Return to the Oklahoma Gardening Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
OK tomato advice sought

Posted by nated central OK (My Page) on
Thu, Sep 20, 12 at 15:27

Howdy,
My tomatoes plants didn't do well for a variety reasons i've already discovered, and logged in my garden journal. I planted 25 plants with the expectation of freezing the harvest; i didn't put up anything. I planted the following varieties, Ozark Pink, Speckled Roman, Porter, and Atkinson; i didn't plant anything if it didn't say it would grow in hot and humid conditions. What varieties did you plant this year? how did they do this year? what varieties have you grown here, that have done well and you would plant again?? i'd rather listen to experience than another opinion. I'd rather ask my questions that i think are stupid here than have another dismal vegetable season. thanks for your help.


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: OK tomato advice sought

This thread would be a good place to start. Dawn plants a zillion (oops, trillion is the word), tomatoes and breaks them out in this thread. This is not a list for every year, but for this year.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato


 o
RE: OK tomato advice sought

Nated, Welcome to the forum. There are no stupid questions.

I'll gladly list some tomato varieties that I have found, based on many years of experience, generally produce well most years. There's never any guarantee that a specific variety will produce well because weather has a big say in how well tomatoes do in any given year. Still, there are varieties that tolerate our weather conditions better than others.

SLICERS:

Big Beef
Beefmaster
Goliath
Early Girl or Bush Early Girl
Celebrity
Better Bush
Better Boy
Champion or Bush Champion
Fantastic or Super Fantastic
Jaune Flammee
Fourth of July
Gary 'O Sena
JD's Special C-Tex
Brandy Boy
True Black Brandywine
Indian Stripe or Cherokee Purple
Dr. Wyche's Yellow or Jubilee
Traveler 76 or Burgundy Traveler
Jaune Flammee
Orange Minsk
Black From Tula or Carbon
Sioux

CHERRY/PLUM/CURRANT:

Sun Gold or Sun Sugar
Black Cherry
Sweet Million
Ildi
Black Plum
Coyote
Snow White
Tess' Land Race Currant
Cherry Falls
Terenzo
Lizzano

PASTE TYPES For Canning, Cooking, Dehydrating:

Heidi
San Marzano Redorta
Rutgers
Speckled Roman
Schiavone Italian Paste
Viva Italia

2012's Producers: There are very few varieties on my grow list in the old thread that Carol linked that did not produce well. At our house, we had the best tomato year we've had in quite some time. It is hard to explain just how high the yields were without it sounding like I am bragging. We had all the tomatoes we wanted to eat fresh, gave away plenty of them, and then I canned about 300 jars of tomato products, including Annie's Salsa, Catsup, Chili Base, Pasta Sauce, Pizza Sauce, and just plain old canned tomatoes. I also put up about 60 quarts of tomatoes in the three freezers, including whole frozen tomatoes in gallon ziplock freezer bags for winter-time cooking, freezer boxes of tomato sauce to use in soups and stews, freezer bags of tomato puree in the amount needed to make more batches of Annie's Salsa, regular sun-dried tomatoes in several formulations--little bite-sized ones to eat by the handful as snacks and in salads, larger ones that were wine-marinated and then sprinkled with spices before dehydrating to use as sun-dried tomatoes in recipes, and regular sliced tomatoes partially dehydrated and frozen to use in BLT sandwiches. Theoretically, I have at least 2 full years of tomato products preserved, so I don't have to plant any tomatoes next year for preserving, but I'll do it anyway.

Here's a list of the best producers of 2012:

Small Tomatos: Rambling Gold Stripe, Tumbling Tom Red, Tumbling Tom Yellow, Pear Drops, Cherry Falls, Terrenzo, Lizano, Black Cherry, SunGold, Ildi, Jaune Flammee' and Fourth of July.

