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Tomato growing advice please
Posted by: Gutenberg
Date: June 01, 2006 11:11PM
I have a couple of Sweet 100 cherry tomato plants growing in a container (22-inch whiskey barrel) and so far they have grown beyond my expectations except--there's a lot of foliage but very few blossoms. It is also setting fruit, about five teeny tomatoes, so far, but counting the flowers I have so far, I'll only have about 25 tomatoes if it doesn't produce more flowers. I started out with a couple of six-inch plants in a four-inch pot back the end of April. Right now they are about three feet tall and about 20 inches across at the top.

The container has regular potting soil with about 1/4 of the container's volume of humus mixed in. I have been feeding Miracle Gro every other week. I am pleased with the plants' growth but would like to have fruit through the summer. Any suggestions to convince the plants to produce more fruit?

Thanks, Gutie

Edit: The plants have a western exposure for afternoon sun. The Patio tomatoes I have in back of the house get morning sun and are still less than a foot tall, but Patio tomatoes will never grow near as large as Sweet 100s.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/01/2006 11:16PM by Gutenberg.
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Re: Tomato growing advice please
Posted by: Stephanie
Date: June 01, 2006 11:26PM
The advice I was given:

Look at the main branches. When you see shoots coming out between where the branches meet, you need to pinch them off. This encourages the plant's energy to go into producing fruit rather than more foliage.

I once demonstrated this as ascii art for a friend. Let's see if it'll work here:

\ <--- main branch (leave intact)
\
\ | <--- pinch off this shoot
\ |
\ |
\ | / <--- main branch (leave intact)
\ | /
\|/
| |
| | <--- main stem
| |
| |

(edit, dang, it didn't work but you can sorta get the idea)



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/01/2006 11:28PM by Stephanie.
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Re: Tomato growing advice please
Posted by: Stephanie
Date: June 01, 2006 11:30PM
almost forgot, watch out for the tomato hornworm. If you start having buds getting cut off, this is probably your culprit.

(google result: [www.oznet.ksu.edu] )

I had a lot of those last year & they ate most of the early blossoms I had. By mid-late summer, the problem had died down considerably
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Re: Tomato growing advice please
Posted by: kap
Date: June 01, 2006 11:38PM
Umm, I am having the same problem with my cherry tomato plants e.g. lots of foliage but no fruits. My neighbor gave me this plant as a gift. She has the same one and hers is growing by leaps and bounds with tomatoes!

Kap



SoCal for now.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/01/2006 11:49PM by kap.
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Re: Tomato growing advice please
Posted by: Seacrest
Date: June 01, 2006 11:40PM
Advice to avoid:
[www.wired.com]





I am not Ryan Seacrest, and I do not approve this message.
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Re: Tomato growing advice please
Posted by: Stephanie
Date: June 01, 2006 11:46PM
kap, try pinching off the shoots that are growing out of where the main branches meet up.

As I noted, it really works.
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Re: Tomato growing advice please
Posted by: Gutenberg
Date: June 01, 2006 11:47PM
Thanks, Steph. I will try pinching off. It never occurred to me that the plant would grow so big so fast! I planted some basil in the same container and the poor basil is practically growing sideways to find some sun, the tomato plant is so big.
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Re: Tomato growing advice please
Posted by: Stephanie
Date: June 01, 2006 11:49PM
here's a good post on the subject: [www.thriftyfun.com]
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Re: Tomato growing advice please
Posted by: Baby Tats
Date: June 01, 2006 11:52PM
[www.nysaes.cornell.edu]

My thought is that you will be fine as long as they are getting plenty of sun. Plants regulate growth and flowering based on the hours of sunlight that they are receiving. Any balanced fertilizer is fine, but fertilizers designed for tomatoes can improve quality. If your plants are putting too much energy into vegetative growth then you should back off on the nitrogen- maybe switch to a 5-10-10 for example. Your plants will continue to set flowers as the season progresses. The most important tips for tomato plants are: plenty of sun and plenty of water. If your plants dry out to the point of wilting you will get split fruits and blossom end rot.

