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Old 05-24-2013, 05:50 PM   #1
Saucyminx
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How to grow big juicy fabulous tomatoes

Hi everyone,

I need your tips, tricks, and advice. I did see a thread from 2010 that dealt with tomato plants and yellowing leaves, but not quite what I need.

Every year I try to grow tomatoes. To date, I haven't gotten one freakin tomato no matter what I have tried. I have scoured the internet for advice and there is so much out there I'm not sure which to use. So tell, all you gardeners in the bunch, how do you do it? What has worked for you?

I have 8 plants this year --4 different varieties. If I don't get any tomatoes this time, I"m giving up completely. I can grow herbs like crazy. I'm the queen of pansies and vinca, but tomatoes? Nope.

So please, help a tomato-less minx out.
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Old 05-24-2013, 05:59 PM   #2
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Oh god, don't ask me. I bought a pot of basil on Tuesday and it's already dead.
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Old 05-24-2013, 06:24 PM   #3
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I get 100s of tomatoes with every garden.

I plant in a 4' x 4' x 12'' planter filled with compost. I use 6' bamboo stakes to tie the plants to. I use plastic cable-ties.

The west side of the planter is against a fence that shields the plants from the hot Florida temps in the afternoon. If your temps stay below 80 degrees I wouldn't worry about heat.

I water 5 minutes, twice daily.

Once a week I toss a cup of Miracle Gro on each plant. Miracle-Gro increases the number of blossoms, and blossoms make tomatoes.

I have 2 bug problems: Aphids and Hornworms. Lady Bugs take care of the aphids, but if you don't have ladybugs wash the leaves with a hose sprayer as often as necessary. Hornworms will eat your plants in no time, and theyre hard to see. Look for damaged green fruit and bare branches, the large ugly worm will be close by. I cut them in half with scissors. Wasps will kill and eat them, too. But you gotta make friends with the wasps. That is, don't annoy them, and let them get used to seeing you in the garden. I never get stung. They will land on you to drink sweat. Let them.

With regular tomatoes cracking is a problem if you give them water and fertilizer too close to maturity. Watch them closely. If the skin starts to split pick the tomato. I find that if I let the stalk grow as tall as it wants the stalk absorbs most of the water and fertilizer. If I limit growth to 5 feet or so the fruit absorbs the water and fertilizer, and cracks.

I usually harvest about 50 tomatoes per plant. All of them wont be monsters. A few are large, most are 8 ounces.
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Old 05-24-2013, 06:38 PM   #4
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You're in Pennsylvania, where I am. Depending on whether you are north or south of me, either it has been warm enough to have the plants outside for about a month, or it should finally be warm enough for them in about a week. In this area tomatoes prefer to be in full sun, so first check your tomato area at different times of day to see if a tree or house or something is blocking their light. Before planting, the area should have soil at least a foot deep, and at least the top six inches should have compost or fertilizer tilled into it. Water in the morning or evening, not the heat of the day. Water pretty much every day that it has been hot and hasn't rained. Today I'm not going to water because it poured yesterday and it's cold today. You can buy one of those pottery worms that show how moist the soil is if you have difficulty telling. Or you can simply dig down 2 inches and see if it is moist there; if not, water.

Some people like those bags where the tomato plant hangs down; I had strawberries in one of those but it dried out very easily and I didn't really like messing with it. Also they are heavy so having somewhere in the sun to hang them can be difficult.
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Old 05-24-2013, 06:39 PM   #5
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My Tomatoes: When a plant ages out I replace it.
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Old 05-24-2013, 06:56 PM   #6
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I am in the same boat. I have tried over and over again to grow tomatoes but they always end up kind of weak and the plant keels over under the weight of the tomatoes.

I was told once that when you plant them you need to pinch of the sucker leaves? The two tiny leaves at the base of the stalk. Does anyone know if this is true or not?
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Old 05-24-2013, 07:13 PM   #7
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I am in the same boat. I have tried over and over again to grow tomatoes but they always end up kind of weak and the plant keels over under the weight of the tomatoes.

I was told once that when you plant them you need to pinch of the sucker leaves? The two tiny leaves at the base of the stalk. Does anyone know if this is true or not?
The suckers are at the joint of each branch, where it comes out of the stalk. Pinch them off. OR! Let one of them grow if you have problems with the stalk above the sucker. Suckers erupt constantly, so keep an eye on them.

