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 Post subject: Pulling Up Tomato Plants
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:11 pm 
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This is my first year gardening, and I just can't find answers to the following questions anywhere online. Should I pull up my tomato plants now and set out new transplants as soon as possible? Mine current plants are still producing, though slowing down some with the heat, and seem pretty healthy, except for some lower leaf droppage and a little blossom end rot that's been clearing up. My friend says her tomatoes aren't ripening on the vine?? So far, my plants seem to be doing fine and have just set a bunch of new tomatoes with the lower temps we've had in the past few days. Even with the lower leaf droppage, they have lots of new growth on top. I hate to pull them up if they're going to continue to produce good tomatoes, but I already started my seedlings for fall last week too. My reading tells me that my transplants must be set out at the latest by July 25 for fall. Is this correct?? And will my babies be ready?? Thanks so much for any help you can offer!!


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:25 pm 
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"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

There is no good reason to pull out perfectly good producing plants to replant for fall. If you have an indeterminate variety (producing all season, not like some that produce one crop all at once and then are finished) then I would leave them alone. They may look a bit ratty during the hottest part of the year but if you keep them watered (deeply every so often, not every day) and watch for the usual predators (tobacco hornworms can strip them of leaves very quickly) then in the fall they will again put out fruit. It is my opinion that larger plants with mature root systems are going to put out more fruit earlier in the fall because they're already in place.

My tomatoes get pretty leggy, are more of a hedge than individual plants during the fall, and I usually get a great crop. I don't care that they're kind of ugly to look at, what I care about are the tomatoes.

There are others with different opinions and some of those may be shared here (I hope there is also a good rational presented with each). I am planning to put in an additional variety pretty soon - I've had Super Fantastic producing like gangbusters and they're a good eating tomato and I'm canning them diced, but I want sauce also, so I'll be planting some grape tomatoes (I'm told they are like small Roma but with better flavor when they ripen on the vine.)

Below is the culprit I mentioned, the tobacco hornworm, and if you visit the "member blogs" area you'll find a long running account of my struggles with various pests in the garden.

Image

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 Post subject: Watering Tomato Plants
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 2:32 pm 
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Thanks! That's what I felt like, but wasn't sure. My big indeterminates: Pink Brandywines, Red Beefsteaks, and Mortgage Lifters, are more vines with leaves on the ends, mostly growing straight up from one root system. I've had to tie them to their concrete reinforcing cages to keep them from lopping over on themselves. Definitely not pretty. But they're still setting tomatoes. They're struggling more in the heat with Blossom End Rot than my Bradleys and Rutgers and my determinates. I've been watering several times a day, a little at a time, 10 mins ea, or just dampening the soil with the hose sprayer to keep the dirt just moist. Would I be better off letting them get REALLY dried out and watering only 2-3 times a week for a longer period? They seem to get REALLY dried out if just a few hours go by -- very little moisture at all at 1" deep. I tend to err on the side of too much moisture rather than too little. I'm just scared they're going to dry up and die. They are in FULL SUN 10+ hours a day and I can't do a thing about it. Thanks!!


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 2:59 pm 
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If you visit the Library section of the site you'll find lots of things by the name of the problem or the name of the plant.

You need to water deeply a couple of times a week, if you can get to that schedule. The roots are too shallow if you water in the way you describe, they're at the surface to catch small amounts of water and it's a weaker plant, more vulnerable to the heat. You need to water when it's cool if possible and water deep, an inch at a time (measured - put a tuna can in the yard and watch how long it takes to fill an inch - you may need to run the sprinkler for an hour at 5am to do this). Plants wilt in the heat, but they revive again as it cools. I do sometimes add a little supplemental water in the heat if I have really tender young stuff; we all may do it because it looks so horrible, but it's best not to.

