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BS: tomato plant question

maire-aine 04 Jul 07 - 12:03 PM
Sooz 04 Jul 07 - 12:35 PM
maire-aine 04 Jul 07 - 12:44 PM
Bert 04 Jul 07 - 12:56 PM
GUEST,LDB 04 Jul 07 - 01:02 PM
gnu 04 Jul 07 - 01:20 PM
Janie 04 Jul 07 - 01:25 PM
Sooz 04 Jul 07 - 02:19 PM
gnu 04 Jul 07 - 02:36 PM
maire-aine 04 Jul 07 - 04:14 PM
Peace 04 Jul 07 - 04:30 PM
Wyrd Sister 04 Jul 07 - 04:34 PM
Peace 04 Jul 07 - 04:38 PM
Beer 04 Jul 07 - 05:25 PM
terrier 04 Jul 07 - 07:10 PM
bobad 04 Jul 07 - 07:20 PM
EBarnacle 04 Jul 07 - 07:26 PM
Steve Shaw 04 Jul 07 - 07:52 PM
maire-aine 04 Jul 07 - 10:07 PM
Peace 04 Jul 07 - 11:00 PM
Janie 04 Jul 07 - 11:00 PM
Janie 04 Jul 07 - 11:12 PM
Peace 04 Jul 07 - 11:15 PM
Janie 05 Jul 07 - 12:05 AM
Peace 05 Jul 07 - 12:57 AM
GUEST,dianavan 05 Jul 07 - 01:16 AM
JennyO 05 Jul 07 - 01:19 AM
Genie 05 Jul 07 - 02:28 AM
Genie 05 Jul 07 - 02:39 AM
GUEST 05 Jul 07 - 09:06 AM
gnu 05 Jul 07 - 09:17 AM
Janie 06 Jul 07 - 01:15 AM
JennyO 06 Jul 07 - 01:20 AM
open mike 06 Jul 07 - 03:23 AM
Bee 06 Jul 07 - 06:17 AM
greg stephens 06 Jul 07 - 07:13 AM
Genie 06 Jul 07 - 12:24 PM
bobad 06 Jul 07 - 01:00 PM
JennyO 06 Jul 07 - 01:26 PM
Genie 06 Jul 07 - 07:37 PM
GUEST,leeneia 06 Jul 07 - 08:28 PM
Janie 07 Jul 07 - 01:35 AM
Steve Shaw 07 Jul 07 - 08:46 PM
Janie 07 Jul 07 - 11:31 PM
JennyO 07 Jul 07 - 11:50 PM
GUEST,dianavan 08 Jul 07 - 10:34 AM
JennyO 08 Jul 07 - 11:06 AM
Rowan 08 Jul 07 - 07:07 PM
Genie 08 Jul 07 - 08:23 PM
Janie 08 Jul 07 - 10:52 PM
GUEST,dianvan 09 Jul 07 - 04:35 PM
Genie 10 Jul 07 - 01:32 AM
Rowan 10 Jul 07 - 02:18 AM
GUEST,The Droop 10 Jul 07 - 04:12 AM
Mr Happy 10 Jul 07 - 07:30 AM
Rowan 10 Jul 07 - 08:01 AM
greg stephens 10 Jul 07 - 08:44 AM
JennyO 10 Jul 07 - 09:49 AM
Mr Happy 10 Jul 07 - 10:07 AM
Mr Happy 10 Jul 07 - 10:30 AM
GUEST,dianvan 10 Jul 07 - 02:33 PM
GUEST,The Droop 10 Jul 07 - 03:02 PM
Rowan 10 Jul 07 - 06:46 PM
GUEST,ibo 11 Jul 07 - 05:58 PM
bobad 11 Jul 07 - 07:17 PM
Steve Shaw 11 Jul 07 - 08:27 PM
Ebbie 12 Jul 07 - 06:12 PM
Janie 12 Jul 07 - 09:06 PM
Ebbie 12 Jul 07 - 11:51 PM
Genie 13 Jul 07 - 01:57 AM
Steve Shaw 13 Jul 07 - 06:18 AM
Rowan 13 Jul 07 - 09:24 PM
GUEST,Rick 13 Jul 07 - 10:19 PM
Janie 13 Jul 07 - 11:28 PM
Steve Shaw 14 Jul 07 - 08:08 PM
Steve Shaw 14 Jul 07 - 08:13 PM
GUEST,Norval 14 Jul 07 - 10:24 PM
Greg B 14 Jul 07 - 10:30 PM
Rowan 15 Jul 07 - 01:27 AM
Steve Shaw 15 Jul 07 - 10:44 AM
GUEST,The Droop 15 Jul 07 - 04:04 PM
Steve Shaw 15 Jul 07 - 06:54 PM
GUEST,Sooz(hard at work) 16 Jul 07 - 10:27 AM
Genie 16 Jul 07 - 08:22 PM
Steve Shaw 17 Jul 07 - 02:25 PM
Genie 21 Jul 07 - 11:23 AM
maire-aine 02 Sep 07 - 06:15 PM
Steve Shaw 02 Sep 07 - 06:28 PM
GUEST,dianavan 03 Sep 07 - 04:06 AM
Rumncoke 03 Sep 07 - 06:59 AM
Stilly River Sage 03 Sep 07 - 12:35 PM

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Subject: BS: tomato plant question
From: maire-aine
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 12:03 PM

I know there are some gardeners out there that can help me out here. I'm not much of a gardener myself, but I bought 4 heirloom tomato plants this spring, and I've managed to keep them alive so far. They have lots of blossoms and a few little tomatoes now.

