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Tomatoes are out of control

Posted by tatsoul none (My Page) on
Mon, May 12, 14 at 23:28

Not sure what to do.I planted my plants early around the first of march.I bought the regular size cages and planted them.Than the plants started to outgrow them so i got a welder to make cages bigger.That was 2 weeks ago now they are outgrowing the new cages i welded.The tomatoes right now are right at 7 feet and i really dont wanna pick tomatoes from a ladder.Not really sure what to do at this point.I thought about cutting all the tops off and just letting them grow outwards but they are already doing that also.Anyone have any suggestions?The first picture was taken on 4/27 and the second was taken tonight.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

taken last night


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

Ah, that is a familiar problem, though I don't get a tomato jungle until around July and August!

If you just let them go, they will start drooping down over the tops of the cages and grow back toward you...easier than building a tomato skyscraper and pulling out the ladder! Topping works too, if you just want to have done with the height.


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

I would top 1/3rd of the plants,prune 1/3rd and leave the remainder as is.
Whatever you decide about pruning ,don't give them any nitrogen from here until late summer. Are the plants blooming? Are they setting fruit? Over fertilizing is easy with tomatoes. That usualy results in great vines with little or no fruit.


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

They are loaded with tomatoes.To many to count.I havnt over ferterlized there just extremely healthy plants.I only ferterlize about every 3 weeks and water every 4 to 5 days.I was removing alot of the suckers but it was to many to keep up with.
this plant has over 50 green ones


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

SOS. I saw a big sucker probably close as big as the main stem with blooming multiple fruits. Shell I cut this suckers or leave them alone. They're indeterminate heirloom. HELP O- B -ONE.- KANOBI.


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

What is in your photos is perfectly normal tomato plant growth. The problem is the plant spacing you used and the type of cages used but now you have learned a valuable lesson for next year. :).

Many discussions here about both issues with solutions for both including why those ring thing cages are never recommended by experienced growers.

You don't mention variety names but I do see in the last photo that at least one is a cherry-type. It will get quite a bit bigger.

The plant will do ok as is but you may not care for the jungle appearance you will get and additional supports like a Florida weave would be of great benefit or you will get broken branches. If you fell you have to do something, I'd focus on trimming back (shortening) the leafy branches between the plants rather than the so-called "suckers" as they will have the fruit on them.

So-called "topping" only makes indeterminates grow taller so I never recommend it and doing it now will only cost you lots of fruit. Pruning is your option but it isn't required.

Dave


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

the plants are not cherry's.The one in the last pic is a Big Beef.Its 7 feet tall and over 4 feet wide.I planted these plants 4 feet apart which i thought was adequate.I wasnt expecting them to get this large this year.I like cages because i dont have time to babysit them plus the string methods ive seen used look like crap and its a pain to take down to work around.Cages seem to be working fine till the height of 7 feet.I think i will just let them grow over the tops and let them fall back to the ground since the late season fruit will grow off the new growth anyway.
The first 2 pics are red beefsteak.


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Tue, May 13, 14 at 10:47

I like cages because i dont have time to babysit them plus the string methods ive seen used look like crap and its a pain to take down to work around

I prefer cages too but real tomato cages, not those flimsy ring things which aren't good for much of anything but peppers and eggplants. I use CRW cages 6' tall but there are other alternatives.

Pull up all the discussions here on cages to see pics of all the much better alternatives most of us use.

Dave


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

If you are careful with the pinch, you can nip the growth part of a sucker, leaving the flower part. I've done that in some places, though I am facing a similar dilemma, overall.


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

Tatsoul,
Beautiful plants, awesome pictures of all those tomatoes!!
I agree with your choice and the advice some others gave, let them grow up and over.


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

If You have space, good support and don't have time to tend/baby sit your plants then just let them grow WILD. I grow them in tight spacing and prune systematically to about 3 stems and when they get too tall (mostly toward the end of season), i TOP them : meaning cut back any new growth that wont have a chance to provide ripe fruits in time, before it cools down dramatically and/or the frost hits.


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

I don't really see out of control. Just probably not what you expected. Yes too close together and not great supports, but many here have far worse problems...just getting decent weather to plant in the ground and often transplant trouble. Sore back already from carrying in and out due to weather changes, (raise hand).
Enjoy your success and keep learning for next season.
Don't toss your cages. They may have value in the future for some different crops.
Consider a different method next year, or try a few methods...just to see what works best for your environment.
I would pinch a few young suckers, not that i do myself, but with that lovely foliage, when i'm a few weeks from planting, makes me want to visit you and pinch away...


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

I put these tomatoes pretty far apart,I have been growing them since i was a kid,almost 40 now so im not clueless.Just wasnt sure if topping them would be better than letting them lay over.I had issues 4 years ago with them getting tall and branches breaking.trying to keep them tied up to stakes was a waste of time.I had brought in some dirt from the alabama black belt from my hunting lease this year and they seem to really like this dirt;The cages i got were the big ones from lowes not the cheap flimbsy ones from wal mart.Its hard to tell in the pic how big they are not compared to anything as one person thought one was a cherry tomato lol.I have been red tomatoes off my early girl for about 2 weeks now the size of tennis balls.Not a bad tomato but not the best.I have a few on my beefsteaks that will be turning in about a week and a half.Here is a better day pic taken last week.


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

Here is a better daytime pic.They really didnt start to set fruit till the nighttime temps rose some.We had an unusual cold winter and here in NW florida the nightime temps got down in the high 30's in march a couple times.Now the temps are right so they are covered up in tomatoes,I have a green goliath the size of a softball right now on a main vine.


