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 Post subject: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from seed
PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 1:31 pm 
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I want there to be more gardening threads. :.) So maybe this could be a general thread for good tomato growing ideas.

I've got some specific questions to start.

Last year my tomatoes all got a disease. I think it was definitely either early blight or septoria. I had 6 varieties and only sungold did well, though it too was diseased by the end of the season.

I figure this year I will only try one or two plants instead of 7. Does anyone know of a good resistant variety? I read the mountain series is good - but it looks like they are all determinate except for maybe crest (though some sites say it is determinate). I really want indeterminate for my home garden.

I know I also have to keep out any weeds or debris, since the diseases overwinter in them. I think there might be some way to bake the soil using plastic - anyone know something about that?

This will also be the first time I grow from seed. So I'd be happy to hear any secrets on how to do it best. This is my setup: http://grow-peace.blogspot.com/2009/03/ ... -done.html I hope the wattage is enough.

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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 1:46 pm 
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I know you can kill soil diseases with a plastic tarp over the soil. I was looking into this when I found out my plot had clubroot. I decided against it because: 1. It kills everything in the soil - including good bugs, etc. 2. It has to be done during the hottest part of the season, and I didn't want to miss out on growing time.
I can't suggest any variety, but I do know that good air circulation, and avoiding getting their leave wet when watering can help.
Everyone I know here had shitty results with their tomatoes last year, myself included. Cherry tomatoes seemed to do the worst. I grew Sungold cherry tomatoes (my favourite cherry variety) last year and the year before. The first year the plant was huge with tons of fruit. Last year the plant was tiny, and I maybe got 12 tomatoes off of it.
I buy my tomatoes as starters.
I can't wait to start planting again!


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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 5:04 pm 
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I have no advice for the blight, my tomatoes got it a little and I'm merely planting them in a different section of the garden next year and crossing my fingers. They still produced wonderfully for me, only the plant was affected, not the fruit.

As for starting from seed, it's all I do for everything! Use old Christmas lights to supply bottom heat, tomato seedlings LOVE warmth. Make sure the soil is about 70 degrees, but close to 80 is great. I used Christmas lights the first year and they worked great and were very pretty, but this year I am using heat propagation mats (expensive...). Other than that, make sure you sow the seeds at the appropriate length and use sterile starting soil. Also, get a fan for good circulation to prevent the disease called dampening off which is nasty for little plants. The fan also helps the tomatoes grow strong stems! Good luck! I just did some planning for my garden today!
eta: Bottom heat is good but if you don't live in a refrigerator like I do, and your house is at a good 70ish degrees air temp, your tomatoes should be fine :)

ps. Make sure the lights are VERY close to the seedlings- touching is okay, make sure the bulbs don't get too hot (they usually don't burn if they're florescent). That will prevent them getting leggy. The lights really need to be right on top of those suckers.

Love your blog ESPECIALLY the baby! Visit my garden blog if you have a chance :) (my www)


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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 1:25 pm 
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Thanks guys. I definitely won't bake the soil then if it kills good things too.

I found some promising blight resistant types: legend and ferline. There are quite a few reports on the web of ferline staying unnaffected in a plot full of other tomatoes with blight. It is indeterminate too - the only problem is it is a late variety. Legend is early, but determinate. I still have to decide what to grow.

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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:14 am 
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So I finally decided - I'm growing ferline and another resistant variety I found - mountain magic. Both are indeterminate. Ferline is 95 days to maturity, while magic is 66. 95 days seems forever! But I figure I might as well try a late variety once and see how it goes. I'm excited! Hopefully these will really be resistant and I'll actually get tomatoes this year!

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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:53 am 
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Magpie-Grin wrote:
Everyone I know here had shitty results with their tomatoes last year, myself included.


Same here. It never got warm enough for the tomatoes to ripen. I made a decent green tomato salsa, though.

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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:22 pm 
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hoveringdog™ wrote:
Magpie-Grin wrote:
Everyone I know here had shitty results with their tomatoes last year, myself included.


Same here. It never got warm enough for the tomatoes to ripen. I made a decent green tomato salsa, though.

I keep hearing that it was a great season for veggies, especially tomatoes! At least in the North East. We had a hot wet summer, but that doesn't mean I got a lot of ripe tomatoes. I thought the blight hurt the plants and shocked them too much to ripen. I got a ton and a half of green tomatoes though, and other farmers I know gave me plenty of ripe tomatoes. I hope you guys have a better year.


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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:59 pm 
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We didn't have a long enough hot period during summer, which is probably why the tomatoes didn't produce. Hoping this year is better.


