View Full Version : Tomatoes

Jan 16th 2011, 11:44 AM
How many days from seed planting to 4 inch plants?

Jan 16th 2011, 12:20 PM
Iddee, i think it depends on the temp. they are in. When i go to the greenhouse that grows my plants for me and i don't think the are big enough, they tell me to come back in 3 or 4 days that they would turn the heat up on them.When i go back they have almost doubled in size. Jack

Jan 16th 2011, 01:56 PM
OK. We set them out here about the 15th of April. When should I plant the seeds in the house, which is 75 degrees?

Mama Beek
Jan 16th 2011, 02:31 PM
We hope to start ours this week. We usually get them started a little sooner but we are running behind. I like them to be pretty good sized when I put them in the big garden because I plant them deep. As long as you can keep them warm and keep air moving across them they should turn out good and healthy. What varieties are you gonna put in?

Jan 16th 2011, 03:06 PM
Iddee, in your area i think mama beek would be about right. I like my plants around 10 in. to 12 in. high, i pench all the leaves of the stem but the top three lay the plant in a shallow trench and bury all but the top 4in. to 5in. this gives the plant a good root system. Not many gardeners know the two types of plants,determinate (blooms and bares once,gets around 3ft. tall) and indeterminate (blooms and bares till frost some can get 8ft or more). My best sellers are Pink Girl (indeterminate), Mountain Fresh (determinate). I never plant till May 10 (last frost date) for my truck patch. Jack

Jan 16th 2011, 03:22 PM
That is how I plant mine also, deep. I dig a deep hole throw in some 6-12-12 to promote a good root system, a big splash of water, fill in with dirt and tamp them down. After they get up and going side dress with 19-19-19.

I have good luck with the beef steak, better boys and early girls.

I use tomato baskets made out of concrete reinforcement wire.

Jan 16th 2011, 03:29 PM
I am thinking about German Johnson, but haven't decided for sure yet.

Jan 16th 2011, 04:39 PM
German Johnson's would be great!

(note to self...self,you must go visiting more often this summer)

BTW, I read a tip the other day...instead of buying those little peat pots, just use toilet paper and paper towel rolls. You can get two planters out of toilet paper rolls and 3 or 4 out of paper towel rolls.

Fill with starting soil while they are in planting trays and once you get ready to plant them in the ground, just uncoild the carboard in the hole so the roots don't get crunched up.

Jan 16th 2011, 08:33 PM
It has been years since I started tomatoes from seed. When we raised a tobbacco bed on one end we would sprinkler out tomatoe seed and lettuce seed. Back then an acre of tomatoes is what I would put out and the lettuce was very nice grown under a cheese cloth cover.

Mama Beek
Jan 16th 2011, 10:51 PM
When we plant the tomatoes we go through a whole routine every time....except last year, and for sure I learned my lesson. We always let them get to be at least 6 or 8 inches tall, bigger if I can. Take off all but the last few leaves on top and plant it really deep. I dig the hole and put into it a big handful of dried out crush eggshells, an aspirin, a handful of epsom salt, and a smaller handful of powdered milk. Make some compost tea, or manure tea and water every day with it until the plants are off to a good start. We have the best luck when we set them out under hot caps (milk jugs with the bottom cut out) and let them adjust gradually to being outside.

I have seeds for Brandywine, mortage lifter, cherokee purple, red and yellow pear, and a few other varieties I don't remember right off the top of my head. I'm hoping to grow enough to put up at least 75 quarts of crushed tomatoes and at least that much in sauce this year. I'm not crazy about the determinate types since I rarely get enough out of them, the indeterminate ones lay off producing during the hottest months here, but then when it cools back down we start getting great harvests again all the way up until mid November.

Jan 17th 2011, 10:13 AM
I cut off 5 ft. pieces of concrete reinforcement wire and place them end to end over th top of a 200ft. or 300ft. roll of tomatoes (the determinaie type). They will grow up through the wire and spread out over the wire, that keeps the tomatoes up off the ground. I first plant tomatoes in a straight roll,place a soaker hose along side them,then put a 2ft. wide piece of plastic along each side of the tomatoe roll. I then put straw or tree leaves between the tomatoes to cover the gap between the pastic. I then place the concrete reinforcement wire over the top,sticking the sharp pronges left when cutting the 5ft. pieces, into the plastic to hold it in place I buy the 50ft rolls of black plastic 4ft wide and cut it down the middle to get the two ft. pieces. The mountain fresh tomatoe can produce a half a bushel or more this way. (good size red tomatoe). :thumbsup: Jack

Mama Beek
Jan 17th 2011, 11:26 PM
Jack, I have been wracking my brain to try and figure out how I want to grow my tomatoes this year. I don't want anything to do with cages and stakes. I happen to have 2 or 3 massive rolls of the concrete wire you're talking about, but I can't picture in my head what it is you are doing with it.