When I was a little kid, my father used to pick off some of the leave, so that the fruit would grow bigger. I'd like to try this, but I don't know how he judged which branches to prune off. Can somebody explain this to me.

Thanks,
Maryanne


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Sooz
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 12:35 PM

It won't make the fruit grow bigger - the plants need the leaves to photosynthesise to make the raw materials to build tomatoes. However, they may ripen better once they have grown if you remove some leaves (to let the sun get at the fruits perhaps). I usually take any off that are looking the worse for wear and generaly thin the leaves out. I confess that I usually find that they are sideshoots I missed earlier in the season.
We shared our first ripe tomato last week. Not exactly a glut yet!

PS What are heirloom tomatoes?


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: maire-aine
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 12:44 PM

There's an extended definition in wikipedia, but generally they are old-fashioned varieties of tomato plant that aren't commercially grown. Generally, they have better taste, but don't travel as well as the ones you get in the store.

M


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Bert
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 12:56 PM

Usually you pinch out the top of the plant after the fourth truss has set.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: GUEST,LDB
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 01:02 PM

First, are the plants you have originally from a place where growing conditions are similar to where you now live? By that I mean temperature, soil conditions, etc. These old-timers were developed in a specific location, so it is somewhat important.

Second, as Sooz says, the only reason to pick off leaves is if the plant is way too bushy - I never do that, and mine do well. In the old days, there were many gardeners that thought it wise to pick off some of the blossoms so the remaining tomatoes would get bigger and better. In those days there was some truth to it, because soil & moisture were pretty much left alone. Now in these days of fertilizer and easy watering that is not the case - I never do that, but I do keep track of the soil type and moisture.

Course, I'm a newcomer to heirloom growing - I've only been doing it about 60 years. And they are bigger, meatier, and (to me) taste better. But they don't ship or store well.

Good luck!


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: gnu
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 01:20 PM

Between a main branch and a secondary branch, a third branch (known as a sucker to me) may appear. Pick these off. Of course, this also applies branches on the stalk.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Janie
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 01:25 PM

What gnu said.

Suckering the plant will actually result in fewer, but larger tomatoes. (But you will still have plenty of tomatoes.)

Janie


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Sooz
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 02:19 PM

What you are describing is what we call sideshoots in this neck of the woods. Some varieties should have them removed and then "stop" the plant by pinching out the growing tip when you are satisfied with the number of trusses. Other varieties (mostly those grown outdoors) can be allowed to bush, but should be "stopped" sooner. Once a plant has been "stopped", the fruits will begin to ripen as the effort is no longer put into growing. Also at this stage, reducing the amount of water given will help. (Ripening helps with survival!)


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: gnu
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 02:36 PM

Oops........ "Of course, this also applies branches on the stalk." should read, "Of course, this also applies to branches on the stalk." That is, when a sucker grows between the stalk and the branch, pick it off.

BTW, my old man never trusted the bees for polination. He would use his fingers and, of course, make lewd comments. A buddy of mine gave me an excellent tip.... use a new makeup brush just for tomatoe plant polination and keep it in a plastic bag. You can also make comments, but not nearly as lewd. Oh! And, for those macho men out there, a small paint brush will work just as well.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: maire-aine
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 04:14 PM

"when a sucker grows between the stalk and the branch, pick it off"

I think that's what he was doing. Thanks folks. What a wealth of information in this forum!


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Peace
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 04:30 PM

"Usually you pinch out the top of the plant after the fourth truss has set."

That would work well for tomatoes, too.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Wyrd Sister
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 04:34 PM

I read somewhere you can also remove the leaves below a truss that has ripened. Can't remember where, of course!


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Peace
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 04:38 PM

Something that hasn't been mentioned: it isn't wise to water the whole plant in sunlight (strong sunlight) becauuse it leads to the tomato itself cracking. Tomatoes will ripen even when picked green, so if there is a freeze or snow, don't let the green ones go to waste. (Sorry to talk about snow, but one year we had a snowfall on August 8 and I was up all night hosing off the plants.) Try a spaghetti sauce using ripe fresh tomatoes. WOW!


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Beer
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 05:25 PM

You can also plant your tomato tree deep. Right up to the first set of leaves. This tends to make the plant stronger. To late for this year for most I guess.
Beer (adrien)


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: terrier
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 07:10 PM

If you are going to pull off the side shoots, pot them up for extra plants as they root very easily, or try growing 'Bonzai' plants from them in small pots if the side shoots have developed flowers, you'll get normal sized tomatoes from very small plants.Amaze your friends.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: bobad
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 07:20 PM

A good article on pruning tomato plants CLICK


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: EBarnacle
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 07:26 PM

I don't believe we need to worry about frosts here in NJ at the moment.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 07:52 PM

Don't remove any leaves. Later on, when the lowest leaves are looking a bit bedraggled and yellow, you can snap them off at the base. You should train the plants up string or canes with just one main stem, so remove sideshoots regularly. These don't look like leaves. They are leafy shoots that grow in the leaf axles (the points at which the leaf stalks meet the main stem). Just snap them off with your finger and thumb for a clean break. Pruning with secateurs is a bad idea as the cut stems will allow infection in.   If you don't remove sideshoots you'll end up with a jungle and a lot of small, unripe tomatoes. If you're growing outdoors in a cool climate (e.g. London), remove the growing tip once you see little tomatoes on the fourth truss. In a greenhouse you can let them grow to any size that's compatible with the space you have before removing the growing tip. Here in Cornwall I can still pick ripe tomatoes in my unheated greenhouse into late October.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: maire-aine
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 10:07 PM

Once again, we're divided by a common language. I've never heard the term "truss" used in the context of a plant. Would someone kindly explain what this means?