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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 10:45 am 
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I'm in jersey and almost nothing in my garden did well last summer! I think it was those super duper hot 100+ days in June that just stunted everything right when they should have been growing a lot. Either that, or the fact that I was preggers and depended on my partner to do most things, and his thumb isn't as green as mine.

Even my lettuce did terrible last year. Squash & cukes, meh. Flowers like nasturtiums - a shadow of the previous summer. Blackberries burnt to a crisp. Mustard greens decimated by white flies. Pole beans - diseased. Just about the only things that did well were strawberries (probably since they ripened pre heatwave), turnips, carrots & some peppers (italian frying & minis, not hots or bells).

I'm scaling back a bit this summer. I hope spacing things out more and sprouting fresh lettuce seeds I bought first will help (the lettuce seeds I used last year were a few years old, so I think that may have had something to do with it).

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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:30 pm 
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Ok, so here's a question for people who've done this before: when did you repot your tomatoes?

Mine have just gotten their 2nd set of leaves, so I thought it was time to repot. But I looked it up online, and people's seedlings looked bigger than mine. I really want to get them into different pots because I used these coir pots that dry out very quickly, yet still get moldy when I water them. I don't want them to get transplant shock though.

How long do you wait to transplant yours?

Here's a pic of them from last Wednesday (4/13):
Image

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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 3:31 pm 
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I know nothing about growing tomatoes except that I've been unable to successfully kill a yellow pear tomato plant. They are cute, tasty little little tomatoes, and the plant grows into a gorgeous tree-like thing, even in containers.

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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 7:26 pm 
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Grow lights: I just use 4' fluorescent shop lights, the least expensive I can find. You don't need full spectrum unless you're growing houseplants or other things that you want to flower well under the lights. Bottom heat to get the seeds to germinate is helpful, but I do okay at room temp - even cool fluorescents produce some heat, and it is helpful to keep the lights as close as possible to the plants (within a couple of inches.)

Transplanting: I don't like the coir or peat pots either, and a lot of seed starting mixes are so fine particled that they encourage mold. Tomatoes don't shock that easily, but I'd wait until you think the roots are substantially filling the pots, as you might break them off by accident at this stage. And then cut/tear the coir off, gently break apart the plants from their roots (don't handle the stems if you can avoid it; it's easy to strangle them.) Next year just start them in small plastic pots.

If anyone does want to sterilize the top layer of soil, you need to use clear plastic in super hot weather. And then if you do deep tilling, you just bring any disease residue right back up to the surface anyway.

Truly resistant varieties are hard to come by, and resistant just means that - in years with extreme temps and lots of moisture or humidity they're likely to succumb anyway. Disease spores are splashed up from the soil, so it does help if you mulch around your tomatoes or use a water permeable weed cloth (just be sure it isn't impregnated with herbicide; some weed cloths are.) Or you can use black or red plastic if you lay some soaker hoses for watering first. And as Magpie grin said, don't crowd your plants together; provide good air circulation, and water early in the morning/keep water off leaves so plants dry off quickly.

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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 7:23 am 
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Thanks Jill! Here's another question - you can see how I've got two seedlings in each pot. One of them had 3, so I cut one off. Now they each have two, but is that ok? I was thinking I could jut tease apart the roots and transplant them into separate pots. But I don't need them all, so do you think I should cut again so it is down to one in each pot?

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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:10 am 
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yay! tomato threads!

the disease sounds like blight. i'm sold on using actinovate to condition my soil and use it as a foliar spray. it's sold in little packages and retails for about $20--but is so worth it. 1 package got me through 1 1/2 seasons.

i start my seeds in super starter plugs made from composted tree bark. i just get better germination that way. i let them grow until they're about 3 1/2 to 4 inches tall and transplant into a container or in the ground where i can trellis them.

pruning is essential to hasten the growing and fruiting/flowering stage. about a month or so into the growth phase, introduce nutrients that have more phosphorous and potassium. it's hard to find non-animal derived sources, but they are out there. General Organics (a subsidiary of General Hydroponics) makes a vegan grow and bloom formula:
http://www.wormsway.com/detail.aspx?t=prod&sku=GBTB405

here's a link to actinovate
http://www.wormsway.com/detail.aspx?t=prod&sku=ACT402

and i love, love, and love tomatoville:
http://www.tomatoville.com/

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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:56 am 
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jewbacca wrote:
pruning

Can you give us some tips on this? I'm scared to do this. I don't want to hurt it!

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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 11:02 am 
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You know, I used actinovate last year but it didn't really help. I think I only applied it once though, so maybe that's why. I have some of the packet left. There is a use date on it only through this April though. I hope it is still good - I was thinking I would put some on soon as a preventative.

