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Tomatoes in containers for winter

Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:14 pm
by summerset
I am live in Alaska and am this year trying to grow tomatoes in very large pots in my home under a metal halide light and a few fluorescent lights. It sits by two very large windows, but of course we don't have much sun in winter here.

The first one I am growing is a yellow cherry tomato, Gold Nugget that was cloned from my summer plant. It has done fairly well and is still getting tomatoes, though not as many as I had hoped for. It is still making flowers.

My second, I planted from seed which I planted in Mid Nov. That plant did well and has many flowers and about 8 tomatoes on the vine at present.
It is a Big Beef and has a full spectrum of disease resistance.

Problem is, that the lower leaves of the second one are turning yellow. I remove them and then more yellow a week later. Does anyone know what could be causing this? Could it be lack of light to the lower leaves?

Also, does anyone know about how long from the time the flower sets a tomato until it becomes ripe?

Any help on this will be appreciated.

Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2007 11:10 pm
by opabinia51
It could be lack of light. Though the first thing that comes to mind is a nitrogen deficiency.

Are you able to acquire a liquid seaweed fertlizer where you live? A weely dose of that or liquid fish fertilizer should supply all the nutrients your plants need.

Are you pollinating by hand?

Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2007 11:39 pm
by summerset
opabinia51 wrote:It could be lack of light. Though the first thing that comes to mind is a nitrogen deficiency.

Are you able to acquire a liquid seaweed fertlizer where you live? A weely dose of that or liquid fish fertilizer should supply all the nutrients your plants need.

Are you pollinating by hand?
I do have some liquid fish fertilizer that I could use. I have been jusing Peter's all purpose. I will try it and see what happens. I haven't seen any liquid seweed fertilizer on sell locally.

Thanks for the tip, I shall try it out.

Nice forum you have here. :D

Edit: Oh yes, I am hand pollinating.

Posted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 1:14 am
by Newt
Hi Summerset,

Another possibility would be excess salt from synthetic fertilizers. The older leaves yellow and sometimes the plant becomes stunted.
https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/tomatoproblemsolver/leaves/salt.html

You might want to flush those pots with water the next time they require a drink.

Newt

Posted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 4:15 am
by opabinia51
Hi summerset,

thank you for your warm accolade!

Yes, Newt has brought something up that we work very hard at at the HG, the use of organic techniques. If you move from using synthetic techniques that feed the plant and not the soil to organic techniques that feed the soil and not the plant (at least not directly) you will actually notice that your plants will be healthier, produce more fruit, have healthier fruit and be less suspectible to disease. And actually, they will be a lot less work to take care of.

I'm hot sure what you climate and local flora are like but, if you make your own compost and grow your tomatoe plants in sifted compost, they will need very few added nutrients, and all of the above sentiments will also be true and compost is basically free because you can make it from your kitchen vegetable scraps and yard wastes.

Please feel free to post any questions or comments in the site and it is great to have you with us. :)

Posted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 6:04 am
by summerset
Thank you for helping. Indeed that picture you linked to looks much like my plant.

After I read the previous posts I found a bottle of Alaska Fish Fertilizer 5-1-1

and applied it to my tomatoes. Now unfortunately I will have to wait several days to water again, unless you think I could somehow flood the plants with pure water and provide drainage and it would not drown them.


My climate is interior Alaska, where springtime is forty below. :lol:
Growing a tomato outdoors is almost impossible, though greenhouse is fine if I use early tomatoes. There are few of us in this area who bother trying to grow tomatoes as they often do not ripen in time. I however plant several in very large pots and since I start them the first week of March inside and have a jungle by the time I can move them outside on June 1st, I usually have red tomatoes by mid July or early Aug.

Interestingly this is not the first time I have had problems with the lower leaves turning yellow. Could this salt be from commercial fertilizer? I don't have a water softener and I have well water, which is very, very good water. Put, prehaps there is salt in the water and I just don't know it.

I would post a picture of it but I have just recently removed the yellow leaves.

On a good note, the fruit that has set looks very healthy.

Once again thank you for your help and sorry I am talking your ear off. I am in hopes of perfecting having tomatoes all year long. Since it is 100 miles to the grocery and I can't stand those store bought tomatoes anyway, this is fairly important to me to be successful with this project and hopefully more successful in winters to come. It is proving to be a wonderful winter project that helps me through the darkness and frigid cold months.

Posted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 6:05 pm
by Newt
Summerset, you are so very welcome! Wait until the next time you need to water before you flush your plants. You will probably have more yellowing, but it's mostly the older leaves at this point.

