the growing season? I also have access to horse manure, I could do a manure tea. I also have a bag of Espoma Garden Tone.

I do have one of those pH meters that you stick in the ground and get a reading. The last time I used it was over the summer, and I am not sure how accurate those things are, but I believe it read around 6.5. I will wait for the soil test for an accurate result though.

As for watering, once a week was an average. If they looked like they needed more, I gave more. But you said over-watering is a problem as well. How do I determine when enough is enough?

I hadn't even considered that I was trying to grow too many things in my little garden. Excellent point! There are a few crops that we eat a LOT of during the summer - tomatoes, zucchini, and jalapenos (which I have never had a problem growing). Can these three crops co-exist? I do have the option of growing a few things in containers, I have a very large deck that is sunny. I grow my herbs there.

Thank you so very much for all your insight and for taking me and my garden under your wing!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 4:34PM
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Manure tea & espoma garden tone sound like excellent choices to me. Compost & worm castings are also excellent things for the garden.

What sort of problems did you have the last time you tried to grow slicing tomatoes?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 9:43AM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I know horse manure is a popular garden additive. But I have heard that it can provide too much nitrogen, encouraging vegetative growth over fruiting. My neighbor dumped a lot of composted horse manure into his garden a few years ago. He doesn't use any fertilizer or other amendments. The past two summers his tomato plants were huge and dark green, but they produced very few tomatoes. His greens and beans did well. I think the horse manure was his main problem, but I have no proof.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 6:02PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Horse manure is like all fertilizers, there are appropriate application rates to be used. Knowing how much to put down means you would have to know how much you need. I could find loose recommendations somewhere, but it sounds like the neighbor just willy nilly dumped composted manure and got the results he would have gotten if he willy nilly dumped a bag or two of fertilizer on there.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 12:46PM
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My main problem with the tomatoes the past two seasons has been decently sized plants but very little production. Lots of flowers, but few of them actually turned into fruit. Based on some of the recent responses I'm wondering if it's a nitrogen issue? I'm having my soil tested this spring so I guess we'll find out!

Also, I know this is a tomato forum, but I also had a similar problem with my zucchini the past few years. Huge plants, lots of flowers, none of them maturing. Most of the zukes on the vine withered and yellowed at a small size. Perhaps I have a pollination problem?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 3:20PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

It has been very hot here the last two seasons. The heat could cause your lack of production. I don't know if you got the terrible weather there but it has been a factor here.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 3:39PM
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