More SunQ and her tomatoes

sunqueen57(9b SoCenFL)November 27, 2013

So here are my tomato stalks 10 days later. I took advice and spread them out a little. I can't wait until I can get some guys over here to help me move the shed to open up a 10x10 space in full sun.. They seem to be growing well except for the scrawny yellow gooseberries on the far right.

Now I can see why 5 gallon containers are so woefully inadequate and I'm looking into buying some larger fabric aeration containers. The cheapo cages I bought and the bamboo cane cages I made are never going to support these things. They just keep growing and growing and are loaded with many many little fruit. For my next trick I will build support posts with blocks, cement and long timbers. I'm going to cut the 2x10x10 into shorter pieces and try the FL weave for the spring FL growing season.

So this is my worry today; It has thus far been a very mild fall season.Nights have been around 60 and the days 80-85. Tonight it is supposed to dip down into the high 30s and low 30s with the wind chill. What do I do?

Do I leave them alone because they can take it?

Do I cover them? I have tarps and I also have heavy plastic sheeting. I have a total of 150 feet of C9 lights that I can use. I want to save a strand or two to wrap around my baby lettuce bed before that gets covered.

I know that frost is a no-brainer but there is no indication of that in the forecast so I'm mostly worried about rapidly dropping temps and severe wind warnings.Tomorrow we're back to 69/52 and Friday 76/56. We were supposed to head out to the RV tonight but I'd rather stay and take care of the tomatoes and leave in the morning.

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sunqueen57(9b SoCenFL)

Things are growing mighty quickly.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 12:33PM
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Nobody is replying, so here's what I would do:

Push them all back together and throw a cover over the lot of them, get some rope and secure it. Why take a chance in getting the lot destroyed?

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 2:59PM
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If it freezes 32-34 or so they will be toast. I have covered mine with a large old king flat sheet, DON"T let it touch the plants. Used clothes pins, rope and tent stakes. Don't use plastic or a tarp plants don't like plastic when it gets cold or hot. Plus the sheet lets in the sun and doesn't cause heat to build up during the day. I have used the sheet numerous times on veggies and fruit trees and it save them all but about once, it just got too cold. Hopefully it won't get that cold while you are gone.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 4:51PM
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sunqueen57(9b SoCenFL)

Oooops. Too late. I've been out there for hours wrapping them up. I stuck lots of 6' bamboo canes in the pots after I shoved the plants all together. They should keep the tarp from touching in most places. I strung 75' of C-9 xmas lights all around (making sure they didn't touch the leaves either). I had to go with a tarp and plastic sheet for now as I wasn't quite ready for the cold yet. I bought a few packages of plant protection blankets and snap together grommets. When I build the posts to use for the support weave I will top them off with 2x2s. This way, when it gets too cold I can just hook the protective cloth over the whole thing and string up some lights. A local farmer lady who works in the Home Depot told me to get the C-9s and use them under the covers. She said they throw heat and she hasn't lost any tomatoes in all of the years she's been growing them. She told me to use plastic and not let it touch the plants. I'd rather use the blankets. When the posts are up and ready, I'll be able to drape sun shade over it when it starts to get brutal down here. I'm also trying to figure out a way to keep out the eco-terrorists. I have some screen room panels from our old 10x10 shade canopy that I want to rig. The squirrels and birds think my yard is a buffet. Don't get me started on those dang white butterflies.

This cold front is moving through the area quickly. I'll be able to tear it all down tomorrow and we'll be back to the 80s by the weekend.

Thank you for all of the suggestions!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 6:54PM
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sunqueen57(9b SoCenFL)

They came through beautifully!

This post was edited by sunqueen57 on Fri, Nov 29, 13 at 0:50

    Bookmark   November 29, 2013 at 12:41AM
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Thanks for letting us know that they made it!


