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A Central Florida tomato story...

Posted by whgille Oakland, FL-Zone 9B (My Page) on
Sun, May 16, 10 at 16:51

Hi

I planted 45 different varieties of tomato plants this season in my small garden, they are all doing good.

Here is the garden today

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And my little dog looks guilty, he just ate some tomato

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And I am growing some new varieties to me , thank you Mr Bill, all the tomatoes are doing great!

Indian Stripe, you were right this is a great tomato

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A ripe one

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Creole

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Plum Regal

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And when I have a lot of tomatoes I always make a fresh tomato tart, this one has German Red Strawberry, Kumato, Huang, Angolan and it was delicious!

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Silvia


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Wow, Silvia! I'm new here (and to tomato growing) but it seems pretty clear you are the tomato queen with an exceptionally green thumb.

Have you ever documented your process here in the forum from seed to harvest? If so, can you provide a link to those old posts?

You have already shared with me that you simply start your seeds on the porch but how do you do that? (seed/soil mix, watering, etc.)

And what mix do you use in your containers?

How often do you fertilize and what do you use?

Are the containers on a drip system? How often and
how long do you water?

The reason I'd like to know is I'd like to try and replicate it, though perhaps not with that many plants. It looks very manageable, or maybe you just make it look easy.

If that's too much to ask, I will understand. At the very least, thank you so much for sharing all the inspiring pictures!


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Fantastic looking setup and harvest. Tomato tart huh? Looks good how does it taste? What goes into a tomato tart as far as ingredients?

Damon


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland, FL-Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Sun, May 16, 10 at 19:03

Hi Dragonfly

Thank you, I am not new to gardening but for sure I am not the queen (there are others) lol. I don't post here too often and the real deal tomato gurus probably are in charge of any documentation about tomato growing (I am just small potatoes compare to them)

What zone are you in? Maybe I can give some tips that work for me here or other places that I have lived, where ever I go i grow tomatoes, I am in zone 9b.

I always start from seeds I use the seed starter mix from the store and I put them in styrofoam cups, later they can transplanted to pots.

For the mix in the pots read in the container forum the mix 5-1-1 by Al Tapla, he explains better than I can, he covers fertilizers and such.

Everything in the garden gets the sprinkler system 2 times a week, the rest of the days I hand water when is hot every day. One time a day.

I hope that I answer some of your questions, feel free to ask me anything if I did not explained well. Happy growing!

Thank you Damon. The tomato tart is fantastic because of the fresh tomatoes, it has a homemade tart like a pizza dough and pesto sauce made with the fresh basil from the garden. Later gets some feta cheese and broil it. Here it is finished.

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Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Very nice! I'm starving!


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Looks great!! my matos have started ripening, wish I had more plants, oh well. The pots you are growing in, are they SWC's? what size are they? They look nicer than the homer buckets I used. lol!


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland, FL-Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Mon, May 17, 10 at 9:18

Hi Rob

We in Florida have nematodes in the soil, so the best strategy is to grow them in pots and I always try to plant different varieties and more than I need, this way I am sure I will have a good harvest. Tomatoes make a great gifts!

I try to do everything as simple as possible and (cheap) since I am the only person doing the garden. The SWC are kind of complicated for me, most of my pots are 18 inches wide and 15 deep and always get them on sale either walmart or big lots.

Remember I also have a lot of veggies and fruit I have to take care of and now harvest.

Here is a view of some of my garden

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Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

The nematodes don't migrate to the raised beds? My dad always warned that even pots on top of soil are able to fall victim to nematodes which is why I planted on my driveway. Any thoughts on this? You getting much rain today, we are and it all is coming from the south west!


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Cant you let the soil warm up with plastic mulch and this will kill the nematodes?


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland, FL-Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Mon, May 17, 10 at 12:44

Hi Sandyman

A lot of native Floridians (I am not) have tried soil solarization and does not work for them or so they say.

I have raised beds that I add a lot of organic matter and I can grow most crops very good, for my small garden I harvest a lot, I am constantly giving away veggies.

My garden is intensively planted year round even around the bananas I had first onions and now there are sweet potatoes

Here is some recent harvest, I am not complaining.:)

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Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Hi Silvia,

Thanks for the thorough reply. You answered most of my questions and I'll track down those container-planting links for soil mixes.

I'm in central Tx. in zone 8 (verging on 9). Rainfall is about 28-30" a year, primarily deep sandy loam alkaline soils (the pecan, mesquite and oak trees love it). Temps stay in the high 50's/low 60's during much of our brief winters though we do usually have a few freezes, some getting as low as 26 degrees or so. This year even brought a day of snow! Right now the insects I'm fighting in my garden are primarily the small green inch worms (what to do?), grasshoppers galore (Nolo baited to stem the tide somewhat) and pill bugs (won't use corrogated cardboard as a weed cloth again!). I will have to learn how to treat (organically) these and other pests and diseases.

I'll likely have more questions as I try some container planting. However, now I'm wondering if it might work just as well or better to create a raised bed just for the tomatoes instead of individual containers. No nematode issues here. But lots of fat white grubs that the armadillos dine on.

Any suggestions or tips are always welcome. I really admire what you've done!


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland, FL-Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Mon, May 17, 10 at 19:10

Dragonfly

I grew tomatoes in a raised bed in Arizona, I made a lasagna garden and tomatoes did great. It was a combination of hay, peat moss, black cow manure, compost and garden soil

The advantage of growing in containers (even if there are no nematode issues) is that you can move them in case of frost for example, my tomatoes were growing in my porch while we had freezing temperatures that would damage any tomatoes.

