gardencook
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Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:54 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Tomatoes in Southern CA

Hey all,

Trying my hand at growing Tomatoes for the first time. I recall a cherry tomato plant my grandfather had granted from seed from a store plant turning into a perennial in Sacramento, but I've heard in general they tend to be annuals. I'm trying to plan out my garden best I can so I don't have perennials and annuals stuck together, so I'm curious about the whole tomato growing pattern thing. I'm in zone 10 (technically 10b).

On a side note, I have the same curiosity about peppers (green sweet and jalapeno) and a few herbs - if anybody in here's knowledgeable about that stuff, too.

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rainbowgardener
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Location: TN/GA 7b

Tomatoes and peppers are in the same (nightshade) family and are both tender perennials that are killed by frost. In a frost free area they should be able to be grown outdoors year around. But they tend to be relatively short lived perennials - I have seen people report on having 3 yr old bell pepper plants and occasionally habaneros as much as 6 yr old. Generally they only last for several years.

Also, it depends on what your summer climate is like. Tomatoes don't like really hot sunny summers, especially with lots of 90+ degree days. But San Diego being right on the ocean, I guess you have mild climate year around, not cold in winter and not too hot in summer. So should be perfect for year around tomatoes.

In most of the country they are grown as annuals because they don't survive the winter and they can be tricky to keep going indoors all winter (though I am trying this winter with one basil and one green pepper plant indoors - so far so good, but there's a lot of months to get through before spring!) Basil is another tender perennial.
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carolyn137
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Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2011 9:38 pm
Location: upstate NY, zone 5

Gardencook, being in a gardening zone of 10 I think you might want to consider growing two crops each year, which is what several of my CA friends do so as to avoid the summer high heat when they simply can't set fruit well. I mean the plants, not the friends. :lol:

The other problem you have in San Diego is the fog, called the June Glooms by many in your area, that can result in infections with Powdery Mildew, both kinds. So it would be good to have your plants out there early for the Spring crop before the June glooms can get at them.

What it means is sowing seed for the Spring crop from about Xmas to early Jan, and then setting out plants by late Feb to Early March. And those varieties should be both mid-season and long season varieties.

Sow seeds for the Fall crop in mid August or so, plant out by late September and you'll have fruits for the Holidays. The Fall ones should be early and mid season ones.

Quite a few years ago I was invited to do a weekend dog and pony show at Hortus Nursery in Pasadena, now out of business, and it was there that I learned from other presenters that there are so many ecosystems in CA for growing tomatoes. And through the years I've always had feedback from friends at message sites where I read/post, and I've learned lots from them as well as to tomato growing in S Cal.

Perennial tomatoes? They were and are in the highlands of Peru and Chile where tomatoes originated, but domestication of the tomato left that perennial nature behind. I have a friend who is commercial and he keeps several large pots of tomatoes in the Greenhouses over the winter and I can't tell you how long those have been going.

And yes, as was said above, in warm weather areas where it doesn't freeze, tomato plants can get through the winter and if you cut them back a bit in the Spring they will go on to blossom and set fruit, but most who do that say the plants are not as vigorous and the fruits they set are smaller than what they should be.

Hope that helps.

Carolyn

gardencook
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Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:54 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

rainbowgardener - thanks for the input. I'm a little bit more inland, so we do get warmer on occasion. I suppose I might need to think about extra watering or extra shade for the tomatoes if I choose to grow over the summer...

carolyn - that was a lot of good information! between what I know of the summers here and the information you gave, I just might try that. A local nursery suggested a "safe spray" that's supposed to help combat powdery mildew, though I haven't needed to try that out just yet. I've managed to kill 2 attempts at basil - one from black powdery mildew (when I didn't even know about it), and one when I watered too little, it just simply died out. hesitant to try again - I'll be waiting until I can grow successfully in a pot before I think about putting it into soil.

On that note, in the event I DO end up transplanting into soil and it develops the mildew, I've heard you need to sanitize the soil before planting anything else in it... what's the generally accepted practice on that?

carolyn137
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Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2011 9:38 pm
Location: upstate NY, zone 5

gardencook wrote:rainbowgardener - thanks for the input. I'm a little bit more inland, so we do get warmer on occasion. I suppose I might need to think about extra watering or extra shade for the tomatoes if I choose to grow over the summer...

carolyn - that was a lot of good information! between what I know of the summers here and the information you gave, I just might try that. A local nursery suggested a "safe spray" that's supposed to help combat powdery mildew, though I haven't needed to try that out just yet. I've managed to kill 2 attempts at basil - one from black powdery mildew (when I didn't even know about it), and one when I watered too little, it just simply died out. hesitant to try again - I'll be waiting until I can grow successfully in a pot before I think about putting it into soil.

On that note, in the event I DO end up transplanting into soil and it develops the mildew, I've heard you need to sanitize the soil before planting anything else in it... what's the generally accepted practice on that?
There are two kinds of Powdery Mildew that can affect tomatoes and neither one is black so I don't know what the black stuff is that you had problems with.

Foliage diseases, including Powdery Mildew, are spread via air or embedded in rain droplets, so no, no santizing of the soil is going to help.

If I knew what the black stuffw as, or indeed if you wanted to help prevent Powdery Mildew, which it looks like it isn't b'c you say what you had was black, oops. that was on the basil, and the Powdery Mildew I'm talking about only affects tomatoes, so there you are.

As for sprays, to prevent the PM, there is an excellent one which has less toxicity than does Rotenone, which is approved by all organic certifying agencies I know of, but b'c it is synthetic, some folks shy away from it.

I don't care if a product is synthetic or organic for what I'm concerned about is toxicity to humans and pets and bees and the environment in geneneral and it turns out that some organic products are more toxic than some synthetic ones.

But by saying this I'll now be quiet since there is a Forum here devoted to dealing with diseases organically.

Carolyn

Carolyn

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