Thanks,
Maryanne


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Peace
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 11:00 PM

Truss means a compact flower or fruit cluster. (That according to Merriam-Webster.)


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Janie
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 11:00 PM

And I am realizing how climate makes a difference. Where I live we never top tomatoes. We have a long growing season, and aren't much concerned about the vast majority of the harvest ripening before frost. In fact, disease and old age is likely to finish off the plants well before frost, and shorter day length will slow production. Since tomato plants have trouble lasting through the season here, many people do as terrier suggests and root suckers to start a mid-season crop. By the time the first planting is finished and pulled out of the ground, the second crop is bearing.

Now I'm wondering if length of growing season influences your preferences for determinate vs. indeterminate varieties.

Janie


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Janie
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 11:12 PM

Peace, are you talking about the vertical splitting that happens when tomotoes take up a lot of water, like after abundant rain, and especially when subjected to cycles of dryness and then abundant water, or are talking about the tough, brown lines and 'crazing', usually around the top circumference?

Janie


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Peace
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 11:15 PM

Neither, Janie. I have seen people water tomatoes at say 2:00 PM under a hot sun. Invariably the skins of the tomatoes split.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Janie
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 12:05 AM

Hmm. Well, that kinda makes sense, especially if they are really thirsty plants. By 2:00 in the afternoon of a hot day, they have expired a lot of water, and I'm guessing the roots at that time of day take up new water very greedily. Tomatoes are full of water, and the fruit will literally take up more water than the skin can keep contained. The 'meat' swells from the water, and the thin skin splits from the internal pressure.

Or, if they are good and ripe and plump, and expanded by the heat of the day, the pressure of water hitting the fruit might be enough to cause it to split. I've noticed how good, ripe fruit, especially after a rain, will split just from the gentle handling involved in picking it and placing it in a basket.

You are in the north - do you know if determinate varieties are preferred where you live?

Janie


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Peace
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 12:57 AM

I'm not sure, Janie. I know that people who do their own canning or sauces using fresh tomatoes tend to prefer determinates because they can plan for the harvest and know it won't go on for much longer than a few weeks--usually ONE week. But then most of the folks I've known who did plant tomatoes were farming/ranching folks, and their time was valuable during the times the plants would ripen, and being able to work a time for canning, etc, into the overall picture was a good thing.

My ex's father used to plant them and have fresh tomatoes daily for months. So, mostly, I guess it depends on what ya want 'em for.

I haven't had a garden for over eight years. So, in short, it beats me.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: GUEST,dianavan
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 01:16 AM

Everyone has their own way of gardening and their own way of growing tomatoes. There is no wrong or right way.

I used to stake my tomatoes and carefully prune the suckers. Now I just put straw around the base and let them sprawl and ripen. I actually seem to get more tomatoes that way because you can plant them closer together. Once they begin to blossom, I don't water them anymore. I think I'm a lazy gardener.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: JennyO
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 01:19 AM

Here in Oz, it's a long growing season, so our situation is similar to the one described by Janie. Disease or shorter days finish ours off in the end, but by that time, a few new plants have sprung up from some of the dropped tomatoes or out of the compost.

We don't get frost where I live, although it does get pretty cold at night in winter, so I let the feral plants do their own thing just to see what will happen. It's mid winter now, and the feral plants were doing so well at the end of May this year that I put some plastic over them for protection. One plant in particular has grown quite large and actually has fruit on it. They aren't going red though, so I think I will pick the bigger ones soon and see if they will ripen up on the window sill.

I was always told that with tomatoes you have to pinch out the laterals. That's what we call what some others called sideshoots. They spring up in the V between the main stem and a side stem. If you don't, you end up with a lot of main stems, and the plant gets big and needs a stake for each stem. But we now are able to get 'grafted tomato' seedlings. These are very robust and it's okay to have a number of main stems. They can handle it. So it's like having at least 6 plants in one. In the end I do start pinching some of them out so the plant is not spreading itself too thin. I'll take off the top shoots as well once there is a lot of fruit setting and there are signs that the plant is getting a bit straggly.

Sometimes I suspect if I did no pruning at all, they would do fine anyway. The main thing is to feed them well, keep them well mulched to stop them drying out, and here it's recommended to water them in the early morning rather than the evening, so that they don't get diseases from having their feet wet at night. It's also recommended to water them at the base rather than on the leaves for the same reason, and not to water them in the middle of a hot day. Overwatering will make the fruit split. After a period of rain, a lot of my cherry tomatoes split. I think they are more susceptible to that than the bigger tomatoes.

