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swickstrum
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Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:41 am
Location: Texas

I planted Rutgers seeds two weeks ago, do I have a chance?

Hello,

I'm from Texas and I planted Rutgers Tomato seeds on April 9th directly in my garden. I now have small 2" to 3" seedlings growing in clusters about 18 inches apart. I have not yet fertilized the soil, thinned them out, or put any support structures up for them. Here are my questions:

1. Should I fertilize the soil soon? If so, can I use a fertilizer that will work for my other vegetables/fruits in the garden or should I use a fertilizer specifically for tomato plants? I'm also growing cucumbers, watermelons, onions, chives, lettuce, and corn.

2. At what point should I thin the plants out? Right now they are so tiny I'm afraid that thinning them would damage whatever plants I leave.

3. After thinning, should I pinch off lower branches and bury the stem up to the top few leaves? I've seen plenty of suggestions to do this after moving plants from pots to soil, so I'm wondering if this would help even though I started the seeds in the soil from the beginning.

4. What is the best support type to use for this type of tomato plant? I want to produce as much fruit as possible, so I'm open to any support that will accomplish this goal.

Thanks all, I really appreciate the help, this forum is freaking awesome! :P

Scott Wickstrum
Find a job you love, and you won't work a day in your life.

gumbo2176
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Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:01 am
Location: New Orleans

first off, you shouldn't just broadcast fertilizer without having your soil tested to see what, if anything, it needs. I prefer to use what my compost pile produces to amend the soil and quite a few folks here don't use commercial fertilizers at all.

What I do is start tomatoes in my seed trays or purchase some from a nursery already started. I'll put my stakes, 2x2" pieces of wood about 6 ft. long driven into the ground to tie the tomatoes to as they grow. I put the plants in afterwards to avoid root damage to the plant.

As for thinning, I'd wait until they are about 4-5 inches tall and just snip the ones you don't want or gently take them out the ground if you are wanting to transplant some. they take transplanting pretty good. I keep my plants about 36" apart and grow onions, herbs, or other smaller plants between them. I just pulled up 60 yellow onions I grew between my tomato plants and they are now drying on a rack for later use.

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swickstrum
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Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:41 am
Location: Texas

I actually have a pretty good compost pile going so I may try and use that. I probably still need to test the soil though. Is there a standard testing kit that I can use?

The soil here is pretty sandy, but I'm seeing some really good results so far. I think I left the leaves in my garden long enough to have a little compost naturally occur in the soil where I planted. I guess sometimes procrastination does pay. :P
Find a job you love, and you won't work a day in your life.

gumbo2176
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Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:01 am
Location: New Orleans

swickstrum wrote:I actually have a pretty good compost pile going so I may try and use that. I probably still need to test the soil though. Is there a standard testing kit that I can use?

The soil here is pretty sandy, but I'm seeing some really good results so far. I think I left the leaves in my garden long enough to have a little compost naturally occur in the soil where I planted. I guess sometimes procrastination does pay. :P

Best thing to do is send some soil samples to a County Agent or some other entity for testing. Those soil test kits you find at big box stores or garden centers are often very inaccurate and I wouldn't recommend using one of them for good results.

I hope the heat of summer doesn't short circuit your efforts with the tomatoes. My plants are now 5 ft. tall and I'm picking tomatoes for about a week now. They were in the ground in late February.

Leaves placed in the garden can only help. Next time if you want them to decompose a little faster, try running over them with a mower to grind them up a bit.

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swickstrum
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Posts: 33
Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:41 am
Location: Texas

I hope the heat of summer doesn't short circuit your efforts with the tomatoes. My plants are now 5 ft. tall and I'm picking tomatoes for about a week now. They were in the ground in late February.

Leaves placed in the garden can only help. Next time if you want them to decompose a little faster, try running over them with a mower to grind them up a bit.
I'm really worried about the summer heat too, it normally gets over 100 a couple times by mid June . I think most of my garden will be harvested by that time, but the tomatoes may be a little slower.

I have to really stay on top of keeping them watered and moist. Last year I tried watermelons as a test and they only produced two fruits because I didn't keep them watered enough. I won't make that mistake this year![/quote]
Find a job you love, and you won't work a day in your life.



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