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can't rotate Tomatoes. Tips to keep them healthy?

 
Gwen Lynn
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Because of limited sun exposure, I'm forced to plant tomatoes in the same place, year after year. Woulda, coulda, shoulda had composted manure down on this area during all the rain, but didn't. Now I've got some tomato plants & I'm thinking I'll just mulch with the composted manure around the plants. If anyone has any other quick fix ideas, I'd like to hear them. Thanks!
 
Leah Sattler
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I mulch with manure. the only thing I would be cautious about is how much shavings is in them. the last batch I picked up had a larger than normal shavings to manure ratio and I will be putting a little extra effort into composting it first. with your sandy soil you might try sinking some rain catchers beneath them. maybe some old cheapo pots that can help keep all the rain and nutrients near. near here there is someone that has about 20 gallon + size pots of tomatoes hanging upside down growing on a clotheline type rig. cool. dont' know how that is relevant I just wanted to throw that in there  of course with your sandy soil it might be just as easy to use pots considering how much you have to water.
 
Brenda Groth
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anything you can do to keep water from splashing on the leaves will help..most of the diseases that stay in the soil are splashed up onto the plant from watering..i use drip irrigation around my maters and peppers..that way they don't get the dieseases..you can tell if you are getting it as it tends to kill off the bottom leaves..

also cause i live in MIchigan..my maters and peppers are in a greenhouse..it is 6x8 and that is basically nearly all i grow in it in the summertime..besides rosemary and basil too.

i just got the soaker hoses hooked up this week and it is so nice to not have to water in there..just flip a switch and let it soak..
 
Gwen Lynn
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Went out back of the barn today to check on the composted manure. Basically I just dig up the dirt in the "manure pile zone" and bring it home. It is soooo wet right now. Won't be able to fill the tubs all the way...it would be to hard to lift into the van!

Watering tomato plants in containers or my sandy soil is pretty much a wash. The containers dry out fast on a really hot day. Especially once the plants are big. Sometimes, I wish we didn't like garden fresh tomatoes so much!

I usually use soaker hoses on the tomatoes, they're great!
 
Leah Sattler
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I really feel your pain  . I basically don't eat tomatoes that aren't straight out of my garden. the store ones are so awful. growing things in containers in the heat is either futile or a real chore watering several times per day and moving things in and out of the sun to protect them.

you may have more problems with disease with them being planted in the same place. but I wonder if that might be a benefit to your soil? since it can dry out so thoroughly fungus and bacterial disease might have a harder time making it through dry periods there.

plastic mulch might help slow downt the perk rate and help keep some of your nutrients where you want them.
 
Gwen Lynn
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What lies beneath...

...the manure pile is good stuff! Smells like dirt, looks like dirt. I think it's ready 2 go!
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Leah Sattler
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I think the creation of a cartoon superhero is in order.

"manure man" or "compost carl". he needs to wear a brown cape, muck boots, and have a big C for compost on his chest and his typical pose must be atop a huge pile of poo composting.

hmmm. what should his super powers be? he should be able to turn the largest compost piles in a jif by flying around them in a blur.  effective micro organisms should shoot from his fingers ( kinda like the web from spider man?).......oh......and his pinky finger should extend into a large thermometer for checking the internal temp of a pile.
 
gary gregory
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Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
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This appears to be swiss chard man, not exactly what you are looking for I guess.  How about putting a cape on "permie man" Paul?
 
Gwen Lynn
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Swiss chard man is great!  I love it! Glad you posted that pic! Too cute!

I want to be Tomato Girl! The dark side of Tomato Girl is...you guessed it...Killer Tomato Girl!
(old "B" movie reference. Surely someone on here will remember
"Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!")

Compost superhero cape must be able to turn into a shovel head so he can scoop up a pile of compost on his back, fly by & deliver it where ever & whenever it's needed!

There's no need to fear...Compost Carl is here!!!
 
paul wheaton
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bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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When you are wearing bib overalls, you don't need a cape.

Didn't you see "The Incredibles"?  Capes are sooooo 20 years ago.

 
Leah Sattler
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oh my!!! I neeeed swiss chard man! how do you call him! I planted 2 packets of swiss chard when I first moved in and from what I can tell NONE of them germinated!

"help! help! " (swooning with back of hand on forehead in the garden)
 
gary gregory
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Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
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I think he appears when someone in the family calls out in a whiney voice,
"oh no, spinach for dinner again?"
 
