woodardhsd
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Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 5:45 pm
Location: Eastern NC

Need some advice on my first tomato plant

I planted this better boy tomato, along with a cucumber and strawberry in a patio pickers raised planter. This is my first time trying to garden so bear with me. The tomato plant grew very fast and I tried to keep up with trimming suckers and pruning some of the bottom branches. It's now got 2 main stems and has started to set bunches of fruit. The first two tomatoes had what appeared to be blossom end rot, but after I threw those away, none of the others have shown signs. I did add a little bit more lime around the base of the plant when I first noticed the BER. Right now, there are at least 20 tomatoes growing in various stages. There are 5-6 that are baseball size, the rest are between baseball and nickel size. There are plenty of flowers that haven't started growing fruit as well. Some of the largest ones have appeared to stop growing, but haven't started to ripen yet.

I'm wondering if I have let too many tomatoes growing at one time. Is that possible? Could my cucumber be stealing nutrients from the tomato? The cucumber plant that is right next to is trying to grow into it's cage a little bit. I wanted to trim it back, but there is a nice cucumber on that side that I'd like to pick first.

Here are a couple photos of the plant. One showing the entire patio picker and another close up of the tomato plant itself. Any advice about the tomato plant, or the entire garden in general is appreciated.

I should also mention is has been very hot here for the last two weeks. It's been over 90 for the last 2 weeks, 3 or 4 days reached the upper 90's.

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rainbowgardener
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Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Need some advice on my first tomato plant

Your little planter is very crowded. The tomato, the cuke, and what is that at the bottom, strawberry? It is probably OK as long as you keep everything well watered and fertilized. It isn't like growing in the ground, those plants are totally dependent on you for everything. I would worry more about the cuke as it gets bigger and leafier shading out part of the tomato plant.

Tomatoes are very productive. Your problem isn't too many tomatoes, it is the heat. Tomatoes love warm weather, they don't do very well in hot. Once you get to the upper 90's temps you are talking about, they basically shut down. New fruit can't get set, because the pollen clumps up and the fruit you have can't ripen because the red pigments, carotene and lycopene pigments break down.

It helps to grow heat resistant varieties, like Heatwave II,’ ‘Solar Fire,’ ‘Summer Set,’ ‘Sunchaser,’ ‘Sun Leaper,’ ‘Sunmaster,’ ‘Sun Pride’ and ‘Talladega. Growing in the ground is better than in the planter, because the deeper soil will be cooler. But you can do what you can to keep your soil cool. Mulch well, of course keep well watered, and perhaps put shade around the planter (like put it in the middle of a hay bale?) Given that the plant is under heat stress, it may help to remove some of the tomatoes. Any that have turned pink at all, will ripen more and better inside. And reducing the load may help it concentrate on the remaining ones.

And despite what I said at the beginning, you do not want to overdo the fertilizer - this is the wrong season for the plant to be putting out lots of new growth.

But whatever you do, you are likely to find that in your climate, tomatoes produce in spring and fall, not in the heat of summer.
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