The Alaska fish fertilizer is great. Consider also adding to the mix their liquid seaweed. It will add some good nutrients.


If you can't get the seaweed, but you have compost, you could make a compost tea, either to add to your watering can or spray the foliage with. I also water with milk, cooled veggie cooking water that had no sale or anything else added and cooled water from hard or soft boiled eggs. The plants love the minerals and calcium, especially those that bloom. A tablespoon of milk added to the watering can is good or just fill the milk container with water when you've finished the milk. I use these methods for my houseplants and they love it. You could use any of these mixed with the fish emulsion you have. You don't want to overfertilize, just have a good balance as watering pots tends to flush out the nutrients.


Brrr, and I'm complaining about single digit temps!! :? If your tomato plants are finished producing and the tomatoes aren't ripe, you could pick them green, wrap them in newspaper and store them in a cardboard box. They will ripen over time.
Could this salt be from commercial fertilizer?
Yes, it's from the synthetic fertilizer. They leave behind residual salt. Your well water should be just fine, considering where you live.

Please keep in mind that you can overfertilize your plants. Potted plants will need more fertilizer because of the fact that the nutrients are washed out through the drainage holes. Another reason could be the potting medium. Most potting soils are peat moss based. Peat is low in nutrients and if it isn't enriched with compost you will need to fertilize more often. Using an organic fertilizer will be gentler on your plants and contain more nutrients.

Don't worry about 'talking our ears off' as we all love doing this. Keep the questions coming.
Newt

Posted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 6:41 pm
by summerset
How exciting to me to learn all this new stuff. I will check and see if I can find the Seaweed next time I go to town. Probally March 1st. I am so pleased to hear about the vegetable and egg water and the milk and oil. What a cool idea. And me throwing that water down the drain all this while.

I will be changing some of my ways.

As for compost, we have problems with composting here. I do have a friend who keeps worms in her home to throw her leftover food into, but for myself, that is just not an option. My neighbor is willing to give me all the horse manure I would want, but it is so filled with weeds, I have ceased using that as well.

I use Black gold dirt from the nursery. And thus add fertilizer. I am in hopes that that dirt along with more natural fertilizer will prevent me from having to do the compost pile which here takes so very long (years) to really make. Some folks are successful with compost piles here, but it takes a lot of shoveling and turning and such which I am not able to do.

Another question, would using tomato set spray increase my tomato production? I have not used this product, but have looked at it many times. Currently I shake my vines a couple of times a day and tickle the flowers with a small paint brush and about one half of the flowers make fruit.

One more question. I read long ago that to ripen tomatoes need a bit of dark but have never found that anywhere else since. Is there any truth to that? Since in summer we have 24 hr. a day of daylight, I was wondering if that is why we have such a problem getting red tomatoes up here, though I and a couple of my friends do start them very early inside and do get red tomatoes in mid summer. Just wondering if anyone has heard of this.

This is a very nice site btw, I do plan to stay active. I did a search for fuschias and found no discussion, care to point me to the proper section to post about my fuchsia I am wintering over?

Posted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 7:38 pm
by opabinia51
Hi Summerset,

I take my hat off to you for growing your own tomatoes in those conditions. And yes, this is a great idea to chase away those winter blues.

One note on something that you mentioned above; that the plants are a jungle by the time that you move them outside; As you seedlings are growing pinch off any growth that occurs between the main branches and the stem (called suckering). This will divert the plants energy into make more tomatoes and also to ripening the tomatoes that are on the vine.

Also, your plants will not be in jungle form when you do move them outside.

Oh, we can thank one of my gardening idols: Caroline Heriot for that tip.


40 below in Spring? Wow! :shock: Have fun gardening!

Oh and a question: are there any native berries that grow in the area? I would think that they would be woody in nature to deal with the cold. I know that they have Kannickankick in Churchill, Manitoba.

Posted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 10:28 pm
by summerset
opabinia51 wrote:Hi Summerset,...
Oh and a question: are there any native berries that grow in the area? I would think that they would be woody in nature to deal with the cold. I know that they have Kannickankick in Churchill, Manitoba.
We have many berries. Blueberries, red and black currents, raspberries and low and high-bush cranberries. All very good. I also grow some wild strawberries that are very small, but very delicious. Domestic strawberries require planting every year as they don't winter will.

Usually all sign of frost is past by June 1st. Since we have 24 hr. of sunlight by then, things grow and make very fast.

