basic Rutgers container tomato plant questions

nopeda123March 20, 2013

I'd like to grow some Rutgers and can only grow in containers and will only be able to have about 8 of them. Since I've seen some people recommend trimming tomato plants down to one vine while others suggest never trimming any at all I was thinking about planting two plants asap, one with two vines and one with three. Then in about another few weeks or a month plant two more, one with four vines and maybe one with five to get a feel for it. Does anyone have any thoughts about that?

Also I was planning to start pairs of them about 3-4 weeks apart in the hopes of having tomatoes around for a higher percentage of the year, but one person told me it wouldn't matter with Rutgers because all the tomatoes come in at the same time regardless of when they're planted. That doesn't sound right though since my brother has them for a high percentage of the summer, though he isn't confined like I am and has lots of plants in the ground instead of just a few in containers. I'd be grateful for any thoughts about all that too...


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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

I also grow in containers and am growing a Rutgers this year. I like sweet tomatoes. Container size is a factor. Basically the larger container, the larger the harvest. Certainly nothing less than 5 gal, and 10-15 is best. That's not to say you can't get tomatoes in the smaller container, just generally less. I don't prune my plants. Some people do. When I only had a few plants and a very short growing season, plus lots of time on my hands, I used to prune and sucker them to force the few blossoms I got. These days I have a more normal 4-5 month season, and less time on my hands, so I just leave them alone and they seem to do just fine.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 5:07PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Hi, nopeda123!

There are several versions of Rutgers. I don't know if any are single-crop or double-crop; the one I've grown had continuous production. It sounds like you're starting seeds: if purchased at a store, what brand are they? If purchased from a catalog or seed-seller, who did you buy them from? What is the exact variety name on the packet? Does the packet say "Indeterminate," "Determinate," or "Semi-determinate"?

As far as I'm concerned, the only reason to prune a tomato (i.e. limit its yield) is lack of space and/or size of container and/or the limitations of your support system. So how large (in gallons ... or height and width ... or whatever) are the containers you'll be growing them in? How do you plan to support or cage them, and how wide is the space they'll be able to expand into?

Do you have the containers already, and if so, how large are they?

Last question: what's your USDA zone -- or failing that, where do you live? If you post it in your GW account (the "Garden Zone" box on the "Edit Your Membership Details" page), we won't have to keep asking you. 8-D Just enter your zip code here to find your zone:

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 5:20PM
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Hi nopeda123
I have been growing tomatoes in 18 gal containers for over 10 years, Rutgers are good determinate tomatoes for containers and if you plant a new one every two weeks they will bear at staggered pace and give you tomatoes for a long time. There is no need to trim tomatoes. I start two seeds together and grow them out that way and have all I can eat and give away.
Bama73 zone 7a

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 7:56PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

As missing said above there are both determinate AND indeterminate varieties of Rutgers available as seed. I grow both every year. We need to know which variety you have to answer your question correctly.

As to the pruning to a various number of stems (assuming the plant develops them), that is your choice. Pruning is strictly optional, not required for any reason, and does reduce production. But I will point out that if the plants you have are the determinate variety you do not prune determinates, only indeterminates, or you may get no tomatoes.

So while I agree with the others and never prune my plants regardless of the type, it's not as if someone will come to arrest you if you choose to. :)


    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 9:17PM
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The "first" ones I hope to plant I haven't gotten yet. I plan to buy some plants when they come in hopefully over the weekend. Meanwhile I started germinating some seeds for the next batch on Sunday and they started coming up today. They are from Ferry-Morse and the bag says they're indeterminate. I'm in the Atlanta, GA area.

Last year I got a real late start and is the first year I grew tomatoes. They were going wild with vines and had small tomatoes, so I trimmed them down. The tomatoes still seemed small so I trimmed out some pretty large vines, but they still had about six or more vines at the end of it all. The tomatoes got noticably larger though, so that's what is shaping my thinking so far. They were Better Boys, which I guess are less determinate than an indeterminate Rutgers? But even if so, by how much?

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 4:50PM
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