I've had a problem with flea beetles, but I didn't realize what it was until they got really bad, so now I'm treating for the bugs on the leaves and the future generations in the soil. (Carefully using neem - some plants don't like it, will die if you use it, but tomatoes and eggplant are okay with it.) I've done a lot of hand watering this year, but now that it is so hot I'm using small sprinklers moved around the garden, and I put out the neem drench when I'm not watering so it doesn't get diluted right away.

As I said, my tomato plants aren't beautiful to look at, but I love seeing all of that fruit! I've canned every 3 or 4 days for weeks now, diced tomatoes, salsa, pickles, you name it. This year makes up for the last two.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 4:12 pm 
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I'll check the library again. Thanks! And I'll probably try adjusting the watering schedule after we dry out again from all the rain we've had this week -- 4 days worth now. Hurray! But my plants are going to have even more BER because of it. :(
Anyway, glad you're getting so much put up. Last year we didn't have a garden with the drought as bad as it was. This year, so far, I've put up almost 100 quarts of crushed tomatoes and 18 gallon sized bags of green beans. And I was on vacation for a month with friends tending and harvesting while I was away! Go figure. Today I'm putting up pickled hot peppers -- looks like I'll have about 20 of the cutest little 1/2 C jars of pickled peppers. If only my mother were alive to see it! :D


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 6:29 pm 
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Sounds like you started out with a huge garden for your first year. I have a garden along either side of my driveway that I push further down the yard each year. It's just me here now so I don't need to grow a lot more than this. And that many beans would fill my upright freezer all by itself! Even with my modest garden I'm already thinking a second upright deep freeze would be handy, but don't know where I'd put it. :)

I'm into eggplant season and am freezing a lot of basil and peppers. I made zucchini bread and butter pickles last week that are the most incredible bread and butter pickles I've ever eaten (it's a new recipe from a friend)! If I get enough zucchini I may make another batch, though I also like dill pickles.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 5:32 am 
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Yes, call me crazy. I've been bitten by a HUGE gardening bug. We have had a 40' x 80' garden for several years, but my husband has led the charge until this year. Last year, I was going to lead the charge and get it done, but with the drought we never planted anything. So I had to wait an entire year to get the garden going, and I jumped in with both feet. I laid out my beds, tilled them up a little tiller my hubby bought me, worked the soil, and started planting. Whew! I've learned soooo much this year. It's been fantastic. I particularly enjoy working with my tomato plants. I used to love to grow roses, but with the dogs and deer we have to deal with now, I have no where to grow them. Instead, I spend time with my tomatoes. :D And yes, I have an extra freezer. Couldn't live without it.

I've got to spray and treat today for cutworms, stink bugs, pill bugs, cucumber beetles, grasshoppers and crickets and fire ants. Although the frogs are helping keep the grasshoppers and crickets down now. With 54 tomato plants, looking for insects is almost impossible, though I try. I think Garrett Juice is supposed to be very effective for those tomato hornworms and most cutworms among other things. Have you tried it? I'm going to today. But if that doesn't work, I know Bt does -- started using it before I learned about GJ.

Hey! I'd love that recipe for the bread and butter pickles. I've been looking for a good one.

Happy gardening and canning!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 5:51 am 
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Do not water them multiple times a day. Water every 3 days but water deeply. Your indeterminate plants are supposed to be extremely tall (one year, mine went to 17 ft)
so always expect to stake them. I always pull my tomatoes out in July because they will all eventually stop producing in the hottest part of the summer and I choose to not have to water and care for them during that time. It is a choice. If you plant another one for fall, you will water to water daily, initially, then back off to every 2-3 days. The new plant will be fully established and as large as the last one by the time it starts to set fruit towards the end of Sept./October. Blossom end rot is a lack of calcium so you can use soft rock phosphates to cure that.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 6:04 am 
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Thanks, Sandi. The Brandywines and some of the other indeterminates are over 8' tall. They're all in concrete reinforcing wire and are staked. They look pretty sad since they have no lower leaves. I'll probably go ahead and pull them out later this month, after this last round of tomatoes. It's so sad to see them seem to suffer. Thanks again!!!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 6:43 am 
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If you wish to replant for fall, do it by July 15th. No later. You will still have to pick all of the tomatoes off the night before our first freeze and allow them to ripen over winter in your kitchen.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 8:46 am 
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Sandih, I'm going to do a bit of both myself - I have a spread-out tomato that is coming out so I can put in Roma or grape tomatoes for fall. How do you manage to stake a tomato to keep if off of the ground when they get so huge? I start with cages and I reinforce them (I found a bunch of "shepherd's crooks" at a garage sale - they were meant to hold little lanterns, I think, but I use them to prop tomato cages). After a while they're huge and they sprawl. Send a photo of your garden so we can see how you keep them 'up.'