The leftover soil after the tomatoes are done gets recycled in other parts of the garden and the containers get use over and over. The mix is cheaper than store bought soil and when you are doing a lot of tomatoes that counts.

For bugs and disease I use a combination of spinosad and serenade, this acts better as a prevention than as a cure.

Here is a picture of the tomatoes in February protected in the porch from the cold

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Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

So you start fairly early (before the last frost date) and just keep them under the covered porch. I can't tell for sure but it looks like the porch is open. I was picturing a glassed or screened in porch. So I guess its enough protection just to have a roof over them during frost?
And I also guess that the seeds harden off in that open air environment naturally.

I didn't get my tomatoes started until after the last frost date (mid-March). I had some row cloth handy in case I needed to protect them from a late freeze, but you're right. Unless I have some kind of shelter over the raised beds, its probably best to do containers if I start my plants in February or even early March, which sounds like a good plan. I only did transplants this year, but will be trying my hand at seeds next spring. When do you plant the seeds?


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

I always love your pictures Silvia! Cute doggie!

I agree that an important advantage of containers is being able to move them during frosts...allows for an earlier start.


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland, FL-Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Tue, May 18, 10 at 7:31

Dragonfly - You are a good student! It is easy to understand when shown pictures, the porch is open and I have space heater in the middle for freezing nights (we had those) and yes no need to harden of, they are strong growing outside and because I always spray as a preventive they are disease and bug free.

If you look in the picture there are plastic bins, that is where I put the seeds in the styrofoam cups, at night they get covered.

Usually around February they are ready to go to the garden, but it was very cold this winter so they to stay in the porch till it was safe to go in the tomato garden.

I like to put seedlings that are at least 6-8 weeks old that makes me start in december, peppers are started first.

And when the pots are ready to go they are very lightweight, so is easy for me to lift them, another plus.

Always start from seeds, the quality that you get from transplants bought at the store it is not comparable.

Thank you Star, friends and neighbors come to see the garden all the time and it always looks different, all the crops depending on the seasons. Now that it has all the tomatoes, that is the first thing they see, they say "look at those tomatoes".

The garden has to keep tidy at all times, you never know who is showing up.lol

Here is a view from the open porch to the back gate, that is where the Orange Blossom Trail is used by runners, bycicles and me and my dogs. (I have 3).

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Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Silvia, your tomatoes look fantastic and the rest of your garden is beautiful. I bet it's a lot of enjoyment for you even if it's a lot of work.

Beth


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

What kind of nematodes? I *just* read about using certain varieties of marigolds to control a variety of problematic nematodes. Basically you plant them as a sort of cover crop (not companion planting) and they reduce them over time. It's not a problem for me, so I didn't explore further. I'm not sure if it would be helpful, but I'm attaching the link in case it might be.

Here is a link that might be useful: Controling Nematodes Using Marigolds


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Silvia, one last question. At what point do you apply the Serenade and Spinosad to your plants? Just prior to planting them out? And do you apply them both at the same time? I'm guessing you apply them to all your veggie plants.

Wish I lived close enough to visit your beautiful garden!


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland, FL-Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Tue, May 18, 10 at 12:01

Beth - Thank you. And you are right I love the time that I spend close to nature, and I get the benefit to have fresh produce for the family and friends. Gardening is a wonderful hobby!

Susan - Thank you for the link. Wherever I have lived is a different problem to deal with. People around here do plant marigolds including myself. Root knot nematodes just love okra and tomatoes, the other crops do well for me as long as I add a lot of organic material to the raised beds.

Dragonfly - Thank you for all the compliments, you are very nice.
And about the sprays I start from the time they are seedlings, a very diluted solution and with a fine mist only early in the morning 1 time a week.
I use the same spray bottles for the whole garden, depending on the look of the tomatoes when growing I add a foliar spray together with the serenade, spinosad and I also add a drop of Bonners peppermint soap just for the smell. And you are right all the garden gets the same spray, it takes me like 15 minutes, I have 3 bottles that I fill. And maybe one day you get to see the garden, I am 20 minutes from Disney...

Here is the garden today, tomatoes are in the back. Star there goes my other dog, she goes find some blueberries!

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Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Hi Silvia,

I think I will try some of your tricks next year. I start peppers in November, tomatoes on 1/1, and they stay in a window sill until 3/1. I planted out a couple weeks late this year because of the frost we had in the beginning of March. When do you start your fall seeds and what date do you plant-out?

I see you live very close to my brother, he lives in Claremont by Lake Mineola, might have to stop by and take some notes!


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland, FL-Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Tue, May 18, 10 at 14:45

Hi Corey

We have sun all year round you just have to find a protected spot so the tomatoes don't get rain but get sunlight, a little bit of wind is okay.

As soon as my tomatoes are about to be done I start the new seeds for fall, around July and get planted in pots about 6-8 weeks old keep them in the porch if it is too hot and out to the tomato garden in August.

The porch get a space heater in winter and the fans in summer, this helps a lot.

If you go to see your brother, send me an email and you can stop by and see the garden.

And today's harvest just for you.:)

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Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Dragonfly:

Didn't see this answered...for the inchworms, spray a product with BT or bacillus thrunginus (sp?) in it. This is a naturally occurring organism that is lethal to those guys and harmless to people. Most consider this an organic option.

A comment on containers, I'm doing them for the first time this year and the container plants are far ahead of those in the ground. They basically warm up the soil as soon as you plant them, whereas in the ground, the soil takes a while to warm up. That, I believe, is the reason my containers are far more advanced than those in the ground.

This is very important in Texas where, like FLA, it get too hot in summertime to set new fruit (at least very much) so you get a bigger better harvest with earlier fruit set. Good luck.