    Bookmark   November 29, 2013 at 8:00AM
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Need2SeeGreen(10 (SoCal))

Wow, those look great!!! I can practically taste them. Please feel free to post more photos, both of the toms and this set-up you're describing, I will be curious to see it.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 5:53PM
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sunqueen57(9b SoCenFL)

Thanks Need2SeeGreen. I'm going to change things around a little. I can't get that 350 pound shed moved so the operation is going over to the corner where I normally would grow corn and watermelon. The black plastic is coming up and getting replaced with landscape cloth. The watermelon spot is going to get smaller.I just put in a new bed. The cement block holes are filled with strawberry roots (plants). Hopefully it won't be as ugly when the plants fill out. I'm putting potatoes, garlic, escarole and celeriac in this weekend.

I was driving home the other day and my neighbor was throwing out a bunch of 5 gallon buckets filled with concrete and they have a large hollow pole standing up in the middle.I nabbed four and I'm going to figure out a way to use them to hang plastic, bird netting and even shade screen if I need it.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 6:36PM
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Can you believe as I was reading thru I felt a little tense? Glad to read that they came through. Hope you get a great harvest and lots of BLT's !

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 10:18PM
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msmorningsong(SW FL 10A)

SunQueen, love to get an update on your new garden plot. How's it all going now?

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 6:02AM
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sunqueen57(9b SoCenFL)

I promise I will post an update when I get further along with the project. I'm still in the phase of buying supplies and working things out on paper. I transferred a whole bunch of plants I had growing in plastic 5 gallon buckets into 10 gallon fabric pots and got them tied up using the FL weave. The plants were so full of tomatoes that they were ready to snap, so I got that fixed pretty quickly.

The holidays have kept me pretty busy and so has starting seeds that will eventually be planted in the new tomato bed.

I transferred over 50 seedlings into 9 oz cups the other day and have them under grow lights in the garage. I still have about 25- 30 that I need to plant again because they didn't germinated the first go-around. I'm a cheapskate and only put one seed in each pellet and give myself time to try again once or twice before I move them all outside. Once I get things going, I'll take some more pics.

I also found out the hard way that I'm going to have to figure out a way to keep snakes out of the new bed. My Jack Russells got into it with a black snake the other day and it wasn't pretty.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 12:46PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Thanks so much for keeping your story going! I'm delighted to hear you moved your tomatoes to the fabric pots and Florida weave. I think you will have a much better yield that way. Please report back on how you like that method.

It is so enjoyable to read of your adventures when I sit inside my snowbound house dreaming of the seeds I won't even be able to start for three or four months. But, I am not envious of that snake. I hope your dog has recovered.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 4:15PM
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maternut(7 west tn)

Wow SunQ, sitting here in west tn. with temps in the twenty's and looking at your garden. Makes a old man want to relocate to Florida. Must be so nice to garden the year around. I sure enjoy your posts.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 11:02AM
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sunqueen57(9b SoCenFL)

Thank you! I have a funny feeling that come July, I will be whimpering at my laptop screen while all of you post pictures and talk about your tomatoes. Mine will be shriveled up from the heat, humidity and daily torrential downpours. I'll be thinking about germinating seeds for my fall plants and missing the taste of fresh garden tomatoes.

I have learned so much about growing tomatoes from reading here and getting advice when I'm "stuck."

So far I'm winning the war against the little beasts that decimated my tomatoes the first year. I attached bird netting to 6' canes and have the plants completely surrounded. I pick them when they first start to blush and let them finish ripening in the kitchen window. I also spray BT to keep up with the caterpillars since I can't keep butterflies out of the yard. Some of my plants are now more than 9' tall. I may have to start cutting the tops off!

Now while you dream of warmer days, make plans to start seeds and draw your spring garden plans, here's a picture to give you something to look forward to soon. I grew San Marzano, Amish Paste and Black Plum this fall. I've started seeds to transfer outside in the next few weeks and will also try to grow cream and green sausage, orange banana and Jersey Giants. I'm hoping they'll do well enough to can them. I'm dying to try making marinara and salsa with a colorful assortment of tomatoes. Here are the San Marzanos outside now, getting ready to ripen. I can't wait to make a pot of sauce with them and some sweet basil from over in the raised bed.

All of you stay warm and safe!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 2:35PM
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