opabinia51
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HOW TO GROW TOMATOES - Tutorial

How to Save Tomato Seeds

1) If you are collecting from hybrids (most store bought seeds, except varieties that say Heirloom or Heritage on the package) you will most likely not get the tomato that you grow last year but, it's always fun to play around. (I could give you the phenotypic ratios if you like.)

Anyway, take the tomato that you want to save seeds from and slice in in half.

Squeeze the seeds and pulp onto a plate, cover with a bit of plastic wrap or lightly with paper towel

Leave until mold just starts to form, then rinse the seeds with warm water, Lay out and pat dry with paper towel. Leave to dry.

Store in labeled, little ziplock bags (I've only been able to find them at Michael's but, I'm sure they are elsewhere).

How to Start your Tomatoes from Seed
In most zones start in February

1) Buy yourself a grow light, don't buy the conical shaped bulbs, my experience has shown me that they don't last long at all.

2) Buy some small pots, a bag of potting soil, a bag of manure and use or buy some compost

3) In a wheel barrel mix the three soil amendments and then fill your pots

4) Place 1-3 seed in a whole that is about an inch deep and cover with soil.

5) place in a tray and leave inside, keep the soil moist but not saturated with water.

6) Check daily and as soon as you see round leaves (cotyledons) turn your grow light on.

What to do Once Tomato Seedlings Have Sprouted

1) Once the first set of true leaves are up, leave for a few more days (don't forget to water).

2) Pot the seedlings up to a larger pot of the same soil mix but, add a handful or two of Kelp Meal to the mix now.

3) Continue to grow in pots, indoors until after the last frost. Fertilize with liquid seaweed fertilizer.

4) Once the roots fill their containers, pot the tomato plants up again by pinching off the cotyledons.

5) When potting your tomato plants also, pinch all the leaves off and bury the entire stem until only the top two leave are above the soil. I know it seems drastic but, it really works. You'll provide your plant with a healthy root system.

If you wish to grow tomatoes in pots, use larger pots and one cedar stake. Use old Nylons to tie your tomato plants to the stakes. Don't forget to throw a handful of Kelp meal in the hole before adding your tomato plants.

How to Feed Young Tomato Plants
You can mist your plants with a weekly doses of an Aerated compost tea:

Take about a cup of nice humus compost (not the stuff that smells bad) and place in a five gallon (or 8 gallon) bucket and fill with water. Buy a little aquarium pump and place in the bucket and let run outside for about 5 days. Voila! Compost tea.

This will help ward off an plant diseases and provide a healthy flora and fauna of Micro Organisms on your plant foliage.

DON'T USE ANY ANYTHING THAT HAS THE SUFFIX -CIDE.

How to Plant Tomato Plants in the Soil

1) Dig a hole that is twice and deep and twice as wide as the root ball. Sprinkle some manure (I use horse, chicken and mushroom but, whatever suits your fancy) around the hole, add a handful of kelp meal and once hole is half full bury the defoliated stem (see above) until only the top two leaves are above the soil.

2) Don't forget to water!

3) Bury a 6-8 foot cedar stake next to your plant and use old nylons to tie to the stake. Don't use string or gardeners tape.

4) Fertilize once a week with either diluted liquid seaweed fertilizer and diluted liquid fish fertilizer. Compost tea (as above is also recommended).


How to Care for Tomato Plants as they Grow

Sucker the plants by pinching off any leaves that arise between the apex of the main vine and any branches. This will force the plants to produce fruit as apposed to more vines.

Don't pluck off the green fruit, thinking that this will help in ripening or anything else. All your doing is throwing away tomatoes.

Burner
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Thank you!!! Can you explain pinching the suckers off a little more? I'm not sure I followed.
Oh, and can you recommend good seaweed and fish fertilizer brands?
Thanks again.

opabinia51
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Okay, the suckers..... well, it's hard to explain it more than what I said. I will say that if you see any leaves growing between the any branches of your plant and the main stem, they will turn into entirely new branches that you don't want

Also, a side note: some people think that you should remove the first fruit that appear on your plants.... FALSE. All that you are doing there in losing your first fruit.