Having said all that, I don't know if the heritage tomatoes need more pruning than others. They wouldn't be as vigorous as the grafted tomatoes I imagine, so some pruning is probably good. Might as well remove yellowing and dead leaves at the bottom, but it's good to have plenty of foliage to shade the tomatoes from the hot sun, so don't take too much off.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Genie
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 02:28 AM

Thanks for all the tomato tweaking tips, folks.

As for tomatoes (heirlooms or otherwise) travelling well, that's seldom a concern for me, since mine often don't make it to my kitchen before being devoured.    If they do, their pre-sliced days are still quite numbered.

Especially the really sweet ones like Sweet 100 or the big juicy beefsteaks.

:D


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Genie
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 02:39 AM

By the way, I never water my tomatoes overhead, with the spray hitting the fruit or most of the leaves.   I water around the base of the plant with a hand-held hose and sprinkler or use a soaker hose.
However, I live in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, and we do tend to get rain frequently in the early fall, even though tomatoes may continue to grow and ripen through October or beyond (depending on the year), and, yes, when a tomato that's been soaking up the sun for weeks gets rained on, it tends to split.   That's why there are special varieties for this region that are developed not to split in the rain.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 09:06 AM

Where I live it's difficult to get many tomatos ripe on the plant before cold weather sets in. I always used to take the green ones in to let them ripen, and some of them would and some wouldn't, until someone told me to take the whole plant up, shake the soil off the roots, and hang the plants upside down in a sunny indoor spot (I have a porch for these kinda endeavours). When I tried this, every single tomato, even tiny ones, ripened beautifully.
    Please note that anonymous posting is no longer allowed at Mudcat. Use a consistent name [in the 'from' box] when you post, or your messages risk being deleted.
    Thanks.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: gnu
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 09:17 AM

Neat tip. Thanks guest. Matter of fact, thanks to all who contributed. I have learned a lot.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Janie
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 01:15 AM

Several years ago, Organic Gardening (wich used to be a good, useful magazine, but is no more, IMO) reported a number of research studies showed that yield is not reduced by faioing to sucker plants. Fruits are smaller, but there are more of them. suckering can help to reduce some diseases, by improving air flow. As long as there is good, heavey muclchunder the plants, staking is not necessary, but you may lose more fruit to 'predators" or rot from contact with the ground.

Janie


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: JennyO
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 01:20 AM

heavey muclchunder

I don't have any of that. Should I get some? ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: open mike
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 03:23 AM

best not to water the leaves or to "over head water"
but to direct the water so it goes on (or in) the ground
as it is the roots not the leaves that take it in.
hooray for drip (or mist) irrigation systems!


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Bee
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 06:17 AM

Guest above was me, whose cookie apparently expired and had to be revived. Sorry.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: greg stephens
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 07:13 AM

None of my plants seem to doing much in the tomato line yet, just loads and loads of leaves. I think the incessant rain must have something to do with it(Stoke, England, by the way).


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Subject: Growing Tomatoes
From: Genie
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 12:24 PM

FWIW, while I'm a strong advocate of drip watering and I avoid overhead watering of my vegetables, my grandmother raised the best veggies in the world, especially tomatoes, back on a farm in Kansas, and most of the "watering" they got was overhead - from heavy summer rain showers.   (It doesn't rain often in Kansas in August, but when it rains, it pours.)   I've never figured out why her tomatoes did so well with going a week or two without watering and then getting pounded by overhead drenching.

Of course, that was back in the days before ADM gobbled up the seed patents, and Grandma harvested her own seed crop for the next year.    Natural selection probably played a big part. Tomato varieties that couldn't handle Kansas summer weather didn't perpetuate their genes for long.

;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: bobad
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 01:00 PM

greg, if you have fertilized your tomatoes with a high nitrogen fertilizer the plants will produce a great crop of leaves but nothing much in the way of fruit.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: JennyO
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 01:26 PM

What they need for fruiting is fertilizers rich in potassium and particularly potash. There are products out there with the right balance of nutrients for tomatoes. Adding potash will make them flower earlier and improve the flavour of the tomatoes.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Genie
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 07:37 PM

Thanks, Jenny.

Some of my tomato plants have been just sort of sitting there since their transplanting a few weeks ago, and I want to "feed" them in a way that will encourage fruiting, not just bushy plants.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 08:28 PM

I have grown tomatoes a good many years. We eat them in the summer and freeze the extras to use in cooking in the winter. The flavor is so much nicer.

It's true that tomato plants need a balanced fertilizer, not just nitrogen.

Tomatoes are also particular about nighttime temperatures. If the small hours of the night are too cold or two hot, the blossoms drop off without setting fruit. I forget the particular temperatures, but Greg's plants may be failing to set because it is still too cool at night.

Here in the Midwest, we often get a stretch of time in late summer when it is too hot for tomatoes to set fruit. I've heard that there are new varieties that don't have that problem, but I couldn't locate any this spring.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Janie
Date: 07 Jul 07 - 01:35 AM

heavey muclchunder

You certainly should, Jennie. And here is how: Get insomnia for 3 weeks and counting. Drink 3 glasses of good Aussie wine and post at 1:00 in the morning. The tomatoes will love it:>)

This thread is making me sad. Personal circumstances precluded me planting a summer veggie garden this year, for the first time in more years than I care to remember. I said to my son today, "We should be eating out of the garden now, with home grown tomatoes, snap beans, assorted squash and melons, peppers, egg plant, cukes, lots of pesto, young potatos, red onions, roasted garlic....

