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TomatoNut95
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

I'd like to be able to grow corn and have a compost pile, but too many critters. I love living in the country- but there's two factors I hate about my spot: clay, and critters. Here's a list of the vermin around here:
Armadillos
Coyotes
Deer
Hogs
Mice
Possoms
Rabbits
Raccoons
Snakes
Skunks
Squirrels

My backyard is fenced in, but stuff still travels across the front yard, and behind the fence line. I have an armadillo that digs underneath the fence and tears up the yard. I have a trap, but he won't go in it. I think he KNOWS I am after him! If I ever catch him, I'm gonna dance on his grave!!!

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rainbowgardener
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

Re filling a deeper bed. You said you are in the country. Is there a stable near you? They are usually willing to give you free all the manure you can haul away. It may not be aged so you might have to let it sit for awhile.

If it were me I'd struggle along with the old bed, but also build one 8*4', 12" deep raised bed now. Start working on filling it. Add manure, if you can get it. Look into municipal compost. Many localities are now taking in organic stuff and composting it. Then they give it to residents free or low cost. Add that. Throw in shredded paper, pulled weeds (as long as they haven't set seed), grass clippings, fall leaves. It will be like a compost pile, but with no food scraps. Without the food scraps, it shouldn't attract critters. Keep adding to it and keep it watered. If you run across some earthworms, throw them in. Keep doing this all through the season. By fall stop adding. Next spring you will have a bed full of good soil. Then you can build one more and start filling it.

In the meantime , re the regular compost bin. Where I used to live, we had most of those critters. No armadillos or hogs, but tons of raccoons, possums, deer, and big city rats, and mice, shrews, voles, etc. I couldn't have an open compost bin. I would come out in the AM and find compostables strewn all over the yard. But two kinds worked for me: sturdy wire grid bins with four sides and a top and the earth machine style heavy duty plastic cylinders with tight lids. Again, to encourage composting, many localities sell those at a big discount.

If you aren't going to make sure you have really good soil, then gardening will always be frustrating.
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TomatoNut95
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

A stable? No. I do know some people with cows, but I know fresh stuff would probably burn my stuff- and smell bad. I'd have to ask them to compost it for me before I got it from them. :) Yeah, paper sounds good for compost since it doesn't smell or anything. I like to draw, so I guess I can throw my discarded drawings in my garden. :)

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TomatoNut95
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

Ok, if I were to place stepping stones in my raised bed, would that help instead of stepping directly on the soil?

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applestar
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

Basically you just want designated walking areas that you always trample and compact, while the rest of the bed remains fluffy and uncomplicated. After that you reach from the path and not step in among the plants unless it’s absolutely unavoidable.

Stepping stones (flagstones) will work, or bricks/blocks with a board bridge. You could also simply scoop up good soil from designated path and toss over to either side — this is what I do — paths are scooped of all good topsoil down to the clay subsoil, then I pile yard clippings and weeds and cutoff/pruned spent (undiseased) crop foliage and stems on the path and trample them into the clay. These eventually break down into topsoil and then they are scooped onto the beds again.

If the designated path weeds got ahead of me, then I lay down flattened cardboard, pizza boxes, etc. to smother the weeds

At this point, you will want to peek under the designated path area and see if the vegs have already grown roots into the area. This will dictate what you’ll want to do to some extent. Large flat surface (flagstones, boards) will not cut off/damage those roots like cobble stones or bricks would.
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TomatoNut95
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

I might have my garden extended again this fall when I get it fixed up, so I'll see about having 'pathways' put in it! :-()

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Re: I always get runt produce?!

My garden is an irregular shape since it was formerly a rock garden by the previous owner. It is more oval 8ft x 16 ft. I partition it into three sections and I do use stepping stones. Actually, I switched to resin pavers a long time ago since it is easier to move around than concrete pavers. If you can reconfigure the bed, it is better to make it no wider than you can reach across ( 4ft) from the sides. Paths can be as narrow as 18 inches. U and T shaped beds work out well as well.

If you have the space, consider a keyhole garden. It is designed to use readily available cheap resources. Keyhole gardens have been made with stone, bricks, wood, and even metal. The central basket in Africa is made of sticks but chicken wire works too and lasts longer. The 6 ft diameter circle was designed because when watering from the central basket, it is the distance that the water from the central basket will be able to reach. The walls are 18 inches high and the diameter of the bed is 6ft (circle). It has a built in compost pile in the center that uses gray water and kitchen scraps so it makes composting easy and a no brainer. The bed itself is a type of sheet composting bed. The bottom has drainage material like large branches, sticks, and even tin cans have been used. The remainder of the the bed is layered with browns, greens, and with about 4 inches of good topsoil on top, it can be planted immediately. It is water efficient and with an optional hoop roof. It can be covered to keep out some of the pests and provide shade when it gets too hot. A lot of plants can be grown in a small space, especially if you choose the right plants. This type of bed is good for cut and come again plants, leafy greens, and some root crops. Large plants like tomatoes and vining plants can be grown in it but is not recommended since they take up a lot of the space.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykCXfjzfaco
https://www.texascooppower.com/texas-st ... -gardening
https://preparednessmama.com/keyhole-garden/
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applestar
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

GREAT MINDS @imafan! — I mentioned keyhole garden design as a possible solution, too. I really do think it’s something to consider — and this is a project design that serious thinkers have applied their best efforts to fine-tune, so it’s pretty reliable.

That said, you don’t HAVE to stick to the circular design — you could leave the shape of the bed rectangular or square and just make the keyhole access and walkway — U-shaped bed, like imafan mentioned. The point of the circular design is that distance from the outside to the inside of the bed is same from any point, and watering and fertilizing from the central compost pit/basket is equally distributed, but you could take that into account and plant less water/nutrient needy plants inherit corners, etc.