Anyway, your next question was regarding specific brands of organice fertilzer, I won't reccomend any specific brand, but, I will say that it is best to buy these products from local nurseries or organic farms. Kelp meal is great stuff, it's a slow release fertilzer that supplies your plants with both macro and micronutrients.

TheLorax
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Great idea to tie tomatoes to stakes using old pantyhose. Time to go dig out the pairs with runs in the toes that I just tossed out.

opabinia51
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Thanks Lorax, got the tip from the propreitor of our old organic nursery. She has a plethora of knowledge regarding growing tomatoes and other plants organically.

cynthia_h
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One additional source of small ziplock-type bags is beading stores. I'm sure Michael's has the small ones, but I can't really go into a Michael's for very long to look for anything due to the perfumes/scents/etc. all over the place.

So beading stores (and perhaps other independent locations) would have the small ziplock-type bags suitable for storing seeds.

Opa, is there any problem with these bags being airtight? The seeds won't spoil?

Thx.

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USDA Zone 9, Sunset Zone 17

TZ -OH6
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HOW TO GROW TOMATOES

Growing non-organically:

Seed starting:
Use seedling mix or a fine textured potting mix, if it does not have added fertilizer water once with Miracle Grow Tomato fert or similar (whatever stuff you give your house plants) at 1/4 strength after the first leaves expand or a few days after you pot up (about the same stage of growth). Seedling leaf nutrients are getting used up at this point. Many Organic fertilizers are slow release because the nutrients first need to be broken down into mineral form. Peat pucks are OK for starting seeds but have no fertilizer. Peat pots are problematic in that they dry out dangeropusly fast, and many people peal them off when putting the plant in the garden. I like to use cheap 4" nursery pots (ten cents each), or plastic drinking cups with holes poked/melted in them. There are many ways to start seeds, from dense planting of 20-30 seeds per 2" pot/cell to single/double seed planting in larger pots. Seedlings are tough and withstand bare root separation/repotting. Repotting once is good for the seedling root structure, more than that sets the plant back, and it can be argued that setting the plants out in the garden counts as one repotting (as opposed to planting seeds in the garden). If you are going to seed into a large pot I suggest only half filling the pot for seeding, and then add soil as the plant grows to stimulate root growth from the burried stem.

Buy a cheap standard 48" fluorescent shop light and a couple of brand new 6000K daylight tubes and place 4"-6" above the seedlings. I set the fixture on boxes at both ends so I use it about anywhere (I also have 250 watt, 400watt and various other "professional" grow lights, but this is the cheapest/easiest for most people). Tip: Find some white stuff (card board, large plastic sweater box lids, sheets, towels, garbage bags etc) to box in your light set up and reflect light back onto your plants to increase growth. Fluorescent lights are only a small fraction of the strength of the sunlight the plants need.


Lots of organic matter in the soil, and 10:10:10 granular garden fertilizer is cheap and works well. The organic matter, and the soil microbes living on it bind up the fertilizer minerals making them slow release, so you can add fertilizer to your compost pile too, especially good if you have a lot of brown matter. I apply fert to the whole garden when I dig it up in the spring, and don't bother with amending planting holes. Too many plants to get in the ground, too little time, too hard on the back. Optional: After first fruit set/mid season (when the plants are really growing) side dress with more fertilizer - (sprinkle a couple of tablespoons around /between each plant), or water with the miracle grow. The plants have begun to use up the fertilizer under them at this point. Use your noggin, If your plants are 6-7 ft tall mid season they probably don't need more food.