I also got something like that grow and bloom - I don't have the specifics saved on my blog for some reason, but I think it may have been an older version of that same thing. It was made for hydroponics, but I read you can use it in the soil outside too, so that's what I did two summers ago when my peppers weren't flowering. I was a little unsure about it though so I never ended up putting on a lot - like, I wondered if it would hurt beneficials in the soil or anything?

I hope fertilizers don't go bad, because my garden is so small I don't use a lot. The Maxicrop seaweed I have is a couple years old now too. Do you have any idea if they'd still be good Jewbacca?

I like that tomatoville forum too! I hadn't seen it before.

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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 11:39 am 
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i have given up on tomatoes, because although i conquered the blight there is a strange yellow sucker bug here that i just can't beat. it makes me stabby. Neem didn't help, and i didn't want to spoil my organic status with whatever would kill the little forkers.

this year, though, i have a greenhouse-type room and i'm thinking about growing them indoors- no bugs inside here!

pruning is really easy- just pinch off the suckers- the things that grow in the "armpit" of the branch.

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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 11:52 am 
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pruning is really easy- just pinch off the suckers- the things that grow in the "armpit" of the branch.


this! there are a number of great youtube videos that show how to do it. god bless google--so much crepe on teh interwebs, but so much good stuff too. i spend a great portion of my day reviewing internet articles and looking at youtube tutorials on gardening stuff. george van patten has a great book that we refer to the gardener's bible. it's worth every penny.

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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:19 pm 
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Aubade wrote:
Thanks Jill! Here's another question - you can see how I've got two seedlings in each pot. One of them had 3, so I cut one off. Now they each have two, but is that ok? I was thinking I could jut tease apart the roots and transplant them into separate pots. But I don't need them all, so do you think I should cut again so it is down to one in each pot?


They'll grow faster if only one is in each pot, but try to have at least a 2-3 extra plants in reserve. You don't have to be too gentle when you tease the roots apart; as long as they have a sufficient number they'll recover quickly. And plant deeper when you repot, as new roots will form along the stem.

The biggies, like I said before, are too make sure you don't damage the stem and that they have enough of a root ball to hold all the potting soil together. If the soil falls off when you go to transplant, you've done it too early.

Now the transplant advice is specific to tomatoes - things like cukes and squash don't like to have their roots disturbed at all!!

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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:24 pm 
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This may be a stupid noob question, but is starting seeds indoors mainly a climate issue?


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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:24 pm 
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Thanks Jill! I am only growing two plants this year, one of each type (mountain magic & a grape variety called merlot because ferline was on backorder). I've got 3 pots of each type, with 2 plants in each pot so I have plenty. I started them a little late so I probably do need them to grow as fas as they can. Maybe I'll trim one or two pots down to 1 plant each, and keep one with 2 plants just to see how they do.

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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 10:23 am 
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aubade, i realized i didn't address your nutrient question.

nutients lose their oomph after a year if they're opened and not kept at room temperature. look and see if there's mold on top of the solution. if there is, you might need to dispose of it. if not, just use it and watch your plants. if they look purple-ey, that's a sign of nitrogen deficiency, so up the nitro.

starting any plant from seed is always a gamble. you increase your odds by using a sterile growing medium, propagation mats, keeping the moisture the consistency of a wrung out sponge, and give those babies some lights, nitro, and a lot of love.

tomatoes specifically need extra calcium and magnesium when they start getting a little bigger, and especially when they are fruiting and flowering. if you get a rotty tomato end, that's blossom end rot--a result of low cal mag.

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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:56 am 
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Thanks jewbacca!

I'm beginning to think something is wrong with my seedlings. I planted my tomatoes on 3/27 and they still just barely have a 2nd set of leaves. They just don't seem to be getting bigger. I don't think they'll ever be ready for planting out in mid May at this rate.

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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 9:20 am 
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aubade, are they mushy where the stem meets the growing media? could be dampening off. are you over watering them? how much seaweed are you using? submit a photo and i can give you a more accurate answer.

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 Post subject: Re: Tomato best practice, disease resistance & growing from
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:33 am 
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Aubade wrote:
Thanks jewbacca!

I'm beginning to think something is wrong with my seedlings. I planted my tomatoes on 3/27 and they still just barely have a 2nd set of leaves. They just don't seem to be getting bigger. I don't think they'll ever be ready for planting out in mid May at this rate.

Huh, mine also barely have a second set of leaves and have also been planted a similar time (slightly longer actually). Actually just over a month. However I imagine it's because it's been kind of grey out more than I thought it would and I'm just using a south-facing window to light/heat them. So I'm kinda doing the lazy way of seed starting.

I actually didn't think anything was wrong, also, until I read this, heh.

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