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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:24 pm 
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Isa, your squash thread made me sad! Good luck with the new ones.

The tomato plant with the wilt has its first visible fruits today! 4 or 5 of them, all looking lovely and tiny and perfect. I'm about to go on vacation for 3-4 weeks and am bummed that I'm not going to be home to fuss over them daily. (My partner will be home and covering watering duties.)

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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 8:15 am 
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i just put in 10 dozen babies.
of course, we are having the coldest day of the year today.
come on, babies! you can make it!
(cilantro, collards, scallions, parsley, almeirão [kind of a bitter lettuce], japanese spinach, napa cabbage)

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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:02 am 
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There's really severe drought here, plus massive heatwave, and the string beans are very dry. The tomatoes are doing great, though, and so is the chard. I think carrots aren't supposed to do so well in heat, huh? Mine seem to be stunted. The cukes look great and the basil is great. And! Even though all of my delicata squash was killed it looks like the butternut survived! Here's hoping.

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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:13 am 
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Yeah, I can count the amount of times it's rained (not counting sprinkles that last less than five minutes) this season on one hand. On really hot days, I put the sprinkler on twice.

So someone whose garden bumps up against the alley the next block over has tomatoes, and they made their own cages out of chicken wire. The cages are about five feet tall, and the holes are smaller than all of the tomatoes that aren't cherry. How the fork are they gonna get them out?! My father-in-law said he keeps seeing them dropped on the ground so he's not sure if anyone is actually picking them, and if they aren't I will totally eat their fallen tomatoes.

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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:39 am 
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Until 3 days ago I could count the number of days it hadn't rained on one hand! We had a few days of really high temperatures in May and we're having a few now but apart from those it's been rainy, cloudy and fairly cold for months. My garden is so far behind.


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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:16 am 
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Last year our drought was so bad I pretty much gave up because it was wasting so much water. It helps to use a soaker hose and do it early in the morning to after 7.

Isa- carrots are a spring only vegetable here because they don't like the heat. But that is awesome your tomatoes are going strong! Usually after it hits 95 here they won't grow any more.

mrsbadmouth- you should totally eat those fallen tomatoes. I have been contemplating stealing the figs off my neighbors tree because I am sure they won't eat them since they don't come in tons of packaging.

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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:24 pm 
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Chicken wire is about the worst thing one could use for tomato structures. The best (most sturdy, most accessible, cheapest) tomato support I've ever tried (and is used often by tomato farms) is called the Florida Weave. It's not very creative in that it places the plants in a row rather than more naturally throughout the garden but it works. I had 7 foot plants growing in weaves 2 years ago. That was before I built the raised beds. Have not tried the weaves in raised beds this year primarily because the beds contained so many shallots and garlic that I couldn't plan where to place the posts.

Those dinky tomato cages in big-box stores only work for small plants that don't get much over 3 or 4 feet tall. I use the cages for pepper plants instead. The Florida Weave takes planning though. Not something you can do after the fact.

Here are some photos of Florida Weaves if you guys want to plan for next year: https://www.google.com/search?q=%22flor ... 46&bih=966

Just don't do what I did and plant more than 2 plants between posts. I did 4 and they leaned into each other too much.

Here's a photo of mine, with 5-foot posts. I should have used longer posts and spaced the plants out more. http://snarkyvegan.files.wordpress.com/ ... aweave.jpg

And here's what they look like just getting started. http://snarkyvegan.files.wordpress.com/ ... aweave.jpg

Some folks also use cattle wire to make tall cage structures but you'd have the same issue as the chickenwire if you're planting large beefsteak-size tomatoes. Holes too small for harvesting. Plus, I didn't want to buy "cattle wire". Maybe if they called it Moderately Sized Tomato Support Wire instead ;-}


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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:28 pm 
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i do the florida weave! usually some bug kills my tomatoes but i never stop wasting resources in the hope of homegrown tomatoes.
and the wire i buy is called, curiously, not cattle or pig or chicken wire, but "belgian wire". i don't want to think about that too much.

so my collards had a bunch of caterpillars yesterday (not cabbage moths, but weird stripey hairy guys). i picked them all off and neemed the plants. let's hope they don't come back.