Heat kills pollen, and if your soil pH isn't acidic (less than 7.0 pH) tomatoes don't do well.
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Old 05-24-2013, 08:49 PM   #8
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For some reason, my tomatoes - especially my beefsteaks - are ginormous. What I realised is that they are in full sun, and like Jim, I water them profusely, everyday.

Make sure that your soil has a pH balance between 6.0 - 6.8 and that it's well drained and 'fluffy'.

When planting, sometimes adding a bit of Epsom salt will prevent root-rot

Once the plant begins to flower, start mulching.

When watering your plants, you should have about 1.5 inches of water per week. Do not over fertilise - at most, once a week. I never fertilise my tomatoes.

If you chose to prune your tomatoes, that means you'll get fewer, but they will be larger. To prune, allow one stem to grow, and pinch off the suckers (the small mini-sprouts that grow between the stem and branches) and limit (and baby) three or four tomatoes per plant.

And don't forget the full sun!!

Happy gardening.
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Old 05-24-2013, 08:53 PM   #9
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I gave up growing tomatoes. Planted eight plants, got one tomato. The reason, squirrels.
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Old 05-25-2013, 12:18 AM   #10
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Do you have bees? The only year I didn't get any fruit, I realized I hadn't seen a single bee around my house.
I spend 20-30 dollars a week at the farmer's market in the summer on tomatoes. Would love to grow my own, but the raccoons steal every damn one. :/
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Old 05-25-2013, 01:32 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saucyminx View Post
Hi everyone,

I need your tips, tricks, and advice. I did see a thread from 2010 that dealt with tomato plants and yellowing leaves, but not quite what I need.

Every year I try to grow tomatoes. To date, I haven't gotten one freakin tomato no matter what I have tried. I have scoured the internet for advice and there is so much out there I'm not sure which to use. So tell, all you gardeners in the bunch, how do you do it? What has worked for you?

I have 8 plants this year --4 different varieties. If I don't get any tomatoes this time, I"m giving up completely. I can grow herbs like crazy. I'm the queen of pansies and vinca, but tomatoes? Nope.

So please, help a tomato-less minx out.
How have you been attempting to grow them? How good is your soil? Where i live, the soil sucks (it is clay, full of rocks, yuck.....reputedly the asshole builder stripped almost 15 feet of soil from the property when it was built)...I grow mine in 4x4 foot container beds, made of 2x12's. The soil in the beds is a mixture of bagged garden soil, bagged compost/humous mixture I get from agway.

Couple of things:

1)Make sure they are in a place that gets a lot of sun, tomatoes hate shade.

2)Be careful with fertilizer, if you are using a rich soil mixture, or Miracle gro soil, don't use more fertilizer

3)Protect them from varmints, if you can, fence your beds. Chipmunks, Squirrels, and in my case, groundhog, can eat your young plants.

4)Keep an eye out of insects, there are some good organic sprays you can use if it looks like they are infested.

5)with watering, be careful, water in the mornings and late afternoon, but not too close to dusk, if you water too late it can lead to fungus.

6)The most important thing is to support the plants properly once they get past a certain size. Tomato stems are pretty fragile, so supporting them is critical.

The best fertilizer of all is seasoned horse manure, it works wonders and tomatoes love it, but it may not be easy to get. If you are planting in the ground, work the soil with compost or garden soil like Miracle grow, turn bags of that stuff into the soil, most soil in people's yards need the boost.

Even with all that, it can be hit or miss, some years I have a bumper crop other years not so great. Weather plays a big factor, this cold, raining weather is going to wreak havoc if it keeps up, Tomatoes prefer warm, sunny weather.
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Old 05-25-2013, 06:18 AM   #12
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Thanks so much everyone!

RS you crack me up. If you are heading into winter, keep your basil inside on a sunny window sill and make sure it stays moist. Basil doesn't like to be cold. . . much like me.

James those tomatoes are gorgeous. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for all the good advice. When I finally buy my house, I'm going to go for raised beds for veggies. Right now the landlord does not allow such things in the postage stamp sized patch of weeds he refers to as "the yard" so I'm working with pots. I know one mistake I have made in the past is not giving the plants enough room, and have invested in nice big pots with good drainage.

