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Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

Posted by plsgrow 6B/7A TN (My Page) on
Wed, Jan 11, 06 at 11:09

Hello Tennessee and other gardners,

I'm already dreaming of summer ripe tomatoes but need to rethink the entire process. I had such failure last summer from the heirlooms as well as hybrids. Blight, fungus, rain, whatever contributed to a very low yield and was extremely disappointing, even discouraging. Some of the heirlooms that I started from seed did excellent for a family member in the mountains of zone 5. Even the tomatoes known for their ability to survive southern summers
succumbed. Am curious if any of you had a similair problem and what a possible fix could be this year. It's possible that we gave them too much water last year, going to change that this coming season and plan to mulch well. I don't think I will be planting 100 plus tomato plants again in the near, or distant, future. I realize there is a Tomato forum on Garden Web but wanted to get a read locally, if possible.

Thank you,
Pat formerly known as plsgrow


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

OH. I have my identity back. Whew.


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

Was a bad year for me also (west tn.) They claim the blight
is in the soil, but I planted some in pots with potting
soil and the blight got them as guick as the ones in the garden. Spray with lots of Daconil. May postpone the problem
for a little while. I think the blight is in the air. When
I was young tomatoes would produce until frost got them.
Now I need about three different plantings to make it into
the fall.
Norm


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

Pat, mine did not do as well last year either and I don't know exactly why. And some varieties did worse than others. The poorest ones last year were the Black Krims and the Mortgage Lifters. Such a surprise, as they typically bear well for me. Yellow Pear, Black Plum, Snow White and Sweet 100 produced OK, but not as prolifically as in the past. Here's hoping they do better this year. IRRC, I didn't use much mulch last year. This year I intend to mulch well.

Becky


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

  • Posted by soeur z6b TN (My Page) on
    Thu, Jan 12, 06 at 22:15

Mine did fine until Katrina's remnants dumped massive amounts of rain on 'em. Some just died, and some struggled for a while. But quite a few came back, and we picked our last tomato (a 'Beefy Boy') in early November.

Marty


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

Pat I'm right there with you. That is my resolution for the gardening season, to actually grow some good tomatoes successfully. I'd like to plant some tomatoes and peppers ( which I seem to do ok with ), especially since Catie and I have totally changed our eating habits and are eating healthy now. We need the vegies !

Cheryl


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

I had a poor outing this year with my maters this year. We are mid -Tn zone 6 But mostly 7.

We thought we would be smart and bought better boys from the amish, they did great for about a month and all of sudden they all died, I think mostly from the heat.

This year I will try and give it another go in a diffrent spot in the garden.


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

There is a tomato called razzleberry that did well for me last year, also sweet 100 ,early girl, and Mr. Stripey.
Everything else got blossom end rot.The plum style tomatoes I never even saw its like they dried up on the actual plant.I don't know what blight is.I also had them planted near suflowers. ( I did it because I read that they make nice stakes to tie them to.
But apparently you shouldn't.Gonna try lime this year to ammend the soil.The weather was so hot.I think between the rain pattern and my watering. I may of had alot of problems because of uneven watering.


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

I had trouble with my tomatoes this year and last year. The plants started like a champ and then the tomatoes would split or start rotting. The first year I built the raised beds ('02) the Tomatoe plants were still producing green tomatoes in December. I got tired of them and pulled them up. The plants were 16' long and were about 3" in diameter at the ground. So I am not too sure what is going on. The soil I have is from the farm where the cattle eat hay over the winter.


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

Norm weren't there only two varities of tomatoes when you were young, regular and cherry (just like the old fountain Coke at Walgreens)?


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

I am interested to know what kind of tomatoes are good to grow in our area....as I am wanting to grow some. I want the "beefy" type..but geesh..these are SO many kind's....LOL


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

Grow a couple of plants of several varieties and see what you like best! We love the Roma's for salsa, sauces and salads but they're great just to eat because of the taste and abundance of meat they have.


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

Thank you all for your input. Some had good seasons, I'm glad. Trying now to determine what tomatoes to plant for this year, will use more mulch and possibly less water.
I posted a request for information on the Growing Tomatoes Forum a few moments ago. So far this year, I have only ordered three types of tomato seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange: Oxheart, Mortgage Lifter VFN TOMATO, Rutgers and one called: Tropic VFN TOMATO. I first tasted a red oxheart tomato late last summer and it was perfectly delicious, meaty with few seeds.

