New to Growing Toms

roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)June 29, 2012

First let me say "Thank you for all of the information on this forum."

By reading some of the old post, I've learned that I have already made some mistakes, but you have saved me from making others. In many ways I am a novice gardener. I know how to grow weeds quite well and roses. I have to learn everything else going forward.

I've only planted three tomato plants in a raised bed, but to my rosarians eye, they don't look too good.

I found out that my raised bed is too shallow and that I should have dug the soil under the bed down about a foot. However, I am gardening in glacier slurry and that would have taken about two days of hard labor. My bed is only 6" tall, but the glacier slurry does drain well.

I should have had the toms planted by Memorial Day, but I didn't get them in until June 12th. Ooops. I've only deep watered twice in the last two weeks. Are deep waterings preferred vs watering the top few inches ? My summer temps range from 95 to 105 for weeks at a time. Is that a problem ?

Thanks to one of the posts here, I didn't feed the plants this week as I had planned. Of course, they are not fruiting ... they just got planted.

What looks unhealthy to me is that the foliage seems to be a more of pale green than mid-green. Is that normal ? Should I be doing something ?

Do you remove damaged leaves ? Oh, and can the leaves get wet when watering if there is sufficient time for they to dry out before the day temps cool off ?

I know these are a lot of questions, but I did have fewer questions before I started reading this forum. Any guidance you can give me would be greatly appreciated.



PS ... I'll keep reading the posts here. The information I've found here is better than the books I've read for my research.

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My best to you. Effort counts!

Planting late isn't bad as long as the plants weren't stunted in small pots long. Warm weather can shock them, too. DO they look worse now that they're planted? Perhaps, they need a bit of shade in your hot weather climate. A bit of TLC & they'll recover from shock if that's what you're describing.

Deep watering 1x a week is usually sufficient unless plants wilt. Mulch will help prevent wilting. Your plants may have been quite root bound before planting and just don't have sufficient roots just yet to support growth. Soaker hoses water well and work great for me when I set a timer to turn off after 3 hours. You'll need to figure how long it takes for yours to soak the soil. Another idea is to bury a gallon milk jug with a few holes in it partway in the soil about 5" away from your plant. Water plant, fill jug. Can fill jug, move on to other garden plants, let drain & fill again as you go back to that 1st jug filled.

Feed plants: depends on what you have used. Plants in pots may have lighter green leaves for a few reasons one being nutrients & other being lighting.

I usually apply organic fertilizer (+ lime, bonemeal, crushed egg shells) at planting time and no more, so I can't give you good suggestions for feeding other than mulch with compost and cover compost with straw or dried grass clippings. Neither are fast feeders & won't burn plant if you also have applied another fertilizer.

Roses are heavy feeders, but tomatoes aren't. Be careful as too much feeding = big leafy plants with no fruit.
Sometimes, when I've kept plants in starter pots too long they become root bound & do flower earlier than I desire on smaller plants. Maybe your plants haven't yet flowered because they are too immature to flower.

What kind of damage is there to leaves?
Remove any leaves that might touch soil. Meaning 4" of stem with no leaves present. Those lower leaves won't produce your flowering shoots anyway. Removal of any other leaves above that first flower truss will reduce total number of fruit and yield. However, if damaged or diseased better to remove the leaves and save the plant.

Did you plant them deeply?

wet leaves = higher chance of disease, but if they dry off during the day should be okay
always better to water soil, not the leaves, so again soakers might be useful to you
sprinkler set too high can wreck havek as can a forceful blast of the garden hose
another option is to bury a bottomless large coffee can at least 6" away from stem to fill with water (directs the blast & helps you measure how much water you're applying

For next year - attempt to dig through that glatial rock using a pickaxe or pry bar for a drainage hole. It's not necessary to till it all up -- just layer materials upward to build a deep bed. We have a lot that same rock and have built up with lots of organic matter. Some gardens here have wood sides, but we also have layered up along the driveway and mound the beds pulling material from now permanent paths.

Many posts on GW about building good soil, lasagna gardening, sheet mulching, etc. Any organic matter applied after harvest (+ removal of all tomato foliage) will improve your chances of success next year. It may seem overwhelming to source enough material, but your family probably generates a lot of compost ingredients on a regular basis. When I set up additional paper trash baskets in our bathrooms & a step on trash can in kitchen for compost we increased our compost ingredients with minimal effort. Used facial tissue, toilet paper rolls, soiled paper napkins, cereal boxes, paper wrappings, junk mail, newspaper, etc. More info on the soil forum about what to gather & spread on garden space to improve soil.

Remember one step at a time.

Hope that helps,

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 1:42PM
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roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)


Thanks for the encouragement.

Some of the things I've learned about growing roses up here are transferable to growing other plants. When I first planted the tomatoes, they did look wilted. I knew the root system wasn't working yet and carrying moisture up to the top growth, so I did shade the plants by hanging a sheet over the fence and across the tomato cages. I do the same thing when I transplant a rose in triple digit, you aren't supposed to do that, but I can make it work ... Within a day, the wilting had passed. Whew !

Again, with roses, you never feed them until you see new top growth because that is the signal that the root system is working, so that's why I held off feeding the newly planted toms.

Re: the leaf damage. A couple of them look like water stress damage, which would have been caused by the plants being in the small containers for too long. A couple look like they have some insect damage, but I can't see any eggs on the bottom sides of the leaves... possibly katydids. I've heard them in the garden. There is one spot that looks like rust on roses. It's the color of the leaves that makes me sense that the plants are not getting any nutrients. The organic compost that I mixed in with the planting soil hasn't had time to break down to make nutrients available to the plants. I know that won't be an issue next year.

I am a gleaner at heart. I live in the mountains, so I often go out to the forest to get leaves from certain trees and forest duff to put into the rose beds. I also go to the utility company's chipping pile for wood chips to put over the leaves so that they will stay put and not blow away. Yes, any kind of wood will steal nitrogen, but that's easy to fix with some calcium nitrate in the spring. (I also age bags of chips over the winter, so they turn into beautiful stuff by spring.) I do understand not to use anything with a heavy nitrogen content on the toms.

I removed the bottom leaves of the plants before planting and planted deep because I had read that the bud eyes at the leaf nodes mutate to grow more roots, so I don't have any leaves touching the soil.

I generally don't put kitchen waste in the garden because I don't want to draw critters to the garden. We do have some nasty ones up here.

But I had not thought to use my paper goods for mulching. I usually have to recycle all of that stuff. I can see another mound coming

I am still not certain as to the "why" you don't wet the leaves. Is it the force of the water ? I know that when I spray down my roses when the triple digits hit for weeks every day, it helps them to be more heat tolerant because the plants absorb moisture through the leaves and the area around the rose is more climate is quite arid during the summer months. The daily spraying also totally keeps the roses free of spider mites. Is this one of those things that is NOT transferable ? I do know that if I wet them, it would be earlier in the day and I know they will be dry by the time the night temps start to cool things down.

btw ... this has been a very, very cool and unusual spring. We've only hit the 90s for a couple of days and then it has cooled off back down into the 70s & 80s. Generally once the temps hit the 90s, it never cools down until fall. We do have a 40 to 50 degree variance between night temps and day temps. Does that matter ?

Sorry this is so long.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 5:30PM
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