Blu--I've decided this is the turning point year. Either I get some damn tomatoes or I give it up and resign myself to the farmer's market. We shall see.

Sunandshadow--I'm smack in the middle of PA and usually around here they say, plant after Mother's Day and you will be ok. I do think it is supposed to get down in the 30s tonight so I will probably go cover them with plastic when it gets dark.

Dearc--we don't have too many squirrels--our neighborhood hosts mostly skunks. Good times.

HeartofTexasgirl--we do have a lot of bees, and wasps. Now if I can just listen to James and not freak out if they land on me. Will just have to keep the epipen ready.

Firebreeze--I am jealous of your beefsteaks! I had one year way back when I was still married and had a giant garden that I did really well with the tomatoes. My favorite was a variety called oxheart--they were big and meaty. Yum. Guess that is why I'm chasin the tomato dragon.

Njlauren--when you said seasoned horse manure, being a cook, I thought salt and pepper. Ick. My dad used to dig the hole and put dog crap in it, then plant the tomatoes. I tried to be absent those days. Thank you for all the tips particularly with the watering. I think my plants have gotten fungus in the past and caused some problems.


Thank you everyone! I'm bound and determined this year and appreciate the help.
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Old 05-25-2013, 09:49 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saucyminx View Post
Thanks so much everyone!

RS you crack me up. If you are heading into winter, keep your basil inside on a sunny window sill and make sure it stays moist. Basil doesn't like to be cold. . . much like me.

James those tomatoes are gorgeous. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for all the good advice. When I finally buy my house, I'm going to go for raised beds for veggies. Right now the landlord does not allow such things in the postage stamp sized patch of weeds he refers to as "the yard" so I'm working with pots. I know one mistake I have made in the past is not giving the plants enough room, and have invested in nice big pots with good drainage.

Blu--I've decided this is the turning point year. Either I get some damn tomatoes or I give it up and resign myself to the farmer's market. We shall see.

Sunandshadow--I'm smack in the middle of PA and usually around here they say, plant after Mother's Day and you will be ok. I do think it is supposed to get down in the 30s tonight so I will probably go cover them with plastic when it gets dark.

Dearc--we don't have too many squirrels--our neighborhood hosts mostly skunks. Good times.

HeartofTexasgirl--we do have a lot of bees, and wasps. Now if I can just listen to James and not freak out if they land on me. Will just have to keep the epipen ready.

Firebreeze--I am jealous of your beefsteaks! I had one year way back when I was still married and had a giant garden that I did really well with the tomatoes. My favorite was a variety called oxheart--they were big and meaty. Yum. Guess that is why I'm chasin the tomato dragon.

Njlauren--when you said seasoned horse manure, being a cook, I thought salt and pepper. Ick. My dad used to dig the hole and put dog crap in it, then plant the tomatoes. I tried to be absent those days. Thank you for all the tips particularly with the watering. I think my plants have gotten fungus in the past and caused some problems.


Thank you everyone! I'm bound and determined this year and appreciate the help.
Most veggies require more space than what experts allow for. I haven't figgered it out yet but containers don't work as well as ground.
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Old 05-25-2013, 10:24 AM   #14
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I have had trouble with tomatoes too. Not lack of fruit, just the plants dying off too soon. They get this white, mildew crap on the leaves...not sure how to prevent it. I do find smaller varieties do better, although I do love me some nice beefsteak tomatoes...
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Old 05-25-2013, 02:00 PM   #15
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I discovered that veggie experts generally know little about gardening, and most gardeners know squat. I catch an occasional gardening presentation at Home Depot, and the gal from the seed company spouts what she's been told.

My point is this: One size doesn't fit all, in most cases dynamic conditions alter the results you normally count on. Like, on a very clear calm night, with temps in the 40s, you will get frost damage tho there is no frost on the veggies. Its heat flow outta the plants doing the damage. There aint nuthin to stop it.

Last year I got two grape harvests cuz of a rare weather phenomena; its some weird response the grape makes to heat and rain during a small window of time. Everything has to be almost perfect. It was, and I got a second growth of grapes after I picked the first harvest.