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Silvia thank YOU for being so generous with your growing tips and pictures. It has been very helpful. I can't even believe that last pic of your tomato harvest is real! Gorgeous perfection. What are those green tomatoes and what do you do with them? Are they ripe? Also, what direction does your porch face? I've got an open westerly facing porch that might be a good place to get set up as you have done.

Jerrya -
thanks so much for that additional info on BT and container growing. It makes sense to me that you can start sooner if the soil is warmer as in pots. So next year is going to be one big experiment for me on many fronts. And I am going to try my hand at a few Fall tomatoes this year and see how it goes.


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland, FL-Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Sat, May 22, 10 at 19:36

Hi Dragonfly

You are welcome. I have been harvesting tomatoes every day, now more than that. As soon as they come to the house because they are ripe they go into dishes, I do give away a lot too.

My back porch faces south, in the summer gets shade but in the winter gets sun. The picture that you saw it is in winter.

The green tomatoes are Kumato, a friend from the Florida forum gave them to me and she did not tell me what color they were. When they are ripe they get a yellow tinge on the bottom and they are delicious, very sweet! I will be saving seeds from those.

This morning we had company for breakfast and I made a fritatta with scallions, rosemary and parsley from the garden a little bit of thin sliced feta cheese and for serving I put on top slow roasted tomatoes that I did yesterday. Also to go with it made zucchini bread from the garden.

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For dinner I made 2 dishes of Caprese salad, this one gets a sun dried tomato dressing and mozarella, delicious!

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And this one is for a friend's get together, the dressing will be put just before serving

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And some of the tomatoes are Kumato, but from what I heard at the table all the tomatoes are good!

Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

YUM! Stay right there, I'll get a fork!
While your artful presentation certainly makes the dish, I'm guessing it would taste divine regardless. A great gardener AND chef = a winning combination! And I guess with that much produce coming out of your garden you have to be creative...and have a steady supply of hungry, grateful friends & family. Of course how can you go wrong with all those fresh and amazing ingredients? Thanks once again for the eye feast and info.


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

jerrya......I'm from the Dallas area and if you wrap your tomatoes in frosting proofing after you plant them out (I do it in first week of March) then they will take off. I use concrete reinforcing wire cages and the frost proofing creates a large column of warm air that seems to keep the plant and surrounding soil warmer than normal. If you need even more warmth, you can put plastic around the frost proofing. I've also had good luck with the wall of waters but their material failure rate has put them on the bad list.

Unfortunately none of this "looks" really pretty but it works and I'm looking for results not beauty.

And as for nematodes....may none of you get them. I received some in some starter plants I bought (Now I start all my own seeds and mix my own potting soil). I have been fighting to keep them in a small spot in my yard but it's a very tough battle. There is no cut and dried solution. It's like fighting terrorists.....some always survive. My goal has been to contain more than completely destroy. Nematode resistant plants are the best bet.


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

"Small" garden? More like a big garden with every inch utilized! That's an amazing harvest for one day!


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland, FL-Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Sun, May 23, 10 at 15:12

Thanks Dragonfly, it is always nice to hear your comments.

Ykerzner, thank you and you are right, every space is used, something comes out something is already in and growing. I even utilized the space under the bananas, I will have a bumper crop of sweet potatoes this year,:)

Getting some big ones today, I will be making 2 different tomato sauces.

Hat tomato

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Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Silvia,
My apologies...I feel like a bottomless pit of questions, but I'm inspired! LOL :^)

I was just laying out, in my mind, my spring garden and thinking about varieties to try. Then another question popped into my mind - you grow many varieties in close proximity to each other and also save seed, so how do you contend with the cross pollination problem?

Before reading this amazing forum, I would never have even known to consider that issue.


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Silvia, everything looks sooo delicious! I have a passion for cooking and baking, and there are endless recipes with tomatoes! Of course, eating a tomato straight off the vine is one of the greatest pleasures in life! Tomatoes are easily one of my favorite foods, ranking closely among cheese, wine...fresh bread...fresh peaches. Yum.

I can't wait till my tomatoes ripen! Happy gardening!


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland, FL-Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Tue, May 25, 10 at 18:14

Hi Dragonfly

I knew this question was going to come sooner or later, lol. I save the tomato seeds the way Trudi has in wintersown, you can take a look there. It works fine for me, I consistently get the same variety that I am saving. Anyway if that was not the case, I am only saving seed for me and friends, not for sale, I don't think anybody is going to sue me, lol.

Now that I have a lot of seed to save and when I pick the tomatoes if I have about 10 of the same color and shape, that is hard when I bring them in the basket together, how can I identify them? Easy, I put the name in the tomato with a marker.

I grow a lot of tomato seedlings also for friends that are first time gardeners and just out of curiosity I asked them which variety did better for them? And they all said the yellow. At the end, nobody remembers anything but only if they manage to get tomatoes and that they like it.

And asking questions is the only way to learn, you are a fast learner.

Hi Caroline

We share the same interests, I love cooking for family and friends and I agree with you nothing can compare with the taste of a homegrown tomato! Yours will ripen soon, time flies.

I made 2 different tomato sauces and let the tasters in the house decide which one was better. They all agreed on the best was a tomato chunky basil sauce, that I put in a homemade pizza with some grilled zucchini from the garden.

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Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...more

  • Posted by whgille Oakland, FL-Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Thu, May 27, 10 at 9:23

I stayed up late yesterday in the garden picking tomatoes

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Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

What a wonderful bounty Silvia! You certainly make growing easy, but I know it's not. In reading different posts, I noticed you lived in AZ for a while, may I ask what part or where?