If cutworms are a problem in your area loosely collar the seedlings with cardbard (toilet paper rolls, cut paper plates), plastic (cut water bottles), or aluminum (cut pie/turkey baking pans) with a couple of inches below the soil and a couple of inches above so the worms don't crawl over. A small stick/nail/soda straw next to the stem prevents the worm wrapping around the stem and feeding, so some people do this instead.


After planting out spray with insecticidal soap or permethrin based insectide (or something nastier) as soon as you see the beginning of flea beetle damage to young plants. Flea beetles don't usually bother plants after they have been in the ground for a couple of weeks, but they can tear up a baby plant in a couple of days.

At first sign of fungal leaf problems clip off affected leaves and spray plant with daconil or mancozeb. Some people spray weekly, but I find that weather affects the problem. Dry- warm weather = lessened problem= no spray. Some plants are worse than others. I only spray plants that need it.


The deeper you dig the soil, and more organic matter you add, the less you need to water the plants.

Burner
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It's just about tomato season again in middle Arizona. Trees are budding out and my lawn is already green.

I got a little over anxious and already put three plants out into the yard. After the 3rd day they got frosted and I was sad. :cry:

I'm going to get some going under the patio where they should be protected from anymore cold snaps.

QUESTION: Do any of you add red worms to your soil?

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Sage Hermit
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Concerning tying tomatoes to steaks: I use plant fibers to make twine. dead grass or reed strands work well when wet. I don't know if it gets any more organic than that. :flower:
You can solve all your problems in a garden/laboratory.

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atascosa_tx
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I started my seeds in late February..some in peat pellets, some in MG potting mix, and some in Canadian sphagnum peat moss.
Some say that the peat moss is too acidic to grow seedlings in..I must have lucked out.
[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g187/atascosa_tx/stumpoftheworld.jpg[/img]
This one is started and growing in Sphagnum peat moss..looks terrific

I covered everything with saran wrap and put them in a warm spot on top of my fridge..a couple of days later they started to pop up...so moved them into the living room on a 4 tier shelf set up with 4 shop lights with t8 6500k spectrum lights and put them within 2 inches of the light....there they sat until the first true leaves appeared. They then got a pot up to a larger 16oz cup and an oscillating fan was put on them to simulate a light breeze to strengthen the stems...a few weeks later they were ready to begin their life outdoors, so I put them outside in the shade with filtered sunshine..They were fed diluted doses of superthrive hormone mix and liquid seaweed.
1 week later they were moved to an area that gets full sun for 3 hours...
[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g187/atascosa_tx/hardenoff2-21.jpg[/img]

a couple of days later they were moved to an area that got 6 hours...

The plants are now hardened off and ready for their permanent home.

I have the garden plot roughly 50' x 75' to prepare....I take my TX tiller (John Deere 4430...my icon) and disc the soil left \ right / and straight |..
then take the spade attachment and make the raised rows...I add 200lbs of compost and 80 lbs of powered gypsum to the soil (the gypsum helps to add calcium and to break down clumpy dark clay) and disc it again..and spade it again...
[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g187/atascosa_tx/Jdeere.jpg[/img]

I run a soil test to find out that I have plenty of NPK and that the ph is at 6.8....ideal Ph for tomatoes is between 6.5 and 7.0. Anything above or below that and some nutrients may become locked up and may not be available for the plants.

I run a sprinkler over the plot to even out the nutrients a week before planting...garden is ready.

I make a layout of how the plants will be arranged...
[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g187/atascosa_tx/gardenspacing.jpg[/img]

The plants go in..taking off all of the lower leaves and burying the plants up to the first set of leaves. Some Bio Tone fertilizer is placed directly into the planting hole..enriched with mycorrhizae bacteria..this bacteria develops a symbiosis with the roots giving them more of an availability to the nutrients in the soil.. This deep planting method ensures that the plants will have a strong root system....all those little hairs on the stems will sprout new roots when buried.
Some may choose to trench plant the plants which is when you dig a trench and lay the plant on it's side and bury the stem. The plant will right itself and start growing in a straight up manner.
This has some advantages and disadvantages...
Advantages are that you can plant an overly tall plant..disadvantages are that the roots are not as deep in the ground and will suffer when droughts occur because the moisture is deeper in the soil. This is where mulching comes into play.