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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:43 pm 
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I set up a soaker hose with a timer. Yay for easy watering!

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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:21 pm 
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I have some cherry tomatoes on my balcony with lots of fruit that just won't ripen. I think it's because the plants are devoting all their energy to getting taller in order to reach the tiny amount of sun we get. Is there anything I can do? Should I cut the tip of the stems so the plants stop growing foliage? Should I do some pruning?

ETA I already prune most of the sucker branches

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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:55 pm 
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couroupita wrote:
I have some cherry tomatoes on my balcony with lots of fruit that just won't ripen. I think it's because the plants are devoting all their energy to getting taller in order to reach the tiny amount of sun we get. Is there anything I can do? Should I cut the tip of the stems so the plants stop growing foliage? Should I do some pruning?

ETA I already prune most of the sucker branches

Do you remember the variety name of the cherry tomato plants you have? If you planted a determinate cherry tomato plant, the plant will stop growing at its determined size and then all the fruit will ripen at about the same time. If you planted indeterminate, you should see fruit ripen over the course of the summer and the plant will keep growing until frost kills it. So there are really two expectations you can have for when the tomatoes will ripen.

I also found some very interesting info on ripening tomatoes from the Colorado Extension Service. Evidently this can happen for several reasons:

1. Too much plant growth, as you have already surmised, takes energy away from fruit ripening. Excessive plant growth can be caused by too much fertilizer, among other things. Nitrogen promotes leafy growth. So no more fertilizer for now.

2. New growth is stealing energy from the fruit. So yes, do snip new growth, not old growth because the bigger older leaves are needed to gather energy to ripen the fruit. It's a balance: enough big leaves to pass nutrients to the fruit but not so many that the plant doesn't focus on fruiting.

3. Lycopene and carotene, pigments that make tomatoes red, are not produced above 85F and lycopene is not produced below 50F. So depending on what the weather is doing where you are, that could also be the issue and you may just have to wait it out.

4. Too many fruits on the plant can slow ripening because the plant is trying to support all of them. Limited energy resources. But then again, I've had cherry tomato plants that are so loaded the plant can't stand upright and yet they all ripen. So I kinda doubt this is the issue.

Here are the links to the extension resources I found. You'll need to read them and then take a good look at the plant, your environment, and your local weather pattern to determine what direction to take. Most of these articles deal with ripening tomatoes as autumn approaches but the basic biology is the same.

http://www.denverext.colostate.edu/ripe ... atoes.html

And here's a great article on pruning tomato plants. Very in-depth and good info: http://lee.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/05/tomato-pruning/

All that said, let's not discount your suspicion that lack of sunlight may be a problem. Not knowing how much direct sun your plants are getting, this is a very real possibility. This article explains how tomatoes ripen. Unfortunately, it does mention (5th paragraph) that tomatoes grown in San Francisco have a difficult time ripening. Since you mentioned limited sun and your location under your avatar says SF Bay area, this is likely also part of the problem if not the entire issue altogether. If the plants are in movable pots, is there any way you can move them to a sunnier location? http://www.exploratorium.edu/theworld/gm/taste.html

If I were you, I'd:

1. keep snipping new growth
2. be patient with the weather if it's not prime ripening temps
3. see if there's any location you can move the plants to for more sun


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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:19 pm 
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couroupita wrote:
I have some cherry tomatoes on my balcony with lots of fruit that just won't ripen. I think it's because the plants are devoting all their energy to getting taller in order to reach the tiny amount of sun we get. Is there anything I can do?

