estro
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help with tomatoes

hi, I'm not neccesarily new to gardening i've been doing it my whole life, as an ameture. now i live in hawaii, and it's summer year round basically, so i feel like I'm in a whole new world of gardening, and I'm thrilled but confused.
the first problem i'll attempt to solve is tomatoes. I'm trying to grow them in pots, and it's not going so great, and my gardening books aren't very helpful. i always thought they liked full sun? do they like alot of water? is it true that it's bad to water your garden both veggie and flowers at night, and better in the morning? is it bad if the containers are close to a fence, i heard it was. in a three foot long container how many plants can i put in it?
the problem I'm having is at first my plants did great. then they started to get yellow leaves, now i've cut the yellow leaves off so i have a three to four foot tall tomatoe plant that is all stalk and about three to five healthy looking arms on top but as new leaves grow the old green ones turn yellow then brown? please help i've never had this much trouble with tomatoes before. oh if i wrote to many questions in one post please let me know, thanks a bunch.

The Helpful Gardener
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First of all, containers are great for tomatoes IF you give them room, and it sounds as if you haven't. One tomatoe is right for a 3' x 3' container; 3' long sounds like a window box to me. The leaves are drying up to conserve water as the tiny root system can only support so much.

First off, if you can put them in the ground, do it. Secondly the fence is not such a bad spot as long as it doesn't deprive them of light. Pull off ALL the leaves until you have just a good growing group of foliage near the top. Then, UNLIKE EVERY OTHER PLANTING JOB, plant the root deep so just the top foliage sticks a few inches above the surface (this will cause the recently denuded stem to sprout roots and give you a HUGE root ball) That will give you a real healthy top and lots of great tomatoes!

Let me know how it turns out: we should all have it so rough, gardening in Hawaii.... :wink:

Scott

NZG
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i always thought they liked full sun? Tomatoes love sun, but don't give them too much or you'll burn the leaves.
do they like alot of water? The less water you give them makes the plant throw its roots down further in the ground. Lots of water and the roots will stay near the surface but in doing that it poses the risk of the roots burning and getting too dry.
is it true that it's bad to water your garden both veggie and flowers at night, and better in the morning? Rubbish. I usually water mine in the evening in summers so the ground has a chance at soaking up the water. But, if it needs water it gets it despite any time of the day.
is it bad if the containers are close to a fence, i heard it was. Again, rubbish. As long as there is room for the plant to grow then there is no problem - unless there is poisons in your fence.
in a three foot long container how many plants can i put in it? I'd say around 3-4 but I like to have all my vegetables jam packed together to make the most of my land.

the problem I'm having is at first my plants did great. then they started to get yellow leaves, now i've cut the yellow leaves off so i have a three to four foot tall tomatoe plant that is all stalk and about three to five healthy looking arms on top but as new leaves grow the old green ones turn yellow then brown To stop the leaves turning yellow you need to get some epsom salts into your ground. I forget what nutrient it is off the top of my head that causes the leaves to turn yellow. A simple soil test will identify that for you.[/b]

opabinia51
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As Scott said, tomatoe plants like a lot of space so, one per pot would be the maximum that I would do (in a pot). When you plant the little tomatoe plant; pull all the leaves of the plant except the top leaves that form the crown. Then, plant the entire stalk in the dirt. This will give the maximum size for a healthly root ball. You can use liquid fish fertilzer to feed your tomatoes.
Tomatoes do like water but, do not overwater them. Just keep the soil moist. As was previously said, keep the plants in full sun but, as the plant grows it is important to sucker it. This means that the small growths that occur at the apex of branch and stem should be pinched off. This will ensure that the plant puts all of it's energy into growing nice, succulent tomatoes and also that it will not divert resources (such as watere and nutrients) to growing new branches.
Don't use those round tomatoe cage things, they are seldom high enough. A wooden stake with nylons to tie the plant to the stake is just perfect. The nylons will not cut into the plant and they will also not stretch and break like plastic will.

The Helpful Gardener
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Opa and our Kiwi friend offer great tips; Iwouldn't argue with any of it...

HG

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Here is what I learned, growing tomatoes in FL:

Keep the soil moist - I only watered every evening so the ground had a good chance of staying damp over night - that's when plants do most of their growing anyways.

I planted some tomatoes in February in the sun, but also planted some in part shade. Once the sun got pretty intense in June those in the sun would turn yellow and be done - just too intense for them. But the ones in the part shade would be fine, so I had tomatoes far longer, through the end of August, usually. By August in FL it was time to start new tomatoes indoors to plant in mid to late September.

Containers are great for tomatoes, especailly if you have less than great soil. I've never been to Hawaii, so I don't know.

I also use the garden stakes with velcro-type ties to support my tomatoes - those stupid cages they sell in stores are never big enough, and it restricts my access to pruning suckers and dead leaves and such.

In a 3 foot long container - I would only plant one tomato in it. You can grow some small flowers at the edges of the container, maybe something sprawling like the african daisy (it looks succulent, has all kinds of colors in the blooms) to keep down weeds.

The Helpful Gardener
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Can't argue with a thing....(although that black volcanic soil might be great for tomatoes)...

Scott

NZG
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Magnesium - see I knew I would remember it. Soil lacking in mag will turn leaves yellow.

The Helpful Gardener
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Yeah, and as it's a magnesium sulfate the sulfur would help control soil fungus as well, right? I seem to remember other soil benefits to sulfur as well, but the memory is foggy. Opa, have you anything to add here?

Scott

opabinia51
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Not off the top of my head but, I will do some research on the topic. 8)

The Helpful Gardener
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Thank you muchly :)

Scott

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Then, UNLIKE EVERY OTHER PLANTING JOB, plant the root deep so just the top foliage sticks a few inches above the surface (this will cause the recently denuded stem to sprout roots and give you a HUGE root ball) That will give you a real healthy top and lots of great tomatoes!
Now, is this the official way to get the larger tomatoes we always see in the store? I know, i know. Those are 'artificial' - doctored and altered so that they can get so large (and also so they won't germinate with their seeds we've found out). But surely there must be a way to get tomatoes larger than the lemon-sized ones (or less) we usually get?
Hardiness/Heat= 5b Last Frost= latMay

opabinia51
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Well, ULTRA BOY gets quite big. That is an old Hybrid that you plant from seed. And several Heirlooms get quite big. I did a black tomatoe last year that had very large fruit. So, you just have to pick the tomatoe you want.

There are actually 500 different varieties of tomatoe. So, the world is your oyster or... tomatoe :wink: .

The Helpful Gardener
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My Brandyines have been known to get to a pound or two (like two fists together). I think it's as much variety as care...

HG

opabinia51
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What are Brandywines like Scott? I tried one last year but, the soil where I planted it was very poor and I didn't get any tomatoes from that plant.

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