DarkRider2k3
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Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomatoes?

Hey everyone!!! Me and the finacee are from PA, and this year decided to start planting some vegetables in our backyard. We are growing our plants above ground (the tomatoes in those walmart cloth bags, some lettuce, spinach, and carrots in a kiddie pool, and some green beans in a nice wooden "box" made, and potatoes in tires i got from work), and most of our plants are doing good. The green beans sprouted fast and are growing tall, the carrots, lettuce, etc are all growing nicely, and the potatoes have just sprouted and look great too.

The tomatoes we got them as young plants, and I'm not 100% sure what we are doing wrong. We just fed them last week thinking that might be it, but we've also had 2 days of heavy rain since that feeding.

I guess pictures really will show all. If anyone knows what we are doing wrong help would be very appreciated! Definitely want to correct what we are doing so we don't lose them! We think we were over-watering and haven't watered them since Wednesday (but it's rained Thursday and Friday)

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TomatoGirl
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Re: Newcommer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomat

yellowing leaves like that would seem to be over or under feeding. Is there drainage in those bags? You will need to make some holes if not as it's possible to rot the roots if the water isn't draining. What soil have you used? Is it garden soil, potting mix or something else? How often have you been watering?

DarkRider2k3
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Re: Newcommer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomat

TomatoGirl wrote:yellowing leaves like that would seem to be over or under feeding. Is there drainage in those bags? You will need to make some holes if not as it's possible to rot the roots if the water isn't draining. What soil have you used? Is it garden soil, potting mix or something else? How often have you been watering?
No holes in the bags. The setup I saw said nothing about holes. We used a mixture of top soil, compost, and peat moss for the soil (with mulch on the bottom to help drainage). Fed once, Planted about 2 weeks ago, and watered about every day to every other day.

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applestar
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Re: Newcommer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomat

Do you have an extra bag? Test by filling it with water and see how much/fast water drains out.

The Walmart bags I have are kind of small -- ripped easily too. But that another matter. point is I don't think they hold even 5 gal in volume. 2 gal maybe? Very -- too -- small for growing tomatoes. I have seen them used with self-watering setups like raingutter system. THOSE maybe could handle the high demand required by tomatoes, so I think you will run into more problems down the road.

Intuitively, I think you should have added dolomitic lime and perlite or at least sand or pea gravel. The mix recipe sounds too moisture holding and not well draining. More so if the bag doesn't drain well without holes. Mulch on the bottom will just be a layer in which the roots will suffer nitrogen deprivation. If your plants suddenly started to yellow, I think that would be a sign that the roots have reached that mulch layer.
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DarkRider2k3
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Re: Newcommer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomat

applestar wrote:Do you have an extra bag? Test by filling it with water and see how much/fast water drains out.

The Walmart bags I have are kind of small -- ripped easily too. But that another matter. point is I don't think they hold even 5 gal in volume. 2 gal maybe? Very -- too -- small for growing tomatoes. I have seen them used with self-watering setups like raingutter system. THOSE maybe could handle the high demand required by tomatoes, so I think you will run into more problems down the road.

Intuitively, I think you should have added dolomitic lime and perlite or at least sand or pea gravel. The mix recipe sounds too moisture holding and not well draining. More so if the bag doesn't drain well without holes. Mulch on the bottom will just be a layer in which the roots will suffer nitrogen deprivation. If your plants suddenly started to yellow, I think that would be a sign that the roots have reached that mulch layer.
should I move them to another planter or something while they are still young? I do have another bag I can see how much water drains out and how fast..

What do you suggest we do? They don't look dead yet.. but I don't want them to die!

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Re: Newcommer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomat

What is in the soil mix?
I would move the tomatoes either into the ground or at least a 15-18 gallon pot. Use potting soil, not garden soil or compost. I like Miracle Grow potting mix. Do not get moisture control.
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Re: Newcommer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomat

imafan26 wrote:What is in the soil mix?
I would move the tomatoes either into the ground or at least a 15-18 gallon pot. Use potting soil, not garden soil or compost. I like Miracle Grow potting mix. Do not get moisture control.
The soil mix was top soil, compost, and peat moss.

Any reason not to use compost??

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Re: Newcommer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomat

You can definitely use compost, just not as the primary ingredient. Only as a part of the mix. It is too heavy. Best to use a premade potting mix as imafan suggested.