Slicers/Beefsteaks: Totem, Early Girl, Phoenix, Pruden's Purple, Burgundy Traveler, Traveler 76, Stump of the World, Brandy Boy, Orange Minsk, Black From Tula, Black Krim, Cherokee Purple, Cherokee Chocolate, Carbon, Black and Brown Boar, Dr. Wyche's Yellow, Greek Rose, True Black Brandywine, Fantastic, Mystery Black, Merced, Red Beefsteak, Big Beef, Better Boy, Big Boy, Jaune Flammee, Spudakee Purple, and Stump of the World.

Paste Types: Black Plum, Heidi, Rutgers, Schiavone Italian Paste, Principe Borghese, Speckled Roman and San Marzano Redorta.

For what it is worth, while variety selection is important, I base my selections more on flavor than just on productivity. There are some tomatoes that are amazingly productive but that have only average flavor--Super Boy is an example of one. If all I wanted was to produce a lot of tomatoes, I could just plant Super Boy and Fourth of July and we've have oodles of tomatoes. However, I am very picky about flavor so that's what I focus on more than on the yield per plant.

The real secret to getting a great harvest in our very difficult weather is to plant as early as you possibly can in order to get your plants to flower and set fruit before the temperature starts hitting the range where fruit set more or less ceases to occur. I push the limits as hard as I can, planting as early as I can without risking losing all the plants to a frost or freeze. This year I planted my in-ground plants about a month earlier than usual because I felt like it was going to be a hot summer and I needed to help those plants beat the heat. For the last 6 or 7 years, we have harvested our first tomatoes before the end of April, achieving this goal by planting a few early plants in containers in February that can be carried indoors if cold weather threatens. We're usually harvesting from our in-ground plants by the end of May, and dealing with our big canning harvest beginning sometime in June. I have very high expectations and am not happy when the tomatoes do not produce as well as expected or as early as expected. That partially explains my huge grow lists. By growing a wide variety of plants, there will be some varieties in every year that do produce well.

One thing to understand about the heat is that while hot temperatures affect fruit suit, it is a bigger issue when you have high temperatures/high humidity than it is when you have high temperatures/low humidity. I get incredible fruit set from a handful of varieties in a drought year, with them setting fruit even when the temperatures are over 100 degrees. One year it was Big Boy and Better Boy that bloomed and set fruit like mad in August when are high temps were running between 105-112, but this year it was Phoenix F-1 that impressed me. I checked that plant every day in August to see if the flowers were setting fruit, and they were. Phoenix set fruit when our temperatures were in the 108-112 degree range. That is rare. In both of the instances I cited, our relative humidity was very low--often in the teens for a portion of each day, and sometimes in single digits. I will not get that high fruit set in a wet, hot summer with higher humidity. Merced is another one that set fruit well in August, but I hate to even mention it because it is very hard to find.


Hope this helps,

Dawn


 o
RE: OK tomato advice sought

Like Dawn said, timing is critical. Like her, I planted my tomatoes early this year, the first 6 varieties in Jan on the kitchen table, then into the garden in midMarch. Also planted the early Feb plants in mid-to late March, holding back enough of each variety to replace if I lost the first ones to frost. I am north of Dawn, but I started picking tomatoes in late May and had many, many by June and July. With no rain in August, most of the plants shut down and I quit watering. The big tomatoes that put on in August were Big Mama, a large pear paste type, and Early Girl. The cherry that produced best was Sungold that kept setting all summer, so I watered it all summer.


 o
Tomato watering set up

please see attachment, to water my tomatoes i'm using 8 inch air duct pipe cut in 8 inch lengths and placed around the plant. I'd like to see pictures of how you plant your tomatoes. thanks,


 o
RE: OK tomato advice sought

I generally don't do photos because I am technologically challenged and technological stuff blows up when I attempt it, so I don't have any photos of tomato plants in my garden. I just never take any photos.