So, does anyone know why it is that when I stake or cage my tomatoes here they slow down dramatically in production? I've tried several different things but it happens every time they are caged or staked. :dontknow:

Jan 18th 2011, 06:33 AM
I need to just take the time to make decent tomato cages. Every year, the wimpy store-bought ones fall over.

Here is an article on a design I found interesting, albeit somewhat labor intensive up front. Made of PVC pipe for the verticals, and you can pour water down the "legs" to get it into the soil at the roots where it is needed. I haven't convinced myself that it is worth the effort, but if you had scrap, it might be.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic- ... -Cage.aspx (http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/1997-02-01/The-Recycled-Indestructible-Tomato-Cage.aspx)

(Click on "Image Gallery" to get to the other pictures.)

Jan 18th 2011, 08:28 AM
Mama Beek I have never heard of tomatoes slowing down when being staked or caged. Maters need full sun to do their best. Do you pinch off the suckers as they are growing out? I have found they do better when staked or caged since it will let more light and air into the center of the plant. Sounds kind of funny, might contact you ag extension agent and ask them, have you done a soil test for a "veg. garden"?

Mama Beek
Jan 18th 2011, 09:53 AM
That is awesome Hobie, I love that idea. It does seem labor intensive though and I don't happen to have any pvc around. The kids think they "get it" with Jack's idea and BB is gonna draw a picture for me. (sheesh, some days I wonder if I have a brain at all!)

I had considered taking the concrete wire and making two long rows tied together at the tops and letting the tomatoes grow up it like a trellis on each side. Other people have made great cages with that stuff.... but we have issues with cages.

G3, we can't figure it out. We've had better luck just letting them sprawl over the ground than staking or caging.....but then it's a daily fight with every critter in the county to harvest anything at all. We do sucker the plants, but Baby says the problem is because once they are caged it's harder to find all the bugs or see the suckers until they are bigger and it slows down the fruiting. An old fella that lives down the road tells me it's because of the humidity and the leaves "need to breathe more than that", which is where I heard to just let them sprawl.

We did do a soil test, about 4 years ago.... it's surely time for another. The extension office always tells me the same thing about everything we grow.... try a new variety, water at a different time of day, or use more fertilizer. Whatever the cause is I wanna beat it this year! :box:

Jan 18th 2011, 10:02 AM
Mama Beek, like G3 said have a soil test,also i don't plant tomatoes in the same place more than 2 yrs. and don't plant tomatoes where you had patatoes (they have the same disease that stays in the ground) or close to walnut trees. This is what has been passed down to me from family. I also sucker my tomatoes till they stick up through the concrete wire (the determinate type) and when they get 2 1/2ft. to 3ft. on the indeterminate type.(you may not have as many, but they will be bigger) If you sucker to much you will loose to much leave cover and you will have sunburnt tomatoes. Sorry Mama Beek,about how i do the concrete wire, i'm not very good at explaining myself on paper. :confused: Jack

Jan 18th 2011, 10:46 AM
Mama Beek, let me try this, have BB unroll about 8ft.of the concrete wire, then measure off 5ft and cut the wire half way through the the squares from top to bottom, this will leave a 2 inch prong on the end of each cage you cut (be carefull when you cut these cages off the roll,they can flip back and cut you). This will leave you with a 5ft hump of wire that will stand on those sharp prongs ( Like standing a horseshoe on end) that you can push through the plastic to hold in place.Cut off as many cages you need to make your row and over lap the cages on the end (2 or 3 inches) to make a straight row.The plastic,straw and wire cage will keep the tomatoes from contact with the ground, where you loose many from rot. Hope this helps. Jack

PS.This wire is hard yo cut, i use a small angel grinder.

Jan 18th 2011, 06:02 PM
To cut the wire I use a pair of 24" bolt cutters, like Jack said be careful with that wire it is springy and will get ya good.

Mama Beek
Jan 19th 2011, 12:31 AM
I got it!! That's a cool idea Jack, thanks for explaining it again for me! I know it's time to plant them somewhere else....hmmm, BB is not gonna be happy with me rearranging the whole garden now.

Soil test, are the little ones at the walmart okay or do I have to send it in somewhere?? We tested it when we put our first garden in here and there was nothing to it....we just had white sand back in the garden then. It's 5 years later and I don't wanna think of how many truck loads of manure and mulch and shredded leaves have been added in! I'm curious to see the difference myself.