Aside from all the other good comments, the plants look like they need more nitrogen to me.
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Re: Newcommer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomat

this may sound dumb, but what should I do to give them more nitrogen?

thank you all by the way for the tremendous help!!

edit:

nevermind it was dumb :oops:. I'm gonna get some nitrogen fertilizer tonight and try it

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Re: Newcommer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomat

This is the fiancee making this post. We bought some nitrogen fertilizer tonight, but how much should we use per plant? I'm really hoping we can save these guys! Probly should have done some more research before I jumped into everything, but hopefully I can learn and do better next year! Thanks so much for all your help guys!

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Re: Newcommer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomat

I fertilize my tomato seedlings with 1/2 strength miracle gro. I don't grow full sized plants in containers. Be very careful, too much can easily damage your plants. There should be directions, be sure to use the amount specified for potted plants and use 1/2 that strength to be safe.

I wouldn't worry about rushing them into a bigger container as they are still smallish, except maybe that first picture. Make sure the container can drain and only water when the mix is dry knuckle deep or so. But also be careful not to let it dry out.
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TomatoGirl
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Re: Newcommer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomat

I grow mine in 5-8 gallon pots. The 5 gallon I got for 3 bucks each at the dollar store and punctured holes in the bottom. I have a mix of loam, compost and peat moss in there, which I added pearlite and egg shells. If you can afford to buy potting mix, just use that. I had too many pots and it wasn't cost effective. I have been watering with miracle grow for tomatoes, but at a weaker dilution once a week, as well as the odd feeding with fish emulsion and compost tea. Definitely get them out of the bags though.
If you plant them in smaller pots, they wont grow as big and bushy, but I have had decent success growing them like that.
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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

A little bit of an update:

I haven't seen any more yellowing since the addition of nitrogen fertilizer. On top of that, one of the tomato plants now has 4 flower buds (2 of which have opened up!).

Our one plant, though, still doesn't look great (second to last). Some of the leaves are definitely dying.

Should I go ahead and remove those dead/dying leaves?

Here are pics of them today:

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TomatoGirl
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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

They're looking much better. Just leave them alone now to recoup. I wouldn't bother pruning anything off until they are fully recovered. You will be surprised at which leaves will go back to being green. You might end up losing a couple of leaves, but not much. Is your fertiliser JUST nitrogen or does it include anything else?

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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

TomatoGirl wrote:They're looking much better. Just leave them alone now to recoup. I wouldn't bother pruning anything off until they are fully recovered. You will be surprised at which leaves will go back to being green. You might end up losing a couple of leaves, but not much. Is your fertiliser JUST nitrogen or does it include anything else?

I humbly disagree. I would remove those leaf stems that are browning, and severely yellow. They won't come back, and may actually invite fungal or bacterial issues in the future. Tomatoes definitely don't mind a prune job!

My only other addition to this, and it's already been mentioned, is that I really think these bags aren't going to work out for you. Not only for drainage issues, but also for their size, and heat transmission. I predict that they'll need upsized once your plants get larger. I also don't think that the roots wil stay cool.

Are the bags designated grow bags?
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TomatoGirl
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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

I'm just going off what happened to me this year. I had a bit of trouble with my toms, and pruning them while they weren't doing so well wasn't good for them. If they are brown, they will fall off anyway so you can take those off. But I had some leaves I was going to prune while they were recovering and decided to leave them and they grew back green. If they are deffo dead, take them off, But if they are just a bit yellow, leave them and see what happens in a couple of days. The plants are really small still, so you don't want to take off too many leaves as they need the leaves to grow.

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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

TomatoGirl wrote:They're looking much better. Just leave them alone now to recoup. I wouldn't bother pruning anything off until they are fully recovered. You will be surprised at which leaves will go back to being green. You might end up losing a couple of leaves, but not much. Is your fertiliser JUST nitrogen or does it include anything else?
This is the stuff we used:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Milorganite- ... lsrc=aw.ds

We also have Jobe's Organics All-Purpose fertilizer.
Lindsaylew82 wrote:My only other addition to this, and it's already been mentioned, is that I really think these bags aren't going to work out for you. Not only for drainage issues, but also for their size, and heat transmission. I predict that they'll need upsized once your plants get larger. I also don't think that the roots wil stay cool.

Are the bags designated grow bags?
These are wal-mart cloth bags. I was told that they are pretty much the same as grow bags, and would be fine. They hold 6-7 gallons of soil, and I did test them for drainage (forgot to mention that and they do seem to drain pretty well).
TomatoGirl wrote:I'm just going off what happened to me this year. I had a bit of trouble with my toms, and pruning them while they weren't doing so well wasn't good for them. If they are brown, they will fall off anyway so you can take those off. But I had some leaves I was going to prune while they were recovering and decided to leave them and they grew back green. If they are deffo dead, take them off, But if they are just a bit yellow, leave them and see what happens in a couple of days. The plants are really small still, so you don't want to take off too many leaves as they need the leaves to grow.
There is one set of leaves that is definitely dead, so I'll remove them. The others i'll wait to see if they perk up.