Gwen Lynn
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LOL!  This is getting as silly as a Monty Python episode! I love it! Stay tuned for the continuing saga of "Swiss Chard Man!"
 
Gwen Lynn
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Well, even though I was late getting tomato plants in the ground, they are all doing well. I tried to get varieties that will hold up in the heat. Today I raked up some old, brown, pine needles and mulched with it around the base of the plants. I may follow with some hay if the pine needles don't hold in the moisture. In the open spaces between the plants, I've covered the ground with cat litter and bird seed bags. Just used them because they were handy.

I have a question about mulching plants in general. Most of what you read says to keep the mulch back from the stems of the plants at least an inch. I'm just curious if permies follow this rule, or if it really doesn't make that much difference.

Also, does anyone pinch suckers off their tomato plants (there are various theories about doing so) or do you just let them be?
 
Brenda Groth
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I don't pinch..but did you know you can actually transplant those cuttings.and have more plants..
 
Leah Sattler
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I don't worry about the mulch touching the plant after it is well established. from my understanding in our climate you don't want to cut off any foliage because we need it to shade the maters to prevent them from being sunburned. I often throw something (old feed sacks, rags etc. )over any maters that are beginnning to ripen that aren't partially sheltered by leaves or they do get nasty sunburn especially the giant ones that take forever to ripen. they're still edible after you cut away part of it but not very attractive.
 
Gwen Lynn
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Thanks Leah, thanks Brenda! I'm happy to get this info.

Yup, I knew that you could root suckers, tip cuttings, etc. from tomatoes. Because of limited space and a long growing season, I prefer to grow interdeterminate tomatoes so I can get tomatoes until frost. This year I mistakenly bought a determinate variety that was mis-marked. So I had them and bought more interdeterminate plants. Had more plants than I needed, so planted some out at the barn, no more room here!

This evening I'm going to move my mulch a little bit and rake up more pine needles. Unfortunately, my plants will probably be in limbo for a while, since it's so hot out. I just couldn't get them any sooner this year. Have to be careful out in the heat, but I'm a much healthier person in the summer than in the winter. I need the lengthy daylight for my mental health! Today, tomorrow and the day after are my favorite days of the year! I just don't get those "Summertime Blues"!

Last year I did my best, started seeds myself and the plants were the worst ever. All the heavy rain we got last spring didn't help much. Had many tomatoes that I was cutting ugliness off of, but eating the rest. We don't care how it looks, as long as it tastes good!

Anyhoo, I'm glad I don't have to pinch anything, just gonna let em' grow! 
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
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Leah Sattler wrote:
I think the creation of a cartoon superhero is in order. ...hmmm. what should his super powers be?


When I went to grad school, Homestar Runner was popular.  One of the characters there is named The Poopsmith.

He doesn't speak, and none of the other characters (except maybe his boss) understand his work.  Even the creators of the character apparently don't get that some benefit might result from smiting poop...

He seems to be a character ripe for co-option.

 
                              
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Location: Coast Range, Oregon--the New Magic Land
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I plant mine in the same places every year, they do fine. I am where it's pretty wet too. I give them plenty of powdered eggshell for calcium, chicken poop when prepping the bed, wood ash over the winter, and mulch deeply when planted.  I also plant the young plant deeply(bury it to the top leaves). I keep the plants off the ground(for the most part) and ONLY water at the base.

The idea is to help the plant be as healthy and robust as possible, just like a person with a strong immune system can avoid sickness.

I would say the calcium has made the biggest difference.
 
Brenda Groth
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so how did the tomato crop turn out..you must be harvesting them by now..
 
Leah Sattler
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I'm wondering how your maters are too. we got an early fall and early rain so it may be putting a damper in the ripening dept. mine are all pulled up
 
Gwen Lynn
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Well, all things considered...it could have been worse. Our weather totally sucks right now & could only be worse if it was colder. Thankfully it isn't. If I don't see the sun soon I'm going to go insane...and my tomatoes feel the same way! They were really doing well, but all this rain just made their skins pop! Soooo, had to pick some early & ripen indoors. You can see by these pix that there are many still on the vine trying to ripen. I wll have to pick some of them today, they got skin a poppin' too. All this excessive rain has affected the flavor to some extent, some of them seem a little watery. I tried a heirloom variety called "Cherokee Purple" this year. Interesting color, flavor is low key, but again, all this moisture is not helping. So far I've picked 25 tomatoes (not including cherry) and we've been eating them. That's all that counts! They were good in our taco's last night & in salads or just by themselves.