Now, I need to study up on those German Johnson tomatoes that Iddee was talking about. :D

Jan 19th 2011, 06:15 AM
That sounds like a very interesting idea! It might be difficult to weed what manages to push through the straw, but should be manageable. I'm really tired of tomatoes lying on the ground.

Iddee, I asked the woman who grows the tomatoes I put in. She has a small backyard greenhouse up here in the Arctic, er, I mean "Pennsylvania." According to her notes, she plants the seeds around the first of April. The plants are about a foot tall by Memorial Day. (Around here, you do not dare put anything out before the first of June!)

Jan 19th 2011, 07:56 AM
Mama Beek........I have never seen a soil test from wally world. The ones I use are sent off to Nashville and a charge of $4 per sample. There is some paper work to go along with it asking what you are planning on planting in the area of the soil test, it ranges from pastures to hay fields, row crops to fruit trees and every thing in between. Takes a couple of weeks and you will get a report back on the test telling you what needs to be added to the soils and in what rate for what you are growing for the best results. I get the paper work and sample boxes from the ag extension agent.

Jan 19th 2011, 09:16 AM
Hobie, i plant the tomatoes about 2 1/2ft. apart in a straight row, i lay the plastic about 1in. from the plant on each side, that leaves a 2 inch gap between the plants 2 1/2ft. long that i cover with straw or leaves. True i do have some weeds come up through but very few.It takes a little more work to set this up but saves all that hoe work and all i have to do is turn the water on in the soaker hose and pick tomatoes. :thumbsup: When you plant 600 to 800 plants it sure saves your back. :yahoo: Jack

PS. When i plant tomatoes i use Miracle Grow to water them in.Then wait till the plants get that dark green look before i set this up. Sorry Iddee,i didn't mean to rob your post.

Mama Beek
Jan 19th 2011, 10:27 AM
I'll call the extension office about the soil test... thanks G3. Thanks to you too Jack for the wonderful idea that will keep us from sunburning all of our tomatoes and let us avoid the tedious staking and constant suckering that drives me crazy! Thanks to Iddee, I've learned about a new variety that I MUST find room for a few plants of!

Can't wait to get the garden going this year!

Jan 19th 2011, 11:19 AM
MamaBeek have you tried an upside down mater plant. Cut a hole in the bottom of a five gallon bucket and stick your plant in it, fill with dirt and hang it up. I have never done it but seen several people who have.

Jan 19th 2011, 11:38 AM
Jack, I am reading every post and learning. Keep hijacking.

Mama beek, I planted 30 seeds yesterday and plan to plant more this week. How many plants do you want. I only plan to use 6.

Mama Beek
Jan 19th 2011, 01:49 PM
I'll take whatever you don't want Iddee! We can as many tomatoes as we can get (except for last year) since we tend to go through about a gallon or two a week around here.

I think I'll start some seeds tonight after church, I'll have to order the cherokee purple seeds again...mine have gone awol. I'm getting my seed shelf together to start lots of good things for the garden this year. I've got spinach and carrots coming in now :Dancing:

The real challenge for me is being able to maintain the garden I start! I always plant as much as I can and then when it's 110 degrees out here I can't go out and do all of the weeding. Last year was our worst garden year EVER, so I guess anything will be an improvement.

G3, I think I'll plant a few upside down. I did that one year when the kids were really little. We had them in buckets resting in the holes between rungs on an old wooden ladder on top of two old clothesline posts. I'm short though and watering them all the time got to be a hassle.

Jan 19th 2011, 02:08 PM
you can get one of those extra tall younguns of yours to do the watering :lol:

Mama Beek
Jan 19th 2011, 04:04 PM
G3, that's just too funny! They all just laugh now when I stand in front of a kitchen cabinet and holler "hey tall person!".

Jan 19th 2011, 04:20 PM
I don't know what cherokee purple is, but German Johnson takes about 2 to make a quart. They are softball size or larger.

Mama Beek
Jan 19th 2011, 04:23 PM
Troy LOVES the cherokee purple tomatoes and insists that I grow at least a few every year. The flavor is very intense, the plants are great producers even in crazy weather, and they make the best spaghetti sauce! They are kind of a dusky purple color with green shoulders. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherokee_purple

Those German Johnsons are sounding better all the time!

Jan 19th 2011, 04:46 PM
Okay, that's it. You crazy people are planting tomatoes in JANUARY. I hereby resolve to not plant any tomatoes this year, and everyone can send me their "extra" canned tomatoes, sauce, juice, whathaveyou.