I grow my tomato plants in cages and also grow a few dozen in containers, with the plants heavily mulched with old hay, grass clippings, and chopped/shredded autumn leaves as mulch. I water with drip irrigation lines, specifically T-tape that is placed on the ground underneath the mulch. I try to keep weeds out of the beds because they compete with the plants for moisture, though sometimes I lose the battle when it gets too hot in July to weed.

As a rule I do not use any synthetic pesticides or fungicides and prefer organic fertilizers, though upon occasion I will use Miracle Grow to perk up struggling plants in a hurry. Truly, though, I prefer to heavily amend the soil with organic matter and organic fertilizers like Tomato-Tone, and then let the soil feed the plants. My favorite water-soluable organic fertilizers are liquid fish emulsion and liquid seaweed. Neptune's Harvest combines fish emulsion and liquid seaweed in one bottle. If you're in a rural area, the use of liquid fish tends to attract raccoons who go nuts looking for the fish they are smelling.

Because I plant an insane number of plants every year, I place them far too closely together so even if I did have photos, they'd be a poor example for you to follow. : )

I am going to plant fewer tomato plants next year since there's a 2-year supply of preserved ones. With fewer plants, maybe I'll follow the proper spacing rules. If I do, that will be a first.

And, for the record, I never pinch out suckers or prune off healthy foliage. The leaves are the 'factory' that produce the tomatoes. The more you remove the leaves, the fewer fruit you'll get because you have less leaf area conducting photosynthesis. However, you'll get larger fruit, if you can keep them from sunburning in the hot Oklahoma sun. So, if you're reading any 'how to grow tomato' books that recommend severe pruning or pinching, throw those books in the trash, and go online to an online bookseller or the website of Texas Gardener Press and order Dr. Bill Adams' wonderful new book titled "The Texas Tomato Lovers Handbook" (by Dr. William D Adams, Texas A&M Univ. Press, 2011). It is the best book I've ever seen on growing tomatoes in this part of the country, and everything he said in it is as true for Oklahoma as it is for Texas. I simply love this book . The only thing wrong with it is that he wrote it 30 years too late for me, and I had to learn so much of what he says the hard way--by experience.

My son did take and post a photo of my tomato harvest for me one day in June or July. If I can find that thread, I'll link it below. Just click on the link in the first post of the thread to see that day's harvest. For the rest of that month, I had big harvests pretty much every day and canned and dehydrated tomatoes virtually nonstop. The reason the main harvest was early in June instead of in July was because I planted 4-5 weeks before my recommended planting date for this area. I love the photo simply because it shows many of the different sizes, shapes and colors of some of the tomatoes we grow here at our house. I believe in the photo there are reds, pinks, oranges, yellows, purples and blacks. There are some big green ones, but they matured to black or pink. I generally don't grow many green-when-ripe types.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Link With Photo Of June 3rd Harvest


 o
RE: OK tomato advice sought

I generally don't do photos because I am technologically challenged and technological stuff blows up when I attempt it, so I don't have any photos of tomato plants in my garden. I just never take any photos.

I grow my tomato plants in cages and also grow a few dozen in containers, with the plants heavily mulched with old hay, grass clippings, and chopped/shredded autumn leaves as mulch. I water with drip irrigation lines, specifically T-tape that is placed on the ground underneath the mulch. I try to keep weeds out of the beds because they compete with the plants for moisture, though sometimes I lose the battle when it gets too hot in July to weed.

As a rule I do not use any synthetic pesticides or fungicides and prefer organic fertilizers, though upon occasion I will use Miracle Grow to perk up struggling plants in a hurry. Truly, though, I prefer to heavily amend the soil with organic matter and organic fertilizers like Tomato-Tone, and then let the soil feed the plants. My favorite water-soluable organic fertilizers are liquid fish emulsion and liquid seaweed. Neptune's Harvest combines fish emulsion and liquid seaweed in one bottle. If you're in a rural area, the use of liquid fish tends to attract raccoons who go nuts looking for the fish they are smelling.