BTW, my father in law had great success with Mr. Stripey, from seed that he had saved. There is some confusion as to which Mr Stripeys are hybrids and which are heirlooom. In recent years I had excellent results with Rutgers for canning, Early Girl, Better Boy.

Thanks for the information on the razzleberry tomatoes, Glory Bee. Smoky Mist: We, too, are eating healthier this year but I have very little success with growing sweet bell peppers.

Gotta' keep on improving the soil.

Pat


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

Two great tomatoes I'd recommend are Arkansas Traveler, an heirloom variety which continues to bear for me throughout the summer and seems to offer good disease resistance; fruit gets to about 1/2 lb in size and flavor is scrumptious. Seed is available from just about every significant purveyor of heirloom seed. The other is a new hybrid called Beefy Boy, which is available by seed from Park. I grew this one last year and it was awesome. The last tomato I picked out of my garden in early Nov was a Beefy Boy, and it had been kicking out 1 lb fruit since mid July. Solid, few seeds, great flavor, and tons of fruit.

Both these varieties came back strong after Katrina's flooding which killed some types.

Marty


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

Marty,

Where can I get some of those tomato seeds/plants? I want to try some that will really do well for me this year by recommendations.

Katie


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

Katie,

You've got mail :).

Marty


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

I recommend trying Black Mountain Pink. This is an heirloom from southeast Kentucky (Harlen County) and is a large dark pink beefsteak with a sweet tomato flavor mixed with a slight amount of acid for balance, a fantastic complex of flavor which rivals Brandywine.

Another fantastic tomato is Cherokee Purple, a Tennessee heirloom. This is a dark purple beefsteak tomato with green shoulder. Flavor is a smokey complex with a sweetess and charm all it's own.

Both are long season varieties. Cherokee Purple can be gotten from the SSE public catalog and website along with Tomato Growers Supply. Black Mountain Pink can be gotten from members of SSE and possibly several people here on GW over at the Tomato forum.

Give these a try for long season varieties.

Be sure to clean out your gardens of last year's plant debris which will help reduce blights from year to year.

Blueflint


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

I lost most (>90%) of my tomatoes last year as well, so did my next door neighbor. I enjoyed a bumper crop of Gold Nugget, and VF100; everything else (Early Girl, red Brandywine, Stripey, Moneymaker, Caspian Pink, a few more) was a bust.

J


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

I had several disaster years trying to grow tomatoes until 2004 season. 2005 was even better. The past 2 years I've regularly used Soap Shield or Serenade to control the diseases. I also sprayed with Maxicrop kelp every week or two. Last year I also used Green Guard from Gardens Alive which contains harpin protein and noticed a big difference. Somehow this stuff makes the plant think it's being attacked by disease before it happens and helps it to muster its defenses in advance. Hope this helps.

John


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

This is a great post ! Jeff I'm right there with you on the Roma's. Great for salads, and salsa, and I make a ton of salsa in the summer. My mother tried a German Black tomato a few years ago and swears by it for taste, and has saved her seeds and grown them every year from seed. I can't seem to grow a darn tomato from seed and end up buying some basics at the greenhouses in the spring, BUT, I would love to be able to grow them from seed, somebody teach me please ! My mother has tried, but it's like watching her cook, you put a dab of this and a pinch of that. I need particulars !!


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

We've had good luck growing Evergreen in East Tennessee - its got the best tomato taste i've ever tried, and i like the "always" green color.


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

  • Posted by soeur z6b TN (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 21, 06 at 18:42

Growing tomatoes from seed is pretty easy. Here's what I do:

I start my seed on damp paper towels. To do this, I fold a white (not printed) paper towel into 1/4s, moisten it with a spray bottle until it's just damp, then lay it on the counter and place my seed just to the right of the middle of the square of folded towel. I write a tag so I'll know what variety it is, put that in the middle, then fold the damp paper towel up like a letter and tuck it in a ziplock bag. I leave the bag out of harm's way in the kitchen; I put up to 10 varieties in one quart bag. Three days later I check for germination, and usually I can see it starting. By five days out I usually see a lot of germination, with the little root radicles coming out. That's when I plant into 606s (6 packs)in soilless mix to grow the seedlings on under lights in my basement. They grow well at 60 degrees, they just don't like to germinate at that temp, which is why I do it in my much warmer kitchen.