One more link I found to some tomato trials that the Master Gardeners in San Francisco counties conducted: Granted, their trials are in-ground instead of in pots but they were primarily testing for varieties that would grow well in cool weather and low sunlight. So, you might save this info for next year and choose varieties they recommend. Of course, I don't know what you planted this year. You may have already done this.

http://ucanr.org/sites/MGsSMSF/Elkus/Co ... to_trials/


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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:42 pm 
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So the hot, hot weather we've been having has made my lettuce bitter and pretty much inedible. So disappointing! Also, no wonder not even the bunnies will touch the stuff. I'm thinking about waiting a couple of weeks and planting a late crop, since it grows so fast. And moving them somewhere slightly less sunny than where they have been.

My tomatoes are doing well--though the plant I bought is far outpacing the plant I grew from seed. I'm thinking next year I either have to plant earlier, or just buy my tomatoes already started, since I'm not sure if it's worth all the work.

My cucumbers look healthy but are not flowering as of yet, so I'm not sure if I'll get any cukes this year.

How's everyone else's garden looking?


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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:11 pm 
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vintage wrote:
So the hot, hot weather we've been having has made my lettuce bitter and pretty much inedible. So disappointing! Also, no wonder not even the bunnies will touch the stuff. I'm thinking about waiting a couple of weeks and planting a late crop, since it grows so fast. And moving them somewhere slightly less sunny than where they have been.

My tomatoes are doing well--though the plant I bought is far outpacing the plant I grew from seed. I'm thinking next year I either have to plant earlier, or just buy my tomatoes already started, since I'm not sure if it's worth all the work.

My cucumbers look healthy but are not flowering as of yet, so I'm not sure if I'll get any cukes this year.

How's everyone else's garden looking?

My tomatoes are always slow but I don't get 8 hours of sun.
On that note, try planting lettuce in the shade of your tomatoes. Sometimes a larger nearby plant helps with the too much summer sun thing that creates bitter lettuce. Or just try planting lettuce that says, "slow to bolt" on the seed package. That's often a variety that works in summer.


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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 3:12 pm 
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Thanks for the tip, SV! My backyard easily gets at least 8 hours of full sun each day... while my front yard is full shade. I'll try planting in the shade of the tomatoes (which sounds like a veggie romance novel) with the next crop.


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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:55 pm 
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snarkyvegan wrote:
On that note, try planting lettuce in the shade of your tomatoes. Sometimes a larger nearby plant helps with the too much summer sun thing that creates bitter lettuce.

Duh, this is genius! I'm gonna try it when I get home.

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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:18 am 
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I'm on vacation but my partner has been dutifully reporting on my garden daily. It's been hotter so as predicted, the tomato plant with the wilt is looking a bit worse. It has some nice fat tomatoes on it though. He counted 7. The cherry tomato has "many" fruits on it and he thought some of them were starting to change color.

Both the sunflowers bloomed like two days after I left. Go figure! We're surprised to find that one of them is yellow. They were both supposed to be red. The one that is actually red is kinda brown but in a good way. Next year I am going to buy like four them. And also plant them closer to my fence.

The Swiss chard is going bonkers without me there cutting it constantly. The basil looks great too. I want to go home and eat some things.

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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 7:56 am 
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So, a question.
There were caterpillars on my collards, so i picked them off and then sprayed a little neem oil with a bit of Dr Bronners and water on the collards. Within a day or two all the leaves turned brown and now some are wilted. Does neem oil usually kill on contact (the plant, not the bugs)? i don't have too much experience with it. The weather has been strange as well (frost and then maybe 75-80F in one day) but collards are usually happy under these conditions.

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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:44 am 
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i've never had neem burn anything like that. what dr bronners flavour did you use? i wondering if you used the mint if that would be too intense?

although, i used a very small amount of mint dr b's in one of my solutions and didn't have an issue.

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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:51 am 
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it was the mint, but it was the dilution i use for cleaning greens (like maybe 2.5ml in a quart of water).
it wasn't super sunny right after i put it on, we had about 2 or 3 cloudy, misty cool days right after i applied.

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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:20 pm 
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I've had that problem with some kale once, torque, but I think it was because I used too much soap in the mixture. Neem oil seems to make brown spots on the leaves or kill them if its too strongly mixed or if the sun hits them right after you apply it, but given what you said I don't really know. I've been avoiding using neem oil since then and just spraying with a mixture of garlic, cinnamon and cayenne water which doesn't stick as well without the neem oil but still gets rid of bugs.