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

That's a nice problem to have. That ship has sailed for the most part. Whatever you have been doing, just keep it up. You'll have thousands of tomatoes!! Like was stated, next year you'll be able to plan a bit better. Big sturdy cages rule. Thumbs up.


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Tue, May 13, 14 at 18:20

4' spacing is fine and as others have mentioned "out of control" is a very subjective thing so to many of us they don't appear out of control at all.

Sorry about the cherry tomato comment since there was no ID of varieties in the OP and no scale in the pic I just assumed the #2 pic was cherry. But it doesn't really matter anyway as many indeterminate varieties will reach 7-10 feet tall or more.

The primary problem remains the choice of cages and yes, I do know what models you are talking about and as I mentioned, pulling up a few of the 'cages' discussions with show how pointless most feel they are when compared to many of the other options available. They simply lack the containment ability and support strength needed for most indeterminate varieties. Most will agree they are better than a stake but that's about it.

But the bottom line is they are your plants to do with as you wish. If you think they are out of control and you want to top them or heavily prune them all I can suggest is to do it gradually and no more than absolutely necessary. They look healthy and great to me. :)

Dave

Some of my 6' galvanized fencing cages we use in the front garden every year.

 photo June2008034.jpg

And check out the great CRW ones Korney has posted in the past.

http://mysite.verizon.net/~korney19/v2-516x600.jpg

Just a couple of the many pics posted here of cages.


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

I wanted to use the 6 foot concrete wire but i was already 500 out of pocket hauling alabama dirt to florida.at 100 a roll it wasnt an option.besides it would only get me to 6 feet.my tomatoes now are over that.i think i will use the cocrete slab wire next year and weld them stacked to give me 12 feet.i can drive a galvanized stake for support.thanks for all the help


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

I wanted to use the 6 foot concrete wire but i was already 500 out of pocket hauling alabama dirt to florida.at 100 a roll it wasnt an option.besides it would only get me to 6 feet.my tomatoes now are over that.i think i will use the cocrete slab wire next year and weld them stacked to give me 12 feet.i can drive a galvanized stake for support.thanks for all the help


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

I wanted to use the 6 foot concrete wire but i was already 500 out of pocket hauling alabama dirt to florida.at 100 a roll it wasnt an option.besides it would only get me to 6 feet.my tomatoes now are over that.i think i will use the cocrete slab wire next year and weld them stacked to give me 12 feet.i can drive a galvanized stake for support.thanks for all the help


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Tue, May 13, 14 at 21:43

I've always found 6 feet to be plenty but then i don't want to use a ladder to pick. The top 3-4' of plant growth just drapes down over the outside of the cage with no problems.

Dave


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

How do you pull your tomatoes out of the cages.i bought a roll of that chicken wire to cut out bigger sections but it was to flimsy.the concrete wire has the 6x6 holes but is 100 a roll.


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Tue, May 13, 14 at 22:40

Asking me? Most of my cages are concrete reinforcing wire but the welded wire fencing cages above have random holes I cut in them. Just cross cut 2 wires with kleins/dykes/cutting torch/whatever gives you 4"x6" openings. Easy. Make em 34", 32", and 30" diameter and they stack inside each other for storage or you can undo the bent wire closures and store them flat.

Soaker hoses and drip lines run under the mulch.

Dave

PS: Didn't have them in the pic above but for the past several years I have a T post metal stake between each 2 cages and tie wrap the cages to the stakes as we get some high winds.


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

They also sell CRW in sheets. I think they are 48" x 82" (Or 42" x 84"). Anyway, for $7.20 (plus tx @ HD) you can make ONE 7 ft tall REAL STURDY cage. Even if you drive one foot of it into the ground, you will end up wit 6ft tall cage. It would be better than ANY 3-ring cage.


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

I'm having issues with my tomatoes outgrowing their cages as well. And, like most beginner gardeners, I opted for the cheapo ring cages.

This year I had really ambitious plans to make new cages using the concrete mesh as that seems highly recommended. But I ran out of time and just re-used the cheap ones I got last year. In all honesty, they did fine. I did have to add stakes but overall the ring cages did OK. Eventually I'll upgrade, but the way I look at it, I've already spent the money on these so might as well use them for a while.

My tomato patch is kind of a hodge podge and next year I'd like to make it a little more organized, but that's just aesthetics - the tomatoes don't seem to mind. :)

This is what I have going on. I planted 6 early on in the season, and the remaining 17 plants I have were planted out a month or so later. Though it seems the babies are catching up fast.


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

I'm not very experienced but this seems like a nice problem to have. My plants have also outgrown their ring-thingies. I've been supplementing with long bamboo stakes that are $2 for a package of 6 at Home Depot and some twist ties I have on hand. They are not the sturdiest things but they are working for now.


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

For those who bought the short rings and need something taller, one possibility is to attach a second (same diameter) short ring to the first, but upside-down. Attach them with 3 cable-ties (aka zip-ties).

GWebber rnewste does that with his homemade EarthTainers. [I think he uses the short ring-cages because the long legs (which usually go into the ground) are how he fastens the cages to the tops of his containers. And since the legs are entirely above the growing medium, he can use the entire height of the cage to support his plants.]


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RE: Tomatoes are out of control

Well, when Op talks about "out of control" it means something at least not very convenient, As a gardener you must be the master and keep things as you want and like. This true about growing flowers, roses, shrubs and TOMATOES.
If you are 5'4"(example) and tomatoes are 7',6", that is inconvenience. Plus you are running more risk of the plants falling off, breaking at high winds etc. There is nothing wrong with topping but it has to be done early on. So the plant will have more side branches and can stay shorter. This method is easy to be used with cage than stake.


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