Keep up the good work!
AZ PC


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Wow, that is an incredible harvest!!! How do tell which variety is which? LOL


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland, FL-Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Thu, May 27, 10 at 14:06

AZ PC

Thank you, I lived in Phoenix for 10 years and I moved to Florida about 2 years ago. Before that I lived in many places...:)

Lived in NW Phoenix and I know about the heat and the clay soil, lol. Just be happy dry is better than humid and clay soil even hard to dig is better than easy sandy and nematode, lol.

I grew the best tasting tomatoes there in raised beds, the one I remember the most was Costoluto Genovese, I never could replicate the flavor anywhere that I grew, and of course I had so many varieties under the shade cloth. My front yard was xeriscape, nothing but cactus and their family. But the backyard was an oasis, gave me the best fruit ever! I still miss my fruit trees. Apricots and figs my favorites!

Hi Caroline

Thank you, I already separated all the fruit for seed saving naming them with a marker.:)

The harvest is after I gave my neighbors the best looking tomatoes, every one that knows me got a basket.

Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Silvia-

I actually don't complain (too much) about the heat, it is what it is. This is my first year trying to keep 'maters that are not "cherry" going through the summer. The heirlooms that I have, all in containers, Cherokee Purple, Beefmaster, Orange Oxheart, Zebra Green & Mr. Stripey are all transplants. I have a wonderful collection of heirloom seeds. I call them a collection because I cannot seem to get them to grow beyond germination! I would be very interested in Costoluto Genovese if I could find it somewhere. I'll have to put my scouting shoes on. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful and productive garden. It gives me hope. :-)


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland, FL-Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Thu, May 27, 10 at 22:05

AZ PC

You should try your hand at growing the tomatoes from seeds, it is so much better!

I still have some costoluto genovese seeds but they are probably too old like about 10 years.

Do they still have "the garden guy' on tv? he also wrote some books. If you do vegetable gardening also I used to have a very good book written by a woman in Tucson, I can not remember her name and I gave all the Arizona gardening books away. It is so well written and informative for that area, I hope that you find it, maybe the library carries one.

I hope that you do great with your tomatoes.

Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Hi Silvia, I am new here and also loved all of your pictures!

I am just south of Sarasota and started my veggie garden just last year - newbie!

I am amazed how green all of your vegetables are. My tomatoes have all kind of blight/spots and worms. What is your routine to keep your plants so healthy and disease/pest free?


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 9, 14 at 7:54

Hi Joix

Welcome to gardening and the forums! you should join us in the Florida gardening forum, a lot of gardeners from Sarasota post there.
To keep my garden in good shape I do daily inspection of the plants, this way I can find out any problem in the beginning and spray if necessary. Every season is different in my area, different bugs too.
I only spray when is cooler, at this time when is so warm I don't. The plants are over 8 feet tall and producing more tomatoes than we can possible use, good time for sharing and oven dry them for later.
In the beginning of the season for preventing disease I use Serenade, Neem, if I see worms Bt or Spinosad.

Here some pictures of tomatoes this season

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Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Do you use fresh soil in all those pots every year? Seems like a lot. I suppose if you mixed finished compost into the "end of season" soil and created a safe way to store it for 2 to 4 years, then you could get away from needing to completely replace the soil each year - you'd only need 3 to 5 years worth and could rotate the soil instead of rotating the locations in the garden. That's something that is definitely worth considering. Until I moved to my current yard last year, I had been constantly challenged with having enough space for yearly crop rotations with the number ot tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant that I wanted to have in my garden. Having a year or two that my tomatoes go in pots like you have set up could help reduce soil born disease greatly.


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 9, 14 at 17:35

Hi drmbear

I use fresh soil that I make it myself every season, twice a year in my location. After the plants are done for the season, I use the spent soil in my fruit trees. Where I live we have sandy soil that hold no nutrients and is prone to nematodes. I use raised beds for all my other veggies.

Harvesting the best tomatoes to roast them today...

 photo June2014_177_zps56a8c160.jpg

Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Hi Silvia,

My tomatoes aren't doing very well. A lot of them are losing leaves (leaves started curling and drying); eventually they completely die. I'll upload some pictures to show you what I mean.

I talked to someone and was told June - Aug is too hot to grow tomatoes. I am just south of Sarasota and in zone 10 I believe. I was told tomatoes won't set fruit if night temperature does not drop below 70 degrees, which is the case in my area. So it's pointless to grow tomatoes in the summer months.

How are you able to grow tomatoes in the summer? Do you have any issues with temperature being too hot?


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...





Notice the leaves starting to brown from the bottom, then eventually the entire tomato plant dries out. I have no idea why it is doing that. I am watering almost every day to try to keep it from getting burned from the sun.

This post was edited by joix on Mon, Jun 23, 14 at 1:06


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 23, 14 at 7:31

Hi Joix

The most important thing to grow tomatoes in Florida it is the right timing, now it is the time to enjoy the last of the tomatoes and clean the garden, it is too hot and humid for most crops. In the beginning it helps to follow the calendar to grow veggies in Florida, later on you get the idea as to what works for you and your particular area. I am in zone 9b and will be starting new seedlings for the fall season after the garden is clean up. I am no expert, but at the end of the season (now) all the tomato plants look bad. Don't concentrate on fixing a spent plant with either foliage and disease issues, instead make plans for the new and next coming fall season and try to grow your own seedlings or get them from a good source. Ask questions, this is the forum to learn and practice in your tomato garden, great experts here! Wish you the best in your garden.