The cherry tomato plants dropped a bunch of foliage over a month ago. It was weird, kinda happened overnight. Thought a gopher got the plant, but then the foliage started growing back & it set more fruit.

I've done more research and I really need to amend my soil more if I'm going to continue planting the same type of plant in the same place, year after year. In my case, soil prep is key. Getting the plants in the ground sooner would help! I definitely dropped the ball there, this year.

Going to take wyldthang's advice about the calcium, but probably won't use eggshells, just don't have enough of them to make a difference. I'm assuming that watering at the base refers to supplemental watering, which is the way I do it, but mother nature waters from the top! ...with a vengeance! Geeze! Here's some pix, though nothing to get too excited about.
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Leah Sattler
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are those the cherokee purple at the bottom? I was wondering what color those actually turn out to be.
 
Gwen Lynn
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Yep, those are the Cherokee Purple at the bottom of that pic. The interior flesh is purplish, and combined with the green parts they remind me of watermelon for some reason. I forgot to mention that my plants are still blooming and setting fruit. Needless to say, I'm hoping for a loooong indian summer. Even if I didn't have tomatoes! This weather has got to go, I'd like to have a reason to wear my sunglasses! 
 
Brenda Groth
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i planted some odd color plants this year too..the ice ones that ripened white were a new experience for me..they were fine..good flavor..cherry tomato..and then there were the razzle dazzle that were raspberry color..hard to tell when they were ripe..won't do those again..they were fine..but i couldn't tell what was ripe and what wasn't..

the gold and orange were fine..easy to tell ripe..as they fell off the vine when dead ripe..they were paste tomatos of the mama variety ..golden mama...etc.

the seedless also were fine..more meaty..but the colors were fun to try ..anyway..pretty in jars and sauces (chunky fresh sauces)
 
Gwen Lynn
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I tried some yellow pear shaped grape sized tomatoes last year. Was completely unimpressed by the flavor. Very bland for a tomato that is intended for use in salads. It's possible that the fact they were in containers had something to do with it. It gets so hot in the middle of summer, growing tomatoes in containers is a tricky business around here. Brenda, I know you grow yours in a greenhouse. What do you use as a planting medium? Compost of your own making?
 
Leah Sattler
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I have grown those little yellow pear tomatoes also and although they were one of the most productive as far as qty. goes that I have ever had most of them went to waste for exactly the reason you describe gwen. they were terrible! they were watery and had hardly any flesh. they were like eating tiny water balloons. mine were not grown in containers. 
 
Gwen Lynn
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Eating an ordinary (but home grown!) orange tomato (as if it were an apple) right now. It's yummy! 
 
Brenda Groth
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i agree that the yellow pears were very productive but not the best flavor or texure..kinda pasty and bland.

I just used composted manure and a mulch of pulled weeds around my tomatoes in regualr soil..our soil was great soil though as when we had our house put in it was backfilled around it and the drainfield from the topsoil out of our field where our pond was dug..it was a deep mix of clay, loam, sand, sod, etc..and we add composted manure and sheet mulch with plants, chips and other organic material all the time.

also i water with a soaker hose.

i am beginning to get some small blemishes on the tomatos now..like 1/4" circles that appear to be a bruise..might be from the super cold weather..

we had another frost last night..and they say now our weather will turn toward fall with cold coming in and wet the end of the week here..highs expected by Mon thru Wed around 66
 
Gwen Lynn
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Well, it's officially mid-November...and I'm still getting tomatoes from my plants! Being had we've had MORE rainy/cloudy days (than sunny) since mid-August, the plants themselves are a little worse for the wear, but still producing! I have resorted to alternative methods for ripening these fruits, but it works well for me & the flavor of these 'maters still beats the store bought by a long shot! Last pic is my fancy ripening gizmo!  I have to be careful to allow the condensation to escape "tomato terrarium" every so often. On occasion, a little  fluffy mildew occurs on the tops where the stems were. Sometimes, I'll dab a little vinegar on the area, it seems to help deter that.

I've read that the gas given off by other ripening fruits helps the tomatoes get going. I've mostly used bananas for this, but have used pears & apples too. Keeping them in a warm place helps and whenever possible I set them in the sun. The angle of the sun is so low these days, my plants are getting very little sun. So I've been picking the tomatoes as soon as they start turning & helping them along in the process.