I will be sure and keep this thread updated as to what happens with my winter potted tomatoes, just in case someone else comes along and can use the information.

Now what to do with all that stored up synthetic fertilizer. :lol:

Posted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 1:30 am
by Newt
summerset wrote:I am so pleased to hear about the vegetable and egg water and the milk and oil. What a cool idea. And me throwing that water down the drain all this while.
And if you don't need the veggie or egg water you can freeze it (in your case you can probably just put it outside!) and save it or use it as a base for making soup. I've got more ideas like that. I thought I'd be Mother Earth when my kids were small. :D


summerset wrote:As for compost, we have problems with composting here. My neighbor is willing to give me all the horse manure I would want, but it is so filled with weeds, I have ceased using that as well.
The compost would really need to heat up to kill the weed seeds and I'm sure that's not possible where you live.
summerset wrote:I use Black gold dirt from the nursery. And thus add fertilizer. I am in hopes that that dirt along with more natural fertilizer will prevent me from having to do the compost pile which here takes so very long (years) to really make.
For your potted plants that should be just fine. I'm thinking you don't plant much of anything in the ground
summerset wrote:Another question, would using tomato set spray increase my tomato production? I have not used this product, but have looked at it many times. Currently I shake my vines a couple of times a day and tickle the flowers with a small paint brush and about one half of the flowers make fruit.
I've not used that product and don't really know much about it. Try a google search and see what you come up with. Maybe search with:
tomato set spray + works
and you might get some user comments.
summerset wrote: I read long ago that to ripen tomatoes need a bit of dark but have never found that anywhere else since. Is there any truth to that?
Tomatoes need warmth to ripen, not dark. Once picked they will ripen better in dark. Maybe that's what it was about. That is why I recommended that you wrap any that are green in newspaper at the end of the season.
https://www.humeseeds.com/tmtoripn.htm

opabinia wrote: One note on something that you mentioned above; that the plants are a jungle by the time that you move them outside; As you seedlings are growing pinch off any growth that occurs between the main branches and the stem (called suckering). This will divert the plants energy into make more tomatoes and also to ripening the tomatoes that are on the vine.
Scroll down to pictures 10 and 11 here to see what Opabinia is talking about.
https://www.gardenhive.com/fruit/tomatoes/grow/
summerset wrote:This is a very nice site btw, I do plan to stay active. I did a search for fuschias and found no discussion, care to point me to the proper section to post about my fuchsia I am wintering over?
I'm so glad you like it here. We try hard to help folks and it's nice to know it's helpful and appreciated. :D Since you are growing your fuchsia in a contatiner, post it in the Container Garden forum and I'll stop over there and give it a whirl.
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=21

Newt

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 12:38 am
by opabinia51
Wow, a lot of great answers from Newt!

Thanks for intending the keep this thread updated Summer, be sure to start new threads as well; I'm sure that there are a lot of northern gardeners out there who would be interested in learning about gardening in.... well, the north!

With regard to hot composting; You only need a six week period to hot compost so, with your growing season you will have a lot of time. And the thermal energy that results from hot composting; you don't need to have a warm environment so, even if the thermometer dips below -40 C that organisms will still keep a relative temperature that is high enough to continue to compost.

By Tomatoe Spray, I am assuming that you are talking about the calcium spray for tomatoes. This is sprayed onto tomatoes in order to prevent blossom end rot (the black spots at the base of your tomatoes) that results from a Calcium deficiency. The other way to combat this problem is to add crushed egg shells or lime/bonemeal to the soil.

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:19 am
by Newt
By Tomatoe Spray, I am assuming that you are talking about the calcium spray for tomatoes. This is sprayed onto tomatoes in order to prevent blossom end rot (the black spots at the base of your tomatoes) that results from a Calcium deficiency. The other way to combat this problem is to add crushed egg shells or lime/bonemeal to the soil.
Or water with some milk in the watering can. :)

Newt

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 10:51 pm
by opabinia51
That's a good idea however, it would be a good idea to look up on the spray bottle to see what the actual calcium containing chemical is; I would assume that it is in some sort of ionic bond with chloride or some other Halogen; and then compare this to chemical constituent of milk that contains calcium.

I am surmising that the Calcium containing chemical in milk is either a covalently bonded molecule or....(oh, forgetting the term....), (for lack of a better term) the possible pseudomolecule may be a complex of organic molecules (molecules that contain carbon as their backbone) chelated (theres the word) around a calcium molecule with it's full compliment of electrons.

