Tumbling Tom not doing anything

jennieboyer(8)May 12, 2013


Here is a picture of one of four Tumbling Tom's that I put in a hanging basket. All four of them are like this. They have been in soil for 5 weeks and are doing NOTHING. Except, this one put on one little tomato. I'm surprised, given the size/condition of the plant. Never done hanging baskets before, so wonder if it's something about them they don't like.

I was looking forward to the hanging baskets because these cascade, but will move them to buckets if they will do better. They are in Miracle Grow potting soil.

Any thoughts welcome!

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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Yeah, that's definitely a problem. Although the ground/soil "looks" good, it needs fertilizer. Your plant shows phosphorus deficency being purple. It's also leggy. How much sun? Are those containers? You might be able to revive that one, but I'd start over. Mix a good handful of a CRF into the top of the soil and use a liquid fertilizer like MG, when you water.....1/4 strength at every watering. Did you lime your mix?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 10:46AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Hi, jennieboyer. I agree with edweather that fertilizer is a good idea, but I have some other questions.

They are in Miracle Grow potting soil

Potting soil or potting mix? Is it the kind with "moisture control"?

If you stick your fingers a couple of inches into the potting soil, is it dry? How often and how much do you water?

What's the temperature been lately? How much sun do the plants get?

I notice that the plant with the fruit lacks a growing point (the area at the top of the stem where the stem continues growing), and that there is a small plant a few inches away.

Do you know what happened to the growing point?

Did you put two plants in this basket, or could the small plant be coming up from a trench-planted stem? [Trench-planting is often done with leggy plants; the stem is placed horizontally under ground a few inches, and the top is curved up to vertical.]

Are you pruning suckers?

Have you fertilized?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 11:05AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

You have some very sick tomatoes. They should be doing much better than that.

Fertilizer, water, cold temps?

I would go buy some more and start over.

This is what ours usually look like, this year I still need to get them transplanted!


    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 1:56PM
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Let me try to answer all the questions :-)

They are in full sun in hanging baskets - they are getting 8+ hours of sun a day.

What is CRF? I have used MG liquid fertilizer, but not super recently. I did not lime the mix.

I meant Miracle Grow potting mix. Not moisture control.

The soil is damp - it has not dried out. We've gotten a bunch of rain and it's never dried out.

It has been in the 70s during the day and upper 50s or lower 60s at night.

I have no idea what happened to the growing point - I was floored to see a tomato at all! The other smaller plant is a second one that I stuck in there - when I transplanted, it was just a little "extra" one, so I stuck them both in the same container.

I have not pruned anything.

Would be happy to start over, but can't find them locally anywhere :-( May just need to call this one a failure this year.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 4:16PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Just to clarify it isn't the Miracle Grow Garden Soil, right?

With the growing tip gone - either broken off or snipped off by birds ow whatever, this plant isn't going anywhere. It has "terminated", sorry. Replace it or convert the basket to flowers.

If you can't find a replacement and if you want to try an experiment, either lay it over and cover with soil or pull up the plant and bury the whole plant horizontally on its side in a trench. With luck new roots and new growth will develop all along the buried stem.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 4:39PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

jennieboyer, CRF is controlled-release fertilizer.

Tumbling Tom is a determinate, so it doesn't grow like indeterminates: hence the significance of the loss of the growing point.

I suggest you add a layer of mulch to keep the soil moisture more consistent (that will be an issue if/when the rain stops).

[If it makes you feel any better, my Tumbling Tom didn't look like jrslick's either -- though last year was a Late Blight year. I thought they tasted better than the average cherry.]

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 5:52PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Also since you say hanging baskets, I can't imagine that they are very large. How much mix do the baskets hold? They might actually be getting too hot if the baskets are fairly small.

Don't give up. You're in Z8. If you can't find any seedlings, get a pack of seeds and start again. In 3 weeks you'll have seedlings replanted.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 9:27PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)


From my experience for growing these Tumbling Toms for the past 4 years, I can tell you that they act more like indeterminates than determinates. They keep growing, putting out suckers, blooming and producing. They are pretty amazing little tomatoes. By now the OP tomatoes should have at least started putting out some suckers, but that isn't happening.