The older the seed the longer it takes to germinate, BTW. Old seed (like over 5 years or so) can be soaked overnight to aid germination. The seeds that sink when put in water are likely to germinate; floaters generally won't.

Tonight I plant my germinated seed, which I started 3/16. And you'll probably think I'm crazy (and come July I'LL think I'm crazy!) but here's what I'm growing this year:

Tomato 'Belgium Hickman Co Strain'
Tomato 'Cherokee Purple Gentry Strain'
Tomato 'Caspian Pink'
Tomato 'Brandywine OTV'
Tomato 'Eva Purple Ball'
Tomato 'Mortgage Lifter VFN'
Tomato 'Beefy Boy'
Tomato 'Brandywine' (old Shepherd seed, don't know strain)
Tomato 'Brandy Boy'
Tomato 'Marianna's Peace'
Tomato 'Federle'
Tomato 'Opalka'
Tomato 'Amish Paste'
Tomato 'Super Marzano'
Tomato 'Fresh Salsa'
Tomato 'Cherokee Purple'
Tomato 'Arkansas Traveler'
Tomato 'Clear Pink Early'
Tomato 'Carbon'
Tomato 'Boxcar Willy'
Tomato 'Mule Team'
Tomato 'Old Flame'
Tomato 'St Pierre'
Tomato 'Royal Hillbilly'

I sowed more seed than I need so I could bring some to the Swap.

Marty


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

Marty, you won't have any trouble getting rid of the extras at the swap that's for sure.


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

I'm growing my favorites this year. I started some last month and they already have flower buds. They're in gallons and will plant out later this month.

Stupice--great flavor and super early
Jubilee--my favorite yellow (beats Lemon Boy hands down)
Beefy Boy--Heirloom flavor, no cracking, very productive
Cherokee Purple (new for me)


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

On Tue, Mar 21, 06 soeur wrote: Tonight I plant my germinated seed, which I started 3/16. And you'll probably think I'm crazy (and come July I'LL think I'm crazy!) but here's what I'm growing this year:

Marty, that's not crazy - that's good common tomato sense. Very impressive group of tomatoes you started. Mouth watering. A kindly tomato person from the Growing Tomatoes forum sent me a staggering amount of heirloom seeds in early winter, many of which are oxheart types. I am anxious to try out so many new varieties and see if this year is a better producing year than last.

Here's to healthy, happy tomatoes in everyone's gardens.


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

I was very relieved to see this thread. My husband and I have lived in the Nashville area for three years now. The first summer I had about 15 tomato plants and they were just outstanding! I love canning and making salsa, tomato juice, spaghetti sauce, but maybe especially love eating fresh, homegrown tomatoes. Last year when I went to buy plants they were out of nearly everything but Romas. Well, I though that would be fine since I make so much salsa, etc... and I also bought some "slicing" tomatoes, too. But I had a terrible crop! The "big" tomatoes were NOT big! We wondered if it were possible that the Romas and the Better Boys had cross-pollenated. Is this possible or was it just a bad year in Middle TN for tomatoes? WE just planted 22 Beefsteak plants and NO ROMAs! I actually used my compost this year, too, and hope some or all of these things help!


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

Well, I have finally gone insane and planted tomatoes this spring. I don't have ANY full sun areas, really, but the parking strip (between sidewalk and curb) is pretty close -- so I put them in 20 gallon pots out there. I don't know if I'll get any fruit off them or not -- but it's fun thinking about it, anyway!

I planted "black" (dunno WHICH black, "Black" is all the label said), yellow pears, Romas, Mr. Stripey, Lemon Boy, Sweet 100, and another which I forget right now. I wish us all much luck this year!


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

binniebee

We wondered if it were possible that the Romas and the Better Boys had cross-pollenated.