BTW one way to limit marauders’ access to the bed and compost is to wrap the entire bed with deer netting — you do have to lift or unhook, etc. the netting, or finesse the draping mechanism to access the bed yourself. My Stardome project is one way I’m going to try to build a structure for that kind of purpose.
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TomatoNut95
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

I'll see what I can do to my garden this fall! :wink: Now; back to the subject of my tomatoes blossoms falling off: applestar said I needed I needed a fertilize to encourage more blooms. But my tomatoes have no trouble producing blooms, the blossoms themselves won't pollinate, and they just dry up and fall off. Could it be the weather causing that? High humidity and all that?

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applestar
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

You could try buzzing the floral stems with electric toothbrush during cooler hours of the morning — this simulates bees buzzing to make the blossoms release pollen. Tomatoes/peppers/eggplants — drop pollen inside the conical structure which surrounds the pollen receptor and each blossom self-pollinates.

I have read that excessive nitrogen can cause blossom drop, too... But have no personal experience. (Like most fruit bearing plants, I think tomatoes might also drop blossoms if they are incapable of supporting fruit development.)

Maybe someone else can confirm or reassure that isn’t the case.

...just to be clear, what I was suggesting was to increase the phosphorus and potassium ratio, since you can’t take AWAY the nitrogen that’s already been applied.
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TomatoNut95
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

Say, that's a good idea! I have a battery-operated toothbrush I don't use- I'll try that! :-() So I touch the vibrating brush to the blossom stem. For how long? Just a second or two?

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applestar
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

Once you try it with a few Blossom clusters, you’ll start to recognize fresh blossoms that are ready to release pollen, that have not been worked already by bees and wasps and other insects. Hummingbirds will buzz them sometimes too, though I don’t know if tomatoes have any nectar for them — its Possible they are actually after the insects....

Tomato blossoms won’t/can’t release pollen in the dark/overcast or wet or too-humid conditions because the pollen clump up together.

When it’s working, it’s kind of like instantaneous, or just a momentary pause... not even a whole second.
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TomatoNut95
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

I never see bees, butterflies or hummingbirds inspect my tomato blossoms. I doubt there's nectar in tomato blossoms. Course, I'm not a bee so I couldn't be for sure. :wink: Bees don't usually take interest in my garden unless I decide to grow cucumbers. I will try the toothbrush method to see if it improves my production. :D And get my hands on a bloom booster fertilize that doesn't have so much of the nitrogen. :)

pepperhead212
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

I " buzz" the beginning blossoms of my tomato plants (as well as some peppers and EPs) every year, just to get them going quickly. Eventually, there are far more than I can keep up with, and it's no longer necessary. It does work well, as every blossom in the early clusters forms a tomato - usually, a few of those early ones drop off those clusters.
Dave

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rainbowgardener
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

Blossom drop is a sign of environmental stress. Under stress, the plant "decides" to put its energy into survival not fruiting. Environmental stressors for tomatoes can include: night time temps below 60, daytime high temps above 85 or 90, drought or drowning-- try to keep soil evenly moist and well drained, hot dry winds.

The good news is that once the stress is relieved, the plant will flower again.
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TomatoNut95
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

The night temps are staying above 60, but there's nothing I can do about the daytime getting over 85, or control the rain. :cry: Believe me, if I could I'd have my whole house area enclosed in a temperature controlled dome! :() I like Applestar's idea about the toothbrush- and searching for a bloom booster fertilize.

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Re: I always get runt produce?!

You are in zone 8. Your temperatures are ok for tomatoes. However, if your day temps are over 85, you cannot grow most of Applestars tomatoes. I cannot grow them, I tried coyote, but it is not heat tolerant. As Rainbow said environmental stress will cause blossom drop and stressed plants will fail to set fruit just to protect themselves.

SIP containers help with water stress and BER. A five gallon reservoir worked well for me and it kept the tomatoes from wilting in midday. I also plant tomatoes in 18 gallon pots with plastic mulch. The pots are shaded by taller plants (in summer it is corn on the western side, so it helps the pots and roots stay cooler.

Your choice of variety will matter. Heat resistant tomatoes are a must. Heatmaster, Sunchaser, Solar Flare, Arkansas Traveller, Better Boy, Big Beef, Early Girl, New Big Dwarf, Heatwave II, Roma, San Marzano, Homestead, Super Sioux, Quarter Century (aka Matchless), green zebra, Celebrity, Sunmaster, Solar Flare, Pruden's Purple, Cherokee Purple, Kewalo, and Creole. Most of the cherry tomatoes will do well like sun cherry, gardener's delight, red current, Juliet, Fourth of July, sungold (it cracks), sweet 100 or sweet million, and grape. Texas Wild, Nichol's and Punta Banda tomatoes were suggested especially for Texas. You do get snow so you will need to probably start the tomatoes indoors since most of these tomatoes need 80 days. Early Girl was a surprise, it is 50+ days so it can set fruit early. It does stop producing in the heat, but when the weather cools it produces again. This may not work for you, because of your location. Snow is never and issue and technically things that you consider tender annuals can live a year or more here. Tomatoes could technically live more than a year here if it were not for all the diseases.

I have grown Brandywine successfully, even though I was told it would not pollinate well because of pollen clumping in the heat.
It actually is something to try. In Pennsylvania where it grows it can get over 100 degrees in summer. Humidity was not a problem for me. The tomato was the best tasting, but required the most babying since it has very little disease resistance. I had to grow it in a SIP 18 inches off the ground. I also had to fungicide it weekly because it has very little resistance to fungal diseases and rugose leaves don't help. Brandywine is a large tomato, so it is not as productive as plants with smaller fruit. I have a lot of humidity which makes it seem hotter than it is the temperature is 89-91 degrees in summer with a few days in August around 100 degrees (if I am in Waipahu surrounded by concrete and with Kona weather.