There are a couple more clue in your last post that I have some thoughts on. Also, I have a couple more questions.

1) Was the potting mix new or was it old, left over from last year. Did you buy it very early in the season from a store? They may have had old potting mix in stock.

2) It appears your baskets are fairly large, maybe wire ones with moss on the outside with soil in the middle?

3) How much rain are we talking about in the last few weeks?

4) Did you buy or did you raise these seedlings?

5) How did the plants look when you bought them?

Here are my thoughts. Hanging baskets leach out nutrients very fast. If you have been having lots of rain, then maybe all the usable nutrients went right out of the soil down the drain! If you used old potting mix (or the potting mix was old from the store) then the CRF (control release fertilizer) is all used up. I am telling you this out of experience. Also, maybe the plants were way stressed before you bought them. The single tomato on the one plant is a clue for that.

I have attached a link to a posting on my website to show you the difference 10 days can make with these plants. They grow very fast and should have doubled to tripled in size since you planted them.

I tell my customers to fertilize these plants every 2 to 3 weeks depending on the weather and water usage. The hotter and drier, then they are probably watering more and they need to fertilize more often. The cooler weather patterns with normal watering, then every 3 weeks is better.


Here is a link that might be useful: 10 day difference in growing tumbling toms

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 1:33AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

jrslick, I -- missingtheobvious aka mto -- am not the OP, so I cannot answer your questions. The OP is jennieboyer. Hopefully she will realize you were actually asking her.

I grew one Tumbling Tom once -- last year -- and it was half-eaten by Late Blight, so that its preferred growing pattern was anybody's guess -- though I definitely don't remember trusses as large as in your photo. **sigh**

Since I almost never grow dets, my understanding of them is pretty much limited to don't-ever-prune-them! and they-don't-grow-like-indets and those-Romas-weren't-like-normal-tomatoes and there-are-also-semi-dets-and-I-don't-understand-them-either. 8-)

[I'm just here on this thread because I noticed some things in the OP's photo and figured I could save time by asking her for information. My background is in public libraries, where we ask a ton of questions so we're sure we know exactly what you're looking for and don't give you info you're not looking for.]

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 3:05AM
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Hi all,

Let me see if I can answer the additional questions....

The soil was not old (at least I don't think so) - bought it this year and it wasn't really early in the season.

Yes - the baskets are wire, then have a liner, then the soil.

We are talking about rain at least twice a week for a few weeks. When it has been raining, it's been raining almost all day. Not downpours all day, but good, drenching rain. It looks like it's been about 6 inches over the last four weeks.

I bought these plants as seedlings from a friend who grew them for me. Actually, I bought her the seeds and she grew the plants. She was going to keep any extras and sell them herself. Out of a packet of 10, only 4 came up. They never did well from the beginning and were stressed when I got them.

I got almost 50 other tomato plants from her, and all the others are doing very well. Maybe we just had a bad packet of seeds.

I was thinking about trying again from seed, but the reason I had her grow them for me is that I have horrible success with tomatoes from seed. I can do peppers just fine, but tomatoes get very leggy very quick, no matter what I do. I do have a grow light, I just can't seem to tomatoes. Could I direct seed them in my zone (8)? I also hate paying for the packet and shipping when there are so many varieties available locally. But, not any cascading (or small patio) ones. I guess that's what we all deal with, huh? Just part of doing what we do.

If I do get seeds, I probably will get something like Patio Princess - they are more seeds per pack for a lower price...

Thanks for all the thoughts so far!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 7:27AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)


Why don't you do this, start with giving them some liquid fertilizer (Miracle Grow would work). I would suggest you do this every week until you start to see them green up more.

6 inches in 4 weeks would really wash the nutrients out of the soil.

You could have got some bad seeds maybe, but they did grow to this point.

MTO: I know you weren't the original poster, I forgot to write in the OP name when I started the questions for her.

I do prune some of my determinates, just the bottom few suckers to get them up off the ground.

Good Luck!


    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 8:06AM
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