(Oh boy, probably just flew over everybodies head but, it's something to consider.)

Of course, the easiest thing to do would be to either add milk or eggshells to the soil and not directly to the fruit.

Milk is a great thing to spray onto the foliage of plants to prevent powdery mildew.

Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 5:10 am
by Newt
summerset wrote:Another question, would using tomato set spray increase my tomato production? I have not used this product, but have looked at it many times. Currently I shake my vines a couple of times a day and tickle the flowers with a small paint brush and about one half of the flowers make fruit.
I'm wondering if this is the calcium spray that is supposed to stop blossom end rot. I've done a little reading and it appears not to work according to other gardeners. Do a google with:
calcium spray + tomato
opabinia wrote:Of course, the easiest thing to do would be to either add milk or eggshells to the soil and not directly to the fruit.

Milk is a great thing to spray onto the foliage of plants to prevent powdery mildew.
I was referring to adding milk to the water in the watering can and not using it as a spray on the flowers. Just a side note here. I have a friend who had a gardenia as a houseplant that hadn't bloomed in 10 years. I suggested she add a tablespoon of milk to the water in her watering can. In just two months she had flower buds and the following month she had flowers for the first time in 10 years! I have noticed that my flowering houseplants bloom more frequently when I use the milk.

And I agree that milk is a great foliar spray for powdery mildew.

opabinia wrote:I am surmising that the Calcium containing chemical in milk is either a covalently bonded molecule or....(oh, forgetting the term....), (for lack of a better term) the possible pseudomolecule may be a complex of organic molecules (molecules that contain carbon as their backbone) chelated (theres the word) around a calcium molecule with it's full compliment of electrons.


From this site:
https://72.14.209.104/search?q=cache:dRttfaIhtmwJ:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milk+calcium+molecule+milk&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=4&gl=us
The largest structures in the fluid portion of the milk are casein protein micelles: aggregates of several thousand protein molecules, bonded with the help of nanometer-scale particles of calcium phosphate. Each micelle is roughly spherical and about a tenth of a micrometer across. There are four different types of casein proteins, and collectively they make up around 80 percent of the protein in milk, by weight. Most of the casein proteins are bound into the micelles. There are several competing theories regarding the precise structure of the micelles, but they share one important feature: the outermost layer consists of strands of one type of protein, kappa-casein, reaching out from the body of the micelle into the surrounding fluid. These Kappa-casein molecules all have a negative electrical charge and therefore repel each other, keeping the micelles separated under normal conditions and in a stable colloidal suspension in the water-based surrounding fluid[3] (McGee 19–20).
Not sure if that solves anything. :roll:

Newt

Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 10:50 pm
by opabinia51
So according to that article the calcium molecule in milk is a covalently bonded molecule (the electorns are shared between phosphate (PO4) and Calcium (Ca) as apposed to being stripped from one atom in an ionically bonded molecule. Anyway, the point being is that Calcium Phosphate is a covalent compound and therefore would not work as a spray for fruit. However, Newts idea about spraying milk around the feeders for the roots, theoretically would work.

I think I'll give it a try. Cheaper than buying a bag of bone meal.

(What I do for my whole garden is collect the eggshells from the Cafeteria at my old University and crush them up (bucket of them) and add them to the soil. I also collect the eggshells from my mothers place and from my room mates. Works well.)

Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 11:53 pm
by Newt
Glad we got that straightened out!! :shock: I knew you would know the final answer. :)

Eggshells in the compost or the garden are great too.

Newt

Posted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 5:56 pm
by summerset
Wow, checked back and more inforation. You folks just love to help. Thanks a bunch.

The spray I was speaking of is "Green Light Tomato Bloom Spray II", it is described as a ready-to-use natural plant hormone product that provides Biological Grow Power to promote blossom set and fruit development.
The active ingredient is listed as Cytokinin It is used to spray on blossoms to encourage fruit set rather than hand pollination I guess.

As to my tomatoes, I read somewhere to flush the plant with water and let it drain, then wait 30 minutes and repeat the process. I did this Monday, the 12th and although I I still have some yellowing of lower leaves going on, it seems to have slowed.

I am planing to use the fish emulsion when the plants need more water, and prehaps the bit of milk in the mixture.

As promised I will keep you informed. And I took some pics so after my grandson goes home tonight, I sill upload the pics and post them here of my plants. Maybe the pictures along with this threads information will prove of value to someone else out there crazy enough to grow tomatoes in their home during the cold winter months.