Kathleen, Garrett juice is not a bug repellent, it is a compost tea with fertilizing properties. If your soil is healthy you may have fewer pests, but if you have a little orange oil in the sprayer when you do your foliar feeding you'll knock out some of the pests. A couple of teaspoons per gallon, look in the library for sure, because a strong mix of orange oil in with vinegar and such is an herbicide. I have been using neem (which Howard points out has a short shelf-life so I'm going to be looking at new varieties he recommends) for some things like the flea beetles. But if you get neem on the squash or some of the peppers it can kill them or make them very unhappy, and never use it in the heat of the day. (Ask me know I know. . . )

Here is my recipe:


Dede’s Zucchini Bread and Butter pickle Recipe

zucchini (wash, pare and slice enough to measure 4 quarts)
1 or 2 green and/or red bell peppers (cut in strips)
3 cloves fresh garlic (sliced)
2 large onions (sliced)
5 cups sugar
3 cups white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1 ½ tsp. turmeric
2 Tbsp. mustard seed
1 ½ tsp. celery seed
(*1 tsp. alum) - I used Pickle Crisp, according to bottle
3 fresh cayenne peppers (optional)
1 1/3 cup salt


Mix zucchini slices, bell pepper, garlic, and onion together in large non-reactive container. Sprinkle salt over veggie mixture. Add cold DISTILLED* water to cover. Refrigerate overnight.
Drain veggie mixture, rinse well, set aside.
Mix sugar, vinegar, and spices in large non-reactive stockpot. Bring to a boil. Add well-drained veggie mix to pot and bring quickly to a boil, stirring often.
To can:
Ladle hot mixture into hot pint jars, cap, and process in boiling water bath 10 minutes (place ½ cayenne pepper in bottom of each jar before filling if using)
OR
Remove from heat, (stir in 3 cayenne peppers, cut in half, if using) let cool, will keep in refrigerator indefinitely in glass jar with tight lid.

Yield: Approximately 6 pints

(I got 8+ pints from this.)

*If you use regular chlorinated tap water in this recipe your garlic will turn "smurf blue" according to the friend who gave it to me. I both soaked my pickles in distilled water and when they were drained and rinsed I also used distilled water.

I didn't use the hot pepper in the pickles.

Don't use both alum and pickle crisp, use one or the other.

I used apple cider vinegar, my friend who gave me the recipe says he thinks it gives a better flavor. And these pickles are knock-your-socks-off good! You can use them right away, they don't need to sit for a while.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:04 am 
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THANKS!!!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:14 am 
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Make sure the zucchini are the smaller ones, NOT the huge honkers that were missed and are the size of footballs. Keep them in the same range as cucumbers you'd use for these pickles.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 11:34 am 
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Will do. Thanks again!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:57 pm 
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For the blossom end rot, I use Epsom salts. If you sprinkle a handful around each plant when you plant it, you will normally not have a problem throughout the year.
I forgot to do it this spring, and as a result, I had A LOT of blossom end rot. I mixed about 2-3 tablespoons of the salts in a gallon of water and watered the plants with it. In a week or two, no more rot.


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