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LoganBuck
05-16-2005, 10:39 PM
It is time to plant your Tomato plants! I fancy myself a bit of a Tomato expert. If you have some questions throw them my way.

My number 1 tip for growing good tomatoes: Use Tomato Fertilizer Spikes, the time delay action keeps feeding the plant continuously for up to two months.

Roy Tucker
05-17-2005, 08:26 AM
So what are your recommendations to grow? I've had mine growing in the garage for the last couple weeks and I'm going to plant them this weekend.

I've got Jet Star (2), Better Boy (2), a Beefsteak, an Early Girl, Roma (2), and grape tomato plants:

- The Jet Stars and Better Boys are your general purpose (or garden variety :D ) tomatoes that get used for sandwiches, salads, pizzas, whatever, etc.
- The Early Girls aren't all that spectacular, but they are early :)
- The Roma we freeze/can for winter time cooking.
- The Beefsteak I grow just to see big ole tomatoes. I love a tomato slab, cucumber, and cheese sandwich with a sturdy mustard and mayo on whole wheat.
- The grape tomatoes are for kids to go pluck off the vine and eat and also for salads. I prefer them over cherry tomatoes.

I've looked at the heirlooms, but am never quite sure what is good.

Spring~Fields
05-17-2005, 09:36 AM
We love Jet Star, they always seem to produce nicely regardless of soil or weather, except last year they had such large clusters of very nice tomatoes that they eventually broke the main vines, the beesteaks produced 2lb tomatoes for us last year, this year we are trying Burpee Mortgage Lifter, Burpee claims that they can produce up to 4 lb tomatoes.

HEIRLOOM. This huge heirloom beefsteak (up to 4 pounds; average 2 1/2 pounds) consistently wins taste-tests.
http://www.burpee.com/jump.jsp?itemID=1866&itemType=CATEGORY&iMainCat=13&iSubCat=2004&page=2

Wish I could produce fewer typo's :(

westofyou
05-17-2005, 09:48 AM
I planted mine 3 weeks ago (rain forest) also my pepper plants.

I like Romas, Beefsteaks and cherry (lots of them)

Didn't know about the food sticks, now I'll have to try them thanks fo rthe tip.

ochre
05-17-2005, 09:57 AM
My dad uses this chambered plastic sleeve that goes around early tomato plants. You fill the sleeves with water. The water keeps the surrounding ground moist and traps heat around the plant and in the soil.

It works well until 3 year olds trample it; Don't get him started.

Roy Tucker
05-17-2005, 09:58 AM
Do ypu guys stake up your tomatoes or use cages? I do the cage thing.

And do you prune much? I prune early to get them shaped up. But after a while, I just let 'em rip.

Jet stars are hard to find around here. I don't know why, they produce such a nice sized tomato. I've ended up saving seeds from the previous years and starting my own plants around the beginning of April.

We've got 6 5x10 raised beds in the garden and I rotate my "crops" around. One of the reasons why I don't like cherry tomatoes is that the next season, I'm pulling cherry tomato seedlings out of the old bed like crazy.

Not to mention the seeds the birds poop out around the house and the seedlings show up in the darndest places.

westofyou
05-17-2005, 10:00 AM
I stake mine and I prune early and often, when the fruit takes I'll remove bottom leaves and try to focus growth on the fruit.

919191
05-17-2005, 10:25 AM
I wasn't aware tomato plants were to be pruned, but then my thumbs aren't green- they are withered and a pale shade of brown. Do you prune them similar to rose bushes and such? Or do you just pull off the leaves?

westofyou
05-17-2005, 10:29 AM
I wasn't aware tomato plants were to be pruned, but then my thumbs aren't green- they are withered and a pale shade of brown. Do you prune them similar to rose bushes and such? Or do you just pull off the leaves?

I pull of the the bottom leaves, my pruning experience is focused on providing the plat with the ability to increase it's structure not it's spread.

Similar to a new tree, if you limit the branches the trunk takes in all the growth.

919191
05-17-2005, 10:40 AM
OK- I see- last year my tomato plants grew really fast and were quite massive, but the tomatoes were a bit disappointing- I guess all the plant's energy was focused on the spread instead of the tomatoes. Thanks!

Roy Tucker
05-17-2005, 10:45 AM
I prune my tomato plants to a single stem by removing all lateral shoots (people call them "suckers").