Because I plant an insane number of plants every year, I place them far too closely together so even if I did have photos, they'd be a poor example for you to follow. : )

I am going to plant fewer tomato plants next year since there's a 2-year supply of preserved ones. With fewer plants, maybe I'll follow the proper spacing rules. If I do, that will be a first.

And, for the record, I never pinch out suckers or prune off healthy foliage. The leaves are the 'factory' that produce the tomatoes. The more you remove the leaves, the fewer fruit you'll get because you have less leaf area conducting photosynthesis. However, you'll get larger fruit, if you can keep them from sunburning in the hot Oklahoma sun. So, if you're reading any 'how to grow tomato' books that recommend severe pruning or pinching, throw those books in the trash, and go online to an online bookseller or the website of Texas Gardener Press and order Dr. Bill Adams' wonderful new book titled "The Texas Tomato Lovers Handbook" (by Dr. William D Adams, Texas A&M Univ. Press, 2011). It is the best book I've ever seen on growing tomatoes in this part of the country, and everything he said in it is as true for Oklahoma as it is for Texas. I simply love this book . The only thing wrong with it is that he wrote it 30 years too late for me, and I had to learn so much of what he says the hard way--by experience.

My son did take and post a photo of my tomato harvest for me one day in June or July. If I can find that thread, I'll link it below. Just click on the link in the first post of the thread to see that day's harvest. For the rest of that month, I had big harvests pretty much every day and canned and dehydrated tomatoes virtually nonstop. The reason the main harvest was early in June instead of in July was because I planted 4-5 weeks before my recommended planting date for this area. I love the photo simply because it shows many of the different sizes, shapes and colors of some of the tomatoes we grow here at our house. I believe in the photo there are reds, pinks, oranges, yellows, purples and blacks. There are some big green ones, but they matured to black or pink. I generally don't grow many green-when-ripe types.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Link With Photo Of June 3rd Harvest


 o
RE: OK tomato advice sought

Nated, I water with a 1/2" PVC pipe with 1/16" holes in it.
I plant my pole beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and along side a trellis.
Photobucket

Photobucket

Larry


 o
RE: OK tomato advice sought

Just one very small contribution to this thread. Here where we generally have high humidity, Black Plum was a bust. It set fruit just fine. But they rotted on the vine, without fail. I had grown Black Plum in NJ, before coming to Oklahoma, and it produced very well, though no on in my family liked the flavor of them. Still, because of the high production, I thought I'd try them here, for cooking, and that didn't work out.

Great pictures Larry!
Nated, welcome to the forum. There are no stupid questions.

George
Tahlequah, OK


 o
RE: OK tomato advice sought

bump - it's time to ask ya'll for more expert advice.


 o
RE: OK tomato advice sought

Hi Oklahoma friends:

For more than a year, I've been reading posts, asking questions, and making notes. I've searched for earlier posts on various topics. I used Excel to make a master list of seeds.

If I had any sense at all, reviewing that list should have caused me to push the hold button. Instead, I ordered more seeds....

I rounded up hundreds of square Kord pots and carrying trays, washed them with a diluted bleach solution, put them in the sun to dry. Opened a new bale of Pro-Mix. Anticipation!

I started sowing seeds for cool weather crops (no peas yet). It's time to start tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, herbs. I need to decide what varieties to plant, but before I can do that, I need to decide or estimate how many plants to grow and/or start.

How do you make these decisions? Do you decide how many tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, melons, and row feet of various beans and peas you'll grow before you start? Do you sow seed for most everything ASAP / now?

I live on 6 acres and have two gardens - this can be a blessing or a curse. The "big garden" (60' x 60') is about 400' from the house - I grow blueberries, figs, strawberries up there, and crops that don't require daily monitoring (garlic, onions, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, perennials). We have two bee hives up there. The new kitchen garden has eight 12' x 4' raised beds. This year, I'm adding six to eight 16' x 4' raised beds with cattle panels and a few smaller beds. One bee hive, maybe two. My plan is similar to what Chandra did a couple of years ago.