Officially, we've not had a freeze yet, but it looks like we are going to get close in a couple of days. I'm debating about throwing some plastic over the plants to eek a little more out of them. We'll see. Before a serious freeze, I'll pick the most decent greenies that are left & continue my enhanced ripening process. I know there's recipes for green tomatoes, but I'd rather them ripe if possible!
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Leah Sattler
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perfect ripening gizmo! i wonder if the plants would still set fruit if you managed to preserve them a little longer?
 
Gwen Lynn
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That's a good question, Leah! Up to now, our weather hasn't stopped them. If you look closely at the 2nd pic (which is a cherry tomato) it's still got flowers on it. Some of the other, larger variety plants have small, dime sized fruits on them, so I guess that means they did set fruit in the last month or so.
 
Gwen Lynn
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Rose, This year, I have ripened 30+ tomatoes by bringing them in the house. I put them in containers, I like to use clear containers so I can see how they are doing, but you can use plain paper bags too. If you use plastic, you have to vent them to let the gas out that the ripening plants give off, but you don't want to lose all the gas completely. You can fold over the top of the paper bag, it doesn't need a vent. I put a green banana, apple or pear in with the tomatoes.

The gas the ripening fruit gives off helps trigger the ripening of the tomato. Seems like it takes a few weeks if the are totally green. I brought some in that started turning orange while outside and they didn't take as long. Keeping the container of tomatoes in a warm place helps too. They can even get some sun,  you just have to be careful they don't cook. I have done this every winter for the past 6 yrs, maybe more. We love our December tomatoes!
 
rose macaskie
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A tomatoe volutared in the pots on my window this autumn, i must have left a seed on the pot, a tomatoe plant grew and it survived some pretty cold weather. It is not as really cold in Madrid, as it can be in the country but still it survived a bit of cold and i expect it to be a strong plant by the time summer comes along. agri rose macaskie.
 
Milan Broz
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I have never seen tomatos grown without some kind of support, like stakes. As I understand, they are trained up to reduce the losses due to rot that would happen when fruit lays on the ground. But it is a lot of work? It's ok if you have a cople of plants and want maximum yield, but if you have unlimited space and limited time, wouldn't it be also ok to throw seeds all around the place or plant it in every empty spot, forget about them and just come later to pick some fruits? So what if 50 or 90 percent of the fruit will rot, it will also feed the land that way so it is not a loss, is it? Or, if tomato is planted through a thick mulch, and all fruits lay on this mulch, maybe there will be a very few losses?

Tried to google about alternative growing methods, but like there is no alternative? Do you all train your tomatos?
 
                                                
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I am far from an expert, but I had a couple of plants volunteer this year next to my raised bed, so I let them go to see how they would do.  I didn't do anything to them at all until about a week ago.  it has been really hot here the past few weeks, and they finally showed some heat stress on probably our 8-10 day over 100, with about 20-30 in the high 90s, so I now give them an occasional heavy drink of water.  No stakes, no mulch, nothing. As of now, it looks like I will get my first tomato off of them in a day or two, and they are loaded with smaller ones.  supporting helps, but it is not a necessity.
 
rose macaskie
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Gwen Lynn, The tomatoe that grew on my balcony in winter died in the end but from lack of water not cold I think it got hidden behind some other plants and so forgotten. A pity it would have been fun to see how it did in the garden after the frosts had stopped. I have yet to grow more than very few tomatoes, I have some problem keeping them watered so i have planted four where my husband has set up water for new trees and they are not doing incredibly well, like my neighbors toamtoes that get lots of water but they are going to give me a handfull of tomatoes so what to do with the green ones of autumn is not a question for me unless these plants suprise me but it is for a neighbor of mine, i shall tell her how you ripen yours in the house in paper bags with ripe fruit helping them on. agri rose macaskie.
 
Milan Broz
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16onrockandroll wrote:
No stakes, no mulch, nothing. As of now, it looks like I will get my first tomato off of them in a day or two, and they are loaded with smaller ones.  supporting helps, but it is not a necessity.


Do they rot in contact with the ground? Could you post some photo, please?
 
Tom Over
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Drug Mile wrote:
Do they rot in contact with the ground? Could you post some photo, please?


My guess is that they do, from what I've seen in my own and others' gardens. Critters also have more chance to bite them.
 
                                                
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They don't lay flat like a vine. I'm sure some will be lost like that, although my crabgrass is out of control this year, and it is thick enough around them that it will probably keep most of them off of the ground. I'll get a picture if I get a chance.
 
No prison can hold Chairface Chippendale. And on a totally different topic ... my stuff:
The stocking stuffer game for all your Permaculture companions
http://www.FoodForestCardGame.com
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