I am enjoying the last tomato harvest, still have a few plants to clean...

 photo June2014_192_zps5acbb862.jpg

 photo June2014_194_zpse30da65a.jpg

Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Thank you Silvia. It's good to know June-Aug are not good for growing anything. I need to pay more attention to the growth calendar, hehe. Learn as I go, I'll prepare for the fall and hopefully do better.


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Tue, Jun 24, 14 at 14:51

Joix, this time of the year is great for the harvest of the fruits of summer, it is all on schedule and I will be cooking with plenty of avocados and figs right now getting ready. I already harvested blueberries, blackberries, nectarines, peaches, lychees, few plums. Will be harvesting atemoyas, red guavas, some citrus, red bananas, few mangoes. And my persimmon tree is loaded for the fall. I cannot complain!:)
I clean 4 tomato plants today, one a Sungold, Sweet Treats, Neves Azorean Red, Amana Orange. There was a lot of fruit in the plants and I am doing oven dried tomatoes for the freezer. I still have a couple of plants to clean.

If you like figs....this is from last July harvest

 photo July2013_093_zps6d8b1b9e.jpg

Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by joix 10 (My Page) on
    Tue, Jun 24, 14 at 22:46

Silvia, this is unbelievable! My mouth is watering!

We moved to Florida just last year and planted our first fig tree last year. It has some fruits now, but is taking forever to ripen those little fruits. We also love lychee and got one last year. But it hasn't grown much at all. I am not sure how much longer it will take for us to see anything...

Where do you get most of your fruit trees and tomato seeds/seedlings? I have been buying seeds from ebay. But since I am new, starting from seed is a trial and error process. I did not harvest much this summer. Will try to do better for the fall!


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Now THAT'S a BLT ! This was a neat thread. The Caprese salads look wonderful !


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Wed, Jun 25, 14 at 7:53

Joix, the garden can produce something all the year if you time it correctly. When moving to a new place, the first thing that we do is plant fruit trees because they are the background and take longer to produce. A good place to shop in South Florida for tropical fruit trees is Excalibur, when you go there you will get a tour and sample the fruits.
I grow my own tomato seedlings for me and the local community garden. Over the years I got some good varieties but I am always looking for new ones to try in my garden, a good place to get info on varieties is Tatiana's tomatoes and of course this forum and the experts, I always pay attention when they recommend.

Thank you Deeby! you have to try the tomato sandwich next time, it is good and I put the link for you.

Silvia

Here is a link that might be useful: tomato sandwich


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Thanks ! As good as basil is with fresh tomato, this is the first time I've ever heard of putting basil in a BLT. Genius !


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Sylvia. you are an all around master gardener, not just tomato gardener.
Now that you are cleaning up, lot of us are still waiting to take that first bite into a ripe juicy tomato. For me it might happen by the Fourth.


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 26, 14 at 7:17

Deeby, the basil in the BLT brings a new depth of flavor, you will like it.

Thank you Seysonn, I like to taste all the different crops that my garden produce and try new varieties, new dishes, keeps the daily life interesting.
When you love a tomato like I do, I will be watching all the harvests in different gardens and hope to see you enjoying your well deserved tomatoes, we are almost there by the Four!

Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Silvia, how are the plants doing now as the heat comes on?


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 26, 14 at 8:37

Hi Pat, the tomato plants are already on the way out, I am cleaning them up and some other veggies too. Few stayed like peppers, eggplants, winter squash and of course a lot of the fruits are ripening now, time to eat the avocados, make fig jams...the ornamental garden looks good too.

Some of the last tomato harvest for the season, soon it will be time to start seedlings for the fall season

 photo June2014_200_zpsa6e4a9dc.jpg

Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Sylvia,

Utterly lovely! You and your garden are both inspiring and bountiful. I stumbled upon your story, pictures and advice and can't help but let you know what I think. I live in NY and garden from my windows but I'll be keeping this link for future; hopefully one day I'll achieve my dream of moving to FL. Thank you so very much.

Nerry


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Silvia, we should start a thread just for you! You are so responsive, it is hard to find.

I have a few other questions that I am hoping you could elaborate.

Can you talk about your soil mix? Do you do the 5-1-1 or some other type? I've been reading online and tried two different types of soil mix. I cannot tell if one is better, or if both are lacking. I have raised bed for vegetables, as well as containers. As I am new to vegetable garden, I think the soil in my raised bed is very poor and needs a lot of help. I am learning as I go.

The other question is what is the best way to keep your seedlings healthy between now to September? I took some suckers off of my tomato plants and hoped to keep them alive until fall. Do you do that and how best to keep them healthy and not too big?

Thanks again in advance.


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 26, 14 at 15:17

Thank you Nerry! Everything in life starts with a wish and a dream, I am sure you will have yours fulfill one day, good luck in your future garden!

Thank you Joix, we were all new some day in the garden, when you move you have to learn new things again because the conditions change.
About the soil mix, I do use the 5-1-1 for the tomatoes and supplement them with fertilizers that I get at the hydroponic store.
The beds do better when you add as much organic material as you can, mine have a mix of pine bark fines, peat moss, black cow and different fertilizers.
The seedlings I start them indoors in a sunny window, when they come up I move them to the porch, with the heat they get leggy but after planting them deeper they are all right. And no, I don't use cuttings to start new plants just in case that they are diseased, it is better for me to start fresh.

Tomatoes and other veggies in the porch

 photo Picture112.jpg

Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Silvia, this is super helpful! And how cute are those little pots in baskets! Are these Styrofoam cups or some other type?

You have some pots in tall plastic containers (back row), then some in shorter baskets (front row). Is there a particular reason for this? Also will you need to repot between now to September? I am worried some of them get tall and big.