A lot of times, something has to be given up for disease or heat tolerance. It might be tougher skins or flavor. You will need to try out some of the tomatoes to see if you like how they taste. Kewalo, tastes ok and has good disease and heat resistance to fungal diseases but like most of the UH seeds, the skins are tough. Creole from Louisiana, is also a good tomato with good heat resistance. Florida has developed many heat resistant tomatoes, I had trouble growing them because while they are heat resistant, they did not have the right disease resistance to grow well for me. Heatwave is an older heat resistant variety that will set fruit even in the high 80's. It is not a flavor winner, but it is ok for me. It is better than no tomatoes at all. The cherry tomatoes are the sturdiest as they are prolific (good because the birds get most of the larger tomatoes), disease and heat resistant. Outdoors, tomatoes are self pollinating and are wind pollinated. Failure to set is usually from heat or drought stress.
Shading can help with the heat stress. Planting tomatoes in summer on the east side is better than a west or south face. My yard is small. My house would shade the plants in the front yard in the afternoon. Tomatoes are planted in 18 gallon pots and I only need to water them once a day. Corn is planted in summer on the west side of the tomatoes. The taller plants keep the pots cooler, while the tops of the tomatoes are still in the sun. I mulch the pots with the potting soil bags to hold in moisture and limit splashing. It is better not to try to grow anything that is not heat resistant in July-August. Just solarize the beds instead.

I don't have any of the critters you have. I don't even have mongoose. I do have mice, but they have not been a big problem in the garden. The mice like to eat the slug bait. Asian flower beetles go after over ripe fruit. The biggest pest I have are the birds and I have to get to things before they do and put up barriers. You may need to go with fencing around the garden and it would have to be tall to keep anything from jumping over. I would probably build a kennel and totally cage it. It would also be easier to put up shade cloth over the top. For me it is practical because my garden is 8x16 ft. My back yard has a depth of 15-30 ft and is 54 ft wide. Most of my plants are actually in containers. I only plant things in the veggie garden that need to be massed like corn, okra, and I usually plant herbs and a few cut and come again plants like komatsuna, perpetual spinach, chard, cutting celery, and Asian greens. I have a permanent trellis for things like tomatoes which I grow in 18 gallon pots. Citrus trees, ginger, most of the peppers, eggplant, and taro are in pots. I have a few escapees I have to deal with. I can't plant obvious veggies in the front yard because of HOA restrictions. I can plant edibles they don't know about like roses, daylilies, garlic chives, strawberries, taro, Jaboticaba, and nasturtiums. I don't plant most of them for eating, I plant them mostly because I know they are technically edible and the HOA are idiots.

https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/veg ... em-solver/
https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/veg ... HT-043.pdf
https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/brow ... /tomatoes/
https://bonnieplants.com/gardening/how- ... t-weather/
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TomatoNut95
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

My daytime temperatures during the summer can go well up to 90-100 degrees. Most of those varieties you named are hybrids, and I am an heirloom lover because I save my seeds. Not only do I grow plants for myself, but I grow for other people and sell my plants to friends, family and town locals. So I need to keep plenty of seed in my supply, and hybrid seed is expensive.


I don't have problems with critters getting into my garden because my backyard is fenced in. I have an armadillo(whom I hate with a passion) dugs underneath my fence and tears up the yard. He doesn't mess with my garden. I've been trying to trap him, but I think he knows I'm after him- and he refuses to go into my trap. If there's one thing I cannot stand, it's a smart pest.

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TomatoNut95
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

Well, after work today I did some shopping! Got a bag of Espoma Tomato-tone, Miracle Grow Bloom Booster(too bad there's not an organic in that) and some more Miracle-Gro Performance organic.

imafan26
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

If you want to do an "organic" bloom booster, use bone meal or bat guano. You can also use super phosphate if you can find it.
I think the way phosphorus works is by inhibiting the nitrogen. Michigan did a phosphorus study since it was thought that high phosphorus promoted bloom. What they found was that is was not so much the high phosphorus but the relative low nitrogen that promoted the bloom. They could get better blooming with lower amounts of phosphorus as long as the nitrogen was limited.
Phosphorus is not very mobile so it is better added early on. Nitrogen is highly mobile and you do need more nitrogen for early growth, but less when you want plants to bloom, otherwise you will see rank growth at the expense of blooms and fruiting. Potassium also promotes root and bloom and overall health of plants. Wood ash is a good source of potash, but you do have to be careful with it since it is very alkaline and will affect pH as well.

It is still better to test the soil since excess nitrogen and phosphorus can be toxic to the environment regardless of the source. Plants grow best in a narrow pH range.

I would get runt produce in an intensively planted garden as well. That is why I use synthetic fertilizers and compost. Otherwise I would have to trench compost or green manure a bed for five months to prep for every planting and that can only be done if I don't need the space. My soil test says I only need nitrogen and sulfur for the alkaline plots. I really don't need anything else. P.S. my alkaline herb garden is very poor in nitrogen so it still gets sulfate of ammonia even with the trench composting. How do I know it is nitrogen poor... I know because the plants are shorter than they should be. They are healthy, but much shorter than expected.

