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stev32k
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Mobile, AL
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2 edits

7 recommendations

Tomato planting time

It's time to plant tomatoes around here and I do it a little different than most folks. For the last 10 years I've used containers. Actually large garbage cans and the results can be pretty amazing. For several years I averaged about 62 lbs of tomatoes per plant and got some whoppers like this 1.2 lb and it is not the biggest. My all time largest is 953 grams (2.1 lb)



The plants themselves get pretty large like these that grew to over 13 ft tall.



I use 35 gallon plastic garbage cans and drill a pattern of holes in the bottom to allow drainage.



Next I place nylon shade cloth in the bottom to cover the holes and let excess water drain out.



A large plant with a growing crop of tomatoes gets very heavy and requires good support. Previously I used an external frame made from wood like the one above, but have switched to using 3/4" PVC pipe. The pipe is more flexible in that you can add more pipe as the plant grows by putting a "tee" on the upright and putting cross pieces about every 10 - 12 inches.

The PVC supports are placed inside the container and have a "tee" on the bottom with about a 5" projection on each end. The projections prevent the pipe from pulling up on one side when the plant leans one way or the other.



Finally I place the containers on bricks so the water can drain out and add potting soil (2.5 cu ft/can). The finished product looks like this



When the weather warms more and the plants start to produce I'll set up an automatic water system. Container grown tomatoes require more frequent watering than in-ground plants.


Jack_in_VA
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Re: Tomatoe planting time

Now why did this make me want a Bologna and Tomato sandwich?


ropeguru
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Mechanicsville, VA
said by Jack_in_VA:

Now why did this make me want a Bologna and Tomato sandwich?

Fried bologna at that!! YUM!!!


stev32k
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1 recommendation

reply to Jack_in_VA
said by Jack_in_VA:

Now why did this make me want a Bologna and Tomato sandwich?

I hope you are kidding. Anything except bacon and tomato is an abomination. The next best way to eat tomatoes is to slice them thick and layer them with sliced onions. Sprinkle a little vinegar and salt on each layer, cover them and refrigerate about 12 hours. That is some good eating.

Sometimes just take a salt shaker and napkin to the plant. Pick yourself a good one, add a little salt and eat it like an apple.


Spork35

join:2011-07-13
Methuen, MA
reply to stev32k
Do you happen to have an close up pictures on how you build the towers as the plant grew? That's a pretty slick way to grow by the way.
--
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TheGeeze
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Magnolia, TX
reply to stev32k
And what variety of tomatoes do you grow?


stev32k
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reply to Spork35
said by Spork35:

Do you happen to have an close up pictures on how you build the towers as the plant grew? That's a pretty slick way to grow by the way.

I use 3/4" PVC "tees" and pipe and just add a 10" upright section of pipe to the tee, put in a cross piece from upright-to-upright and continue raising the frame as the plant grows. It starts out like this and gets as tall as the plant. I don't glue any the of the tees or uprights that way they can be taken apart and reused next year. They need to be sterilized by soaking in bleach water after every use or fungus and plant disease will carry over from year to year.



I then use 1.5" wide plastic strips I cut from Wal-Mart bags and tie off the plant to each cross piece. I also force the plant to grow in a zig-zag pattern up the frame so that it cross over each horizontal support.

The frame in the second photograph was made from wood and set outside the container. I gave that up about 5 years ago and don't have any recent pictures that show the PVC frame.


Spork35

join:2011-07-13
Methuen, MA
reply to stev32k
Thanks for the info. I might try my hand at it this year.


Jack_in_VA
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reply to stev32k
said by stev32k:

said by Jack_in_VA:

Now why did this make me want a Bologna and Tomato sandwich?

I hope you are kidding. Anything except bacon and tomato is an abomination. The next best way to eat tomatoes is to slice them thick and layer them with sliced onions. Sprinkle a little vinegar and salt on each layer, cover them and refrigerate about 12 hours. That is some good eating.

Sometimes just take a salt shaker and napkin to the plant. Pick yourself a good one, add a little salt and eat it like an apple.

quote:
cover them and refrigerate about 12 hours
How do you maintain self-control that long?

quote:
Sometimes just take a salt shaker and napkin to the plant. Pick yourself a good one, add a little salt and eat it like an apple.
Now that's how I would do it.


CptGemini
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reply to stev32k
Click for full size
My step dad uses some wire cages he built, i think the tallest tomato plant is about 7 or 8 feet roughly. They are planted in the ground with the cages going in the ground a short way around each plant. Here is a picture of my real dad standing in front of some of the tomato plants from last year.


stev32k
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reply to TheGeeze
said by TheGeeze:

And what variety of tomatoes do you grow?

It's hard to remember all the varieties I've grown over the years, but some have done better than others. My situation is a little different than most. First living close to coast means the humidity is always high and that promotes mold and fungus growth. Second the only place I have to put the containers is next to the pool so the local humidity is even higher. So I've learned that disease and fungus resistant plants are the first priority.

Some the ones that have done well are Parks Whopper, Big Boy, Celebrity, Early Girl, and Roma. I've tried several heirloom varieties and none of them did very good at all. I think it was mostly because of all the mold, fungus, and bugs around here.

This year I planted one Parks Whopper and one Goliath hybrid. This will be the first time for the Goliath. I'm trying it on the recommendation of a friend that has had good luck with it. The Parks Whopper always produces more then we can possibly eat and they get pretty large and taste good.


sk1939
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They're not perennial plants by any chance?


stev32k
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said by sk1939:

They're not perennial plants by any chance?