We can get it all at the farmers market, and for less than it cost to grow myself. but there is nothing quite like getting home from the clinic, rushing in to change clothes, then going out to the garden to bring in supper.

Somebody mentioned the sweet 100 series of cherry tomatoes. Yum! Reminds me of sitting around the kitchen table with a big bowl of the sweet 100's still warm from the sun, a big plate of just cut and washed basil, and a tub of fresh mozzerella (sp) from the farmers market. We could call that breakfast, lunch, or supper!

Janie


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 Jul 07 - 08:46 PM

The best cherry tomatoes I've ever grown are Sungold. OK, they can split like mad if your watering regime isn't just so, but they always yield well and they have the huge advantage of being resistant to most soil-borne diseases, so you can plant them in the same greenhouse soil year after year. They taste superb too.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Janie
Date: 07 Jul 07 - 11:31 PM

Ooo-la-la! I'm with you on that, Steve. It is hard to have any left by the time one walks from the garden to the house.

Bought a pint of the sungolds, a tub of fresh mozzerella and a bunch of basil at the local farmers market this morning. My son and I watched a movie this evening, and ate "the whole thing.'

Slurp!

Janie


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: JennyO
Date: 07 Jul 07 - 11:50 PM

My cherry tomatoes always seem to be the most vigorous of all my tomato plants, and they seem to go on producing longer than the others. They do seem to be disease resistant too. Of course if some of them split, I can graze on them straight off the bush (like I need an excuse ;-) As long as they are there, the split sorta seals and they are still lovely to eat. Talk about an explosion in the mouth! Can't wait till the warmer months!

I totally understand how you feel about the vege garden, Janie. There is something really special about being able to walk around the garden and gather dinner. I wish I could send you some of my home-grown tomatoes, but I don't think they'd travel too well from Oz :-(


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: GUEST,dianavan
Date: 08 Jul 07 - 10:34 AM

I learned a new trick this year. Plant a banana peel under the plant! Its supposed to add potassium or something like that. I belong to a multi-cultural garden club and this is a tip from India.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: JennyO
Date: 08 Jul 07 - 11:06 AM

You know I might try that Dianavan. I can see why it would work. Nothing to lose, anyway.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Rowan
Date: 08 Jul 07 - 07:07 PM

JennyO's long growing season is to be envied, as it doesn't apply to all parts of Oz. When I lived in Melbourne I could plant out a swag of Gross Lisse in September, when things are starting to warm up, and have the first crop off by Christmas. And yes, I tipped the leaders but never bothered about when I watered; none of them split. I'd still be harvesting them until the first of the frosts in late May and the green ones remaining would go into chutney.

When I arrived in Armidale's Northern Tablelalnds, the last frost for the season was in the first week of December; "There goes any chance of growing decent tomatoes!" I thought. Well, up here there are sweepstakes held on whether the first frost of the season will precede Anzac Day (25 April) and whether the last of the season will occur after Melbourne Cup Day (1st Tuesday in November). Effectively, this is a bit too short a season for any but the keenest gardeners, who keep seedlings under glass until they think the frosts is all over (sorry) and take a punt on warmth after Cup Day. However, the coolth of the altitude means we don't have the range of insect or fungal pests that more moderate climes must deal with.

And further north (and higher) at Guyra, they have established huge glasshouses just to grow tomatoes (they do taste rather good!) based on the realisation that it's easier and cheaper to keep tomatoes warm in a cold climate that it is to look after them in a warm one.

Oh! BTW, research in the local Botany dept demonstrated that tomato plants produce better when they're played music; I think the researchers used "classical" music but I'm sure tomato plants could appreciate the tastes of their cultivators.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Genie
Date: 08 Jul 07 - 08:23 PM

Hmmm, if you play acid rock for them, will they produce better tomatoes for canning?
;-D

Rowan, my world is upside-down from yours, but here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon (Portland, in my case), we sometimes don't get a hard frost till way into the winter.   It's not unusual for roses to continue flowering here through December, and one year I picked my last, red cherry tomato (I think it was a Sweet 100) on Jan. 1. (That's officially about 10 days into "winter" here, but climate-wise it's actually about a month to 6 weeks after our cold winter weather usually starts.) It didn't have a lot of taste -- much like a tomato that's been in the fridge a long time -- but it still had normal tomato texture and was ripe, not rotting.

G

Thanks for the banana tip, Dianavan.   My mom taught me about putting banana peels around her rose bushes to add potassium (and I think calcium too). I'll have to see what it does for tomato plants.

Of course, my native American ancestors used to put a fish in the hole under a corn plant, and maybe under tomato plants too.   That ought to work well for tomatoes too, I'd think.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Janie
Date: 08 Jul 07 - 10:52 PM

And here is my thanks for the banana peel tip!

And I guess I better try it with my roses as well.

Janie


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: GUEST,dianvan
Date: 09 Jul 07 - 04:35 PM

Roses, too? I'll try it.

Fish under the corn rows works well. A whole fish for tomatoes might be too much. A starfish works well (save our clams). Fish (I use dogfish) under squash works really well!

