What I learned this year

serge94501August 12, 2013

1. Might Mato not so mighty - regular plants even from seed did much better. Why? Dunno.

2. Beautiful, thriving "volunteer" cherry tomato tasted terrible. All future surprise plants get whacked.

3. Put "DO NOT WATER" signs on the tomatoes so that the in-laws don't start a crack-fest, BER, etc.

4. Spinosad deals with those giant caterpillars quite well.

5. More distance between plants and more support is needed

6. Brandywine doesn't work for me for whatever reason.

7. Next year put in drip irrigation.

8. Straw to cover dirt would have been a good idea.

9. Tomato-tone helped make some healthy plants.

  1. This has been frustrating, but fun!
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sandshifter

I put a drip system in last year and again this year. This year I learned not to come running with a water hose when the leaves curl and look dry.(no BER or cracks). I learned last year not to bother with fertilizer. I start off with a good portion of compost mixed into my sandy soil. All in all I'm having a very good year...Favorites are Ha. pineapple and German Queen. Brandy Boy very productive.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 4:17PM
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lisound

lots of rain means adding lots of fertilizer. That was a very big lesson learned. For raised beds anyway. Be proactive and don't wait for the blight to hit.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 12:14PM
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fireduck(10a)

What I learned:
1. Container plants grow well with a fast-draining medium and regular fertigation.
2. Brandywine and Cherokee Purples are winners.
3. Hornworms are ugly. haha
3b. The more sun the better.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 9:26PM
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ffreidl

For convenience, every raised bed should have a couple of very tall attached supports in case you want to do some shading or rain protection.

Ok, I didn't learn that this year, but I still haven't done anything about it!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 2:28PM
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sheltieche

Need to start seeds 2 weeks earlier. Will attempt to add red plastic mulch in hopes it will give me another couple of weeks?
Will use more WOW
Nobody eats fresh tomatoes in the family, so need to revision varieties with more heavy accent on paste-cooking than cherry
One cherry plant of each kind is more than enough for me.
Daconil is good only for prevention of the problem
Add bacterial inoculants at transplant time and to growing seed medium.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 8:46PM
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sharonrossy

So far I've learned:
Start seedlings a couple weeks earlier. Just in case germination has to be redone, you'll have more established seedlings.
Keep the grow bags or containers nothing less than 20 gallons.
Only soilless mixture for the containers it worked really well.
Need more very very long stakes.
Will be more vigilant about pruning. Just became too much to keep up especially in containers.
Some varieties will be planted in ground.
I'm planting half the amount of tomatoes, one of each cherry for sure, the rest to be determined based on taste.
It's important to spray for disease and insects on a regular basis.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 8:19AM
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joeorganictomatoes(6A)

The most important thing I learned was:
: 1: How destructive using chemical fertilizers such as Miracle-Gro is to the soil. I challenge everyone to do your research and go organic. We need to be stewards of the earth wherever that earth may be
. 2: How much fun growing tomatoes is as a hobby. I have 16 different varieties planted and I get to eat the results!

3. This web-site where I can learn and share my experiences and what I have learned!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 12:18PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

definitely need longer stakes.
still leaning and working on long stakes!!

You get a 6ft stake, drive it 1 ft into ground . You end up with 5 ft. But your plants beat you and grow 7 ft tall. So you have to star with at least 8ft stake to end up with 7 ft. But HOW are you going to drive it down into the ground ???
STEP Ladder ??

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 6:22AM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Cage every tomato - no sprawling tomatoes

More space between plants

Don't start seeds so early

Don't plant so many

Plant more Wes, Cherokee Purple, Red Barn, Pale Perfect Purple, Siberian, Black and Brown Boar and others I have had success with and fewer new to me varieties

Clear area of copperhead hiding places like boards and wood blocks

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 10:20AM
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harveyhorses(7 Midlothian Va)

Don't use thin twine for Florida weave, Baling twine will be used for everything, very sad to find plants were too heavy and support has broken, I have two beds of tomato jungle.