I have tried to add as little phosphorus as I can to my soil over the last 10 years. My phosphorus started out at 2100 the lowest was about 1000. There is some phosphorus in compost that cannot be avoided and I use mostly sulfate of ammonia which is really all I need since everything else in my soil test is adequate or high. The phosphorus now ranges between 1600 and 450. Since I only need 37 ppm for what I am growing, I won't have to add any more phosphorus for a few more years. I only use complete fertilizers with low numbers in my potted plants. I use 6-4-6 for most things and it is a slow nitrogen fertilizer with micros as a preplant fertilizer. Although my potassium is adequate on my soil test, I get better root crops in my alkaline plots and not much root development (unless you count the cabbage crops) in my acidic plot. It is probably more because the acidic plot also has the highest amount of available nitrogen. My soil test does not specifically test for a mobile nutrient like nitrogen but there is an obvious size difference in crops grown in the acidic plot vs my compost heavy alkaline plots that are very alkaline pH 7.8 despite getting sulfate of ammonia as well. I found that the soil wants to go back to its baseline, no matter what I do, so now I just use peat moss for the alkaline plots instead of the alkaline composts. I use the alkaline compost on my acidic plot.
My soil is high in aluminum which binds phosphorus so even though the total phosphorus is high, much of it is bound.

Leaf crops grow well in all of the plots, except the herb garden which is especially low in nitrogen and needs the most nitrogen supplementation. Root crops do better in alkaline soils and tomatoes and other acid loving plants do better in the acidic soils and nitrogen rich soils. I only apply a very small amount of nitrogen except for corn which gets two side dressings and the amount is based on my soil test recommendations. The compost trenched beds take 5 months to mature for planting and they grow really well for one planting but deplete rapidly for a second planting so need more fertilizer for the second crop and the beds need to be redone every two years. I also do some green manure with buckwheat and cowpeas, it does help the first crop but again the benefit wears off rapidly.

https://ag.umass.edu/cafe/fact-sheets/f ... phosphorus
https://www.growveg.com/guides/top-3-re ... ing-fruit/
https://soil.msu.edu/wp-content/uploads ... E-2904.pdf
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TomatoNut95
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

Well, I'm no where near a bat cave, so that leaves out the guano. LMFAO I know where I can get bone meal: I burned my marigolds with that years ago. :oops: As for phosphorous, I'm not sure where I can get that- is that sold in bags?

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Re: I always get runt produce?!

You can get it on Amazon. It was more prevalent in stores, but since people are more aware of phosphate contamination of water systems it is not sold as much anymore. It does boost bloom, but you need to be careful not to use too much.
Bat guano is usually sold in the organic section of the garden stores but you can also get that on amazon as well.

Phosphorus is a relatively immobile element so it is best added in the beginning or banded near the root zone. While plants need it in relatively large amounts, it takes a long time to get rid of the excess and it will leach into groundwater over time. It is still better to get a soil test first to determine if you really need it. Imbalances of nutrients and pH in the soil will actually cause more harm than good.

You can improve your soil by adding a blended compost (made up of 5 or more sources). Compost however, is not fertilizer and has low nutrient value since most of the nutrients were used up to feed the organisms in the composting process. Compost does improve soil tilth, moisture holding capacity and improves CEC of the soil. Native clay soil is usually nutrient poor since it is probably a weathered soil. However, it has the capacity to hold on to nutrients (CEC) if it is provided.

Organic gardens take about 3 years to be balanced enough to be able to compete with conventional farming. It requires adequate and continuous organic inputs in relatively large quantities.

It is hard to guess how much you will need to add to improve your soil just by looking at it. A soil test is invaluable in getting you on the right track. You will get exact recommendations if you ask for organic, on how much and what nutrients you need to add.

Green manures by adding nutrients, biomass, and feeding the organisms in the soil. Some cover crops will actually help soften and break up the harder soils.

I takes time (3 years) to build up the soil community to a point where it is self sustaining and can sustain a good crop too. It requires constant inputs to remain that way. If you start with a relatively poor soil to start with, it cannot be rushed.

Nitrogen has always been the most limiting factor of plant growth no matter what crop you plant. Organic nitrogen is the hardest thing provide in adequate amounts to get the max yield. Plants need more nitrogen when they are young and actively growing to be able to provide a good harvest. Nitrogen in organic inputs are not always readily available and you need to supplement usually weekly with a fast nitrogen like fish emulsion, blood meal, or kelp fortified compost tea. Organic farming takes more work in terms of volume that is needed. A pound of sulfate of ammonia = 40 lbs of chicken manure (approx. half of the available nitrogen from organic sources will be available in a short time, the remainder will be slowly released by the soil bacteria over a period of up to two years. The soil bacteria will also consume some of the nutrients). Chicken manure contains more than just nitrogen. It has a lot of calcium and will in effect alkalinize the soil. Over time sulfate of ammonia will do the opposite and acidify the soil. Blood meal is another fast organic nitrogen source. It would still take 2 lbs of it to equal one pound of sulfate of ammonia but would cost a lot more.

If you choose to grow high nitrogen demand crops when the soil is deficient in nutrients you will always get runt crops.

I think, part of the problem you are having is that although you have been adding things, you may not have added them in the proper quantity and given the organic nutrients the time they need to release. You cannot add a bag of organic fertilizer today and get immediate results. By the nature of the organic fertilizer, most are not readily available to plants and must be converted by the soil microbiota first. It will take a relatively large volume of inputs of the organic fertilizer vs synthetic (which is plant available immediately in a form the plants can use. I still like to add it a couple of weeks before planting to get it to dissolve first.)