Lost 2 qts of canned tomatoes, here. Went to pull the jars out for chili, and the seals had let loose. When I popped the lids, they kind of exploded in the sink. Bummer. Into the compost they went. They were two "short-fill" jars, though - not enough tomatoes and too much liquid - wonder if that's why they did not process properly.

Jan 19th 2011, 10:06 PM
The German Johnson is a big pink low acide tomatoe with a good flavor. I started having blight problems with them and switched to the pink girl, that is much like them but not as big. I may try them again this year, they are both a indeterminate type and i plant and tie them to cattle panel's, they will bare till frost.When the temp. get's above 85F the blooms will not set on tomatoes,i've had people tell me there tomatoes are dying because they are not setting on, i tell them to wait until the temp. gets below 80F and they will, so keep them watered. :thumbsup: Jack

Jan 20th 2011, 07:19 AM
Here, zone 5, I start tomato seeds outdoors mid-March or later. I start them in little individual pots, water them well, set the pots together in a flat or cake pan or what ever. I then place all that in a clear trash bag and twist tie it shut. I set all this in the sun (back deck) and let nature do it's thing. It's like a mini greenhouse. They will germinate when the time is right. If for some reason there is a freakish freeze, I will bring them in long enough to keep from freezing. There is no need to water after planting the seed. Do check for germination. Once germinated, remove the trash bag to keep from baking the seedlings. I do all my annuals and perennials this way. The perennials I start this way any time after the first of the year. I don't worry about the weather, this is how they are meant to be handled in nature. My little trash bags can be covered in snow and ice and all seems to work out. I tend to get very HARDY plants. Nature makes them tough.

Mama Beek
Jan 20th 2011, 01:26 PM
We sometimes winter sow seeds, not just tomatoes either. I've always had great results and VERY hardy plants that way, but this year and last year both have caught me running behind and too forgetful to get them going.

Anyone who likes to garden and hates to buy plants should check out winter sowing... plus you get a great burst of inspiration just tinkering around with it. www.wintersown.org (http://www.wintersown.org) has tons of information on it

Jan 21st 2011, 11:37 AM
Hummm,I use to have what is called a cold frame,made from scrap lumber and an old discarded storm door. It worked great until a hail storm took it out. (should have put hardware cloth over it) Thinking about making another one now. Thanks Mama Beek. Jack

Mama Beek
Jan 21st 2011, 04:28 PM
Right now we have 5 raised beds that the kids built at the end of summer last year. Then they built cloches that go over the tops of them and covered them in 6 mil plastic. We have spinach and kale and carrots that we harvest now, plus two beds for starting seedlings in. In a pinch I've used straw bales with plastic stretched over the top as a cold frame.... just make sure to weight the plastic down with plenty of bricks or something.

My old boss from the dairy farm back home gave BB some styrofoam floating seed starting trays like they use in the commercial tobacco seed starting operations. She wants to start digging a shallow pool and build another cloche to fit over it so she can start seedlings by the 100 count! That will have to wait until this latest round of the flu bug passes by though.... all 3 of the kids are down with it right now.

Jan 21st 2011, 07:37 PM
Hobie, I hate to hear about you losing tomatoes. That is my favorite thing to can (and eat) from the garden. I have been known to eat a pint jar of tomatoes with a couple of homemade biscuits for supper (and nothing else.) I hope you have enough left to make it til summer.

Mama, German Johnsons make great sandwiches, but they are kinda hateful to can, because the aren't pretty and round. They have lots of creases and it's hard to get all the skin off (gets stuck in the creases) It only takes one slice for a burger though, and they have lots of...I guess you'd call it meat... in them.

Mama Beek
Jan 22nd 2011, 12:44 AM
They still sound great to me, I can put up all of the other ones I plant! Thanks for telling me that though, that sure does make things easier to plan.

Jan 29th 2011, 07:26 PM
This is an excerpt from an email I received from a seed catalog this week. It's a nice seed starting timetable. I thought everyone might find this info useful.
Eight-week General Seed-Starting Timetable

Horticultural Zones 9 & 10: Start seeds indoors now.

Horticultural Zone 8: Start seeds indoors in early February.

Horticultural Zone 7: Start seeds indoors in mid February.

Horticultural Zone 6: Start seeds indoors in late February.

Horticultural Zone 5: Start seeds indoors in early March.

Horticultural Zones 1-4: Start seeds indoors in mid to late March.

Vegetable/Herb Seed-Starting Timetable

Four Weeks: Melons, Bitter Melon and Cucuzzi Edible Gourds.