I grow corn twice a year. I know how to grow corn. But this spring my corn grew about 2 feet high, tasseled 4 weeks early, and made dwarf ears. Weird. What happened? I don't know, yet.
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Old 05-26-2013, 11:46 AM   #16
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Tomato Tutorial: Suckers

Photo #1: With Sucker
Photo #2: Pinching Sucker Off
Photo #3: Sucker Removed
Photo #4: Cable Tie And New Tomatoes
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Old 05-26-2013, 01:00 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JAMESBJOHNSON View Post
Photo #1: With Sucker
Photo #2: Pinching Sucker Off
Photo #3: Sucker Removed
Photo #4: Cable Tie And New Tomatoes
Perfect! Thanks James. Going out to de-sucker my plants right now, and thanks for the pics.
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Old 05-27-2013, 09:35 AM   #18
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Anyone interested in more tutorials and photos of gardening? Say, cucumbers. Picked these guys this morning.
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Old 05-28-2013, 04:15 AM   #19
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Almost every expert dislikes the idea of watering during the middle of the day. Almost all water in the morning or late afternoon.

Around here its in the 90s at mid-day, and the heat stresses the plants and cooks pollen. And I've never understood the opposition to watering that relieves the stress. I get the bizness about evaporation and waste. But try it yourself: Drink plenty of liquid in the AM and spend mid-day out in the Sun, and see if something cool and wet isn't welcome. So I spray the garden with the hose after lunch.
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:10 AM   #20
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I've had good results with tomatoes in SEPA and NJ. I prepare the soil by turning it over, and then add some of the sterile cow manure that you can buy in bags at the garden stores. I then put on about 2" of peat moss. I scratch the manure and peat moss into the soil with a rake, and I'm ready for planting. I do check the ph, but where I am now, I've never had to adjust it

Make sure your location gets full sun for most of the day.

Stick with the hybrid varieties (like Beefsteak and Big Boy) and don't mess with the heritage ones until you have some success with the hybrids. Don't overlook utility tomatoes such as plum tomatoes and cherry tomatoes.

Don't plant the tomatoes too close together, and give them support. A trellace type support works best, and we have also had good results with 2 posts and wires at different heights along the rows. A neighbor here uses cages and a center stake and has good results. I have not done well with cages. No matter what you use, you have to actively direct and tie them.

If you have trouble, the people at your county extension office might be helpful.
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Old 05-28-2013, 10:41 AM   #21
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Thanks again everyone.

James, nice cukes. I'm not mentally prepared for other veggies at this point.

Hi Bottomlover--I have to plant in pots since I'm not allowed to dig up the yard, and I use the term yard very loosely. I have 2 of they hybrids, and 6 of the heirloom--because I like them much better. Your advice to stick to tomatoes with training wheels is sound but I just can't help myself.

Plants are de-suckered, and Mother Nature is doing the watering today. I will be putting in the bigger supports I bought yesterday, when the rain lets up a lil bit.
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Old 05-30-2013, 07:32 AM   #22
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Temps are in the 90s now, and it finally rained last night, 3/4ths of an inch. The tomatoes look twice as big this morning.

City water has so much crap in it the pH is like 11, veggies prefer a pH of 7, which happens to be the same as rainwater. I use pure water to germinate seeds.

If you own a water softener you know that most things do much better without all the crap the city adds to the water....to kill germs and pee in the water.
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Old 06-01-2013, 03:06 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saucyminx View Post
Hi everyone,

I need your tips, tricks, and advice. I did see a thread from 2010 that dealt with tomato plants and yellowing leaves, but not quite what I need.

Every year I try to grow tomatoes. To date, I haven't gotten one freakin tomato no matter what I have tried. I have scoured the internet for advice and there is so much out there I'm not sure which to use. So tell, all you gardeners in the bunch, how do you do it? What has worked for you?

I have 8 plants this year --4 different varieties. If I don't get any tomatoes this time, I"m giving up completely. I can grow herbs like crazy. I'm the queen of pansies and vinca, but tomatoes? Nope.

So please, help a tomato-less minx out.
Since my residence is in farming country, I'll give you a complete answer to the question---as soon as my mind lets me go beyond "big", "juicy", and 'fabulous".
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Old 06-03-2013, 10:11 AM   #24
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CONTAINER GARDEN. Cherry Tomatoes.
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Old 06-03-2013, 10:13 AM   #25
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CONTAINER GARDEN: Cucumbers
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