I prune early to give them shape (the one stem) and encourage top growth.

I cut down on pruning (ha-ha) as the plants get older, mostly shoots that are yellow-green or brown or the suckers that are growing under the main umbrella and won't ever do much.

Sometimes when I get home from work, I go directly from the car to the garden and putter for 15 minutes or so, pruning, weeding, etc. A good decompress time.

Spring~Fields
05-17-2005, 11:50 AM
We mainly trim lower leaves that can get infected by the dirt and moisture and then spread, some times we top them to force the laterals, we also mulch with black plastic to heat the soil, and use some minor amount of straw to keep a consistent moisture level after the soil is warm.

Espon salt helps them also.
http://www.yourgarden.com/qa/eng/special-tomatoe.htm

You can put them on a trellis; they have done well for us on those.

Jet Star seeds
http://www.yankeegardener.com/seeds/hartseed11.html

Roy Tucker
05-17-2005, 12:07 PM
My dad uses this chambered plastic sleeve that goes around early tomato plants. You fill the sleeves with water. The water keeps the surrounding ground moist and traps heat around the plant and in the soil.
My wife wanted to try these this year. Do they work very well?

(We didn't try them because, as always, life in general got away from us and we didn't get the plants out. They are still sitting on the driveway).

And thanks for the link SF. :thumbup:

LoganBuck
05-17-2005, 12:36 PM
Wall of Water works well when you know the temp is going to be on the low side. You have to watch them on really hot sunny days as they almost become a boiler.

I do stakes on the plants that make smaller fruit like Celebrity and Better Boy. I like cages on the bigger fruit varieties like Beefsteak or Big Beef. My 79 year old neighbor grew some Russian Heirloom plants last year on a trelis. The fruits got up to 3-4 pounds, and the taste was outstanding.

On the cherry tomatoes, I usually only plant one plant. Thats enough for salads and some dishes that my wife makes. I don't like the birds either. One thing I have learned is if you plant a Habanero plant in the garden next to something that the birds would be interested in they tend to stay away.

I put out "Health Kick" as my Roma variety this year for the first time. It is the one with the concentrated Lycopene levels. Has anyone used this before? Are there any downsides to the plant or fruit. I have been assured that it is quite good. Just my ignorance of the variety so far is my only concern. I love Roma tomatoes as they are good for salsa, spagetti sauce, freezing, or just fresh in salad.

Celebrity is one of my favorites. But for the second year in a row my seedlings didn't do well. I used the same seed company both years and am not happy about this. I don't like the Celebrity Bush variety as the fruits are about a third smaller, and the taste is not as good.

One question for the masses. I have a dog that tends to stroll through the garden, she is my German Shepard. Do those plants work that keep dogs away with their smell? I planted one last year and she didn't go near it but instead walked around the garden and went in the back side.

Roy Tucker
05-17-2005, 01:03 PM
Didn't know there were different kinds of Romas. I just grow plain ole Romas.

Interesting about the Habaneros. I usually plant some Cayennes in the same bed as the tomatoes and, come to think of it, the bird do stay away that end of the bed.

I have a low picket fence around my garden to keep the big critters (deer, dogs) out and protect it from the basketball court that is next to it. We have a yellow lab and she'll eat anything (green tomatoes do really bad things to her digestive tract). Rabbits still get at my green beans though.

ochre
05-17-2005, 01:17 PM
I think my dad just uses the wall of water through the early spring. My Grandpa used to grow tomatoes and sell them in front of his house in Phoneton, Ohio. He doesn't get around as well anymore (he's 90), so he stopped growing them a couple of years ago.

Tomatoes and half runners by the pound. Rhubarb when it was in season.

GAC
05-17-2005, 02:45 PM
Good thread. I could use the advice because I love tomatoes but don't have any luck in growing them. I get nice big plants, and alot of green tomatoes; but get very few to turn/ripen.

I decided to try again this year And plant about 6-8 plants this weekend.

A buddy told me he uses the ashes from his wood burner to help the soil around his garden. I'm not going to plant a garden; but I am gonna try tomatoes though this year.

TeamCasey
05-17-2005, 03:11 PM
I can't grow tomatoes. They bear fruit around the time when we go camping. The raccoons eat them in my absence.

