Archive for the ‘Questions about Tomatoes’ Category

Your Questions About Tomato Growing Problems

September 10, 2012 10:55 am
posted by Martin Boyle

Helen asks…

Problems with growing Tomatoes?

I am growing approx 10 tomato plants, and the biggest tomatoes are around 5cm. They are developing large brown spots at the base, and some are cracking.

They are being grown in a sandy soil. We have used cow manure in the soil before we planted them and use a manure soup sometimes to water the plants. We have also used a mill mud soup, which consists of lime & top soil from sugarcane rejects. The temperature is getting to around 8 degrees C sometimes in the mornings, but mostly around 12 Deg.
Does anyone have any ideas?

Thank You.

Martin Boyle answers:

Firstly….tomatoes like a constant temperature of 16deg C and above……if you wish to successfully grow tomatoes in colder climates….use a hot house.. Igloo, etc.
Having said that, tomatoes will survive in temperatures as low as 5 deg C for night temps as long as no frost is present…or wind-chill factors….
Growing good healthy tomatoes is a regulating procedure, mostly to be able to pre-empt the season, …wind, rain, heat, cold are unknown and unstable factors….
You can control the soil fertility, the pest management, the control (protection ) for fungi and bacterial infections…
Attempt to have a soil pH of 6.5 …. By adding your lime soup…..this could case other problems….
Once you have the soil (sand) prepared by adding cow manure up to 1/3 the bulk of the beds….at least 6 weeks prior to planting out the tomatoes…test the soil pH at least twice before the planting…..if too acid…add lime……if too alkaline….add sulpher or chicken manure…. Work well into the soil……test again in two weeks…..
Soil temp should be at least 16 deg. C at transplanting cell transplants…..
Plant transplants at 30mm deeper than in cells….. This gives additional root growth and stability of the plant…..
Always plant on raised beds of at least 100mm so good drainage is achieved….
Weekly fertilizers as thrive, complete, aqua-sol, etc… To be applied by watering soil…… Keep the soil constant…….not overly wet, never dry…….. In commercial applications….use drip irrigation at ground level….
Pests and diseases are prevented…..NOT..”cured”…..
By applying at 7 to 10 day intervals….fungicides….., insecticides….. , depending on what is prevalent in your area….
At monthly intervals….apply calcium, as a foliant spray….
At bi monthly intervals apply potassium as a soil fertilizer, such as potassium nitrate or potassium sulphate depending on the leaf growth of the plants… Not too much nitrogen to make the plants leggy….
Correct application of potassium is vital to the plants growth, health and fruiting yield of the plants…..
Correct attention to the nursing of the crop/ plant will reflect directly in the quality of the fruit yield…. Do not expect to “CURE” the problem after the fact… As in most cases you are wasteing your time….

Blossom end rot is the problem which is best limited by adding the monthly folier application of calcium…to next year crop… Also good hygiene practices are essential, that is …..all the water, pH levels, nutrient balance, etc…..are all important……. Each season is a new challenge….
I have grown tomatoes for the last 40 years….and still try new techniques to improve management….

Try keeping a diary for yourself so you can see what works for you….
Later, Jim

Mandy asks…

Having problems growing tomatoes, please help?

I keep trying to grow tomatoes in big pots, with miracle grow too, the plant grows but no tomatoes. Any suggestions? Thanks

Martin Boyle answers:

What’s in your pots? “Potting soil” or something else (like “top soil”)? Pots need potting soil. I go with Miracle-Gro potting soil, because it gives 4-6 months of fertilizer in it.

Second, what kind of pots? Very deep pots? Tomatoes have a deep tap root. The shorted pots (for regular size tomatoes) are those 5-gallon buckets that commercial painters use.

Third? How’s your sunlight? Minimum 6 hours of direct sunlight per day – preferably 8. They’re sun hogs. Give maters the sunniest spot in the yard.

Fourth? Watering? Once a day once planted, until the heat of the summer. Once it’s really hot twice a day – early morning and then early evening, underneath the plant, not on the leaves, and a good soaking. A slow count of 30 with full spray, and make sure it soaks all the soil in the pot.

Which brings me to – how’s your drainage? The water should be going through the soil in about 30-45 seconds. (No cheating and letting it spill over the sides. If it fills to the top, while you’re watering, wait for it to disappears into the soil, before continuing to water. You want to water your maters, not the land around the pots. Lol)

And, you Miracle-gro? Good. How often? Every other week at full strength or once a week at half strength. And follow those directions. (They have to be soaked before watering them with Miracle-gro.

Also, there’s fertilizer to put in the soil before planting, made specifically for maters. Can’t remember what it’s called, but I buy mine on Gardener’s Supply website. If you can find the name of it on there, chances are good your local Lowe’s or Home Depot sells it, too. (I just can’t remember what it’s name is. Lol)

And finally, what happens to them? Do they die right about the time the little tomatoes appear? That could be (probably is) Late Blight. If you’re buying your tomatoes at Home Depot or Lowes, and the name of the nursery they’re from is called “Bonnies'” they’ve had problems the last few years with Late Blight. Dang disease affects one plant and then crosses over to any family-related plant next to it and then hits the next, and on and on it goes. (Peppers are in the same family, so they’d get hit, too.) Because Bonnie sells to the huge garden centers, it’s hit the entire east coast. We now grow our own or buy them from a nursery – any place but Lowes or Home Depot.

So, that’s all I got. Hope some, or all of them, get your tomatoes growing and tasting yummy this year.

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Your Questions About Tomato Growing In Containers

9:03 am
posted by Martin Boyle

Ruth asks…

How do you successfully grow tomato plants in containers in a house?