After reading this, I went out and staked and pinched my tomatoes. Haven't done this is years. Its alot of trouble and my hands turn black and green. I also wonder about spreading disease this way. We'll see. When I let the tomatoes sprawl on beds of hay or grass, they seem to be more resistant to disease.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Genie
Date: 10 Jul 07 - 01:32 AM

Dianvan, I've read gardening columnists advise against handling your plants when they're wet, because that does incur the risk of spreading disease.   But I don't think it's usually a problem if the plants and the weather are dry.

If you have one plant that has any mildew, smut or other diseases, it's probably best to wash and dry your hands thoroughly after handing them, before moving to a different plant.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Rowan
Date: 10 Jul 07 - 02:18 AM

And, if using secateurs, scrub the blades under the tap (OK, "faucet") and then (if you're super 'serious') dip them into good ol' bleach for a couple of minutes and then rinse under the tap again. Dry them quickly (in the sun, over the back of the fridge etc) and give them a coat of a light oil to prevent rust.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: GUEST,The Droop
Date: 10 Jul 07 - 04:12 AM

The incessant rain and lack of sun in the UK has left me with a lot of leaves and few fruit, I have grown tomatoes for years but without any doubt this summer is the worst in living memory.
Climate change in the British Isles has gone into reverse, and my poor old Toms are feeling the effect. Global warming my ass.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Mr Happy
Date: 10 Jul 07 - 07:30 AM

Checked my plants this morning.

The bees've been busy!

Already have 7/8 pea size fruit, hopefully some more soon.

BTW, 'though I've never tried the banana tip for actually growing, they're very good end of season for helping to ripen any green ones left over


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Rowan
Date: 10 Jul 07 - 08:01 AM

Acetylene emitted by very ripe fruits is widely understood to accelarate ripening in many others but this is the first hint I've seen that bananas emit it (although they have lots of amyl acetate - the essential ester of banana flavour) or that tomatoes are sipened in this way.

You learn something every day!

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: greg stephens
Date: 10 Jul 07 - 08:44 AM

I am growing my tomatoes in pure compost from my composter, which just gets all the vegetable waste from the kitchen, basically. Will this be a reasonably balanced source of nutrients? Or might this be the cause of a tendency towards leaves rather than fruit?
   The sun, I am glad to say, has now come out after what seems luck weeks of rain and dullness, so I am hoping for an improvement. There are a few tiny little tomatoes starting, so I'm optimistic.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: JennyO
Date: 10 Jul 07 - 09:49 AM

If you have tiny tomatoes starting now, it sounds like everything is fine. It's a funny thing that I have always noticed with tomatoes fruiting - the leaves get more and more lush, and just as you are getting impatient and wondering why there are no flowers or fruit yet, it all starts to happen, like someone threw a switch.

I made my no-dig gardens out of a base of newspaper, several layers of straw, manure, lime, and a top thick layer of my compost, which was made from a mixture of vege peelings and lawn clippings. All my vegetables love it! The only other thing I might add is extra layers of compost as it settles, and a seaweed-based fertilizer for the potassium which will help with flowering and fruiting.

It's a good idea as the plants get bigger to build up the soil around the stems so they are buried deeper - they will send out extra roots on the stem which makes them stronger and more vigorous. Just take off the bottom row of leaves. Keep the plants well mulched too.

The funniest sight I have these days (in the middle of winter, I might add) is to see little tomato plants that have self-seeded in the compost heap. I had butternut pumpkin plants spring up that way last year in spring. I planted them out and had a wonderful crop of butternut pumpkins as a result. It's interesting to see what sometimes comes out of the vege peelings!


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Mr Happy
Date: 10 Jul 07 - 10:07 AM

JennyO,

'It's interesting to see what sometimes comes out.........'


Heard someone one remark that the best tomato plants he'd seen were near the inlet pipe at a sewage works!?!


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Mr Happy
Date: 10 Jul 07 - 10:30 AM

From Wikipedia:


'The tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is a plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family, as are its close cousins tobacco, chili peppers, potato, and eggplant.'

As its related to these other food plants [except tobacco], the genetic engineers'd be doing a useful job to produce a tomato/potato hybrid - then we could eat the fruits & the roots!


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: GUEST,dianvan
Date: 10 Jul 07 - 02:33 PM

greg - I think that growing tomatoes in pure compost might produce an abundance of leaves. You might need to heavily pinch the suckers. Wait another month or so and pinch back anything and everything without fruit. Leave a few leaves at the top to shelter the fruit from rain and scorching sun.

Everyone has a different way but that's my advice. If you try a different method with each plant, you will soon find what works best for you.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: GUEST,The Droop
Date: 10 Jul 07 - 03:02 PM

Dear friends growing Tomatoes in the US or Oz, is a hell of a lot different from growing in the British Isles, I have used the old rotten Banana trick for years, but this year, without doubt the worst summer for us from records were began is a disaster for my Toms.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Rowan
Date: 10 Jul 07 - 06:46 PM

In the days of the nightcart it was usual gossip to remark on the excellent quality of the driver's vegie patch.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: GUEST,ibo
Date: 11 Jul 07 - 05:58 PM

what is the capital of venezuala?


