Thornedvine
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Slow grape-tomato growth.

Hello! I have my grape-tomatoes growing in pure peatmoss, that I feed with miracle-gro every week or so. I cant help but notice that they're really slow at growing? Every other plant thats growing in PURE peatmoss is growing fine. Any help? Are grape tomatoes just slow at growth? I mean theyre barely sending out a forth leaf and they're atleast 1 1/2 inch tall. Any help would be appreciated!

theforgottenone1013
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Re: Slow grape-tomato growth.

Peat moss has a ph of about 4.5. Tomatoes as well as most other vegetables prefer a ph of around 6.5. So that's one reason. Another is that you've got nothing added, such as perlite, to increase porosity and airspace so you've got to be very careful not to overwater as peat moss will stay moist for quite a while.


You also haven't said what size pots you're using, what the temps have been like, how much light the plants are getting, or any other relevant information which could explain the poor growth.

-Rodney

gumbo2176
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Re: Slow grape-tomato growth.

I've never grown tomatoes or for that matter, any other plants strictly in peat moss. All my plants are in the ground or pots filled with good potting soil, so I can't be of much help in that sense.

I do know from my experience that tomatoes love mild weather, lots of sun and good watering. Grape tomatoes grow just as fast for me as any of the tomato plants I've ever grown, but they do seem to produce tomatoes much quicker and longer. I live in S.E Louisiana and we have a year round growing season, but some plants do much better in the spring/summer months than fall/winter months.

Not knowing where you are located makes answering difficult because different areas have different growing conditions. It would help if you put where you are located in your profile so those that may be able to help can give specific advice for you area.

Thornedvine
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Re: Slow grape-tomato growth.

I keep forgetting to mention my location. It's egypt, cairo. How do I increase the PH level at home? I don't think i can find anything to increase it around here. They get a lot of sunlight, regular watering, and theyre in big pots, around 7 or 8 inches across. The temperatures have been around 70f and very nice. Any more questions I could answer, I really need help with this! Thank you!

Thornedvine
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Re: Slow grape-tomato growth.

I just read online that using baking soda could raise PH. Should I do that? If so how do I get about to do that?

gumbo2176
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Re: Slow grape-tomato growth.

You say you are using pots 7-8 inches across. How deep are these pots? From the sound of it, the pot is going to be way too small if the plant takes off and grows like it should. My tomato plants usually get between 5-6 ft. tall and about 3 ft. in diameter when they are fully grown.

If it were me, I'd use nothing less than a 5 gallon bucket if container growing tomato plants. Also, are they going to be staked or supported in some way or just left to fall over as they grow-----because they will eventually.

Thornedvine
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Re: Slow grape-tomato growth.

the pots are around a foot deep. @gumbo2176

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Slow grape-tomato growth.

We've had this conversation before already, TV: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... 77#p370577

You cannot grow stuff in pure peat moss. It is sterile, without nutrients, very acidic, holds on to water like crazy, then dries out and sucks water away from your plants and cannot be easily re-wetted.

And just pouring fertilizer on it does not help and trying to find other chemicals to add on to it does not help. You have to find a way to get something to mix it with that improves its texture, aeration, drainage, etc. Your sandy backyard soil would help, as has been mentioned. Compost would help a lot. Definitely you should be starting a backyard compost pile or a worm bin or something. But that takes a long time for any finished results. Maybe in the meantime, you have a friend who composts who could give you enough to help with a few containers? Decomposed granite, crushed lava rock and other mineral construction materials would help.

Surely there are other gardeners around you whom you could talk to about these issues, find out what they do. Are you in/ near a city?
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Thornedvine
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Re: Slow grape-tomato growth.

Not really, I am far away from the main city. Should I sprinkle the compost on top of the peatmoss or dig it in? Thanks.

imafan26
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Re: Slow grape-tomato growth.

Compost is good for feeding and increasing soil bacteria, but bagged peat moss is pretty sterile and in a pot you don't get very high populations of microbes. Compost can raise or mitigate the pH but not if you only sprinkle a little. Compost is not fertilizer. Tomatoes are heavy feeders and they need fertilizer. PH takes 6 months to effectively change and tomatoes will tolerate the lower pH just fine. If you want to add something you could add a little dolomite lime. It will help to add calcium which will raise the pH eventually. You still need to add something to the peat moss to lighten it and provide air space.

You also need a much bigger pot or the plant will stunt.

Use an 18 gallon tub. I use muck buckets, rubbermaid containers, 55 gallon drums cut in half (make sure the barrels are food grade and did not contain hazardous chemicals) Drill holes 2 inches up from the bottom of the container on the sides for drainage. The bottom of the container will stay moister longer in the bottom two inches. You can fill that area with small stones at the level of the drainage holes.

Mix 1 part peat moss, 1 part compost and 2 parts perlite or cinder (for drainage). Mix in about 1/2 cup of a complete fertilizer with nitrogen under 10. If you want you can add a tablespoon of dolomite lime for the calcium (I don't do this, I still don't get BER.) Give one tablespoon of additional fertilizer when the blossoms set, halfway through fruit set and monthly thereafter.

If your tomato is over 6 weeks old, I would start with a new tomato. Stunted tomatoes just don't do well.

