Tomatoes - mine are tiny, help

dogperson1975June 26, 2012

I've tried to have a garden for a while now, and I read up, but my tomaoes (and some of my other veggies) just don't want to grow right.

I really usually stick with Parks Whopper (because I really don't know what the best kind is), Roma and Grape tomatoes.

It doesn't seem to matter where I plant them, they never seem to grow very tall and the fruit isn't very good. My garden is raised with dirt/horse manure mix and has been there about 2 years. This year (for some unknown reason maybe because they were along a fence, idk) I planted them under a tree, so they get afternoon/evening sunlight only. I put root stimulator on them when I planted them. I water them, I fed them, they are still shrimpy. The irritating thing is that about 100yds away from my garden, my dad planted a whole row of peppers and tomatoes and they are big and beautiful.

I have taken care of the grasshoppers and other pest insects, so that cant be the issue. The leaves are all green, no spots, so no blight...i'm clueless!

So, if anyone has the time for some tomato/vegetable growing 101, I'd greatly appreciate it!!

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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

Light,soil or watering

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 5:35AM
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Hi there,

I am also a newbie at growing toms but have had some luck thanks to this forum. The first that jumped at me was the amount of sunlight your plants are getting.They really need at least about 6 hours of direct sunlight to grow well. How many hours do they get now?


    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 6:08AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Not all tomatoes grow to the same height. Red Robin may not reach 12", while for others, the sky's literally the limit.

Park's Whopper, in a couple of online tomato databases that note height, is marked as 36-48" (one of the height categories on that site) and 35-47" (translated from metric measures on a French site). Yes, it's an indeterminate, but a short one. [OTOH, Bonnie Plants sells a PW Improved, which they say will reach 8-10 feet; perhaps you've grown different PW varieties at different times?]

Tomato taste is personal. You like it or you don't. It's good, it's bad, or it's okay. Some prefer heirlooms, others are happy with Burpee's latest. A person's preference may be for sweet tomatoes or classic tomato taste, or both. I personally pan the Whopper, but some think it's wonderful.

So chances are you took good care of your PWs -- but you'll never like them and should try a new variety next year.

You can choose from the varieties at local nurseries and big-box stores. You can ask advice of someone at a nursery (probably much better advice than at a big-box store). Keep in mind that people who sell tomato plants know they're selling to two types of people: those who want a particular variety they've heard of, and those who are open to change. So a lot of what you'll find are the names people have heard of for years: often from Burpee's catalog or Gurney's or Jung's or Shumway's.

Or you can read up here and buy your own seeds. A good place to buy from might be Tomato Growers Supply; they have a wide variety of tomatoes, from heirlooms to popular hybrids to Florida-heat types. They'll send you a catalog ("REQUEST CATALOG" on the left) or you can buy online.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 1:38PM
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Not all tomatoes grow to the same height. Red Robin may not reach 12", while for others, the sky's literally the limit

Good advice all around, though I doubt the sky is "literally" the limit :-)


    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 2:35PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

The sky's the limit in the sense that in optimum conditions, the estimated height range goes out the window.


I'm 5'2" and prone to vertigo at inconvenient times, particularly when looking up. It's a good idea to hang onto the solid cattle-panel trellis with one hand while I pick tomatoes (pea pods, cucumbers, mini gourds) from above my head with the other hand.

When I read about or see photos of someone's 15' or 20' indeterminate tomato growing up the side of the house or across the shed roof ... well, those tomatoes might as well be in the sky, as I'd never be able to reach them.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 3:18PM
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Just funning you a bit, MTO, having just heard someone say "I am literally blown away" (and they were still right in front of me).

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 3:58PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Rather than focus on the variety, which usually has little to do with the chronic problems you describe, focus on the soil you are gardening in.

Something there is clearly out of whack - nutrient levels, moisture retention or most likely the soil pH. You can begin with having a soil test done at your local county ag extension office for about $10-15. They will advise on what all needs to be done to fix your soil so it will grow things.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 4:24PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

gary, I was funning you back. I wanted to add more metaphors, but couldn't think of any.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 9:37PM
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