This year, I expect to plant more of everything than ever before, so I'm on uncharted seas. I'm an optimist and a poor estimator. I usually plant more than I have room for so have to shoehorn plants into new homes (that's the curse of a big garden).

I don't want to plant so much that I'm burned out by July.

Any advice? Pearls of wisdom? Lessons in self discipline?

Take care,
Pam


 o
RE: OK tomato advice sought

Pam, coming here to ask that question is like going to the pub to get help for a drinking problem. Doesn't everyone want to plant everything?

I always start too many plants in the Spring, but by the time the heat sets in I lose interest in starting new plants so I usually have a good Spring and Summer garden, then maybe a few salad things in the Fall. I always think that it is the year I will do better, but I never seem to.

If I had your space, I would have to live in the garden to keep up in Spring, then live in the kitchen all Summer and Fall to preserve it all.

I start at least twice as many tomato plants as I think I will put in my garden, and usually more than that. It isn't hard to find a home for them if I have left overs. I first consider how much space I have for tomatoes, then how many cages or supports I have, how many we can eat fresh, and how many I am willing to process. What I usually fail to calculate is how many we will really need.

Oklahoma gardening is a crap-shoot. In 2010, I had so many tomatoes that I could barely keep up with them. It seemed like each time I went outside, I came back with a bag of tomatoes, squash, peppers or something. I still have canned goods that I did that year, and I went through all of them today to see how I could use them in meals. It looks like we need to eat a lot of apple butter. LOL I need the space.

I'm not sure I canned one thing from the garden in 2011 but did make a few jars of jelly in the Fall. I froze a few things but not a lot.

In 2012 it was crazy with everything except tomatoes. I had good fruit set, we ate a lot of tomatoes, made 61 pints of salsa, and I only got about 6 weeks of good production, then they just looked terrible. Most everything else was very productive and we canned, froze, dehydrated, pickled and ate. It was a busy, busy time.

So in Oklahoma trying to decide how much you need to plant is like saying, "How much of this can I eat before I get fat?"


 o
RE: OK tomato advice sought

Pam, I'm inclined to agree with Carol that you've come to the wrong place. Surely you know that we'll just tell you to plant everything that you can shoehorn into the ground....and then will encourage you to plant some of your leftover plants into containers...and then to make more beds. There is no self-discipline here at my house, but of course, I can not speak for anyone else here except to say that a lot of us grow a whole lot of stuff!

I figure out how many plants of each vegetable I have room to plant, than I start seeds for at least twice that many. That gives me backup plants in case a worst-case-scenario hard freeze, snow storm, hail storm or wind storm hits after everything is in the ground. I have no trouble giving away the extra plants. I give away some of them locally and take the rest to the OK Forum's Spring Fling every April.

I try to can things on a two or three-year rotation. In a good tomato year, I might can, freeze or dry enough to last 2 or 3 years. Then, the year after that I plant fewer tomatoes since I need less for canning, and instead I use that space for something else like sweet corn or pickling cucumbers. You never know when you'll have a crop failure, so I try to can more than 1 year's worth of something (or freeze it or dry it) in a good year, knowing the inevitable bad year will roll around and I'll be happy to have extra food of that type preserved. I also take into consideration how much extra I'd like to have to give away. I never had any trouble giving away the extra tomatoes and peppers, and since we have so many friends who are not gardeners, I try to ensure we have plenty to share.

It is rare that every single thing will produce great every year. With our recurring droughts and because pests are so much more prolific in drought years, there's always something that underperforms. The following year, I always plant more of whatever we lacked the year before. So, last year we had poor mid-season and late-season corn crops because it got too hot for them to pollinate/fertilize well, so I'll plant a lot more corn this year. If I get enough to can and/or freeze 2 years worth, that's what I'll do.