Thanks again guys for helping!!

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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

That fertilizer is not good for containers. You should get a water soluble fertilizer. It is difficult to be organic in containers.

If the leaves are completely yellow or turning brown, they aren't going to recover and aren't helping the plant... just cut those off IMO.
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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

which one isn't good for containers? both of them?

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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

I'm not very trusting of using fertilizer that is described as for lawns, trees and flowers when it comes to food plants even if it says "organic". milorganite -- I have a negative impression of it but can't remember why. Does it say it's made with bio-solids-- water treatment plant/sewer sludge?

Jobs at least specs for vegetables doesn't it?
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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

I was referring to the first one. I am not familiar with jobe's. I am not familiar with organic fertilizer in containers at all so maybe someone else can give you a recommendation. You do definitely want a balanced fertilizer, with 3 numbers fairly even (NPK ratio), as well as micronutrients. No potting mix is going to have enough nutrients to grow full sized plants. They need a balanced regular meal.
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DarkRider2k3
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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

applestar wrote:I'm not very trusting of using fertilizer that is described as for lawns, trees and flowers when it comes to food plants even if it says "organic". milorganite -- I have a negative impression of it but can't remember why. Does it say it's made with bio-solids-- water treatment plant/sewer sludge?

Jobs at least specs for vegetables doesn't it?
jobs does spec for veggies, but not sure about milorganite... it doesn't spec for veggies, but it was the only one I could find was a nitrogen fertilizer... well at least at the time (it has a higher nitrogen percentage then Jobes showed). And it definitely seemed to have helped them... Hope I didn't screw up buying it!

Also didn't see anything on it at first but on the website I did see this:
Milorganite is composed of heat-dried microbes that have digested the organic material in wastewater. Milorganite is manufactured by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. The District captures waste water from the metropolitan Milwaukee area, including local industries such as MillerCoors. This water is then treated with microbes to digest nutrients that are found in it. Cleaned water is then returned to Lake Michigan. The resulting microbes are then dried, becoming Milorganite fertilizers. The Milorganite program is one of the world’s largest recycling efforts.
so... :eek: :(

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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

Peter1142 wrote:I was referring to the first one. I am not familiar with jobe's. I am not familiar with organic fertilizer in containers at all so maybe someone else can give you a recommendation. You do definitely want a balanced fertilizer, with 3 numbers fairly even (NPK ratio), as well as micronutrients. No potting mix is going to have enough nutrients to grow full sized plants. They need a balanced regular meal.
The NPK ratio of Jobe's is 4-4-4

Calcium is 8%, Magnesium is 0.5%, and Sulfur is 1.4%

https://www.walmart.com/ip/21782945?wmls ... 16&veh=sem

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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

Yes that means it is 4% nitrogen. But it also looks like a slow release granular fetilizer, not a water soluble fertilizer. The problem with those kinds of fertilizers is that pots don't have the same fungal colonies bugs etc that soil does to break it down. They so have some soluble fertilizer though so now that you gave some I would wait a week or two at least since your plants are showing signs of improvement and you don't want to burn them.

Organic fertilizer is usually made with animal products if not human waste. Ground up bone, feathers, fish, blood... none of it is appetizing. Don't eat it.
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Lindsaylew82
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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

I actually really like blood meal as a quick(er) release organic source of Nitrogen. Even in pots! :()

And like I previously said, if the leaves are yellow or brown, cut them away. My early plants usually get a prune job of 50%or more, right when they go in the ground. If the future growing leaves show ANY sign of issue, they get culled as well. This isn't going to hurt your plants, and will help to concentrate growth to healthy tissue versus tissue that is already past healthy. weak parts of plant and weak plants encourage pests and disease. I generally have palm shaped tomato "trees" until they get to be about 6 weeks old! They'll be fine if you prune them...25+ years of experience, and I've never over pruned a tomato plant.
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imafan26
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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

If the leaves are old cut them away. If the leaves are young and yellowing then you need more fertilizer. If you want to stay organic you will have to hit them with blood meal, fish emulsion, and kelp. You will have to repeat the fish emulsion weekly.

7 gallons of soil is only good for a small tomato. Indeterminates will need about 10-15 gallons of soil and the roots will still want to go into the ground.

If the plants are stressed for too long they will stop growing and anything that stunts the growth of a fast growing plant usually means that plant will have a difficult time catching up. Once it get to its' mature state (flowers) it won't be doing much growing. If you cannot fix it soon, you may not get a good result.
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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

lol I had a long post I was going to write out but lost it :(.