Organic gardening takes patience. Nutrients and amendments need to be added up to 6 months before planting. The soil must be fed and the soil community must be built up first before the soil can feed the plants well. It requires constant inputs of organic matter to be sustainable. First crops should be more legumes, and crops that do not tax the limited resources of your soil and you will still need to supplement with the weekly fast organic nitrogen. Once the system has built up the soil microbiota and the organic matter previously added adds nutrients to any organic fertilizers added in the present, does the system become relatively more sustainable. You still will need to continue to add organic matter to feed the soil and select and rotate crops to balance out the nutrients in the soil. In other words, if you want to grow tomatoes, corn and other high nitrogen crops, you need to provide enough nitrogen and have a well developed soil environment to support good growth and yield. The other elements are also important but more easily gotten organically and they are still relatively not needed in the volume that nitrogen is required.

Plants will be stunted when any of the major nutrients are deficient or the pH is less than ideal. The goal should be to optimize the growth of the plants not just focus on one thing like failure to set. Most plants will bloom when it is the right time to do so. Plants require adequate resources to make seed. The goal of a fruiting plant is basically to reproduce. Making fruit takes a lot of energy and plant resources. Plants need enough leaf volume to make sugar, carbs, and produce energy. Stunted plants don't do that well. If you chop half the canopy off a citrus tree, it won't produce fruit for years until the canopy is replaced. Seeds will remain dormant in the soil until the proper conditions for growth exist. In heat and drought conditions, plants will not waste energy producing fruit and seeds that don't have a chance to survive in that environment. Plants that provide abundant fruit will normally experience June drop anyway, they will cull excess fruit so energy will be concentrated on the remaining fruit. Stressed plants will either go to seed and try to reproduce themselves before they die or they will not waste energy trying to set seed in a hostile environment. Remember, mother nature always tries to do the right thing, it just may not be what you want her to do.
You cannot control the weather. There are some years where I get terrible results, but usually others are having the same problem too. However, if I am the only one having these issues while others are getting a better harvest, then there is something I need to change to make it better. Guessing the hardest way to fix things.



https://agronomy.unl.edu/FarmingSystems ... rganic.pdf
https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/mauisoil/c_placement.aspx
Excess phosphorus can interfere with micronutrient availability and it takes a long time to correct.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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TomatoNut95
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

Wow, you sure are smart! I wish I were even half as smart as the people on this forum. I want to learn to crossbreed tomatoes like Applestar. For my first try, I thought I'd attempt to mix my Yellow Brandywine and either a Blue or Black Beauty this fall.

Sounds like organic gardening is tough, not to mention expensive. But the gardening I'm doing now is expensive- I bet I've spent enough money on potting soil, garden soil and fertilizers over time to have bought a good used vehicle. :eek:

Tell me, imafan- do you have the tomato hornworm in Hawaii? This morning I noticed some of my Big Bertha bell pepper plant was missing!! :shock: Examining closer, I saw all these round piles of poo... :> and then found the culprit: a big fat hornworm! I picked him off and put him out my misery. Rest in pieces you nasty pepper plant muncher. :x

By the way, Applestar- if you are reading this, I had the cover taken off my greenhouse. I also had taken the shears to my mystery tomato. :cry: It's doing OK, so I guess it stopped the splits.

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applestar
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

Yep, I’m following. Glad to hear about the splitting plant.

Things are getting hotter here, too. Even more so for you I imagine.

So greenhouse cover is off ... As long as you have the frame structure handy, you might consider putting up a shade fabric over it that might keep them going for a while longer as long as they get the water they need — I wonder what % shade would be most beneficial?
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TomatoNut95
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

Yeah, I left the frame up. I need a new greenhouse for next year as the cover on this one was falling apart. The front door zippers were messed up; the right zipper stopped zipping up completely. Crummy, cheap plastic. I've got my heart set on a bigger one for sale on eBay for cheaper than these $200 Tractor Supply things I've used.

Right now my digital thermometer reads 94. We are predicted to get some rain tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday. Which is good for a change because my rain barrel is getting low.

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Re: I always get runt produce?!

There is tomato hornworm in Hawaii. I don't have a problem with them or with the cabbage butterfly ( I only had one find the plants and I got rid of that one and picked off the a few caterpillars. The garden patrol took care of the rest of it. The birds are probably getting the butterflies since they are slow flyers. Most of the birds I have are seed eaters but the cattle egret eats bigger things and some other birds like the mynah are omnivorous. The anoles do eat beetles, flies, and caterpillars so I rarely find them on my plants.

Once in a while I will get corn earworm, but I grow tight husk corn so it is not a big problem and again the garden patrol takes care of most of the flying insects and caterpillars. I haven't seen them in awhile either but I did not plant corn or tomatoes last year.

I have been gardening since I was 10, what I have learned has been a lifetime endeavor. I've learned most of it the hard way. The best lesson I did learn was not to fight nature but to enhance it. I may try a few things to give them a chance, but if they still won't grow for me, I grow something else. I don't try to fight my soil. I have 3 different plots and if I choose the plants that are best suited to them, it works out a lot better. Since, I started testing the soil regularly, I have saved a lot of money on fertilizer I don't need and I don't get the rank growth at the expense of flowers that was happening when I used miracle grow every other week on the yard. The yard was lush and everything was massive and they did produce a lot of fruit and flowers. But, I found out after 42 days and nights of rain that it would bloom and fruit better without so much nitrogen, but no fertilizer at all for a year not only produced fewer fruits but also weaker plants. Everything in moderation. Feed the plants and the soil the right thing at the right time.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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TomatoNut95
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

Wow! I bet your yard should be shown in Better Homes and Gardens magazine!

You being in Hawaii- you must have sandyish soil, right? I envy anyone with sandy soil. I know some people around here who live on a sandy spot and their vegetable garden just flourishes; they get so much produce from it and it makes me so jealous.

The birds don't mess with my dinky garden. I have to hand pick worms. I have some little squishy worms that I guess are cabbage worms that are eating my onion greens! (I only have two bulbs left after the others rotted) I wouldn't think anything would want to eat onions- but live and learn.