It's very important to mulch your garden..at least 3-4 inches thick.you can use straw, leaves, grass clippings...anything that doesn't have any weed seeds..the mulching regulates the moisture and cuts down on weeds.

I put out weed stop fabric and put my mulch down on top of it..works well.
[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g187/atascosa_tx/raisedrows2.jpg[/img]

I run seeper hoses underneath the weed stop next to the plants and cover them up with the straw mulch..

Some choose to prune off the suckers of the growing plants..this isn't needed if you grow in cages,,I just let them bush out.

I add the cages and then kick back and enjoy all the hard work...
feeding them weekly with liquid compost and feeding the soil with liquid molasses to support the bacteria.

The end result...
[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g187/atascosa_tx/garden2009.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g187/atascosa_tx/APR112009squash.jpg[/img]

Happy Gardening
Feed your soil and your soil will feed you

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Rob
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My garden isn't anything as elaborate and awesome as Atacosas', but I might have a couple tips.

The first "tip" I have is that my tomato plants, so far, are doing much better than last year. Last year everything had a disease of some sort by the end of May.

This year everything is abundant.

Last year I didn't fertilize at all.

This year I have fertilized regularly every couple of weeks with a standard store bought tomato fertilizer, some Tums crumbled into the dirt, and a little urine (seriously) added in. My tomato plants look better than they have in 10 years of amateurishly attempting to grow Tom's here.

Just trying to share the experience, hope it helps...
What happens in the event horizon, stays in the event horizon.

Ferne2004
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Urine and Tums? Are the tums for calcium?

What does the urine do?

cynthia_h
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(For those who use it) It's a source of nitrogen. There have actually been discussions on this topic :?, so a Search of the forum will lead you to them.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

edited to amend location of Search function
Last edited by cynthia_h on Mon May 10, 2010 2:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

MysticGardener67
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Heh heh heh and also makes

for a tasty and nutritious snack! :D Never did learn how to grow the vinagrette to go with them :cry:

Brant
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seeds won't germinate!

My seeds aren't coming up. It's been two weeks. I think I may have planted them too deep or something. Should I start over?
Brant from Phoenix

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rainbowgardener
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Probably so. Tomato seeds should germinate in a few days to a week. I don't bury seeds at all, just lightly press on them to be sure they are in contact with the soil and then drop a thin layer of potting soil loosely on top of them. Did you give them any heat? A bit of bottom heat really aids germination. Tomatoes like soil temps 70 -75 degrees F for germination. The risk with not providing the heat is that while they are sitting around in cool moist soil not germinating, the seeds can rot. Then never let the soil dry out (while the seeds are germinating) but don't let it get wet or soggy either (water should never ooze out if you press on it!).

Brant
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seeds

thanks rainbow! I replanted them couple days ago, barely covering them with dirt, and the majority of them are up now! finally! It's so late in the season here. Oh well, at least they're early girls. :lol:
Brant from Phoenix

ohgardener
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Is there a difference in pinching off suckers of determinate vs. indeterminate varieties? I read some where (can't recall off the top of my head) that you didn't suckers determinates (like Roma's) because it decreases yield.