Anyways a few things/questions:

1. What should we use for containers? I have a few large buckets downstairs, but would that work? I'd be afraid of heat (i've read that heat can be a problem with buckets). Would a kiddie pool (like what we have for our carrots, spinach, and lettuce) work? Or should I just transplant them directly into the ground? Also should I wait until they are back to thriving before I do a transplant of them?

2. What food do you recommend then for them?

3. I did prune those leaves off last night, and the flowers on the one are opening up now. They do look a lot better.

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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

DarkRider2k3 wrote:lol I had a long post I was going to write out but lost it :(.

Anyways a few things/questions:

1. What should we use for containers? I have a few large buckets downstairs, but would that work? I'd be afraid of heat (i've read that heat can be a problem with buckets). Would a kiddie pool (like what we have for our carrots, spinach, and lettuce) work? Or should I just transplant them directly into the ground? Also should I wait until they are back to thriving before I do a transplant of them?

2. What food do you recommend then for them?

3. I did prune those leaves off last night, and the flowers on the one are opening up now. They do look a lot better.
I grow my tomatoes in containers every year for the past 3 years. Never used anything over 8 gallons. While I am sure you . would get bigger plants and more tomatoes in bigger containers, I have had great success in 5 gallon buckets. These are the things you have to remember.
Regularly feed with a balanced fertiliser
Make sure they are getting enough water
Don't let them sprawl all over the place, get some good stakes and tie them to it for support
Do give them organic matter such as compost tea and fish agra/emulsion

I always plant more plants than I think I will need because of the lower production of tomatoes, but I find if it is done properly you will get a great crop. I had a ton of seedling this year so I gave some away. Most people planted in the ground. I have way more flowers and baby tomatoes than anyone else.
So when someone tells you, you can't grow in 5 gallon pots that's a load of rubbish. I do it every year very successfully. You just have to do it right.
How about you repot your tomatoes in 5-10 gallon pots, all except 2 which you keep in the bags. See how they do in comparison. They may do as well or not, but at least you will know. You just have to find what works for you.
I posted the fertiliser I use already in this thread. Its water soluble and my tomatoes are loving it.
Good luck!!

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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

Best case scenario...? Put them babies in the ground! If you've got ground space, and it grows grass well, it'll grow tomatoes well! Just mulch around them! They will be SO HAPPY! :()
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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

Lindsaylew82 wrote:Best case scenario...? Put them babies in the ground! If you've got ground space, and it grows grass well, it'll grow tomatoes well! Just mulch around them! They will be SO HAPPY! :()

Anything special I should do when planting them? I was thinking with it being nice out today (and not scorching hot) I could plant them today.

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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

Lindsaylew82 wrote:Best case scenario...? Put them babies in the ground! If you've got ground space, and it grows grass well, it'll grow tomatoes well! Just mulch around them! They will be SO HAPPY! :()

Anything special I should do when planting them? I was thinking with it being nice out today (and not scorching hot) I could plant them today.

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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

I usually use 18 gallon muck buckets and put holes in them. They are easier to find than pots that size. They will last a couple of years. In the larger containers I have fewer issues with water stress. I also grow very big plants and 5 gallon buckets are more suitable for the determinates that don't get very big. I use MG potting soil, but i use synthetic fertilizer.

If you put them in the ground they should be better, but the ground also needs to be prepared with compost and fertizer. Organic fertilizers takes weeks to deliver and the plants need nutrition now. So you still have to give them a fast release fertilizer. The synthetics will be available to the plants immediately, but if you want to be organic you need to be using the blood meal, and fish emulsion. You can also use compost or manure tea. You should probably give them fish emulsion weekly.
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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

TomatoGirl wrote:
I grow my tomatoes in containers every year for the past 3 years. Never used anything over 8 gallons. While I am sure you . would get bigger plants and more tomatoes in bigger containers, I have had great success in 5 gallon buckets. These are the things you have to remember.
Regularly feed with a balanced fertiliser
Make sure they are getting enough water
Don't let them sprawl all over the place, get some good stakes and tie them to it for support
Do give them organic matter such as compost tea and fish agra/emulsion