I also consider what an item will cost me at the grocery store, and try to plant a lot of stuff that is pricey. Organic sugar snap peas are a good example of this. In stores near us, the last time I bought organic sugar snaps, I believe they were $2.79 for a 10-oz. bag. Since I can only grow sugar snaps in spring, I plant tons of them and freeze all I can. Sweet corn, on the other hand, is fairly inexpensive in the summer so I don't necessarily feel compelled to plant huge amounts of it. Still, I prefer fresh-from-the-garden organic corn to the sometimes dry and tired-looking ears I'll see in the local stores.

I only grow what we like and will eat, so plant lots of the things we like the most. I could grow 200 heads of cabbage a year. I have space, and it is simple to grow---but you only need so much cabbage at a given time, and if I make a dozen or two dozen jars of sauerkraut, we're set for the year.

So, ask yourself how much you want for fresh eating plus for preserving and only plant that much. I enjoy canning, but it wears me out in a year when the tomatoes and the fruit trees are producing heavy crops all at the same time. Don't plant more than you want to can. Last summer I canned at least 4 days a week, usually all day long, for 6 to 8 weeks. That's a lot of long days in the kitchen. I didn't mind it because I had been too busy with constant wildfires in 2011 to can much of anything, so wanted to restock all the shelves. Still, I'm relieved to know I won't "have to" can as much this year.

If you plant a lot more than y'all will eat and you feel like you absolutely must can all of it, you can cause yourself some serious gardening and canning burnout. There's only so many hours in a week available for canning. Ask yourself how many days a week and how many hours a day you'll have available for canning, and don't plan to harvest more than you can preserve unless you're going to give it away.

Usually I only have too many tomatoes, onions, peppers and fruit to preserve. Everything else, I restrain myself and plant only what we can eat and what we'll give away. Okra produces like crazy here, but how much okra will one family eat? Pace yourself. I love gardening and canning, but there were days last year where I was doing too much of both and starting to get tired of it all. Luckily, I got over that feeling!

Dawn


 o
RE: OK tomato advice sought

Carol, When I read your first sentence "coming here to ask that question is like going to the pub to get help for a drinking problem," I had to laugh. Of course, you're right.

"If I had your space" - yes, that's the curse. For most of my adult life, I lived on small properties. Having land is a new experience and I'm having to adjust my expectations. I make a new garden, and still feel that I have to use every square foot. Our kids are long gone so I'm only feeding two people most of the time. I share the bounty with family, folks at the office, friends and neighbors who don't gave gardens.

Last year, our garden produced so much more food than we could consume, so I started freezing stuff. I loved having fresh produce, and rarely went to the grocery store. When I did go to the store, it was for paper towels, dog food, etc. That's when I decided to learn more about food preservation. I have a new water bath canner, and I'm getting a larger freezer so I'm gearing up.

Dawn, thanks for your good ideas. Since you and Carol start twice as many plants as you'll ultimately use, I can do that. Comes naturally.

I liked your examples of how much to grow and how you make these decisions. We love sugar snaps so I see why it's a good idea to grow enough to freeze for a year or more. Pete makes a lot of gumbo, but there is a limit to how much okra we will use. Cabbages? Today, harvested several fall planted Napa cabbages that didn't head up. I like Napa cabbages a lot - more than standard ones. The leaves are tender so they are good for salads and stir-fries. But they need to be fresh. I like the notion of about growing in rotations.

It helps to see how y'all think about the growing /preserving process. It helps to know that you both start at least twice as many seedlings as you ultimately plant. It really helps to know that you decide how much you are "willing to can." I was hung up because I was thinking about how much I should plant, when I should be thinking about how much I want to grow, harvest and preserve.

The drought seems to be gone. We are getting more rain than we've had in at least 3 years, so I think we may have a pretty good year. I know I'll have unexpected failures and/or under-achievers and can't know what will fall into that category yet.