Always have someone spot you when driving supports in from stepladder. ALWAYS. no serious injury, but dignity very bruised, and one tomato casualty.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 10:50AM
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sharonrossy

Stakes stakes and more stakes, and better plant control.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 9:45PM
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billyberue

For taller tomato stakes I use those 6' green metal 'U' posts. Drive one in the ground a foot leaving 5' above ground. Cut another 6' post in half.With 2 sets of nuts and bolts, I use a cordless drill and make my own holes to match about 4" apart and bolt it to the existing post. You should then have around 7'-6" height from the ground. I know that is more expensive, but they last forever, unlike wood stakes.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 8:57AM
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riceke(Z8GASnellville)

Good advice billyberue. Prior I was taping tomato stakes to the green metal posts that eventually fell over.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 9:07AM
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soraystud(5)

Spacing, spacing and spacing!

Rookie gardener here, was trying a modified SFG model and lost the battle with spacing between plants. Smarter selection of varieties would have helped too.

This has been a fun first season, will definitely try it again!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 9:48AM
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billyberue

I also use that popular 36" wide x 50' long roll of green vinyl garden fencing w/2" square pattern holes (Lowe's, Home Depot, etc.) for tomato support. I take a roll of 36" wide and start a foot above ground at the first 'U' post and roll it to the next 'U' post (about 6-8' apart) and finally to my last 'U' post while using cable ties to attach it to the 'U' posts then cutting the fence at the last 'U' post. I take that same roll and start 6" above the first (bottom) roll and attach it the same as I did on the first roll. That puts me about 7'-6" above ground, which is about the height of my 'U' posts. That 6" gap between rolls will allow you to work on both sides of the fencing.Then I 'weave' my toms thru the holes in a 'zig-zag' fashion and let them grow straight up. It has worked great over the years and I only need to buy cable ties as the posts and vinyl fence last forever. Everyone's garden dimensions are different. I used to have 3 rows @ 50' long so I did not need to cut it. You can also mix and match odd lengths of fence to obtain your desired size, just use the 'U' posts as anchors to start and stop.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 9:59AM
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fireduck(10a)

sorry...I am not understanding the "U" posts. Can anybody explain please?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 7:25PM
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fireduck(10a)

please explain U posts...not understanding what these are.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 7:26PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

I did not know either. Searched and got this:

Here is a link that might be useful: u posts

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 7:51PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Billy do you prune your tomatoes? Your idea sounds good but it seems like the tomato plants would be too heavy.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 7:58PM
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billyberue

The link to 'U' posts is correct. They are around 6 bucks at the big box places.
I only prune below the first fruit set and yes, certain (good) years they can get heavy and then I'll drive a wood stake mid-way between the metal posts and secure to the vinyl fence for a little extra support. I plant the toms 3' apart so their weight is better distributed.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 9:00AM
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MissMoss(5)

Billyberue, can you post a picture of your set up? I am having hard time picturing this in my head but it sounds very interesting.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 8:51AM
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kentstar(5b, NE Ohio)

Serge, I also found out that volunteer cherry tomatoes look awesome but taste horrid! lol Had a volunteer black cherry combined with who knows what grow nice, big, and beautiful and loaded with tomatoes but they tasted aweful.

I learned pick them when they blush and not necessarily when they fully ripen on the vine. Saves most of them from cracks, bugs, etc.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 10:18AM
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cooperbailey

I learned two crucial things this year from GWers.

1. you can pick tomatoes at breaker stage, you don't have to pick ripe tomatoes from the vine to have yummy tomatoes. AND that keep them out of the rats tummys. ( got second generation poison stations- gave up trapping the scum) war it is.
2. What those spotted leaves are and how to strip them, spray and limp along in order to harvest some tomatoes. Next year I start applying funcigide etc. at plant out
Thank you all.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 10:55AM
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westy1941(Boulder County, CO)

Learned it's WAY different growing tomatoes in Colorado than in Illinois - I used to get maybe 50 tomatoes out of 8 plants. Moved here in January and started planning - decided fifteen plants would take care of years of frustration waiting for a BLT until October. Well, I should open a farmstand. Lost one San Marzano to Curly Top Virus or TSWD - still not sure but pulled it right away. Also dealt with rampant BER (learned to never use fertilizer again!) on several of the others but the Big Boys never got it nor did the Super Fantastic or Jet Setters and those and the Big Boys went nuts - I can't keep up and don't know what to do with all these tomatoes. Super Fantastics are bigger than softballs. Still tying them up on 6 foot stakes as well as the cages. And yes, I will leave more room. Pruning was a huge success - took out at least a foot of the bottom branches on most. But the calcium thing was the biggest surprise - need more Epsom than what I used.