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Re: I always get runt produce?!

No, I have a small yard but the weeds are monsters and being in Hawaii with a 365 day growing year, means bugs hang around all year too. I can't spend as much time as I used to, I get too tired, so I do a couple of hours then take a 3 hour break. I can't really work all day in the yard anymore.

I do live on an island but I actually live between the two volcanos. The Koolaus on the East and the Waianae mountains on the west. The highest point on this Island is Mt. Kaala at 4400 ft. The highest community is Wahiawa at 1247 ft. I live around halfway up at 587 ft. Wahiawa is 4 miles away, Pearl Harbor, West Lock, is about 10 miles away. Downtown Honolulu is 23 miles away. It takes about 6 hours to almost circle the island (60 miles). The road at Kaena point washed out during Iniki and it was never repaired so no one can actually take Kam Hwy around the coast all the way anymore.

My soil is Wahiawa series, so it is a weathered oxisol = red clay dirt. Because the origin is volcanic it is high in aluminum which is why phosphorus is tightly bound, but so much has been added now that I actually have to limit it now. My Community garden is in Wahiawa at 800 ft. So much compost and manure has been added and the previous plot owner added 2 ft of soil, so the soil there is hardly the red dirt of Wahiawa. It is very alkaline and now I add peat moss and no more chicken manure to it. The pH there is 7.8. In Wahiawa, it is cold enough to grow some low chill pears, apples, and peaches as well as cherry blossoms (above 900 ft). Litchi grows well there but mangoes, tomatoes, and plumerias do not.

Where I live, 4 miles downhill, it is a couple of degrees warmer. At my elevation, I can grow both litchi and mango. Mango actually grows best further down the hill another 4-7 miles in Waipahu or Waianae, since mango likes it hot and dry. The temperature 4 miles downhill is 4-9 degrees higher than where I live. It is still considered a wet area, not as wet as Wahiawa but it is normal for it to rain every day in the fall and spring. I have the mildew on my house to prove it.

You would have to be right on the beach or a mile or so from it to get to the "sandy soil". Most of the area in the Ewa plain and Waianae coast are coral based and very alkaline.

On the Big Island, Kula in Maui, and Haleakala, the elevation is over 5000 ft and it will snow and get icy on Haleakala and on Mauna Kea and Mauna loa. On the elevations above 2000 ft people can grow zone 8 plants like the Lavender farm on Maui, and protea on the big Island.

The third garden I look after is the herb garden at the Urban garden center which is owned by the University of Hawaii. It is a demonstration garden that is open to the public on weekdays and on second Saturdays. We have plant sales, gardening classes, compost demonstrations, educational tables and tents. There are over a hundred volunteers on paper. The gardens are usually adopted by a volunteer or group. The orphan gardens, usually are on their own, but we do have garden work days where we will try to clean up what we can. There are about 40 volunteers who come regularly.

The Honolulu Rose society takes care of the rose garden. Half the garden is an orchard. The produce that is not stolen by thieves are collected and given to the food bank every week about 150 lbs a week. We have an idea garden where volunteers grow western and ethnic vegetables, 5 children themed gardens, a medicinal herb garden, Hawaiian herb garden.

The apiary is taken care of by the bee hui and I am part of that as well as the grafting hui. We just harvested about 100 jars of honey two weeks ago and all of it was sold last week. June is pollinator month and the bee hui sponsors the event every June. I grew plants and flowers that attract pollinators and beneficial insects. The theme this year focused on the solitary bees. We also have a boardwalk garden, gardenia, the unthirsty container hui grows succulents for the plant sale and have a unthirsty garden. There is a hula mound.

The Pearl City Bonsai Club had bonsai by the office. All were stolen except for 1. Now, members will bring plants to display only for second Saturday, but they don't leave the legacy plants there anymore.

There are 2 peace gardens and a peace path has been started but has yet to be fully planted out.

I take care of the herb garden, which now contains more than herbs. It used to be primarily western herbs and there was another quadrant for eastern and medicinal herbs. The Eastern herbs did not have a caretaker so it became the container fruit garden and the Eastern and ethnic herbs are now part of the culinary herb garden, which contains all culinary herbs and spices. Spice trees are in the central oval. I am also in the grafting hui ( I grow plants from cuttings, I have a 100% grafting failure rate. I need to practice cutting more so I don't get the wave), the Bee Hui (we have 10 hives and just harvested and sponsored the June Pollinator event on Second Saturday. Grafting hui sponsors 2 grafting educational sessions a year), Organic Hui has now become the composting Hui. I am an ancillary member of the compost hui. We do compost studies, and trench composting experiments in the herb garden and I give them clean trimmings for the greens for the compost piles. I think I have finally convinced Phyllis that synthetic fertilizer does not kill soil organisms as long as it is not overused and coupled with adding carbon rich compost so the soil organisms have a balanced diet and there is enough nitrogen to support the plants. It was harder to get her to pull out the massive chard since she wanted to keep it forever.

I belong to two orchid clubs and I just joined the Pearl City Bonsai club today. I have one bonsai ( 28 year old bougainvillea). I did tell them, I probably will only come when I need consults for the bougie because bee hui, and grafting hui are he same day and time.