The most likely problem with the Better Boys was that they were mismarked and not really Better Boys at all. Cross pollination is highly doubtful and for a better understanding of cross-pollination there are great resources in the Growing Tomatoes Forum. I only worry about the possibility of cross pollination with plants that I wish to save seeds from as that is where and when the cross would show up, that is how I understand it. I think that last years heat played a large part in the many problems encountered in our humid region. I am not growing as many of the beefsteak type tomatoes this year, trying a number of the large meaty oxheart varieties, which may or may not work in our heat; opting for shorter season tomatoes and black and purple tomatoes. The darker tomatoes are alledged to do much better in the south. Doing the shorter season tomatoes and possibly sacrificing taste in hopes of having enough to harvest and can before over 90++ degree temps in late July and August and blight conditions can ruin this years crop...hopefully. Gardening is such a gamble but when those lovely orbs begin to ripen properly, the "pay-off" is a great reward. Was lucky to find "Celebrity" tomatoes by the case at a local flea market last summer for soups, soup starter, juices, etc. Good luck with your beefsteaks - which simply makes my mouth water thinking about them.

Some of the tomatoes we have grown this winter and spring, in the hopes of finding favorites:

Oxheart TOMATO
Rutgers VF (Reliable canner)
Mortgage Lifter VFN
Tropic VFN TOMATO
Lemon Boy VFN Hybrid
Aker's West Virginia
German Red Strawberry
Gregoris Altai
Persimmon (because they came as free samples)
Reif Red Heart Heirloom
Eva Purple Ball (OG)
Brandywine (OG) Heirloom
Taxi (OG) Yellow
Orange Blossom (F1) Hybrid Orange Short Vine
Anna Russian
Aunt Gerties Gold
Cardinal Oxheart
Prue
Picardy
Bisignano #2 From Italy
Black Cherry
Andes Horn
Dr. Wyche's Yellow
Kosovo - oxheart
Polish
Carbon
Cherokee Purple
Kimberly
Wes 05
Earl's Faux 05
Shuntukski
SILVERY FIR TREE
Mano
Galinas Yellow Cherry
Green Grape Cherry
Lime Green Salad
SUNGOLD
Moscwich
Mountain Princess
Better Boy Hybrid
Stump o the World



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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

  • Posted by soeur z6b TN (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 24, 06 at 19:35

I started some Persimmon for exactly the same reason -- free seed. We obviously both bought from TGS. :) I'm not a fan of non-red tomatoes (except for the purple/black types), but I thought I'd give it a try.

I'm interested in what you think of Kimberly, Earl's Faux and Akers W. Virginia. I've considered growing those but haven't yet. I am growing some 'Sad Sac', seed from 'Big Zac'. Should be interesting.

Marty


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

Marty, I just found out that the Middle TN Plant Swap is May 20 and I think I can make it. Is there a chance you will have an extra Arkansas Traveler Tomato for trade?
Also just read the thread where you described what you are going to lecture about and that made me doubly interested in being there.

Raney


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

  • Posted by soeur z6b TN (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 25, 06 at 22:27

Raney, I'll make sure to have a Traveler for you at the Swap. I look forward to meeting you!

Marty


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

Yaaaa!!!! Thank you so much Marty. Jeff is sending me all the info. I've never been to a plant swap. Pretty strange for a plantaholic huh? I look forward to meeting all of you.

Raney


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

Well I'll have to admit that even after attending so many MTPS's the luster never wears off. I'm just as excited about this one as I have been all the others.

I guess I'm still pretty much a kid at heart...and mind...and emotionally. (Ok I just saved several of you the opportunity to crack on me.) But this is like X-mas for me twice a year. I get new presents, I give new presents, I get to hang out with my GW family and I get to eat like a pig on some seriously excellent grub. The only thing missing is a couple of Bowl games to watch on TV and veg out on the couch with my jeans unbuttoned until I pass-out!

For the first time I'm actually getting things potted more than 12 hours before the Swap. I'm stoked already and we're still 24 days away.


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

Never have had a problem growing any tomatoes in TN. Think about the cut worms? Wrap your plants in newspaper where the stem will meet the soil, cut the paper about 4" - 6" wide, and wrap the stem where you are going to plant the stem in the ground with 2-4"s in soil and about 1-2"s above ground.

Did you grow the tomatoes from seed and harden them off outside or did you buy local plants and throw them in the ground? Tomatoes are the easiest to grow in TN. I use both stakes and wire cages for 6'foot plus plants with plenty of panty hose for ties. I use my wife's old panty hose for ties. Now grow what tomato you want. I grow all kinds from super steaks to three types of Italian with plenty of miracle grow. Hope this helps some.