Until I read your responses, I wasn't thinking about this from the right angle. I wasn't thinking about food preservation goals (XX pints of tomatoes, YY pints of Annie's salsa, ZZ pints of beans in the freezer, etc.)

Carol, last summer, I think I read a post by you about making zucchini pickles. I believe you canned about 20 pints? It was clear that you were relieved that the job was nearly done. After I read about Dawn's tomato canning marathons, I had the same sense. Exhaustion. Exhaustion is familiar but I need to learn how to work smarter, not harder.

After reading your posts, I realized that it will take time to figure out how much I want to grow, how much I want to can or freeze - this will only come with experience.

I am very grateful to you both. You are so generous with your advice and your time.

Take care,
Pam


 o
RE: OK tomato advice sought

Pam,
You're welcome. We are always happy so share ideas, knowledge, experience, etc.

Sometimes exhaustion is good....you know, because you have a real sense of accomplishment from completing the task. However, none of us really wants to feel exhausted too much. For me, there is a definite line where canning and gardening both stop being 'fun' and start feeling like a chore....and a chore I am sick of. I try to reign myself in and stop whatever I'm doing before I hit that point.

Remember that with a few things, like fresh tomatoes, you can merely pop the fresh, washed tomatoes into big ziplock bags and postpone dealing with them. I know Carol and I both have used that in the past to accumulate a bunch of tomatoes in order to have enough for a canning batch during those times when you're getting a steady harvest but not enough in one or two days for a canning batch. Last year, I popped a lot of tomatoes into ziplocks to use this winter for cooking or canning once I reached the point where I was sick to death of canning. Of the 12 or 14 ziplocks of tomatoes (six or seven of the gallon bags had whole tomatoes, the rest had tomato puree in the exact amount needed for Annie's Salsa) I crammed into the freezer, I think I've only used three. I just cannot get into the mood to do something with them. I am sure that I eventually will use them.

Similarly, in the Year of Too Many Peaches and Plums (either 2009 or 2010---around 385 lbs of fruit harvested from trees in about a 3-4 week period), I made hundreds of jars of jelly, froze sliced peaches for cobblers, ice cream, etc. and still had oodles of plums and peaches left, so I cooked them down, extracted the juice and froze it in the amounts needed for batches of jelly. When I eventually needed to make more jelly, all I had to do was thaw that juice. So, remember that there are ways to postpone dealing with the excess of some fruits and veggies too. You don't always have to deal with it right then while you're suffering from too much harvest and too little time.

Over the years, I often have modified my gardening plans and practices to make them fit my life. Sometimes we get so caught up in what we are doing and we think we have to shape our life to fit into the garden's needs. That is not really so. I freely admit that there have been years when I reached a burn-out point with the garden and dealing with the produce, and I merely closed the garden gate and abandoned it....or I just said "enough green beans already!" and yanked out the plants I didn't want to deal with any more. Just because your garden is still producing, that doesn't mean you have to keep harvesting and putting up produce until you drop dead of exhaustion. Sometimes you just have to walk away. I admit I am not good at that still, but I am better at it than I used to be.

Dawn


 o
RE: OK tomato advice sought

Hi Dawn:

"Sometimes we get so caught up in what we are doing and we think we have to shape our life to fit the garden's needs."

I agree. That describes my approach to many/most things in life.

"Just because your garden is still producing, that doesn't mean you have to keep harvesting and putting up produce ..."

That's very helpful advice. I tend to underestimate how long it will take to do things, jump in, realize that I'm over my head, but keep going until I drop. I'll be having some talks with myself about this. I may be more inclined to listen when the temps are running 100+ and it's nearly impossible to stay out in the heat for long periods.

"there are ways to postpone dealing with the excess ...you can pop fresh tomatoes in ziplocs, postpone dealing with them until later." I probably would not have thought to do that until very late or not at all.