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: bobad
Date: 11 Jul 07 - 07:17 PM

The bolivar?


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 11 Jul 07 - 08:27 PM

Tomatoes and potatoes can be crossed. The resulting plants grow small, useless spuds and tiny, insipid tomatoes.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Ebbie
Date: 12 Jul 07 - 06:12 PM

I have a single tomato plant growing inside at my office window. The bush is tall and leggy - started out that way - but it has lots of blossoms. (For pollinating, I take a blossom from an overcrowded cluster and touch it to the other blossoms. I used to use a soft brush but someone told me of this method and it works fine.)

The biggest tomato at this point is about half as big as a golf ball. At this rate I'd guess the first tomato will be ready by the middle of August.

I love tomatoes but this far north you can't plant them outdoors. This is the fourth year (not consectutive) that I have planted them indoors. Ripened on the vine, they taste great, and they don't get spots on them or any other damage.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Janie
Date: 12 Jul 07 - 09:06 PM

Waughhh! I want a fresh tomato sammich!

Janie


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Ebbie
Date: 12 Jul 07 - 11:51 PM

Me too! sob sob sob


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Genie
Date: 13 Jul 07 - 01:57 AM

I had my first home-grown tomato tonight.   
It wasn't from my own garden, but it was great anyway.

And I have two big Santiam tomatoes that will be ready to pick tomorrow (or Saturday).

I could leave them for 2 or 3 more days at least, but they have a way of vanishing into thin air when I try to do that, and, damn it! I want the first ripe tomato from my own vines for ME!   (After that, I share eagerly.) :)

I'm wondering, if you crossed a tomato with a watermelon, would you get a giant sweet tomato or a teensy little melon that wasn't very sweet?


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 13 Jul 07 - 06:18 AM

You'd get an awful lot of utterly amazed scientists and possibly even a Nobel Prize.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Rowan
Date: 13 Jul 07 - 09:24 PM

Good try Steve, but the Nobel for genes leaping between plants was given quite a few years ago now (and many years after she had demonstrated it but had her efforts poo-poohed by various males) to Barbara McClintock.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: GUEST,Rick
Date: 13 Jul 07 - 10:19 PM

Ive had great success in generating a large amount of fruit on my plants this year but all my tomatos are spliting. I normaly water around 6:00 PM every other day. What am I doing wrong???


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Janie
Date: 13 Jul 07 - 11:28 PM

Maybe you are watering a bit too much? But more likely, you are harvesting just a tad too late. A fully ripe, well watered tomato will split very easily (the fruit isn't growing anymorebut keeps taking up water, and the fully ripe skin is very, very tender.) Try harvesting a little sooner, or harvest early in the day, before the heat of the day causes expansion of the water molecules within the tomato.

Let us know what happens.

Janie


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 14 Jul 07 - 08:08 PM

Rowan, old bean, a successful cross between a watermelon (Cucurbitaceae) and a tomato (Solanaceae) would require a bit more than just genes leaping between plants. You'd have as much success as you would crossing a poodle with a kangaroo.   A good biology textbook would sort this out for you. Good luck.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 14 Jul 07 - 08:13 PM

Rick, only water when necessary. Outdoors, water if there's been no rain for a day or two and the soil is looking dry, then give a really good soak. Under glass, you may need to water every day in hot sunny weather but far less often in dull, damp conditions. You need to be guided by the weather and not a rigid watering routine. The state of the soil/compost is your best indicator.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: GUEST,Norval
Date: 14 Jul 07 - 10:24 PM

Rick: Watering every second day is not often enough. Tomatoes like even moisture. To dry out then drown the plants will cause the splitting that you fruit exhibits. This is from my own experience and various sources I have read, including the RHS linked below.

Royal Horticutural Society - Tomatoes

The RHS says:
If you allow the soil or compost to dry out and then flood it the change in water content will cause the fruit to crack; always aim to keep plants evenly moist.

Irregular watering, together with a lack of calcium in the soil leads to blossom end rot - the bottom of the fruit turns black and becomes sunken.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Greg B
Date: 14 Jul 07 - 10:30 PM

We're suffering a shortage of fruit on both tomato and bell
pepper plants this year, where formerly we've had bumper
crops.

Simultaneously, we've noted a marked absence of honey bees
about the property.

Uh oh.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Rowan
Date: 15 Jul 07 - 01:27 AM

And there was I, an old fruit, thinking that Rowan had nothing to do with Fabaceae or any of the other legumes. I just about split my sides.

You might be able to correct me Steve (and I'm not nailing any colours to any mast, here and it's not important enough for me to go Googling) but, from the dimness of my memory, it was just such an 'absurd' leap (as from Cucurbitaceae to Solanaceae) that Barbara McClintock had observed, hypothesised about, tested and confirmed some decades before the blokes did it all again and that got her the Nobel.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 15 Jul 07 - 10:44 AM

I've found that the yummy little cherry toms such as Gardener's Delight and Sungold are prone to some splitting whatever care you take over watering. This probably explains why these varieties are rarely sold in shops. The cherry toms that are usually sold are thicker-skinned and usually flavourless little nasties. One exception is a variety called Piccolo which is sold at premium price in some UK supermarkets. They are quite thick-skinned, rarely split and are pretty tasty, especially the Italian ones. Maybe I'll try growing 'em next year, but this year it's Sungold in me greenhouse. There are always enough unsplit ones to satisfy, and the split ones are very nice done in the oven or grilled for five minutes sprinkled with olive oil, basil, salt and pepper. Garlic too if you're feeling sociable.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: GUEST,The Droop
Date: 15 Jul 07 - 04:04 PM