Good advice on starting from seeds. I should do that as well and not rely on cuttings. I have not been attentive enough, which tends to kill seedlings, especially when I try to start from seeds. It's also challenging if I need to be away for a few days. How often do you check up on these and water? I find that daily check up is a must, or they dry out or get scorched without me knowing...


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 27, 14 at 14:50

Joix, I forgot to clarify that the last picture is from some other time, I don't have any seedlings at the present moment because I am just cleaning the garden, after that I will start little by little, every week or so something gets started. All my seedlings are started in cups, 3 oz, 8oz, 16 oz. This way I keep it clean and don't reuse them and yes they are styrofoam, easy to make holes. The seedlings need care and attention and if you have to go away, maybe someone can take care of them while you are gone and if they don't survive it is fine too because you can always start more, if you grow from seeds it is very economical. I start the tomatoes in 3 oz, then transplant them to 8 oz and after that 16 oz, I like big seedlings for the pots to go in the garden, this way they have more chances of survival with the rains, heat and humidity.
The tall plastic containers are good for the tomato seedlings, especially if I use a cover with see through material like the insect barrier, no bugs can get there and I don't need to spray till they are bigger and in the garden.
Growing from seeds has also the advantage to grow different varieties that you might like, that is the reason that I also start another veggies for the fall season.
If you start preparing now, you have a big chance to be successful. I usually start big varieties, medium and small, different colors, different tastes.

Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Thank you once again Silvia! I just bought some seeds from ebay - I don't trust that the seeds from my own tomatoes will grow, haha I will be giving this a try exactly like you explained. I try to stay away from using too much plastic, so I'll try reusing pots from store-bought annuals. If I understand correctly, you use new cups to prevent disease issues, correct? Maybe if I make sure to wash pots thoroughly, I won't have too many problems.


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Rehashing old thread, here... I'm interested to know, of all those different varieties, which ones grow best for you? Or even better - what is the best tomato that you have grown for your area? And by that, I mean, best compromise between taste, productivity, and disease resistance. I've been growing here in Florida with mixed results for a few years, and I'm pretty sure that I just haven't quite got the right variety just yet. I just want one "bread and butter" variety, and everything else can just experimental. That one tomato (that I can still stand to eat) that grows without problem still eludes me...


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Sat, Nov 8, 14 at 8:35

Hi solid7

I get the same question very often!:) and I like so many tomatoes that I could not just grow one and pick as my favorite, I just have too many to choose from. I think I can concentrate on what I like to grow for different purposes for cooking, preserving or just give away....

Every season I grow enough cherries for salads and to oven dry them and saved them in the freezer for when I don't have fresh tomatoes. The big varieties are next, usually the beefsteaks in different colors to use them sliced in sandwiches, salads, salsas, sauces.
Usually one of them is a hybrid, other one a heart, it changes. Every season I also try to grow a new variety for me and see how well it does and if we like it.

This morning tomatoes

 photo November2014_023_zpsf2717e37.jpg

 photo November2014_024_zps4778c062.jpg

Some of the big tomatoes this season are Penna, Neves Azorean Red, Big Beef, Amana, Pork Chop, Paul Robeson, Indian Stripe, Kosovo. Some of the cherries,Sungold, Sweet Baby, Smarty, Sweet Treats, Marizol, Green Zebra cherry, Jaunne Flame. The new for me this season are Indigo cherry and the dwarf Jade.

Here are some pictures, they are all producing good and I like the taste.

Neves Azorean

 photo November2014_031_zps1f3a0e8e.jpg

Kosovo

 photo November2014_035_zpsc200acf8.jpg

Smarty

 photo November2014_033_zps69d37340.jpg

Sweet Treats

 photo November2014_034_zpsf0d2ef8a.jpg

Penna

 photo November2014_025_zps829b0e1b.jpg

Indigo cherry

 photo November2014_021_zps72ac163a.jpg

And most people like Sungold, so I made a Sungold Caprese salad last Sunday for a party....

 photo November2014_016_zps1c19f3ef.jpg

If you tell me which varieties do you usually grow maybe I can give you my experience if I grew them before. In my garden today, the cherry tomatoes are ripening, soon the big tomatoes are coming up and with that I will be thinking about the harvests and the best use for them....

Silvia



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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Very nice plants as usual, Silvia.
Just yesterday I cleaned up the remains of all my tomato plants. It will be next April ( 5 months from now) to start 2015 grow season.

Seysonn


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Sat, Nov 8, 14 at 12:21

Thank you Seysonn,
It is time for you to clean up the garden and prepare for the next tomato season. I was In Spain few weeks ago and they had a tomato season there, tomatoes were good tasting and had a good variety for sale at the markets. I had a chance to try a few dishes made with tomatoes, one that is popular was bread with tomatoes for breakfast. Some pictures for you from Spain

Supermarket tomatoes

 photo September2014_274_zps906b43c4.jpg

A tomato soup

 photo September2014_279_zps1ee5a2f8.jpg

The Botanical garden tomatoes

 photo September2014_231_zps38e73dee.jpg

My favorite market

 photo September2014_162_zps7eacfa6b.jpg

Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

The varieties that I've stuck with so far, are the ones that appear in the farmer's markets. (I figure those must be the ones that do the best in the area, right?)

Purple Cherokee
Mortgage Lifter
Black Prince
Black Krim
Marglobe
Indigo Rose
Everglades Cherry
Stupice
Patio (got from a box store - best producing variety so far)

Right now, my Marglobes are taking a beating from Fusarium. The potting mix is 100% brand new this year. Other than that, they are currently about 9' tall. But it would sure be nice if they wouldn't die from the ground up. :(


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Sat, Nov 8, 14 at 15:08

Solid7, you must have different farmers markets in your area because around me I have not seen any of those for sale.