Moisten the soil mix in the pot thoroughly. Plant the tomato deep and only have one inch of the stem above the soil. Next to the tomato. Place a 2 ft long 2" PVC pipe that you have drilled numerous holes in the sides of. Angle it a little bit toward the edge of the pot. Water the pot well. Cover the surface of the pot with a thick piece of white or red plastic. I use the bag that the perlite or potting mix came in. It is very thick plastic and I cut it to fit the pot and around the tomato and the pvc tube. The plastic will keep weeds down and conserve water. It also keeps water from spashing on the tomato leaves and causing fungal issues. When you water, put the water down the pvc pipe with a hose, watering can with a narrow spout, or you can use a funnel and a pitcher. You want to avoid wetting the tomato leaves especially at night.

How often you need to water depends on how fast the soil dries. Use your finger and feel the media under the plastic a couple of inches down. Water when the soil is damp but not soggy and your plant is not wilting. In the beginning the plant will be small for the pot so it may not need water that often. When the plant gets larger the root system will expand and when the tomato starts to fruit, it will need water daily or every other day.

The amount of water you need will also depend on your climate. If it is hot and windy, the plant will dry out faster and may even need to be watered in the middle of the day or it will wilt.

If it is a cooler time of the year there is less transpiration so the plant does not lose as much water.

if your temperature will exceed 85 on most days, Grow a cherry type tomato or a heat resistant one, otherwise you won't see very many tomatoes.

I understand you probably don't know what zone you are in but, at least up date your profile with your location in Egypt. It helps.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Slow grape-tomato growth.

Re: "Should I sprinkle the compost on top of the peat moss or dig it in? Thanks."

Neither. You are mixing them together. As imafan said, you want equal parts compost, peat moss, and some mineral-ish drainage component, like sand, perlite, cinder, lava rock or whatever.

Surely someone gardens a bit, near you. Although I love our forum, at this point it is kind of silly for you to be asking advice of people half way around the world who don't know your climate or resources, no idea what is available to you or what Egyptian gardeners do.

You need to find someone in your part of the world to talk to!
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Thornedvine
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Re: Slow grape-tomato growth.

I have never seen anyone of them grow vegetables. But I remember reading online about an egyption who mixed peatmoss, perlite and builders sand and his tomatoes somehow are 6 feet tall?? which is why I just grew in peatmoss.. I'm so conflicted. :(

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Slow grape-tomato growth.

Well peat moss, perlite, and builder's sand is a lot different than just peat moss. It is still sterile/ nutrient free, so he still would have had to provide all the nutrients -- sort of like doing hydroponics. But at least it would be an aerated and free draining mix. That's why we have said several times perlite and /or your backyard sand and/or crushed rock, etc etc would help your situation.

His tomatoes were six feet tall because he used a lot of fertilizer on them. The peat moss & perlite was just a substrate. But it had the qualities needed for substrate in air and drainage. It really is similar to hydroponics. But hydroponics is a very technical way of growing things, where your plants are totally dependent on you to provide all the nutrients in the correct mix at correct temperature, pH, etc. You really need to know what you are doing.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

Thornedvine
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Re: Slow grape-tomato growth.

Hey everyone, quick update; I just noticed here are a lot of small tiny white flies all over my tomatoes, when i touch my biggest tomatoes, around 10 or so fly away. I just sprayed my plants with a lot of insecticidal soap. Do you guys think thats whats causing the stunted growth?

PaulF
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Re: Slow grape-tomato growth.

No, it's your choice of growing medium and the size pot. Get rid of the peat moss, get a big pot, put soilless mix in, fertilize your plants every ten days. Stop looking for any other reason for no growth. Get the proper soil (directions given above), get a much bigger pot, (the size given already), make sure you have nutrients applied, water regularly. Insecticidal soap will help get rid of white flies, but has very little to do with stunted growth.
Paul F

Thornedvine
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Re: Slow grape-tomato growth.

I get your point, you don't have to be aggressive about it.

PaulF
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Re: Slow grape-tomato growth.

Sorry, the idea was not to be aggressive. Sometimes I use short sentences answering each question. After re-reading my answers it did sound like a shout. Again, sorry. Good luck with your tomatoes.
Paul F

Thornedvine
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Re: Slow grape-tomato growth.

It's fine! I'm just sad they're not doing well. Thank you again.

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applestar
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Re: Slow grape-tomato growth.

When watering, I supplement my container tomatoes and other fruiting plants with kitchen leftovers, kind of like feeding pets :wink: so when I have that cold dreg of coffee left in my mug or coffee pot, or when the kids don't finish their juice or milk in their glass, when they finish a carton or DH finishes a bottle of soda, etc. I put these leftovers and rinse the containers with a swish of water to pour into the watering can.

They are diluted many times over by the rest of the water, and this isn't controlled fertilizer feeding, which I do once a month or so, but they do contain and provide a certain amount of the basic NPK as well as trace minerals and vitamins.
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imafan26
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Re: Slow grape-tomato growth.

The white bugs are probably white flies. Soap will help so will hosing off the undersides of the leaves. The plants are more inviting to pests when they are in distress. What kind of fertilizer are you using?
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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