I have done some classes, oddly mostly on basic gardening, repotting orchids, herbs, and now I have to do one on basic succulent care. For that I am asking my friends from the cactus and succulent society for help. I live in Mililani which is way to wet to grow succulents well, so I only have a few that can tolerate wetter conditions. I answer individual questions on plant care on Second Saturdays. I am an emeritus Master Gardener. I took the class in 2009. The plant doctors will sometimes tell people to go find me to answer their questions. Sometimes, I have a line following me, as well as the people asking questions about the plants even when I am not wearing my shirt at the plant sale. Google helps a lot with the plants I am not familiar with. Sometimes, I have to guess what people are talking about because they don't actually know the plant name and I have to figure it out from the ethnic names, butchered names, and plant descriptions. Sometimes people will ask for things like Ylang Ylang, chico, and plantains. I ask them how much space they have because Ylang Ylang, Chico, most of the spice trees in general will be 40-80 ft tall. Saba and plantains are over 25 ft tall, and will probably be seen when the fruit is ready. Around here if anyone asks for your bananas it means you better cut it quick or the midnight harvesters will harvest it for you. Then there are the people who want a houseplant that does not require care, bloom, and can live at the end of a dark hallway.

I do organic gardening consults, but I am not a pure organic gardener. I know how to do it, I just prefer not to use the animal byproducts which are the best nitrogen sources. I also don't really want to be making compost tea every week. When my friend, Phyllis, went on her cruise we were doing a compost study with lettuce and I had to do it organically. I make non aerated tea, but she wanted to use AACT for the study. She loaned me her aerator and I had to make AACT every week for three weeks and do the growth measurements. Making the tea is not the biggie. Hauling five gallons of the stuff to the garden every week was. AACT needs to be applied within 4 hours of turning off the aerator for the best results. This is less of an issue with non-aerated compost tea. Non aerated tea has more anaerobic bacteria, but they live longer in the soil than aerated tea because once the oxygenation is cut off, aerobic bacteria begin to starve. That was proven in a previous study I did on aerated vs non-aerated tea. The non aerated tea plants did better in that experiment. Another friend of mine makes bokashi. I am not into doing that, although, I did learn how to do it. I would rather eat rice than ferment it. Bokashi is usually made with rice bran. I am ok with using EM1 though.

Composting is in the 4th quadrant that used to contain the miscellaneous herbs. According to Asian cultural practices, food is considered medicine and food crops are also grown in the herb garden. Also because of the nature of the soil there, few perennials can survive. ( It is in the lowest part of the garden and floods when it rains hard). Most of the herbs are seasonal and other plants are put in to take up the space. Part of the garden is now being used for the trench composting experiment. We are putting in partially decomposed compost and finishing it by trench composting in the garden. It takes 5 months for it to be plantable and it works best on the wider parts of the garden. The soil in this garden is very inhospitable. It has a lot of fill material, so it is hard to say what kind of soil it is. It is mucky clay. There are nematodes, phytophthora, and flooding issues. Some plants will not grow and some can only be grown in pots. Lemon grass blooms because of the phytophthora and needs to be replaced every few years. I have green manured, inoculated cowpeas and it is so fungal dominant that it has never been able to retain the soil fixing bacteria unless it is inoculated every time. It is heavily composted but the current compost tests at a pH 8.13. A lot of plants cannot handle that. Compost does buffer the soil so it acts more neutral even when it is not, but it cannot hold on to much nitrogen so the plants are healthy but shorter than they should be. I still plant the buckwheat and cowpeas but, even they require nitrogen supplements to grow well.

I am harvesting corn now from 2 different gardens. I fertilized the patch three times with sulfate of ammonia so I actually have decent sized corn over 8 ft tall and a decent harvest of UH corn. I also have UH komohana tomatoes. The UH master gardener coordinator asked me to plant more of the UH varieties of vegetables in garden. I also have UH Wailua pepper (Jalapeno). Since the garden has basil downy mildew, I cannot grow sweet basil anymore. The garden has Rama and Kapoor (tulsi) basils, Blue Spice basil. ajaka, and some Thai basil will last a little longer. I grow ginger, turmeric, fennel, lavender, Jamaican oregano, brown turkey figs, shiso, peppers, thyme (3 kinds), oregano, gynuura, chives, leeks, garlic chives, lemon grass, day lily (fulva) has edible flowers.

Right now I have Komohana tomatoes, moonwalker sunflowers, peanut, butternut squash (it volunteered from the compost), eggplant, cutting celery, parsley, culantro, UH #9 corn and a whole lot of weeds. It takes me 3 hours to weed it and I am done for the rest of the day. I grow herbs and vegetable starts for the plant sales and also for the herb garden.

All of the gardens are behind on the weeds because I pretty much am doing most of it myself and I can't spend 6 hours a day, 4 days a week in the garden anymore. I also have to go to work and I can't do anything too tiring on those days. As a result, the weeds get massive and are harder to take out. I have some escaped heliconia and bamboo to take care of as well as needing to cut back the aloe, dragon fruit, rambler rose, and the neighbors plants coming through my fence or falling on my orchid benches. I currently am harvesting the corn from both gardens. After that, I will have to clean up the garden and plant another round of corn. Corn and beans grow best in the long hot summer. I like corn, beans not so much, so I only plant 9 beans. Since it is a heavy feeder, I use sulfate of ammonia, the garden is rich enough in the other elements that it will be fine for years. I will only add more compost with the nitrogen since the garden sinks a bit when the previous compost decomposes. Someone helps me take care of my community garden. I just harvest and plant a few things. I will probably get more time to work it again when I no longer have to work 5 days a week and I can get my garden day back.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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applestar
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

Wow @imafan — you sure are spread pretty thin, but it must be great, too, to have so many opportunities to learn. Most of us — me included — are only familiar with their own tiny patch (growing conditions, growing methods). And you are involved in all those various experiments and studies that are more controlled and measured. You are very dedicated.