Bon Appetit-

BT
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Re: Tomato growing advice please
Posted by: Stephanie
Date: June 01, 2006 11:53PM
Gutenberg, I had two heirloom variety tomato plants last year. At first, I was good about pinching off the suckers & everything, but after the hornworms started killing off all the buds, I gave up & just let the plants do their thing. By the end of summer, I did get a number of good tomatoes but the plants themselves were HUGE! They were at least 5 ft high & 5 ft wide - no joke! The suckers had really taken over.

I'm not growing tomatoes this year. Too much of a drought & I don't want to deal with the hornworms (we have LOTS around here).
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Re: Tomato growing advice please
Posted by: kap
Date: June 01, 2006 11:55PM
Thanks Steph! I will do as you suggested.

Gutenberg, my Italian basil bought from Trader Joe's is now a dried up twig sad smiley tho' I gave it water, plant food and lots of TLC. It was my third attempt.

Kap



SoCal for now.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/01/2006 11:57PM by kap.
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Re: Tomato growing advice please
Posted by: Stephanie
Date: June 01, 2006 11:56PM
"The most important tips for tomato plants are: plenty of sun and plenty of water."

You really should add to pinch off the suckers. smiling smiley It's been recommended to me by a number of master gardeners. It really makes a difference.

If allowed to sucker, the plants will continue to grow main stems until they become monsters. They'll finally start flowering a lot, LATE into the growing season. By that time, it's likely that most of the baby tomatoes will die due to frost.

If you want to start harvesting early, keep them pruned as noted in the link I posted.
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Re: Tomato growing advice please
Posted by: Fritz
Date: June 02, 2006 08:04AM
[www.gardensalive.com]

works very well. should have been in the ground with initial planting, but still good now.



!#$@@$#!

proofraed by OwEn the c@t.



Nobody remembers their first download, but everyone remembers their 1st LP.
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Re: Tomato growing advice please
Posted by: $tevie
Date: June 02, 2006 08:49AM
Pinch off the suckers, like Stephanie said. Most definitely.



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Re: Tomato growing advice please
Posted by: MacManMaz
Date: June 02, 2006 09:36AM
I agree with the previous posts, with the addition of the following;

1. Pruning during the growing season - Don't prune off the axial buds as described above until later in the season - reason is those are the fruiting branches on indeterminate varieties like sweet 100's. You have to leave a number of those on to get flowers. Some gardeners will nip off just every other one. I have found that the cherry tomatos will mostly self-regulate the number of fruiting branches, unlike the larger tomatos and i don't snip my sweet 100's

2. Fertilizer - go easy on the fertilizer when you see too much foliage and not enough flowers. Don't be afraid to stop fertilizing altogether for a while, remember the instructions on the box are meant to sell more fertilizer, not less.

3. Weather really has a lot to do with tomato pollination and bud drop. Once you get those branches full of flowers, you can give mother nature a helping hand by simply shaking the tomato flowers once a day when there is not enough wind or pollinating insects. Some gardeners even use a battery powered toothbrush to vibrate the stems.

4. Save your pruning for after the fruit is set to increase the size and quality of the fruit that you have. Prune off any fruiting branches toward the end of the season to hasten ripening and avoid a plant full of green tomatos at frost.
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Re: Tomato growing advice please
Posted by: Mike Johnson
Date: June 02, 2006 09:38PM
I've been out of town, so I'm late here, but that's exactly what you get when you use a high-nitrogen fertilizer like Miracle Grow. Get some superphosphate and some potash, mix it in the soil and water well. Don't use Miracle Grow for another month -- not only will it prevent fruiting, it'll also stress the plant because fresh green growth is the most susceptible to bugs. In fact, you could get some slow release tomato fertilizer, mix that in when you add the postash & phosphate -- it'll start working in a month or so.
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