Six Weeks: Asparagus, Fennel, Onions, Rhubarb, Shallots, Tomatillos, Basil and St. John's Wort.

Eight Weeks: Eggplant, Tomatoes, Chiles, Sweet Peppers, Chives, Sage, Stevia and Thyme.

Nine Weeks: Broccoli, Cabbage and Kohlrabi (transplant out four weeks before the last frost date).

Ten Weeks: Celery, Celeriac, Jicama and Lemongrass.

Eleven Weeks: Leeks, Artichokes and Cauliflower (transplant out four weeks before the last frost date).

Twelve Weeks: Cardoons and Brussels Sprouts.

Sixteen Weeks: Strawberries (for first year crop) and Rosemary.

Flower Seed-Starting Timetable

Five Weeks: Alyssum.

Six Weeks: Cutting Ageratum, China Asters, Celosia, Cleome, Coleus, Nepeta Catmint, Echinacea, Euphorbia, Forget-Me-Nots, Dahlia, Nicotiana, Scabiosa, Snapdragons and Thunbergia.

Eight Weeks: Baby’s Breath, Black-Eyed Susans, Milkweed, Coreopsis, Gaillardia, Globe Amaranth, Helichrysum, Hibiscus, Hollyhock, Heuchera, Nigella, Platycodon, Statice and Yarrow.

Ten Weeks: Dianthus, Digitalis, Lobelia and Heliotrope .

Twelve Weeks: Datura, Salvia and Viola.

The catalog was John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds.

Jan 29th 2011, 08:53 PM
That is a good table, thanks for posting it.

Feb 2nd 2011, 10:13 PM
While am late to all this, and new around here ......... I grow a nice garden each year....

I travel a bunch and got tired of family not watering when I was away.
This last year I planted all the tomatoes in big pots on the deck , so family would see them every day and water them... worked well , we got plenty of tomatoes and peppers.

I start them in the greenhouse end of Feb , beginning of March, Greenhouse is heated by the vent pipe of downstairs furnace , plenty CO2 (probably CO too) and enough heat to prevent a freeze. On frost predicted nights I add an electric heater too just to be sure .... this winter I will have to have the electric no matter what.

Roma , Grape , Cherry, Better Boy are all typical types, also planted two heirloom varieties last year but cant remember which ones. I use Miracle gro from the beginning every week.

The rest of veggies are left to what nature gives me , lettuce, squash, Eggplant, Radish and Swish Chard all do OK.

Feb 3rd 2011, 06:13 PM
Has anyone heard of growing tomatoes in a bale of hay or straw? I met a lady last year who was trying it for the first time, and I wonder if it's something that is worth the extra expense of buying bales and having to find a place to put them near the rest of the garden.

She was gonna call and let me know how things went, and of course, I'm still waiting for the call.

Feb 3rd 2011, 08:58 PM
Has anyone heard of growing tomatoes in a bale of hay or straw? ......

Yes I have , just another distant form of hydroponics really, you have to liquid feed weekly, while the hay does degrade and provide few nutrients, it is the liquid food that they live on.

Same as bulbs planted in palm mulch...

Mama Beek
Feb 3rd 2011, 11:14 PM
I've seen quite a bit of it done and though it will grow tomatoes and several other things, it's really not worth it IMHO. You could get a better harvest from a plant or two stuck out in the yard and they would have that flavor that only tomatoes grown in DIRT can ever have.

Feb 4th 2011, 02:57 AM
My mother does this every year. I have done it as well. It's great for Mom. She has a bad back and bending over to weed, dig, etc. is difficult. Mom has great results. She plants celebrity or Jet Star, I'm not sure which. Two bales, four plants are more than enough for her. You have to start in advance by soaking the bales over several weeks. This starts the decomposition and that heats the bales up. It also gets all the weed seeds germinated before you plant. Tomatoes like it hot. You must fertilize on a regular basis. I had great results, with tomatoes on the vine up until frost but the squirrels enjoyed them before we could.
How you place the bale makes a difference on how easy it is to spread the bale enough to get your plant in there. I also put alittle bit of soil in there around the roots.
If you do a search on straw bale planting you will find plenty on the internet.

Feb 5th 2011, 11:07 AM
You guy's really know how to hurt a feller,your talking planting tomatoes and i'm wadding snow up to my butt. :mrgreen: Jack

Feb 5th 2011, 12:06 PM
If you used the straw bales as a bee hive wind break over the winter, they would probably be in prime condition for planting by spring.

Mama Beek
Feb 5th 2011, 12:10 PM
look on the bright side Jack... you aren't out there on your hands and knees digging the weeds out of the planting beds yet :D