TZ -OH6
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Determinants bloom off of the tips of the stems while indeterminants keep on growing past the bloom truss, so if you pinch off a sucker on a determinant plant you will decrease your yield significantly. As an example, you could have five fruit trusses on one indeterminant stem during the season, but for a determinant you would need five branches/stems/suckers to produce that much fruit.

bird dog
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here's a little something that works for me. For a couple early producing plants I start them from seed the first week of February, this year I tried Early Pick as I find Early Girl tasteless,. In mid March I prepare my bed with compost and bonemeal then I plant just as I would later in the season. After planting mulch around the plant with black plastic to warm the soil. Now I take a couple 3' cages made out of concrete reinforcing wire and wrap them with clear plastic leaving enough on top to open and close depending on the weather. I seal the seam up the sides with duct tape and they are ready. Keep a close eye on your plants while waiting for safe weather to remove the plastic as air flow ( or lack off ) can cause problems. The last average frost in my area is late April and I have seen it as late as mid May but this will protect your plants. This I picked my first fruit on June 21 and most plants in this area have yet to begin because of a cool wet spring in the NW.

farmall man
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HI:All I have a person who lives a few miles from me but haven't had a chance to talk with him, but he grows tomatoes every year and has a very sturdy fence he grows them on, his tomatoes are as tall as sweetcorn about 5 ft. now and he gets loads of fruit every year.
Is there a special variety that gets that tall ?
mine never get much taller than 3 ft. what's your views on this?
thanks
Louie
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rainbowgardener
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farmall man wrote:HI:All I have a person who lives a few miles from me but haven't had a chance to talk with him, but he grows tomatoes every year and has a very sturdy fence he grows them on, his tomatoes are as tall as sweetcorn about 5 ft. now and he gets loads of fruit every year.
Is there a special variety that gets that tall ?
mine never get much taller than 3 ft. what's your views on this?
thanks
Louie
Unless you are growing a special dwarf variety, your tomatoes aren't getting something they need. 5 feet is very average for tomato plants. Mine are about 6 feet now and that's after I trimmed them back some to keep them from getting too huge. Some people write in here about getting a ladder to harvest their tomatoes.
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FruitAddict
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I was curious if anyone has advice on how to propogate Tomato plants by clippings - I have one seedling of a variety I really wanted more of and no more seed. Is there already a thread concerning this? If yes I missed it. can you share the link with me?
I couldn't survive without the pleasure my garden brings to me.

Daffodil3263
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Re: GROWING TOMATOES - ALL ABOUT TOMATO PLANTS

I planted my tomatoes today and found out it will be getting in the high 30's nect week will that hurt my plants? I did cover them will leaf litter hoping it would keep out weeds and keep water in.

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Re: GROWING TOMATOES - ALL ABOUT TOMATO PLANTS

Daffodil3263 wrote:I planted my tomatoes today and found out it will be getting in the high 30's next week will that hurt my plants? I did cover them will leaf litter hoping it would keep out weeds and keep water in.
High 30's should not kill them IF they have been well hardened off and are used to chilly. It will slow them down.

Ordinarily we cover the soil with leaf litter and other mulches, to suppress weeds and conserve moisture, not the plants. You want to keep your mulch away from your plant stems, because it can promote rotting and provide an easy bridge to your plants for insects.

Covering your tomato plants in cold weather like you mentioned is a good thing, but it would be better to cover them with glass or plastic - milk jugs or soda bottles with the bottoms cut off work fine, or whatever you have around.
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Re: HOW TO GROW TOMATOES - A TO Z LIST OF GROWING TOMATOES

I noticed that many new members were using this thread to post brand new discussions, and not receiving answers. If you have a question, then please start a NEW discussion. Please give it a DESCRIPTIVE title so that those browsing the forum will see it and answer it.

Unfortunately for the new members who posted questions here, they got buried in this gigantic thread and did not receive a timely answer. So to prevent that from happening, I am encouraging all new members to post your questions in a NEW thread.

Thanks!
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michelle83
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Re: HOW TO GROW TOMATOES - Tutorial

This is really helpful. I will try to apply this when I start growing tomatoes. Thank You very much!

