Return to the Growing Tomatoes Forum | Post a Follow-Up

What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

Posted by Daniel_NY 7a (My Page) on
Fri, Aug 22, 14 at 11:44

I'm sure we ALL could learn a thing or two.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

* Get advice from those who grow tomatoes successfully

* Be selective about which varieties you grow

* Be prepared to support your plants

* Check out different opinions about how to make the experience fun and productive

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 22, 14 at 14:30

1 - that growing them in containers is a whole different ballgame and requires very different methods than growing them in ground. They need different container mix, different feeding and watering, and different varieties for best results.

2 - that the bigger the container is the better and while 5 gallons can be done with extra work, a 12" pot doesn't cut it. 10 gallons is 10x better than 5 gallons.

3 - that pruning is optional but never required.

4 - that most indeterminate variety plants will be 6-8 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide so plant accordingly.

5 - that the 3-4 ring things sold as tomato cages are a waste of money.

6 - that given the thousands of varieties, a tomato cannot be identified in hand, much less from a photo of the fruit.

7 - that the many common tomato plant diseases are just that - common. So learn about them, prepare for them, and then learn to live with them.

8 - that leaves gets spots on them for all kinds of reasons but nine times out of 10 it is just environmental damage and pose no threat to the plant.

9 - that patience is a virtue and green fruit does not ripen in a week. It takes an average of 6-8 weeks from fruit set to ripe.

10 - that branches break all the time and unless it is a full break it will usually scar up and keep on growing with no problems.


RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

  • Posted by qaguy Sunset 21/LosAngeles (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 22, 14 at 15:29


RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

The first advice I would give to a newbie is TO READ: books, magazines, Internet articles, forums’ threads… Rainy autumn days and white winter days are perfect for reading.

More he knows easier he will be able to fix potential problems. And there WILL be problems.

Ask around if you have questions, there will ALWAYS be somebody willing to help you.

This post was edited by Daniel_NY on Fri, Aug 22, 14 at 15:48

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

Excellent advice Dave

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

If at first you don't succeed... replant!

There is no such thing as a perfect garden, much less a perfect tomato plant.

The same tomato will not necessarily taste the same from one year to the next. Or even grow the same!

You can plan all you want, but you can't change what weather you get.

Moisture meters are your friends. Hornworms are not.

As you are sweating, getting covered in dirt and getting chewed up by mosquitoes, keep telling yourself "this is fun... this is fun... "

Above all, relax and enjoy!


RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

My advice:

1- start small and learn as you go along.
2- get a soil test to know what your soil is lacking.
3- When it come to fertilizer, plants don't care where the N, P, K, Mg, Ca coming from. Don't waste your money on expensive so-called "organic" fertilizer (MPO), UNLESS you are an "Organic purist". That is fine. That is your prerogative.
4- Be systematic on spraying with anti fungal on schedule, Prevention is better than fighting .
you have also given lots of other good advice already.

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

Some pretty good advice above....
1. Know your weather...and the differences in growing techniques/skills needed in your neighborhood.
2. Learn who has knowledge here and who is just long-winded
3. Rain and damp weather is not your friend.
4. Provide plenty of sun.
5. Listen to digdirt.

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?


Enjoy what you are doing.

Always read the great advice.

Take the time to sort out different opinions.

Decide what is right for you.

Every garden and gardener are different

Good Luck

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

My Stupidest Gardening Mistake - or- We Were Once All Newbies (GardenWeb)

Newbies and even pros might learn a thing or two.

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

Be organized !

No matter how many tools you have, no matter how expensive they are, if it takes 5 minutes to find a hammer, you’re not very efficient.

Buy a cheap toolbox, fill it with your most used tools and keep it handy.

Also, buy the best - which most of the times, are the most expensive - tools that you can afford. They will last longer and will work better than cheap tools that break after few days.

This post was edited by Daniel_NY on Mon, Aug 25, 14 at 22:07

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

Best advice that was given to me :

Do not put your fingers under the trunk when you don't know how the engine works.

Which, finally, is an incentive to read Garden Web.

And to let your tomatoes fight for themselves when you're busy/lazy/ignorant. Usually, they don't fancy dying anymore than you do.

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?


Make - and stick with - schedules: watering, fertilizing, fungicide…

While skipping some operations - watering or fertilizing - can have usually minor reversible effect on the crop yield, others - such as skipping spraying fungicide - can have DISASTROUS effect.

Also, read AND follow labels’ instructions. Don’t “guess” how much you should use. It’s true, in time, when you get experience you might not have to measure those 6 teaspoons, or 4 oz., you can estimate how much that would be. Half a spoon more or less doesn’t make any difference. But, if according to the label, you have to use ONE spoon and you use FIVE spoons - what you "guessed" - you WILL have a problem.

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

Best advice??

Listen to Dave/digdirt.

He's the man!!

Thank you Dave for all of your kind, generous help!! (Applause)

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

lilsprout wrote: > Best advice?? Listen to Dave/digdirt.

fireduck wrote: > …Listen to digdirt.

lilsprout and fireduck, while I agree that Dave / digdirt knows A LOT, we - the newbies - still try to share what we know. And MANY learned a thing or two. Not YOU TWO, because you don't need... newbies' opinions.

This post was edited by Daniel_NY on Thu, Aug 28, 14 at 11:38

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

More advice ?

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

Buy BIG !!!