"Yanked out the plants I didn't want to deal with any more ..." Yanking out plants that are still producing is still very hard. I need to get tougher and harden my heart in the interests of survival. ;-)

I think I need to start smaller than originally planned. I have seeds for so many tomatoes, peppers, beans, melons, etc that I've never grown. I'm curious about them, but realistically cannot grow all of them this year. I will work on a more realistic grow list in the next day or two. This will be a major challenge!

OK, it's time to get some real (paying) work done! I have a lot of freedom to set my schedule but I work and want to produce a new book this spring or summer! This particular book has consumed far more time than I expected so I'm not enjoying the "creative process" right now.

Take care,
Pam


 o
RE: OK tomato advice sought

I would be in a lot of trouble if I had as much space as you do. I have very limited growing space and it really keeps me under control because every inch is precious. That's why I don't waste time on cool season crops. I've accepted that we just heat up too quickly here, so I skip them and plant warm season crops in their place. If I had more space, I wouldn't be forced to make choices like that. I'd also have to quit my job to take care of it all.

Leslie


 o
RE: OK tomato advice sought

Hi Leslie:

I AM in trouble!! I've always had limited space and that kept me under control. At first, having more land felt like freedom, like breaking out of jail - then I learned about the dark side.

In 2003, a few weeks after we bought this land, Hurricane Isabel paid a visit. She took down all the trees. Took 3 years to clean up. After the clean up, we had 6 acres of bare field with weeds. I spent a lot of time doing research into tree species that are most likely to survive another hurricane, planted 1,100 baby trees in 2008, added more in 2009 and 2010. Decided to take a short break but need to continue to plant trees and increase diversity.

So yes, it's easy to get in a world of trouble when you have more land than you're used to.

Pam


 o
RE: OK tomato advice sought

Leslie, If I lived where you do, I'd likely skip cool season crops too. In fact, in the early to mid-2000s we kept having warm winter weather that they kept referring to as "the warmest winter ever here" and it was warming up too fast and I stopped growing all cool-season crops except potatoes and onions for several years for the very reason that you don't grow them. Then, around 2008, the cold nights started lingering until May and I started growing more cool season veggies in spring again.

The last two springs have me on the verge of cutting back to only potatoes and onions again. It has been very hard to get good broccoli and sugar snap pea harvests the last two springs because it got too hot too early for them.

I can get good cole crop harvests in fall if I plant the poor little plants in August's insane heat, but the sugar snap peas never seem to set peas in fall before it gets too cold for them.

Pam, We have 14.4 acres. I used to just kill myself trying to keep all the grassy areas mowed and I would spend pretty much all day every day in the wintery none-snake season clearing out invasive plants and undergrowth from the approximate 10 acres of woodland. I finally had to accept that one person could only do so much to keep a woodland remotely under control.

I also learned the hard way that if you keep all the greenbriar and poison ivy cut down and removed, that makes it easier for hunters to sneak onto your land without your knowledge and move freely through your property hunting and firing guns too close to you, your house and your domestic animals. Now, I leave all the greenbriar and poison ivy thick and dense around all the edges of the property and it pretty much excludes the poachers.

I mostly just focus on keeping the edges of the woodland near the house free of poison ivy and greenbriar, but Tim and I do work hard to remove the constantly invading Eastern red cedars. They pop up on the edges of the woods as thick as grass. We're in the process of removing hundreds of them that have popped up in the last 2 years. They are a horrendous fire hazard and they guzzle water that we want to go to the native woodland plants.

I used to do most of the mowing when Tim was at work, but as my garden grew bigger, it became harder to keep up with the mowing. Nowadays, Tim does most of the winter mowing while I am in the garden working, but I do most of the winter mowing of the rye grass.

Remember---you are the master of your garden! Don't let it become your task master. For those of us with plentiful space, that's a hard lesson to learn and I feel like, to some degree, I have to keep learning it over and over again.

Dawn


 o
RE: OK tomato advice sought

Dawn- you rock!!


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Oklahoma Gardening Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here