LoganBuck
05-17-2005, 09:16 PM
GAC I see you are near Bellefontaine. I am over by Jackson Center, whatever you do don't buy your plants at Lowes or Wal Mart. They are overpriced and the plants look horrible. Find a reputable greenhouse to get them. I have always liked a small place off St Rt 47 in Port Jefferson, called Vi's Greenhouse. They are priced very reasonably, and I have never had a plant from there die prematurely. Last Saturday I bought a hanging plant there for my wife, and their veggies were priced at 1.99 per flat(6 plants) They had a good selection of tomatoes, peppers, and many other veggies. They also have a wide selection of transplant flowers, and greenery. I don't remember their weekday hours, but Saturday is from 8am to 7pm. Sun 9am to 5pm.

Ash can be good in moderation as it will help with soil ph. At this time of year I don't know if I would recommend adding any. Unless you were working it in really well. Remember moderation.

Spring~Fields
05-17-2005, 09:30 PM
Wall of Water works well when you know the temp is going to be on the low side. You have to watch them on really hot sunny days as they almost become a boiler.

I always wondered about those whenever I saw them on the web mostly. Thanks for the information.



My 79 year old neighbor grew some Russian Heirloom plants last year on a trelis. The fruits got up to 3-4 pounds, and the taste was outstanding.

Wow 3-4 pounds must appear huge, I thought two was large, 3-4 which I have never seen has to be monster.


I put out "Health Kick" as my Roma variety this year for the first time. It is the one with the concentrated Lycopene levels. Has anyone used this before? Are there any downsides to the plant or fruit. I have been assured that it is quite good.

Lets us know how those do growth and taste wise will you? I just saw them for the first time this year and so I shyed away not knowing.


Celebrity is one of my favorites. But for the second year in a row my seedlings didn't do well. I used the same seed company both years and am not happy about this. I don't like the Celebrity Bush variety as the fruits are about a third smaller, and the taste is not as good.

We tried Mortgage Lifter seeds from Burpee this year, but I had everything wrong from the lighting, soil mixture to the room temperature, so needless to say it turned out to be a learning it the hard way for me. I tried another pack of the same and I sent them to my older cousins who were farmers, they naturally grew well for them. ;)

Interesting and fun thread, thank you for starting it. :thumbup:

We have some plants that look super healthy, meaning dark green and strong looking, and some others in the same micro climate look pale, yellowish light green and weak, does anyone know of a fixer for those?

Spring~Fields
05-17-2005, 09:41 PM
Good thread. I could use the advice because I love tomatoes but don't have any luck in growing them. I get nice big plants, and alot of green tomatoes; but get very few to turn/ripen.

I decided to try again this year And plant about 6-8 plants this weekend.

A buddy told me he uses the ashes from his wood burner to help the soil around his garden. I'm not going to plant a garden; but I am gonna try tomatoes though this year.

Have your brother in Springfield head over to Landmark and pick you up some of the larger Jet Star plants they have some really nice ones right now for $1.29 ea. About a foot or so tall with strong stalks dark, dark green healthy leaves. They should do well for you up there in full sun. They produce a lot of tomatoes usually.

You also might want to try some of the earlier varieties so they don't take so many days to mature. Do you get early frost in Sept? Burpee has what they call Long Keeper varieties that they claim last several weeks after the season ends, but I have no experience with them.

http://www.burpee.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=2215&itemType=PRODUCT&RS=1&keyword=long+keeper

http://www.burpee.com/jump.jsp?itemID=1931&itemType=CATEGORY&iMainCat=13&iSubCat=1931

http://www.ferry-morse.com/gc_tomatoes.asp

LoganBuck
05-17-2005, 10:34 PM
I always wondered about those whenever I saw them on the web mostly. Thanks for the information.



Wow 3-4 pounds must appear huge, I thought two was large, 3-4 which I have never seen has to be monster.



Lets us know how those do growth and taste wise will you? I just saw them for the first time this year and so I shyed away not knowing.



We tried Mortgage Lifter seeds from Burpee this year, but I had everything wrong from the lighting, soil mixture to the room temperature, so needless to say it turned out to be a learning it the hard way for me. I tried another pack of the same and I sent them to my older cousins who were farmers, they naturally grew well for them. ;)

Interesting and fun thread, thank you for starting it. :thumbup:

We have some plants that look super healthy, meaning dark green and strong looking, and some others in the same micro climate look pale, yellowish light green and weak, does anyone know of a fixer for those?

