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rainbowgardener
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picking tomatoes

I was out at our CSA farm this morning digging potatoes and picking tomatoes (yes it was 90 degrees and we were in full sun! not as much fun as some times). They were growing Brandywine, German Johnson, and some kind of red pear shaped tomato I didn't get the name of, all heirlooms.

At a rough estimate 1 in 5 or so had to be pitched because of BER, we were picking them blushed not ripe to try to prevent them cracking, but a number were cracked already (except the red pears seemed to be much more crack-resistant). Some of them had to be pitched because they had been munched by a a big brownish stripey worm (not a hornworm). I saw a few of the worms, so I know. Saw one hornworm, but it had the white eggs all over its back, like Applestar's picture, so I left that alone. (Before I started hanging out here, I wouldn't have known what that was! :) )

Came home and picked 17 tomatoes off my 5 plants. None had BER, which I have never seen on one of my tomatoes in any of the years I have grown them. Only a couple were showing any signs of cracking, and none had any worms etc. Mostly perfect.

Farm is 1/2 hr away, same climate, similar soil. They and I both grow organically. So what makes the difference? Two things I can think of ... they are growing all heirlooms and I am growing all hybrids. And since I am growing on such a micro scale, I can pay more attention to them, especially watering! I don't think the CSA farm irrigates at all and we've had very little rain. They are outside the city and have had a little more than me, but still not nearly enough in this heat. Consistent watering instead of depending on rain, helps prevent the BER and the cracking and may give the plants more resistance to attack.
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applestar
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I'm starting to think it's a fallacy that tomatoes need full sun. So far, it's the ones that get less than the optimal amount of sun that are producing big beautiful tomatoes, and I'm growing all (well just about all -- I think one variety is a second generation hybrid -- i.e. F2) heirlooms.

You know that huge tomato jungle that swallowed up one window? I just opened that window to harvest a gorgeous pink Brandywine Sudduth-type volunteer from INSIDE the house :lol:. It was growing way inside the foliage and I wouldn't have been able to reach through all that to harvest if I tried from the path-side. 7/8 Lbs. and just starting to feel soft -- i.e. READY TO EAT! :()

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applestar
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BTW, the "brownish stripy worm" might have been climbing cutworms or the tomato worm that is same as corn ear worm. the cutworms act a lot like the regular grey ones in the soil and curl up. The tomato/corn worms are skinnier.

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rainbowgardener
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Maybe that is part of it - the farm tomatoes are definitely in full blazing sun and mine are definitely not.

The worm was NOT skinny and did tend to curl up.
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hit or miss
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This is the first year I haven't had to pitch most of the first batch of maters due to BER. I've only had to pitch 2 so far! :D That's out of almost 65#'s of maters. The only thing I'm doing much different is natural gardening, no man-made fertilizers or chemicals, just composted cow manure. I am watering heavily now and have been for quite a while. Even the okra was wilting today.

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gixxerific
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I have been thinking the same thing this year about the amount of sun being too much for my tomatoes. Though would this thought have come up if this year wasn't so dang hot and dry that is another question.

I do plan on moving my tomatoes to where my lettuce was this year it is more shaded but still gets plenty of sun.

As far as watering I have finally set up my sprinkler on a timer and have noticed a slight difference in my tomatoes. They are not as cracked as they were earlier. This could be attributed to the extra watering or maybe it is just this is a different time in their lifeline that they have grown out of the cracking.

I have yet to see any BER though myself. Well come to think of it I have had some peppers with BER.


About the fallacy of "full sun", than means I believe at least 6 hours of sun. I know I get about 12-14 which is much more than "full sun".

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