I grow my tomatoes only in containers with a fresh soil each time. From the varieties that you have listed I have grown Purple Cherokee but I like Indian Stripe better, have not grown Mortgage Lifter or Black Prince, Black Krim depending on the weather it is good or not, I have not grown Marglove in a long time so it is probably not a favorite, I grew Indigo Rose when it first came out and the variety was not stable yet but it was prolific, I have grown Stupice and is not a memorable tomato for me, it is good only because it ripens early, the Everglades cherry or any currant tomato are good but you could not make a meal out of them, they are a novelty and prolific, I have not grown the patio tomato.

We had a lot of rain in the beginning of the season and it was hot for a long time but now is cooler and dry, hope that is a good tomato season.

Do you grow in the ground or containers? do you spray with fungicides? In my organic garden tomatoes take the center stage and I try to inspect them early for any possible problems.

Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

You are further south than I am in north Florida, but you asked about a meat and potatoes kind of performer and I had Marglobe so I should chime in and advocate it ;-) as it did well as did, Rutgers and Homestead. All of those are are related to each other and have a nice balanced flavor and produce well. Homestead is good if you expect to be harvesting in hotter weather. None are snazzy heirloom names, but all are OPs which are fine to call heirlooms and date back to Marglobe from the early 1900's to the 1950's with Homestead if I remember, and Marglobe itself was a cross between a popular US variety and a popular European variety over 100 years ago when maters tasted better. My tip is to never underestimate that sort of tomato because of the names.

I can't hope for having such nice results as Silvia since I have 164 square feet to grow in with terrible sun exposure, but under my circumstances, any one of those three would be great. Cherokee Purple is very impressive to me, but in cooler conditions it gets moldy foliage because it is so dense leaved, but it always surprises me how vigorous it grows. It just take too darn long between clusters to compete with the other ones in yield, which I think is part of what you asked Silvia.

Seriously when she tells you she grows in containers, I could not do it any other way either. The soil is so full of nematodes and plant disease, I couldn't imagine trying the ground...well...actually I have three plants in the ground right now. They are a few inches high. Their twin brother is in a bucket and he's over 4 feet and into his first cluster.

My new one to try and if I lived in 9b even more so is Bradley (about 1960), a tomato I have a personal connection to. which tolerates heat well and is dee-licious (so they say). It was a joke to the breeder of this tomato that farmers grew his later varieties for the market but alwayssaved the seeds of Bradley for their own garden for the family. I only mention this because I am going to evaluate it for my next meat and potatoes kind of tomato and it is flavorful and prolific if you can deal with some cracking, which is common in many heirlooms anyway.

So if that's any help, good luck from the First Coast of FL

PC

PS

My question to Silvia and that marvelous garden, is if you have a problem with leaf miners, and how you deal with them. It is terrible here :-( Thanks!

This post was edited by PupillaCharites on Sat, Nov 8, 14 at 16:28


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Slivia - I only grow in containers, and I only grow organic. I've been experimenting with different containers, and I'm loving the DIY Earthbox knock-offs. Unfortunately, I have the same problems no matter how I grow - from hydroponic to conventional containers.

I'd love to have some good tips on how to deal with some of the pests and nasties, as we are always crawing with whitefly. Like I said about the varieities I'm growing, the Marglobe is struggling with Fusarium. The stupice holds up well, but like PupillaCharites said, it's a blah variety. Agreed on the Cherokee Purple, super grower, but it does tend to bring on the powdery mildew - especially if we get a cold rain. (December is bad for this)

The mortgage lifter, for big tomatoes, has been my best grower so far. It was an incredible variety, in both taste and growth.

Any chance you'd sell/trade some seeds, Silvia? I'm really much more successful with hot peppers. Lots to trade, there...


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 9, 14 at 9:05

Hi PC- Thank you for your nice words, I also have a small garden but I like to grow a variety of tomatoes. In the beginning of the season, I sprayed a few times with Spinosad for the leaf miners, at this point when the plants are so tall and loaded with fruit, I don't spray anything.

Solid7- Early in the season when we had heavy rains, I sprayed few times with copper. Keeping the plants strong and healthy is a good thing against the bugs. I tend to believe that a well taken care of plant can fight disease and bugs better. Right now I am not spraying anything and keeping on eye for any bugs that may show up, the eyes are the best tools that we have in an organic garden.

Anything garden related I don't sell but I host garden parties twice a year for the gardeners that come to share food and trade plants and seeds, we just had one in October, they are a lot of fun! The next one will be around April, if you are available you should try to come and meet us all, we like hot peppers!

This one was one of the many good dishes at the party

 photo P1060410_zps3be7d3cd.jpg

Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by garf 10B (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 10, 14 at 17:06

I am a little late getting started here in Miami. I have 8 out of 8 supermarket tomato plants started from seed despite having a massive amount of seeds on hand. I did this at the start of summer and planted 4 seedlings that almost survived the Miami heat. I still have one barely alive. They gave me quite a few good tasting tomatoes despite the heat. Now I'm going to try it in the growing season and see what happens. I will also start some everglades for good measure.


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Thanks Silvia, You're definitely the Queen of Winter Garden (spring and fall LOL...) and I'm a supporter of your strategy which is somewhat similar to what I do here. Those garden parties sound like a most delicious event, I wish I lived further south just to go and sneak a pizza-ey slice of Jimmy's Tomato Tart. Mmmm that looks to die for.