I always plant more plants than I think I will need because of the lower production of tomatoes, but I find if it is done properly you will get a great crop. I had a ton of seedling this year so I gave some away. Most people planted in the ground. I have way more flowers and baby tomatoes than anyone else.
So when someone tells you, you can't grow in 5 gallon pots that's a load of rubbish. I do it every year very successfully. You just have to do it right.
How about you repot your tomatoes in 5-10 gallon pots, all except 2 which you keep in the bags. See how they do in comparison. They may do as well or not, but at least you will know. You just have to find what works for you.
I posted the fertiliser I use already in this thread. Its water soluble and my tomatoes are loving it.
Good luck!!
I didn't respond to this, but I do think I'll keep 2 or 3 in the bags to see just how they do. They do look better each day so I'm happy to see that!
imafan26 wrote:I usually use 18 gallon muck buckets and put holes in them. They are easier to find than pots that size. They will last a couple of years. In the larger containers I have fewer issues with water stress. I also grow very big plants and 5 gallon buckets are more suitable for the determinates that don't get very big. I use MG potting soil, but i use synthetic fertilizer.

If you put them in the ground they should be better, but the ground also needs to be prepared with compost and fertizer. Organic fertilizers takes weeks to deliver and the plants need nutrition now. So you still have to give them a fast release fertilizer. The synthetics will be available to the plants immediately, but if you want to be organic you need to be using the blood meal, and fish emulsion. You can also use compost or manure tea. You should probably give them fish emulsion weekly.
Can I use the soil I have in the bags when I replant them? Would that help them with their nutrition since it already has been fertilized?

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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

I disagree that it takes weeks. You may have to feed them something like blood meal, but some of my best gardens have been fresh tills where I've had to do very little... My big beds are years old now, and still require additions... If it grows great grass, it'll grow great tomatoes. Even if you tilled it up yesterday.
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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

You have to be careful recommending stuff because there are always 'but' --

Bottom line, indeterminate tomatoes grow to over 5 feet -- even 7 to 10 feet where temperatures are ideal. 3-4 feet in diameter. You can see how a 5 gal bucket would be tiny relative to the top growth. To support all that foliage and fruits, the root system will completely fill the container and the potting mix will not have ANY extra capacity to hold reserve water. Where it's hot, there no way you can go without watering twice a day -- for the day's worth and night's worth of water. Skip once and the plant will start to wilt, repeated stresses will definitely cause Blossom End Rot in susceptible varieties and even some that normally don't get them.

You will need a good automated watering system of some kind if you cant be out there watering and caring morning and evening. Maybe if you don't have that many plants, it wouldn't be a hardship.

Cherry tomatoes generally can't get too much smaller, though they will suffer a % of size loss, but larger fruited varieties will show significant fruit size reduction when grown in too small containers. You might not realize it if you haven't grown them to their potential before. And you might be OK with it, but they will not be at their best. So you will get 2 to 2-1/2 inch diameter fruits when you could be getting 3 to 4 inch diameter fruits. That sort of thing.

NOW on the other hand, generally speaking, if you live in colder areas with cool night temps, tomatoes will grow slower and plants won't get as big. And maybe not as many fruits per plant either. Growing in containers means warmer root zone which helps them grow faster.
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Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

If you have a place to stick them in the ground I agree that would be best! Much easier to grow that way. You will still need fertilizer for best results and mulch is a good idea. Unless you live in Arizona or something and the soil is terrible. Which probably wouldn't be the case if it is growing great grass.
Zone 6b SE NY
My blog Peter's Vegetable Garden

DarkRider2k3
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Joined: Sat Jun 25, 2016 10:49 pm

Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

So I was digging up the area I had for the tomatoes, and I noticed this in the soil:

Image

Is that bad? I've never seen this bluish green... rock? dirt?

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applestar
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Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

Most likely Copper or what's the other metal... Bronze? Any sign of the object itself? It could have been pennies or pipe.


...did you say where you lived? Around here, you would find clay subsoil in that color, but yours really looks like just that little bit.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

DarkRider2k3
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Posts: 24
Joined: Sat Jun 25, 2016 10:49 pm

Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

applestar wrote:Most likely Copper or what's the other metal... Bronze? Any sign of the object itself? It could have been pennies or pipe.


...did you say where you lived? Around here, you would find clay subsoil in that color, but yours really looks like just that little bit.
Yeah. McDonald, PA (right on the edge of Pittsburgh and Washington PA).

Will that hurt anything?

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Lindsaylew82
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Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 1:26 am
Location: Upstate, SC

Re: Newcomer to the forum and gardening, Problem with tomato

:shock:

That's strange... is it crunchy? rocky? mineral-y?

I would think copper as well. I wonder if copper sulfate or other copper based products can break down like that? I think copper sulfate is already oxidized, but I'm no chemist...

It's not near a septic tank is it?
Lindsay
Upstate, SC
USDA Zone 7b/ Sunset Zone 31

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