I tried and failed, my plants just never progressed to the flower stage. HELP!!!

Martin Boyle answers:

They need sun light plenty of water and the most over looked thing to growing tomatoes inside is that the house is usually to cold for them due to air conditioning, summer plants like these need the heat and humidity to thrive and grow.

Place plants out side during the morning hours you can bring indoors at night if you wish, or if you can not get them out side try a lamp with i high wattage bulb to provide heat to them.

You can also build a make shift green house out of clear trash bags.

Laura asks…

Any good tips on growing tomatoes and cucumbers in containers?

I have them in plastic containers that are of good size, but any special issues to be aware of?

Martin Boyle answers:

Tomatoes like deep pots to sprout and grow strong, but of course depending on the variety. Make sure to continue to pinch them to allow them to grow the stronger shoots which will help as well. Cucumbers are easier and can be grown in more shallow pots. I would also still stake my tomato plant and sit in full sun, fertilize regularly. Good luck!

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Your Questions About Canning tomatoes

September 7, 2012 8:02 pm
posted by Martin Boyle

John asks…

Canning tomatoes from my garden?

I have so many tomatoes, I’d like to save some for canning.

I was wondering how to and what recipe to use?

I’m interested in diced or cubed for my spaghetti?
Is there a jar or container that you like the best?
thank you all.

Martin Boyle answers:

Tomatoes are really pretty easy to can. First you must blanch them so the skin comes off very easily. Use a very, and I mean very large pot. After skinning them, drop them in said pot. When you get a good layer of them begin to squeeze them all to break them up and crush them. Just keep adding til your pot is about half full of the crushed ones. Add salt, pepper and any other spices you use to make your sauce. Let cook down until boiling very well but not hard, low to med flame. While they’re cooking take your jars and clean them very well. Have a pot of boiling water for them also. You must sterilize them before using. I sterilize mine and keep them in the oven on low while I’m doing everything else. With your lids, sterilize them also. Don’t let them get to hot or the seals will melt. Get the water to a boil and shut it off. Let it cool down a little and just put your tops in to soak and sterilize. Now I do the cold canning process I was taught by my grandmother. As you fill your jars use a plastic scraper to release any trapped air bubbles. Make sure you have a damp cloth to wipe the mouths of the jars as you finish filling them or they will not seal properly. Fill to about an 1/8 in from the top and put the top on. Hand tight, no more then that. Let sit in a still area to cool down. You’ll hear them as they start popping down, kind of a sucking sound. If any do not seal you’ll have to bring the tomatoes to a boil again and do them over. Make sure you keep the tomatoes close to the boiling point as you work with them. Or again they won’t seal this way. You can also buy a canner and do it that way. Lots of luck. Can’t wait til mine are out for my fresh veggies again. LOL

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Your Questions About Tomato Growing Problems

August 23, 2012 9:42 pm
posted by Martin Boyle

Donald asks…

 Tomato growing problems?

Main problem is the tops of the fruit splits from the stem outward.
Have heard maybe I am over-watering them. I grow them upside
down and I assumed any excess water would run out the drain
holes. Have tried different varieties and same thing happens with
medium to large varieties.

Also, what types of soils would you recommend I use in the planter.
It holds about a bushel of soil and I have been just using Ortho potting soil and Garden soils mixed.

Any help you could provide would sure be appreciated.


Martin Boyle answers:

Cracking is normal and particularly in the larger fruiting varieties. You may also see this occasionally on your cherry tomatoes, but that is typically caused by being on the vine longer than necessary. Cracking and scarring will not hurt the taste of your tomatoes, and again is perfectly normal. There are a lot of hybrid tomatoes (try google) that will not crack or scar, but heirloom tomatoes will always taste better and all you have to do is cut around them.

As for the soil, if you are getting fruit, then the Ortho is doing it’s job. Miracle Grow or any of the bagged potting soils available at your garden center should also do the trick.

PS… Remember that the larger tomato type you grow (ie, beefsteaks or roma), the longer they tend to need to set fruit (80 plus days is not unusual, check the DTM on line or at the garden center). The smaller cherry types tend to come in earlier and can be picked closer to 70ish days from the time they are planted in your bags, or the garden.


Sharon asks…

Tomato growing-Problem?

I’m growing small bur-pee tomatoes in a hanging container (this kind that’s lined with that moss stuff) except one of my plants is sprouting and the other one hasn’t. I don’t know if  I’m just being impatient or if the roots are strangling each other. its a good sized container probably 15 inches dia. please help if you can…thanks!

Martin Boyle answers:

I’ve been gardening for years. Divide them into separate pots. The plants will have more room and will produce more tomatoes. If you were planting in a garden you’d want the plants 36″ apart.

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Your Questions About Water Gardens Utah

August 22, 2012 5:02 pm
posted by Martin Boyle

Richard asks…

How often should I water potted tomatoes?

I live in Utah where it’s warm and very dry. My parents have always raised tomatoes in a garden, but I’ve nothing but a balcony. I want them to have sufficient water, but I also don’t want to be wasting water through leakage.

Martin Boyle answers:

Put a large pot saucer under each plant, about 1-2 ins deep, which will catch the surplus water. The plants will be able to draw this up during the day so they are less likely to dry out. This will do them no harm in the conditions you describe as the roots will still get plenty of air. Did you put water-retaining granules in the compost before planting? If not, maybe try this next year, it really helps, and the water will tend to remain where it’s needed and not drain through too fast. Try to keep them moist at all times, and if they do dry out, don’t soak them too much for their first drink, as they will draw up the water too fast and the tomatoes will split.

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