For example: don’t buy Ready-to-Use Copper Fungicide, 32 oz for $12.16, which is enough for few plants. Much better buy Copper Fungicide Concentrate, 16 oz. for $16.14, which will be enough for MANY more plants.

Another example: don’t buy 100 Tomato Trellis Clip for $9.35. Better buy 1,000 Tomato Clips for $27.64.

Depending on how heavy foliage your tomatoes have, you will need up to 50 clips / plant, so if you buy only 100…

This post was edited by Daniel_NY on Tue, Sep 16, 14 at 13:30

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

As Daniel said:

Be consistent !
Stick to and follow your plans. This is so true about spraying, fertilizing, watering ( and in my case pruning).

We can have all kind of plans while taking shower but one has to execute them. :-)

ultimately, doing what you think is the right thing is better than doing nothing. Even if you are wrong 4 out of 10 times.

Learn from your mistakes. Better yet, learn from somebody else 's mistakes. ( I like this one).

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

Be realistic. It's easy to buy 25 plants but if you only have a small garden, you've just bought yourself a lot of work and maybe misery.
Be prepared for some expenses your first year. You can make good tomato supports, read and check out how people have done it.
Learn how to search GW and read, there is a good possibility that the questions you have will be answered. Sometimes I find I can't find all the threads if I search though, if you post and ask, people will help and many times link to threads.
Spend time in your garden, you can't just plant and forget. Plants need ongoing care.
Buy Hellman's mayo for your tomato sammitches.

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

  • Posted by bart1 6/7 Northern VA (My Page) on
    Wed, Sep 17, 14 at 16:17

Sun, sun and more sun. Plant them in the sunniest spot you have

You can't overcome a lack of sunlight by fertilizing or enriching the soil or starting the plants very big.........I tried for years in my shaded backyard with very little success. Three hours of direct sun is not enough!! (Now I only grow tomatoes in a plot far away from my house, which introduces a whole new set of problems, but at least I have full sun!)

Don't over water. If you use mulch or landscaping fabric to keep the weeds down, you may not have to water at all (depending on where you are and how much rain you get of course). For me, this year, I don't think I had to water my tomatoes at all after the first few weeks when they were well established. I use landscaping fabric to keep the weeds down, but it also does wonders for conserving soil moisture.

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

  • Posted by ZachS z5 Littleton, CO (My Page) on
    Wed, Sep 17, 14 at 16:55

My best advice?

You can read all the books and magazine articles and internet discussions you want and do everything by the book and you still find that not everything is going to go according to plan. Advice is just that, advice. What works for me may not work for you. Do not think you have to have to do everything exactly the way that someone else does. There are few hard and fast rules in gardening, but mostly a lot of guidelines. Don't be afraid to go your own way to find out what works best for you.

And finally, unless this is how you intend to pay your mortgage, this is for fun. As Aldo Leopold wrote "...Becoming serious is a grievous fault in hobbyists."

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

1) Get a soil test in the fall, amend your soil so it is ready in the spring.

2) Take notes every year on what you do, when you did it, whether it worked or not. I always start out great and then the writing fizzles, but it helped me in the beginning.

3) If it doesn't work one way, try something else!

4) Be proactive, if you wait, it's typically too late.

5) This year we decided to track productivity and get rid of the slackers. A pen, blue painters tape, and a drawing of the garden was very helpful. Of course, we only have 16 tomatoes, so it was easy for us to keep track of. New varieties will be tried out in place of the slackers...

6) What works for someone else, may not work for you. It's a journey to figure out what works where you live, in your weather, with your soil, and each year weather changes affect that.

7) Don't give up!

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

1) Mulch
2) CRW Cages
3) don't over water (you don't need to water as often when they are small and if they are mulched
4) pick at breaker stage
5) Mulch again, the first stuff you laid down is gone

RE: What are your Top 5/10 advice for a newbie ?

1. Don't get discouraged. Even experienced gardeners have bad years. Like the Montgomery County master gardeners this year.

2. If growing in containers, use big ones. Like really, really big ones. Five gallon buckets with a single plant are a minimum. I used whisky barrels for my first (containerized) attempt this year and my best guess is they were 25+ but it was still a lot of work compared to my usual in ground tomatoes.

3. Compost. Over the long term, you can improve your soil and meet a lot of your fertilizer needs with composting. And the do post bin attracts earthworms.

4. Read and think. That way you learn from others. And day dreaming and thinking about and reading about gardening is part or the fun.

5. Try something new and different. The world of tomatoes is vast and the only way to get a sausage shaped tomato with stripes is to grow it yourself. So why not try some of those instead of or in addition to yet another globe shaped red one?

6. Carolyn137 is a minor deity where tomato growing is concerned. Learn from her. :)

7. Tomatoes look like small plants when they start out and when you see them in the store. But they get enormous really fast, especially the indeterminate varieties. So give them a lot of room.

8. Tomatoes are like depressed people. Some good support is essential.

9. Be prepared for questions and imitation by your neighbors. Since I started gardening again, there has begun to be a tomato jungle in my neighborhood.

10. Have fun! This is a great hobby, so don't worry about it too much.

11. Grow some other things too. Nothing compliments a fresh grown tomato like some freshly grown oregano or basil. The only plant more fun to grow than a tomato (in my opinion) is a pepper plant. And if your tomatoes have a bad year and disappoint, then you will still have your other crops. That way no year is ever a total disappointment.


 o Post a Follow-Up

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

    If you are a member, please log in.

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

Return to the Growing Tomatoes Forum

Information about Posting

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

Learn more about in-text links on this page here