AnimalBabe
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Do I need cages for these? And a question on my seedling

I was hoping to plant a Celebrity and Better Boy tomato in individual pots this year and bought some bamboo stakes, but do I also need cages for these? I thought both were indeterminate, but read that Celebrity stays rather compact. Not so sure about the Better Boy. And can you tell me how Better boy differs from Big Boy? Is Better Boy more compact?


Also, I started a roma tomato from seed indoors around beg. of March, and was wondering if I should put it in a big pot just yet outside. I started hardening it off outside a week ago, but it is still probably only about 4 inch tall. It has a few sets of true leaves. Should I plant it sideways? It is definitely thinner than a pencil but I don't think it looks leggy. I can post a pic later if that helps. Thanks!

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rainbowgardener
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Celebrity is a determinate tomato. Better Boy is not. It is a derivative of Big Boy. Better Boy produces somewhat smaller tomatoes than Big Boy, but that does not mean the plant is smaller.

Some people just let their tomatoes sprawl on the ground. I never liked that idea, seems too vulnerable to critters, disease, rot, etc. If you are not going to let it sprawl, then you will need good support for a large plant. Could be multiple stakes or a cage. There's a sticky at the top of this section about tomato support methods.

If you are growing them in containers, be sure your containers are big enough. Minimum container size for one tomato plant is the size of a 5 gallon bucket.
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AnimalBabe
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Location: Northern Virginia

Interesting, i really thought Celebrity was indeterminate. I bought two five gallon containers. When you say "sprawl on the ground" you mean ones planted directly in the ground correct? So if I used containers, would only one stake be sufficient? Having never planted tomatoes before, I don't know how large these get, and would rather start with a cage, then end up finding the plant is growing so huge and isn't supported correctly. Please advise.

gumbo2176
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AnimalBabe wrote:Interesting, i really thought Celebrity was indeterminate. I bought two five gallon containers. When you say "sprawl on the ground" you mean ones planted directly in the ground correct? So if I used containers, would only one stake be sufficient? Having never planted tomatoes before, I don't know how large these get, and would rather start with a cage, then end up finding the plant is growing so huge and isn't supported correctly. Please advise.
For the most part, those cages you see at garden centers are woefully inadequate in both size and gauge of wire used to make them. Many of those things are only 3-4 ft. tall when they are stuck in the ground properly and some of my tomato plants get to be well over 6 ft. tall.

I either use stakes made from 2x2" material, drive them into the ground about a foot or more with at least 5 ft. above ground. I'll then tie my tomato plants to them as they grow. I also have cages I made using concrete reinforcing wire that comes in a roll 5 ft. tall x 100 ft. long. I'll cut the wire in 5 ft. lengths off the roll and make my cages. If stuff grows outside the wire and starts getting kinda big, gently weave it back in when you can.

Tomato plants are actually vining plants and can't support their own weight so they grow along the ground. Fruit left on or near the ground is more prone to damage by rot, pests and diseases. If you have them in a container, you can simply place the container on top of something like a plant stand and let the foliage cascade from the container, but soon enough, it will likely reach the ground. My late father-in-law grew some like this on his wood deck and that worked for him because they were not in direct contact with soil. He even hung a couple 5 gallon buckets with handles off some heavy duty hooks fastened to his overhang and let them cascade down. That was his idea of a "Topsy Turvey" alternative.

AnimalBabe
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Location: Northern Virginia

Well, it sounds from your post that the thin/flimsy looking bamboo stakes I bought won't be nearly sufficient for these particular plants. To keep the plants off the ground when they ultimately cascade down, couldn't I just put some hay around the pots, or even a tarp under the pots so they wouldn't be sitting directly on the soil? Our deck doesn't get enough sunlight to put them there unfortunately.

Also, can you please tell me about pruning? You pull off the suckers between a leaf and a stem joint-- Did I read that right? So you want to keep only 2-3 branches on the plant coming off the main stem. I think I might be confused. I'm assuming I have to prune a these a decent amt if they're kept in pots?

PaulF
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Celebrity and any of the "boys" and "girls" while not being "real" tomatoes to this avowed tomato snob (read that OP and heirloom tomato grower) will require more substantial support than any of the store bought cages described. Probably more than your bamboo stakes as well.

Both were bred with the commercial tomato grower in mind and tend to be shorter than OP tomatoes and bushier. Their growth habit will take both to the 5 foot range and just as big around. There are substantial materials you could use to build cages like concrete reinforcing wire available at most box stores or other wire fencing panels or build a trellis system with 2X4 lumber and wire. I have seen giant versions of the flimsy cages that may work.

As for pruning, that will bring on an entirely new controversy. I am strictly a non pruner for any branch that does not droop onto the soil. These invite pathogens existent in all soils to climb up the plant and begin destruction. Since no tomato plant, be it hybrid or Open Pollinated is immune to disease (some varieties are more resistant than others but by only days and that makes no difference to the home gardener) I feel it prudent to remove parts in contact with the soil.

Sorry to ramble. There have been reams written on the topics you touched on and volumes on topics brought into play with your questions. Most of all, have fun with your gardening effort. The best teacher is experience. If something works for you, keep doing it. If you have problems one year try a new way the next. That is what makes gardening interesting. After 45 years I am still trying to get it right.
Paul F

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