Westy

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 11:28PM
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mallory28

Unfortunately, I learned what a tomato fruitworm looks like. And what it does to tomatoes.
Also learned it is worth it to get the sturdy $9 heavy square folding cages, rather than the $2 flimsy round things.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 12:08AM
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mallory28

Unfortunately, I learned what a tomato fruitworm looks like. And what it does to tomatoes.
Also learned it is worth it to get the sturdy $9 heavy square folding cages, rather than the $2 flimsy round things.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 12:09AM
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mallory28

Unfortunately, I learned what a tomato fruitworm looks like. And what it does to tomatoes.
Also learned it is worth it to get the sturdy $9 heavy square folding cages, rather than the $2 flimsy round things.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 12:10AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

We have all hard the phrase "Vine Ripe Tomato" , in advertising and descriptions. So, naturally, the attitude is : DON'T PICK THEM UNTIL VINE RIPE.

After many years of gardening, I learned that the "Vine Ripe Tomato" is not the ONLY requirement for tomato taste. You pick them at color break stage and let them get red inside. The flavor and taste will not be affected. Besides , you can beat the birds, squirrels an rats in this game as WHO IS GOING TO GET IT FIRST.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 2:48AM
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robertz6

After twelve years of growing tomatoes, I am leaning toward one counterintutive lesson this year. Each year I use my own compost as mulch, and in most years I dig some into the ground as well.

The first four years of tomato growing were much more productive that the last four, even accounting for bad weather.

So I am looking at moving towards using more fertilizer, and minimizing my compost compost use. I suspect that some of these new herbicides may be the problem. Even if I avoid using them, there are neighbors on three sides. And my grass and leaves hopefully are safer than using someone else's bag on the curb.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 1:41PM
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jerseyjohn(z7NJ)

After several years of growing many heirlooms:

Learned that there is an easy way to end crop losses to squirrels, without any sacrifice of flavor:

Simply pick 'em off the plant as soon as you see, on any variety, a blush of color. Simply bring them in house or any other area where animals have no access.

In addition, learned here that regardless of whatever you previously heard.....do NOT place in areas like windows, where they can easily scar. Keep 'em in dark ! Nature is ripening as soon as the blush appears ! Once fully ripe, taste EQUALS what it would have been if fully ripened on the vine. Never would have thought so, but learned that it's true.

Squirrels around here normally only eat tomatoes with color. So this year, and for all future years in my garden, they will get used to eating something else we care less about !!!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 9:04PM
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Billyoscar(5 - 6)

The gardening season is drawing to a close for this year. We had an ample supply of fresh tomatoes as the plants responded favorably to my new idea of adding a portion of a half rotten log under the newly planted seedling. This allowed the roots of the plant to seek out the micronutrients that the original tree had accumulated during its lifetime of growing. The log, when it becomes rotten and decayed, turns spongy and like a sponge, it absorbs water, which in turn, is absorbed by the thirsty plant. Also less irrigation is required when the pieces of old, rotten log are added to the garden..

I believe the micronutrients in the log also supply the chemicals needed for the plant to react to (SAR) systemic acquired responsiveness. This is natureâÂÂs way of giving immunity to the host of pests and diseases that the plants are subjected to during their lifetime. No poison chemicals will be required as the SAR fills the capillaries of the plant with natureâÂÂs herbicides so the pests and bugs go elsewhere.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 9:56PM
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westy1941(Boulder County, CO)

Billyoscar: I've seen this kind of health in my garden in the woods in northern Minnesota (my home). Wonder where I could find half rotten logs or pieces of the forest floor here in Colorado. We have a trailer so we could go dig up chunks of forest floor if I just knew where to be able to go dig. I was so lucky to be living on forested land years ago.

Westy

    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 12:49AM
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cactusjoe1

1. Set the mouse traps early
2. You can grow productive tomatoes in containers as small as 1 gallon as long as they are drip irrigated.
3. Don't pick a fight with nature - you will lose.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 6:58PM
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