Follow Norval`s advice on watering, he is right, keep the soil moist without overwatering, years of growing Toms have convinced me of this.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 15 Jul 07 - 06:54 PM

If your cherry toms split, you may or may not be watering accurately. If you get blossom end rot, it's definitely your fault. If you grow your toms in those horrible grow-bags you'll almost certainly come a cropper with watering. You can grow Sungold year after year in the same greenhouse soil without risk of soil-borne disease. If your soil is liberally laced with loads of home-made compost before you plant, and you water sensibly, you'll minimise splitting, but whether you avoid it altogether will be a question of what varieties you're growing.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: GUEST,Sooz(hard at work)
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 10:27 AM

Once the fruit has started to ripen, you should reduce the amount of water you give the plants. You need to keep them alive, but not make them so comfortable that thay don't need to ripen fruit to survive.

BTW who started calling the plants "vines" which they are not, technically speaking?


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Genie
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 08:22 PM

OK, if irregular watering is so bad for tomatoes, how come Kansas farms produce such great tomatoes with their erratic summer moisture sequences (e.g., 2 rainless weeks with temperatures in the 80s and 90s, then a summer downpour, then more "drought" days)?

Seriously, that's the kind of moisture "schedule" my grandma's huge, luscious beefsteak-type tomatoes thrived on.   The only fertilizer they got, generally, was provided by the chickens running around the barnyard, and I don't think Grandma ever watered the tomatoes by hand (from hose or pump) unless it was a very long time between summer rain showers.   But it seldom rained more than once a week or once every two weeks there in July and August, and when it did, everything really got soaked.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 17 Jul 07 - 02:25 PM

Commercial growers only grow varieties that are resistant to splitting. Home growers prefer to grow tomatoes that taste like tomatoes.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Genie
Date: 21 Jul 07 - 11:23 AM

I prefer the old homegrown (non-patented) tomatoes too.   Not only do I kind of like being able to harvest my seeds for future plantings -- legally -- but the older, tastier versions of tomatoes also had more acid in them, making them much better (safer) for canning without having to add lemon, etc.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: maire-aine
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 06:15 PM

First of all, thanks for all the advice. It was very helpful. The experiment was a great success. I had especially good results with a heart-shaped heirloom called "Old German". They all cracked around the top, but that's okay. They were delicious. I've got a lot of green ones, but they'll ripen (indoors if necessary).

I went to the garden center today, and bought several left-over herbs. I planted them in a flower-box, so I can bring them inside when we start to get frost overnight. Which I hope will be a long way off!

Maryanne


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 06:28 PM

Well, what a bad tomato summer. Blight devastated mine by late July and I sprayed them in desperation with dithane, making it the first time in 25 years my toms have been rendered non-organic. At least I have a crop, and now that there's been some leaf regrowth they're cropping quite well and taste good.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: GUEST,dianavan
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 04:06 AM

This was an odd year for my tomatoes. They set fruit quite late and I just started to get a few ripe ones last weeks. I planted several varieties but the yellow tomatoes ripened first. None of the plants had very many tomatoes. In fact, I've never had such a poor crop. I think it makes each tomato taste a little sweeter. I usually have so many I have to give them away. Not this year.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Rumncoke
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 06:59 AM

I have not grown veges for some time - but I remember the ones I used to grow in Portsmouth - the topsoil there was four feet deep, and really fertile, plus I composted all the organic stuff from the kitchen. The heat of the process killed of diseases, I think - I certainly did not have anything spoilt by mould or canker.

I used a plastic tube to drip water all round the South facing garden, and the tomato plant stems were so thick I could not close my hand around them. The organic matter in the soil meant that it held a lot of water, but was never saturated, and the constant addition of tiny drops of water meant that the plants never stopped growing all day.   

The tube was simply stabbed with a sewing needle wherever I wanted moisture, and it was fed from the overflow of the downstairs toilet so there was a constant head of water.

I used to sit out and watch the plants grow and the bees fly between the lemon balm and their hole in the wall, and the wasps would come and harvest the caterpillars. I used to find it strange that somewhere so buzy could also be so utterly peaceful.


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Subject: RE: BS: tomato plant question
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 12:35 PM

I have a few plants along the front of the house next to the soaker hose I use to keep my foundation moist. We've had so much rain this year the hose doesn't get used often. I planted in late July for a fall crop, but none were pollinated for a while (too warm) so I got the blossom set spray out and have been assisting Mother Nature. I don't have the luxury of waiting to see if they get pollinated later on. I have a couple of dozen fruits in sight now on three different varieties. Also some peppers (bell and jalapeno) out front. The growing season here can go into late November and some things like chard overwinter pretty well. My chard this year has been clobbered by something long and crawly and I finally got out the BT (Bacillis thuringensis) and sprayed closely on my few crops (I hand picked a half-dozen caterpillars off of the cherry tomato yesterday). We've had a great butterfly year and I don't want to nuke them if I can avoid it.

SRS


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