Five out of six Porterhouses underperforming?

xwagnerJuly 12, 2011


I started eight Burpee Porterhouse seeds in sterilized soil and empty pony-pack containers I'd rinsed in a mild bleach solution. They germinated and grew under a couple of pilfered shop lights from the garage, then I moved them outdoors during the day and stuck them under a 400 watt plant light to make up for the short daylight hours. So far, so good.

I planted them out in April (we're in San Diego). The BIG one, #0498, went in the dirt first, early enough so that it's main stem was snapped by one of our spring rains. The soil all six plants are planted in was empty for the past six months.

So what I'm looking at are five rather disappointing chest-high plants, but the SIXTH plant is performing incredibly well, it's topped out it's cage and is sprawling to the four compass points. It's loaded with heavy, gigantic tomatoes.

What happened?? I amended all the planting sites equally, all the plants have received the same amount of water -- I'm baffled that ONE out of six plants would explode while the other five plants are just kind of barely there. They have fruit, but not MASSIVE tomatoes (which the Burpee catalog touted). Anyone have any ideas???

I finally harvested the first couple of tomatoes, which were ok, but not what I expected. I wish I'd hedged my bets with some tomatoes I had grown in the past. Hindsight being 20/20, you know.

TIA (thanks in advance!)

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gflynn(z7 MD)

The plants in the first picture look under watered. How deep did you dig the hole for the plant? What type of soil do you have? Is it sandy?


    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 10:11PM
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Planting areas were excavated to ~2 feet. The holes were backfilled with half commercial composted manure and half occurring soil (amended and sifted over the years). I put in a handful of time-release fertilizer, some hair, some eggshells (the Jerry Anderson Tomatoes DVD approach) along with a length of galvanized pipe to water the bottom of the roots directly. I wonder if I was underwatering? I drenched the plants once a week. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 10:45PM
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The 1st thing I thought of when I viewed your photo 0496
was the white �stone� wall and the heat this generates back to the plants.
Cooking them during snlight hours. A tan, or less reflective color would be better
in my opinion. Then I would build 6" raised beds right along your walk-
way to improve drainage and aesthetics. Adding 4" of rich soil, planting,
then mulching the remaining two inches with straw. Because It looks like
the plants are heat stressed and the same on photo 0497.

While 0498 is away from reflective sunlight, would be an indication as to why that plant is growing crazy. I think the plant in 0498 is also getting more air movement, i.e. (cooling breezes).
Smartpots growbag growing (with a tomato cage) might be another transformation to keep in mind for next season as well. -Randy

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 1:54AM
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