Now tell me how to grow bell peppers?

Thanks.


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

Interesting thread... REgarding cutworms... I have never lost a tomato plant using a terrific and easy method. I plant the baby tomato plant and then simply springle a liberal hand full of self rising cornmeal around the plant. The cutworms eat the cornmeal which I have been told they love love love. and the self rising properties, makes them swell up and burst and die.

Blessings,
Kitt


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

Never tried corn meal, but; I will try it with the newspaper still wrapped around the stems. Makes sense what you stated. I am just a 59 year old kid. What do I know? Thanks for the tip. I got the info in 91 from Burpees or Park seed. Heck, I thought if someone could give me a tip on growing sweet peppers, I would share all I know about tomatoes in Davidson County with never a lost plant or any damage. I am not a know it all. Corn, Tomatoes and cucumbers grow very well here. I cannot grow green beans either. Thank you.


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

soeur Will be interesting to see how these Persimmon tomatoes turn out, eh? Will keep an eye on Kimberly, Earl's Faux and Akers W. Virginia and let you know how they do for us. In the event that we do have the fusarium wilt in our soil, we started a new garden area some distance away from the possibly contaminated soil and have several dozen types of tomatoes there. Will still plant a few tomatoes in the same area as last year where we encountered so many problems, in the hopes that the problem is not fusarium or any other systemic soil diseases but merely the high heat and the fact that we may well have overwatered last year.

johnski Would liked to have tried your methods but learned that the Green Guard is a genetically modified product. Thanks for the information.

lumper20 Please feel free to share all you know about tomato growing.

We have very good luck with heirloom green beans here and are planting in a different location this year after having success for the past 6 years in the same spot, which I think is pushing our luck. Ha...I still don't know how to successfully grow green peppers, but will try again with more pourous material in the soil. I started the seed too late, heck, some of the hot peppers required constant germination temperatures steady in the 80's. We can't keep our little hoop house that warm at night. Think I'll just buy some from the nursery, perhaps have a bit better luck. Perhaps you could start a new thread here on growing green peppers.

Good growing to all,
Pat


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

  • Posted by soeur z6b TN (My Page) on
    Sun, Apr 30, 06 at 14:35

I've used paper towel rolls for cutworms, the cardboard tubes that hold the towels; I save them once I've used up the roll of towels. I cut them into 2-3" lengths and put them like a collar around the seedling, going into the soil about 1/2 inch. I've heard of folks using foil, too, in the same way. The deal with cutworms is that they need to be able to curve their body around the stem of the plant to chew through the stem right at the soil line, so anything that makes it so they can't do that prevents their damage.

I've never heard of the self-rising cornmeal trick, but, hey, if it works, great. I've used flour on cabbage worms, but that's a different process. You sprinkle the flour on them in the early morning when the dew is heavy. The moist flour then dries as the day progresses, and basically makes a straightjacket for the worm, killing it. It's an old farm trick that really does work. I've heard rye flour works best, but that's not something I usually have on hand.

Knock wood, I haven't had but one case of fusarium wilt. I rotate the location of my tomato plants every year, though, and that's a big help in cutting down on soilborne diseases -- except early blight, which is everywhere. The other big preventive for soil problems is mulch. It even cuts way down on early blight, in my experience.

Marty


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

Hey marty,
I put seeds out and they stopped growing, brought them in when when it got cold....my basil has stopped growing from seed too. I had one tomato plant in a pot and it stopped growing too. What do you think the problem is??? I put my corn in the grown Thursday and its up already. But my seeds have decided to revolt both tomatoes and herbs.....
Thanks Martha


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RE: Can we talk Tomatoes, please?

Martha, just guessing here, but the cool turn of weather will make hot weather lovers like tomatoes and basil put on the brakes. In particular they dislike cold feet -- cold wet soil will make them very unhappy. If they are just sitting there but not looking sickly or dying, I'd expect them to take off again when the sun comes out and we get some heat. Let the soil dry out well between waterings for healthy, stocky plants. Ideally you water them when they're dry but before wilting, which indicates stress and affects the quality of your crop later.

If the soil is wet and yet they're wilting, the roots are rotting from one of any number of soil fungus problems that occur when the soil is too wet and cold for them. In that case you start over, sad to say.

Marty


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