Meme
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Re: HOW TO GROW TOMATOES - Tutorial

Thank you opabinia51. This is so interesting to learn how to save the seeds. I will certainly be doing that, and learn from all else that has been written.
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jal_ut
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Re: HOW TO GROW TOMATOES - Tutorial

More fussing than I want. Here is my recipe for tomatoes. Go buy a flat of started plants from the nursery. Plant them in the garden, a little deeper than they were in the pots, and water them. Stand back. Keep the weeds out and water once a week. Let them sprawl as they will. No pruning nor pinching. Enjoy the bushels of fruit!
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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Re:

TZ -OH6 wrote:Determinants bloom off of the tips of the stems while indeterminants keep on growing past the bloom truss, so if you pinch off a sucker on a determinant plant you will decrease your yield significantly. As an example, you could have five fruit trusses on one indeterminant stem during the season, but for a determinant you would need five branches/stems/suckers to produce that much fruit.
Wow. I'm pretty new to tomato growing, so I've been reading everything I can find. I have to say that is the first time I have come across that information! Glad I found out before starting mine this year. This thread seems to be the thread that keeps on giving (2015 and some of us still learning from it). Thanks for the heads up on that, as I am planning on doing a combination of both det and ind this year. :)

Peppery1
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Re:

bird dog wrote:here's a little something that works for me. For a couple early producing plants I start them from seed the first week of February, this year I tried Early Pick as I find Early Girl tasteless,. In mid March I prepare my bed with compost and bonemeal then I plant just as I would later in the season. After planting mulch around the plant with black plastic to warm the soil. Now I take a couple 3' cages made out of concrete reinforcing wire and wrap them with clear plastic leaving enough on top to open and close depending on the weather. I seal the seam up the sides with duct tape and they are ready. Keep a close eye on your plants while waiting for safe weather to remove the plastic as air flow ( or lack off ) can cause problems. The last average frost in my area is late April and I have seen it as late as mid May but this will protect your plants. This I picked my first fruit on June 21 and most plants in this area have yet to begin because of a cool wet spring in the NW.

Hmm. Have had trouble starting toms because we always seem to get one or two cold snaps just when you think it is going to be fine. I may try that next year--or even this year if I decide to do some outside 'maters. Bet I could rig this for a few containers...

JeffNev
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Re: HOW TO GROW TOMATOES - Tutorial

This is really, really helpful, a great post!

Thanks

Jeff

BajaMitch
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Re:

TZ -OH6 wrote:Determinants bloom off of the tips of the stems while indeterminants keep on growing past the bloom truss, so if you pinch off a sucker on a determinant plant you will decrease your yield significantly. As an example, you could have five fruit trusses on one indeterminant stem during the season, but for a determinant you would need five branches/stems/suckers to produce that much fruit.

Just looked at my Better Bush determinates and what I see doesn't agree with the above quote. Many of the stems that have trusses and tomatoes have additional trusses on the same stem. I have two Better Bush plants and both individual plants have stems with multiple trusses.

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Re: HOW TO GROW TOMATOES - Tutorial

What's the difference between "indeterminate" and "determinate" tomatoes?
Determinate tomatoes, or "bush" tomatoes, are varieties that grow to a compact height (generally 3 - 4'). Determinates stop growing when fruit sets on the top bud. All the tomatoes from the plant ripen at approximately the same time (usually over period of 1- 2 weeks). They require a limited amount of staking for support and are perfectly suited for container planting.
Indeterminate tomatoes will grow and produce fruit until killed by frost. They can reach heights of up to 12 feet although 6 feet is normal. Indeterminates will bloom, set new fruit and ripen fruit all at the same time throughout the season. They require substantial staking for support.

Determinates stop growing when the terminal buds set fruit, and all the fruit more or less ripens at the same time. I noticed that a lot of the determinates I have grown besides being shorter tend to have stockier main stems. After the top sets fruit, no new flowers come out.

Indeterminate tomatoes can be up to 12 ft if left unpruned. Fruit ripen more sporadically and continue to set more fruit.

There are also semi determinates which are shorter than indeterminates, and produce a main crop more or less all at once, but can continue to produce additional smaller sets until frost.
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