You do have a small gardening area, so I should have called mine a micro-garden, 16 plants spaced at less than 1.5 feet from each other and a huge due south property line neighbor's pet tree at mid-day that completely shades my yard without mercy all October through all March :-(. Now, it's a fight with molds as I'm sure you've seen too if you do much in shade.

Thanks for saying what you do (or really, don't do) for the leaf miners. Sounds like you have less pressure than here because if I didn't do anything my plants would be completely mined brown in short order through the entire available growing season. There really is no good solution no matter how hard I knock my head against the wall. In the spring it is better because of the rapid growth as temperature increases. But now, it makes the plants miserable because there isn't enough light to keep producing in good form and the miners take it one more step toward the end by first frost in December.

I wonder if Lake Apopka keeps you pretty "Frostproof" or if you could grow outside through Dec-Feb if you wanted to put a little more effort into it. It is probably just a good chance to clean up though and if I lived there I'd probably start my plants right after New Year, which is pretty convenient to relax during the hoilidays ;-)

Cheers from a bit above Latitude 30,
PC, who gets hungry every time I open this thread. Thanks for sharing your delicious gardening operation :-)


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

For leaf miners, you could try BT which kills most caterpillar-types. However, I have found that it stinks to high Heaven and I'm not sure if I could bring myself to spray edible crops with it.


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Thanks labradors for the suggestion. Unfortunately, I've tried it in the consumer Bt product Dipel, and it only was extra insecticide that the leaf miners scoffed at. My species, yes, I've done everything I can which started by identifying it, It is Liriomyza trifolii (Burgess) a.k.a. the American Serpentine Leafminer.

This fly is the size of a no-see-um knat and is totally immune to the effects of Bt. Besides I don't think Bt goes inside the leaf so it is protected like it is from most insecticides. There are many other types of leafminers but this is the rotton one for me. Some are moth larvae and those might be taken care of by Bt. Sadly not my tomato Number #1 foe :-(

PC


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Tue, Nov 11, 14 at 18:27

Thank you PC, you do have a way with words!

I am happy with my location, the lake Apopka for sure helps to have it nearby, also the trail and its vegetation. In recent winters we have been warmer than few years back where we had a lot of more frosts. I kind of like the idea of cleaning and planting again, get the chance to not get tired of tomatoes, try new varieties, less disease.

Sorry to hear about your growing conditions, sun is very important for the tomatoes in our area, in Arizona I grew them under a shadecloth and afternoon shade, otherwise the skins would burst. Do you have citrus nearby? they get the leaf miners bad. Spinosad is good but you cannot overuse it because the crops get resistant to it, at least that what I heard. If I was you, I would make a mix of spinosad, neem oil and Dr Bonners soap. Spray regularly till the problem is solved.

For the mold, try to prune the vines to one single stem to improve circulation of air, maybe is better less varieties and more space.

Maybe one day you can make it to one of our garden parties, everyone try their best at cooking and bringing plants. Gardening is a great hobby and we have the nicest group of gardeners that get together and enjoy the day.

Silvia


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Oh dear! A fly-type of leaf miner!

I guess the only way to keep them off would be to grow your tomato plants under Reemay! What a pain!

Linda


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

Hi Silvia, maybe they're kind words but you make it easy, over a Sungold Caprese salad LOL. The thread got so big, I'm reading it in pieces so forgive me if I say something you've covered. To tell the truth, I just keep coming back to look at the pictures ;-)

When/how are you going to pull your plants this year? Do you take them to the end, or as you say force a break to lessen carrying any disease (and I say enjoying Christmas).

I think we're going to have an early frost this year since that's the way it's been going. It'll definitely get us up here, but hopefully you'll be insulated around 3 hours to the south. Three hours, hmmm. If things work out I might just crash your April party!

I'm actually going to try the mix with spinosad and neem, because you suggested it... The spinosad alone is worthless but I've never used neem, and need to look more into it, since it gets such good reviews. I have a highly refined horticultural oil called Sunspray that I've used for mites successfully which may be an ok swap, so I'll read up on the difference to be sure.

I started keeping single vines, and you're right about that. At this point, I am letting the plants put out everything they can. It's not because I am happy with that, only because every single flower counts here and pruning and waiting as the Sun falls further won't get a few last clusters in. So it used to single but now they are an intertwined mess with lots of yellow ;-) October was a great month in general as it always is, but the party will be over as quickly as it started. September was a total rainout which delayed everything and why transplant date was Oct 3.

Hi labs ! Yes a sort of summer fabric would be just what the doctor ordered. Sounds like a project for next year spring/summer. But for extending the season, the plants now couldn't take the hit in loss of light. Sometimes I think I should just get a grow room inside the house with silver wallpaper and a huge electric bill :-(

Cheers!
PC

EDIT... about Citrus, nope that's not our source here but I bet it is a big deal around Indian River... we're too far north except for an ocassional pet tree in the yard for fun. There are two trees within 500 feet and later I'm going to sneak a look at them both just for fun. Better not to ask, since it might not go over well, if I say can I inspect your lemon and orange tree for leafminers I have on my tomatoes ;-))))

This post was edited by PupillaCharites on Wed, Nov 12, 14 at 11:58


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RE: A Central Florida tomato story...

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Wed, Nov 12, 14 at 19:16

Hi PC, looking forward to you crashing the party in April.:)

I don't have an exact time to pull the plants out but I still have them in January, I use the tomatoes for the parties at my house around Christmas, the big tomatoes are just ripening now...

January tomatoes from past seasons, with snap peas

 photo January2013_077.jpg

With phyllo dough and feta cheese

 photo January2013_026.jpg

Silvia


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