No, once the first frost hits they die and have to be replanted the next year.


dennismurphy
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reply to stev32k
If you like tomatoes, you owe it to yourself to try the Ramapo. There was a crop failure this year so seeds won't be out until late, but I would still order them for next year.

»www.njfarmfresh.rutgers.edu/RamapoTomato.htm

It's absolutely outstandingly delicious! I'm disappointed about the seed failure this year, but my Moreton seeds are on the way ...


Drex
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reply to stev32k
That's a great idea with the PVC pipes. Normally I do a garden every summer, but since we are trying to move I decided not to bother. I'll have to remember this when we get into a new house. I always hated the "tomato stakes" or "Tomato cages". They never really worked well for me.
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stev32k
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reply to stev32k

Re: Tomato planting time

Sorry about the extra "e" in tomato. Just now noticed.


stev32k
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reply to stev32k
Another thing I've done the past few years is only allow one stem per plant. That results in less stems and leaves and more and much larger tomatoes. It also seems to reduce the mold and fungus I have to fight every year.

With only one stem the plant gets much better air flow all around and all the leaves dry out. With a big bushy plant the interior does not always get dry and that provides a good home for fungus.

Another problem I fight every year is the damn birds. I would not mind if they pecked one or two tomatoes every now and then, but those little $!its will peck one or two holes in every red tomato on the plant. When the plants are fairly small I can cover them with white cheese cloth and that will keep the birds away. But when they get above 9' tall I have to pick the tomatoes when they are still green or I won't get any at all.


StepR
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reply to stev32k
I was expecting someone to make a Dan Quayle reference


StepR
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reply to stev32k
said by stev32k:

Sorry about the extra "e" in tomato. Just now noticed.

I was expecting someone to make a Dan Quayle reference


stev32k
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said by StepR:

said by stev32k:

Sorry about the extra "e" in tomato. Just now noticed.

I was expecting someone to make a Dan Quayle reference

Now that's not nice. At least I know they don't speak Latin in Latin America. It's mostly Greek (to me).


StepR
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My recollection was that he was given a cue card with that spelling, and he went with it at the spelling bee despite his reservations.


workablob

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Houston, TX
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reply to stev32k
Sweet. I just forwarded this page to my wife who is the mamata farmer.

Thanks!

Dave


workablob

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reply to ropeguru

Re: Tomatoe planting time

said by ropeguru:

said by Jack_in_VA:

Now why did this make me want a Bologna and Tomato sandwich?

Fried bologna at that!! YUM!!!

Oh Hells Yes. Fried so the bologna makes a dome in the pan. Droooool!

Dave


GadgetsRme
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reply to stev32k

Re: Tomato planting time

Tis plain cruel to bring up fresh home grown tomatoes this early when my frost date is May 10.
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Pacrat
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reply to stev32k
I'm not sure you're getting all the rewards of home grown, vine ripened tomatoes by always picking them while they're green, though. There has to be a way of protecting them from the birds. I know I use an old leaf net from my pool to keep the birds outta my blackberries! I've never had a problem with birds and tomatoes... I do get the occasional nibbled fruit from either the squirrels or chipmunks, though, but it's never that widespread... usually only a tomato or two on a lower branch that gets "sampled".
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stev32k
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reply to GadgetsRme
said by GadgetsRme:

Tis plain cruel to bring up fresh home grown tomatoes this early when my frost date is May 10.

Another advantage of growing them in garbage cans is that you can cover them with a clear plastic 39 gal plastic bag to protect them from frost (while they are small). If it is going to get real cold say 20 F or less run an extension cord and put a 60 W work light on top of the dirt under the bag. If it gets colder than about 20 F for several days you need to wrap the can in insulation or else the dirt will freeze.

I've started tomatoes in mid February in Northern Oklahoma that way. Kept that process a secret for several years and people didn't believe I had tomatoes by May 1st when they were just planting.


Xioden
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reply to stev32k
said by stev32k:

Another problem I fight every year is the damn birds. I would not mind if they pecked one or two tomatoes every now and then, but those little $!its will peck one or two holes in every red tomato on the plant. When the plants are fairly small I can cover them with white cheese cloth and that will keep the birds away. But when they get above 9' tall I have to pick the tomatoes when they are still green or I won't get any at all.

If you could move them to a slightly more permanent spot, if you cemented some 4x4 posts into the ground and wrap it all up with poultry netting. You could probably get away with some 5 gallon buckets as a base, but you might need some supports on it.

We had to do something similar up here to keep deer out of everything (we used heavier wire mesh though).


stev32k
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reply to Pacrat
said by Pacrat:

I'm not sure you're getting all the rewards of home grown, vine ripened tomatoes by always picking them while they're green, though. There has to be a way of protecting them from the birds.

Believe me, I've tried everything I could find to keep the birds from eating my tomatoes. Someone suggested hanging red Christmas tree bulbs on the branches to fool them, but that didn't work for long. Someone else suggested hanging aluminum pie plates that also worked for about a week. A county extension agent told me that the best way to stop them was a 1/2 oz of No. 8 shot (since I didn't think the neighbors would approve I didn't try that one).

I can cover them with cheese cloth for awhile, but later in the season when the plants get tall that becomes impractical. So I start picking them early. I pick them when they are starting to turn or are mostly orange colored. I really can't tell any taste difference picking them at that stage vs when they are bright red.


Zorack

join:2001-12-14
Fayetteville, WV
reply to stev32k
Excellent thread,I'm glad pictures were shown on what you did,and I'm jealous of your dad with all those tomatoes,as I am drooling all over myself just looking at that abundance of fruit. OMG.