At the same time, it must be tough to be *responsible* for all those gardens and club projects. I’m not sure I could keep up. I have a lot of “projects” and “experiments” that I get excited about, but I can easily give up on any of them since I’m only answerable to myself. :> (though it’s true I do beat myself up over them sometimes.... )

It’s sad to read about garden marauders with human hands though. My only 2-legged thieves have wings, and most are four legged or 6-legged, or have no legs (slugs — maybe 1-legged? — or fungi, and, rarely, bacteria :wink: )
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TomatoNut95
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

@Imafan, are living in my dream come true. You made me drool! Being able to garden 365 days a year, being on an island hearing and seeing the ocean- growing orchids, bananas and probably not even needing a greenhouse.(unless you get a storm) It all sounds so beautiful....well except maybe the volcanos, people stealing your stuff and if a hurricane should come.

It's really amazing all the stuff you do! You said tomatoes aren't easy to grow there though- I couldn't be happy with that. Tomatoes are my passion.

Oh wow, it's really raining here now! Needed that!

By the way all, my 'mystery tomato' fruit is starting to blush a color! Knowing my luck, it'll probably be plain old red. I was hoping for orange.

pepperhead212
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

You like tomatoes that are orange, @tomatonut? I have a tomato that I am saving seeds for - Amish Gold Slicer, that is a favorite of mine. I got the seeds free from Baker's several years ago, but they didn't keep it, so I will have to save the seeds, otherwise, I'll probably never see it again! It is 8-10 oz avg, with some larger and smaller, and juicy, which is why it has a good flavor. It came in second in two of the taste tests I do on my tomatoes every season - not quite as powerful in flavor as some, but very well balanced. And a small core - sometimes a problem in larger tomatoes. They had some disease problems last season, but almost every variety did - second wettest on record here!

If you want any of these for next season, let me know. As I said, I'm saving seeds, and I already have a bag over a cluster of blossoms, to isolate them, and I've buzzed them a few times, now that they are opened inside there.
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TomatoNut95
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

I don't own an orange tomato, which is why I was hoping this mystery tomato was orange.

Personally, I don't care for tomatoes that are too sweet, like yellow ones. But since I grow tomato plants to sell, I like to have a wide choice for people to choose; plus I have a couple of family members that like them sweet. I own four yellows- Yellow Brandywine, Yellow Pear, Garden Peach and Yellow Perfection.

Ah, you shop from Baker Creek to? I have gotten from there since 2015 when my pastor gave me one of his catalogues. Most of my tomato varieties came from there! This spring I was wanting the Woodle Orange because it showed such a pretty orange color, and nice round, prolific fruit. But Baker told me that due to crop failure, it wasn't available.

The free seeds I got this year from Baker was Purple Russian. I didn't really want it, but decided to keep it anyway. :)

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TomatoNut95
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

AAARRGHH! That rain caused my mystery tomato fruits to split! My beefsteaks did to, but they're ready to pick anyway. Stinks.

That mystery variety sure is split prone.

Ksk
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

Just a though.
Texas is pretty hot but also windy. Could that be it? I live on New Mexico and we have extreme heat, cold and wind.

Have you considered shade cloth on those tomatoes? It can be challenging with big winds but I have mine set up so I can roll it up so it does not get destroyed.
A shade cloth strategically placed can lower soil temp by 10 degrees. It can also reduce dry winds that stress plants. Cloth keeps the environment less extreme. I also keep my cool season veggies going much longer with shade cloth.
I put up thin cloth when it hits 9 0 degrees. Thicker cloth when it hits 100+.
That is for the peak of the day and then roll back cloth for early morning and evening cooler temperatures. This seems to raise output by orders of magnitude.
It will also keep the soil more evenly moist. Lest extremes less stress.
Also, next year let some cover crop sprout and turn over for planting. Too late now but next year?

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TomatoNut95
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

Yes, it can be windy sometimes. A shade cloth is on my 'to get' list. :)

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TomatoNut95
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

Ya'll gotta see this poor little guy! Ain't he cute?!!!! :()
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applestar
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

Garden Patrol! Put him to work starting with aphids and maybe baby caterpillars 8)
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Re: I always get runt produce?!

I'd love to have him in my garden, but I'd be too afraid he'd get stepped on!!! :shock: Poor little baby. Here in the yard he'd just get mowed over, or weedeated. :eek: I love my toads and froggys and the last thing I'd wanna do is cause a death. I had a leopard frog fall down my boot once. He was in the backyard and didn't want him mown over so I tried to pick him up and he did this beautiful high jump.....and came back down in my boot. :roll: I pulled my foot out my boot and hopped to the woods and released him.

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Re: I always get runt produce?!

I can grow a lot of things including tomatoes. I just can't grow anything that is not suited for this climate. I can grow most cherries, brandywine (with a lot of TLC), and heat resistant tomatoes in summer. Right now, what is limiting tomatoes is tomato yellow leaf curl virus. It is not worth me growing anything that is not resistant. The tropical fruits and vegetables are the easiest to grow since they are bred for my kind of climate and they will grow crazy. Chayote, wing beans, yard long beans, Poamoho beans, upo, winter melon, dragon fruit, vanilla, black pepper, Okra, Kale, Portuguese cabbage, collards, pumpkin (if I had the space), tropical corn, sweet potato, ginger, most of the Mediterranean herbs and most of the tropical herbs. Temperate vegetables are possible at the right time with heat and disease resistance. I also need to use barriers like bird netting and construction fencing, and traps and bags for fruit flies. I can grow broccoli, lettuce, cilantro, Asian greens from Sep-May.

I don't need a greenhouse, but I do use shade cloth on my benches and my trees for shading plants.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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TomatoNut95
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Re:

Last evening I took the pruning shears to my Beefsteak plant because it was HHHHUUUGGEEEE!!!!!!! I did save a sucker to root to grow for fall. I planted my Cosmic Eclipse sucker this morning. I may put it in the big pot my 'mystery tomato' is in.

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