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KurtNYC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 05:46 PM
Original message
Tips for growing tomatoes ?
Kind of a novice green thumb. Have grown some herbs and veg. Gerbera daisies, easy stuff. But have never grown tomatoes. I am sprouting Romas and bought a hybrid at Lowe's but I have no clue how to grow tomatoes in a container garden.

Should they be in special soil ? I have Miracle Grow potting soil.
Can I grow San Marzanos ? Heirlooms ?
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madmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 06:14 PM
Response to Original message
1. One thing my dear old dad taught me to do.... I know it may sound crazy but
before you but your tomato plants in the dirt sprinkle about a 1/2 cup to a cup of powdered milk in the bottom of the hole. This gives the tomatoes the calcium they will need and it gives them a remarkable flavor. Also banana peels in the dirt around the bottom of the plant help with potassium. I usually but mine in the ground not pots, so I hope this works for you as well as it does for me. :thumbsup:
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stuntcat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:23 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. wow cool
I just recently bought powdered milk for the first time (I'm a bad vegan, sorry :( ) for the bread recipe I've been making with my new bread machine. I'll remember this when I get my tomatoes!

I don't have advice, I'm just glad tomatoes are so easy to grow, even with my black thumbs.
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KurtNYC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:59 PM
Response to Reply #1
7. that is too cool -- will have to try it
I think sometimes even the smallest amount of butter will improve most tomato sauces so powdered milk makes a lot of sense to me.
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GoCubsGo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 11:30 PM
Response to Reply #1
25. Wish I had known that a few days ago.
Just planted one on Sunday. I guess I could work some in around plant. But, I'll probably pick up another plant or two. My powdered milk is on the old side. I assume the calcium will still be okay, even if the milk is stale. It will be a good use for it, since it is probably no longer fit for consumption.
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madmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 12:35 AM
Response to Reply #25
29. I think it would probably be ok if you worked it into the dirt around
the base of the plant and let the rain or watering carry it down to the roots. Good luck!
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RedCloud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 06:33 PM
Response to Original message
2. Don't water leaves during sunlight as they may burn.
Plant garlic nearby as most pests avoid getting near it. Once you get one garlic growing you'll soon have a hundred or so!
Stake those tomatoes. I use fiberglass poles for decades of use.
Compost is most helpful.
Let bees weave their magic so be careful not to hurt them with sprays.
If you plant them in Mother Earth, soil amendments work wonders.

Sometimes planning ahead helps. I put leaves soil and grass in composteur bins. By spring the worms have done their magic and the soil is booming!

Hope this helps.
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sarge43 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 06:48 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Basil is also a good companion for tomatoes, in the ground or the skillet. n/t
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Curmudgeoness Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 09:21 PM
Response to Original message
5. In DU Groups, under Home/Family, there is a Gardening forum.
You might find help there. But I can tell you that I grow tomatoes in pots (very poor soil here) and they do fine. Make sure you keep them watered, since containers lose moisture easily. One plant to a pot. You may occasionally need to add some fertilizer to tomatoes in containers. They are really easy to grow and little effort is involved. Good luck.
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rurallib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:37 PM
Response to Original message
6. don' forget the mulch to keep the weeds down
and it helps hold water in the ground.
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MilesColtrane Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 02:31 AM
Response to Original message
8. Use low Nitrogen fertilizer.
High Nitrogen fertilizers promote leaf growth instead of fruit growth.

Give them as much sun as you can.

Tomato plants need a lot of room for root growth. Use big containers.

When the plants are young, especially avoid drastic wet/dry cycles. Water them with less water more often. Allowing them to get bone dry before watering makes them prone to blossom end rot.

Good luck.
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freshwest Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 02:47 AM
Response to Original message
9. Also plant marigolds to discourage under and above ground insect predators.
Use aged compost if you can get it instead of commercial mix, unless these will be more inside.

When the tomatoes get big, make sure they don't break the stems.

If they're going to grow outside, protect them from cold nights at first; but when the season is nearly over you might want to let them have some cool nights. Some say they taste better that way.

Good luck and bon appetit!
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Gormy Cuss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 03:09 AM
Response to Original message
10. Tomatoes that are determinate will grow best in containers.
Indeterminates (like most of the big tomato plants) need space and they can be grown successfully in large containers (at least 5 gallons size.) Containers leach nutrients faster than in-ground plantings and frequent, light applications of fertilizer is best. Do follow the advice upthread re: lower nitrogen fertilizers. You'll get more fruit that way. There are tomato formula fertilizers that would be worth buying if you're planning to grow more than a couple of plants.