Yeah those Russian tomatoes were as wide as if you made two fists and put them side by side. Really wide.

As for your pale weaker plants. Try either more or less water, or fertilizer. Sometimes you can over do it.

Roy Tucker
05-18-2005, 08:26 AM
What do you guys use for mulch around your plants (if any)?

I used to use grass clippings but went to regular mulch the past couple years when I got a recycler mower.

LoganBuck
05-18-2005, 12:07 PM
Having access to manure (I am a farmer) I put older composted manure in the garden in the fall and incorporate it into the soil.

Roy Tucker
08-04-2005, 01:17 PM
So how are everyone's crops this year? Looks like a bumper crop for the Tucker garden.

We've been getting Early Girls and cherry tomotoes for 2-3 weeks now. Picked a few beefsteaks and jet stars. By the looks of things, the tomato avalanche is about to commence.

Roy Tucker
08-08-2005, 12:26 PM
I'm bummed.

Last time I checked tomatoes was last Wedsnesday and it looked like a bunch of tomatoes was imminent. I went out the garden on Friday to harvest.

Birds destroyed probably about 75% of the ripe tomatoes. They pecked away and ate probably 10-50% of the fruit. Tomatoes on top, at the bottom, in the middle, etc. I probably pitched about 50-70 tomatoes.

I've long since put nets over my strawberries but I didn't conceive that I'd have to protect my tomatoes. A little reading says that when conditions are dry (what it's been in our area), bird go after tomatoes.

The net went up yesterday. Anyone else ever seen this? I've been growing tomatoes for years and have seen a random peck or two, but never widespread destruction.

SunDeck
08-08-2005, 01:09 PM
It always amuses me that we get so much into the varieties of tomatoes that we grow in our gardens when the simple fact is that every home grown tomato is better than what you buy in a store. Period.

The only thing I try to do is to have different types so that I get some early and some late. Other than that, it's whatever is on sale for me.

Someone asked about mulch- I use straw and add composted manure at the beginning of the year. At the end of the year, I add fresh grass clippings and leaves and whatever else I have that is brown. Incoporate, let sit over winter and you often don't really need all the extra fertilizers.

I don't know about pruning. I also prune at the bottom, but if you have a good bed of mulch this isn't as necessary. I have read that you don't need to prune caged plants as much as stakes plants, but I also know that fruit trees are pruned to maximize the size of limited fruits. And when it comes to tomatoes, I haven't noticed a difference in size with pruning. Seems to me that it's a matter of appropriate water management. Anybody else know?

919191
08-08-2005, 02:07 PM
We planted 5 plants and they are all bearing a ton of fruit. I don't even remember the variaties- they are all red- that's all I know. We have about 30 of them in our kitchen right now. I might make some salsa this week-end. Any good recipes?

westofyou
08-08-2005, 02:10 PM
Any good recipes?

PM Pedro he used to work in a Mexican place that had great salsa

Here in PDX they are just starting to get red on the cherry tomatos, the others are still green and flowering.

SunDeck
08-08-2005, 02:41 PM
Anyone drying tomatoes? We just did our first batch.

Lightly oil a cookie sheet with olive oil.
Slice tomatoes thinly- less than a quarter inch thick.
Place on cookie sheet.
Place in oven at lowest temp. Ours programs to 170.
Leave in the oven until they are dried. Not crispy, just dried out. This takes a long time- we put ours in at night and take them out in the morning.
Store in a ziplock bag. They can be frozen.
Or store in olive oil.
Or just eat them all at once.

We are in the midst of harvesting basil, too. We have 28 plants. This usually results in enough pesto to last the whole winter, plus all the dried that we need. And we make pesto and give it to relatives as gifts. There are standing orders for the stuff from my brother and mom.

LoganBuck
08-22-2005, 12:08 AM
Sorry I missed this thread coming back up.

Sundeck, I have dehydrated some of them this year, in my food dehydrator. They come out great, and it sure sounds a lot easier.

I have had problems with insects this summer and have lost probably 10% of my crop. Whatever the little bugs are they are not suspectible to Sevin Dust or Spray, and they attack when the tomatoes are starting to turn. I don't like going to crazy with chemicals on nearly ripe tomatoes. So I have started picking them a little early.

The Health Kick variety is great. The taste is exactly like a Roma, but the fruit is a little bigger, and there are a few less fruits per plant than a traditional Roma. Makes great salsa.