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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:30 am 
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well, we'll give them a few weeks and see how they come back. the ones that had the neem on them have also curled, i wonder if neem goes bad? (never thought about it, it's probably at least 3yo)

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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 1:22 pm 
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I haven't figured out the right mix for neem oil either. I used teeny amounts of neem+soap in a quart spray bottle of water a few months ago to stop a fungus on the leaves of an African violet and it totally turned brown and died, in like a week. I'm afraid I have no idea on this one.


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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 1:47 pm 
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so my cucumbers and tomatoes are out of control. I have to trim them every few days. And who knew they had such prickly vines and leaves! We've already eaten 4 nearly foot long cukes. I didn't know cucumbers could be so sweet! A lot of my tomatoes are splitting, or have little bites out of them. I haven't done any pest control so I need to research some more natural options. I haven't seen what bugs are getting them either. Luckily I have way too many tomato plants in a small area so there are enough salvageable ones to last us.

I also have an acorn squash growing, and a regular yellow squash (don't remember if it had a particular name). I need to google to see when I'm supposed to pick the squash, no clue on that one. Swiss chard is also going strong. I need to plant more of that next year. My bell peppers are a bit of a disappointment, but was a bit excited to plant things this spring so I definitely overcrowded my raised beds. The tomatoes seem to be taking over the pepper's area no matter how often I trim them back. My kale was eaten the first time it developed leaves, but one plant made a come back. Until today. I went out to water and the kale was just the stems, every scrap of leaf was eaten. I might try more kale once it starts cooling down a bit.


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 Post subject: Re: Garden Chat
PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 2:06 pm 
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chiveggie wrote:
so my cucumbers and tomatoes are out of control. I have to trim them every few days. And who knew they had such prickly vines and leaves! We've already eaten 4 nearly foot long cukes. I didn't know cucumbers could be so sweet! A lot of my tomatoes are splitting, or have little bites out of them. I haven't done any pest control so I need to research some more natural options. I haven't seen what bugs are getting them either. Luckily I have way too many tomato plants in a small area so there are enough salvageable ones to last us.

I also have an acorn squash growing, and a regular yellow squash (don't remember if it had a particular name). I need to google to see when I'm supposed to pick the squash, no clue on that one. Swiss chard is also going strong. I need to plant more of that next year. My bell peppers are a bit of a disappointment, but was a bit excited to plant things this spring so I definitely overcrowded my raised beds. The tomatoes seem to be taking over the pepper's area no matter how often I trim them back. My kale was eaten the first time it developed leaves, but one plant made a come back. Until today. I went out to water and the kale was just the stems, every scrap of leaf was eaten. I might try more kale once it starts cooling down a bit.

Your tomatoes are splitting because of the hot weather and water issues. It's much harder to keep things evening watered when it's so dry and hot out. And IMHO, sometimes splits are just going to happen no matter what you do. You can still eat them tho. Just watch out for black fungus in the cracks. Sometimes cracks will invite fungus so you'd have to pick them before then or right when it shows up and cut the offending parts off before eating.

Little bites might be squirrels. Our squirrels love tomatoes and will often tug on one to see if they can steal it and if it won't budge, they move to the next. I tried spraying canola oil blended with jalapenos on the fruit one year and that worked somewhat. One bite and they left them alone but still, there was one bite. Then I had to reapply it after rain. And if you don't strain the mixture well, it will plug up the spray nozzle. You could also try to put pantaloon hose around the individual fruits to see if the squirrels stop. I wouldn't recommend bird nets though because they get tangled in the net and have a major freakout and it can hurt them.

My banana pepper plant is doing MUCH better than any of the bells. I never get a lot of fruit from a bell pepper plant.

Rabbits prolly got your kale. Cute aren't they ;-} The Husband feeds all the critters in our yard so that means they aren't afraid of me, even when I use swear words.


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