Look for San Marzano Nano -- it's a determinate variety. As far as heirlooms go, some will do better than others in containers. Smaller fruited ones like Black Krim are a good bet.

Be aware that most paste tomato varieties and all determinates have a tendency to produce one large flush of tomatoes with only a few before and after the flush. Indeterminates will set fewer fruit at a time but will have as many generations as your climate allows before frost.


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Inchworm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 04:59 AM
Response to Original message
11. Pee all around in the area they are growing
No, wait... nm

:silly:

:hide:
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elias49 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 07:33 AM
Response to Original message
12. I put a longish stake in the pot at planting for support.
And tie the main stem to the stake as it grows. Otherwise your tomato vine will sprawl all over your porch/deck.
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GoCubsGo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 11:39 PM
Response to Reply #12
28. Also, when you plant...
You can bury up to half the plant. It will sprout more roots from the stem, and be able to develop a better, deeper root system.
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zanana1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 08:26 AM
Response to Original message
13. Here's my grandfather's trick.
He swore by it and his tomatoes were always the best. After years of trying one product after another, I decided to take grandad's advice. Before you plant, add 1 Tbsp. of epsom salts in each planting hole and mix it in with the soil. My tomatoes went from wimpy to massive the first time I tried it. I've been planting them that way for ten years and I've never been disappointed.
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Gormy Cuss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 12:53 PM
Response to Reply #13
16. Epsom salts do work
although I would use only 1 tsp in a 5 gallon container and follow up once a month with a foliar solution.
I add 1 TBLS to the planting hole too. Epsom salts deliver magnesium.
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surrealAmerican Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 08:39 AM
Response to Original message
14. The most important thing you need is a good sunny spot.
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Grey Donating Member (933 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 11:50 AM
Response to Original message
15. earthboxes....
Just google the term and read some of it. Really interesting articles on how to grow lots of picky plants.
Tomatoes are easy this way, just don't put too many plants in one pot. One tomato plant to one 5 gallon bucket is all you should do. When you want to plant, clip all but the top 3 or 4 leaves from the stem of the plant and bury it right up to the bottom leaf. New roots pop out along the stem that is in the soil and make a stronger, healthier plant. At this time I plunk in a wire 'tomato cage' in the bucket and cover the whole thing with a large clear plastic trash bag.

If you have a warm, protected place you may not have to cover it. Where we live it's an important part of my growing plan. It's a great hobby and the fruit you hand pick tastes the best.

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LynneSin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 12:55 PM
Response to Original message
17. Yes one tip - make alot of friends first
Because people who grow tomatoes tend to have way more then they need and you'll have to unload them on someone.
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Divameow77 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 01:59 PM
Response to Original message
18. I have never been able to grow anything but
my mother-in-law puts a little sugar in the soil of her potted cherry tomato plants and they are delicious!
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KurtNYC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 02:05 PM
Response to Original message
19. Thanks to all for sharing many great tips.
I look forward to trying these. (and eating the results!) :-)
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JustABozoOnThisBus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 02:21 PM
Response to Original message
20. Beware the Tomato Cutworm
They are the same color as tomato plant stems, pretty big but hard to see.

http://erec.ifas.ufl.edu/tomato-scouting-guide/bugs/cut...

:hi:
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applegrove Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 09:37 PM
Response to Original message
21. They'll need to be tied up with stakes so get some while the store still has them.
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GoCubsGo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 11:34 PM
Response to Reply #21
26. PVC pipe makes a good stake, too.
I use old broomsticks, as well.
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Xipe Totec Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 10:06 PM
Response to Original message
22. Move south
:hide:
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AlecBGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 10:57 PM
Response to Original message
23. prune like there's no tomorrow
Edited on Tue Apr-26-11 10:57 PM by AlecBGreen
I know it might sound counterintuitive, but cutting off lots of leaves/stems helps the plant. (I DO NOT advocate topping trees :) ) When the plant gets 2' tall, trim off up to 50% of the stems/leaves, especially ones near the ground. They dont capture much light and they are the first to get blight from having wet mud splash on them. When the fruit is ripening, cut back even more leaves to allow full sunlight into the plant and onto the fruit.

Trim, trim, trim. We grow bumper crops every year.

edit - speling
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AlecBGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 10:58 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. p.s.
if you dont believe me, try pruning one heavily and leave another alone. Compare them @ the end of the growing season. :hi:
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kimi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 11:35 PM
Response to Original message
27. Gardens Alive!
Edited on Tue Apr-26-11 11:37 PM by kimi
has this great natural fertilizer just for tomaters. It always worked well for me.

Edit: I always poured some molasses into the hole when I transplanted baby plants. Something about the sugar was supposed to help em.
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