The Big Beef variety is really making terrific tomatoes with a light tender flavor.

If someone could explain to me how to make green peppers take off, I would be much abliged. My peppers are below average for size, and they are not really putting out high quantities. Everything else is doing well. My habaneros, and Jalapenos are doing great.

Roy Tucker
08-22-2005, 09:24 AM
Our basil has been producing like crazy as well. We've been on a pesto-making frenzy too. My wife and I made about 10 batches last night.

We put the just-mixed pesto into ice cube trays and freeze it and then bag it up. An ice-cube size chunk of pesto is a good serving size. My hands still smell like garlic today.

And the nets over the tomatoes seemed to keep the birds away. I also started picking them right before they got ripe. The birds seemed to like the just-about-to-burst ripe tomatoes so I just get the fruit before it gets to that point and ripen them in the house.

Lots of green beans too. My bell-peppers aren't very big this year. I attribute that to it being so dry.

Roy Tucker
09-27-2006, 08:22 AM
So, how did everyone's tomatoes do this year? It wasn't such a great year for us. The romas produced like crazy and I got a few good beefsteaks, but everything else didn't do very well.

My mainstay jet stars and better boys just didn't do much. And the oddest thing was that my cherry tomatoes didn't do very well either. Usaully I can't keep up with picking them but not so this year.

I attribute it to a very dry end of July and all of August in our neck of hte woods (Warren Co. in SW Ohio). I tried to keep up with watering them, but Mother Nature didn't cooperate.

919191
09-27-2006, 09:27 AM
Mine grew really tall, but didn't produce many tomatoes this year. I have 5 plants, and right now there is only 1 tomato in the kitchen. The plants have had a bit of brown leaves, but the plants look mostly healthy and green, just not too many tomatoes. There are several right now, but they are still green. Anyone know if this is from not enough water?

westofyou
09-27-2006, 10:24 AM
So, how did everyone's tomatoes do this year?

Still on the vine and looking good, Romas that is.

LoganBuck
09-27-2006, 01:59 PM
I planted Roma, and Celebrities this year. They did really well. The plants were more slightly more mature then normal when I bought them at the nursery. I had ripe tomatoes around July 15th. The really produced well until about Aug 25. Then they slowed to about a couple decent tomatoes a week. I suspect the heat stressed the plants as mine are planted in full sun. They have responded to the nice weather here in September and I am looking at a nice early October crop.

gonelong
09-27-2006, 11:04 PM
I had 5 plants this year. They grew well, but didn't produce as well as I'd hoped. In fact, I had two plants last year and they handily outproduced these two. Peppers did well, so we have some salsa out of the deal.

GL

OldRightHander
09-28-2006, 02:12 AM
Four plants this year. Some yellow ones (can't remember the variety) beefsteaks, and grape tomatoes. All the plants produced quite well. We can't eat them fast enough to keep up and have been giving a lot away.

Roy Tucker
07-25-2007, 10:18 AM
Thought I'd revive this thread....

With the drought we had in SW Ohio in May and June, I was fearful for my tomato crop. But we've had enough rain and sun the last month to keep the tomato plants going along nicely.

I've been getting cherry tomatoes for a couple weeks now along with some early girls.

My jet stars, better boys, and romas are all starting to kick in with a vengeance and it looks like a tomatopalooza this year. Tomatoes galore for the next 2 months.

Unassisted
07-25-2007, 12:21 PM
I planted mine in early March.

They grew to about 7 feet tall and had just started producing a few tomatoes in late June when the weather changed to rainy and overcast and stayed that way most of the time. Now the immature tomatoes are splitting and rotting on the vine, thanks to the record rainfall and limited sunshine that we continue to have. I'm also having trouble keeping the snails off of the fruit that is there. I'm just about ready to yank 'em out of the ground and either plant a second batch for the fall or give up on tomatoes for this year. :(

LoganBuck
07-25-2007, 01:14 PM
Mine are about a week away from being ready yet. I started them from seed this year, so they were a little behind the greenhouse bought varieties. They seem to be on the small side, and I suspect the hot afternoons, and the lack of natural rainfall.

pedro
07-25-2007, 05:43 PM
Didn't grow any this year. They just don't do that well in our climate.

The raspberries and strawberries were good though and the grapes and apples are coming on.