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Michigan Gardening: Best tomatoes for Southwestern Michigan

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annabelle15
Niles, MI
(Zone 5a)

May 15, 2011
4:27 AM

Post #8563666

After years of growing tomatoes in my garden, I need to know which ones, determinate ones, will be the easiest for this old lady... something that will give me a good yield and not grow all over the place. I am phsyically limited and need a plant that won't grow into a "tree". any suggestions? I usually have 6-8 plants.
serenaski
Traverse City, MI
(Zone 6a)

May 17, 2011
9:24 AM

Post #8569200

I just recently read an article about a big group of people that have started to develop dwarf tomato plants in various varieties and supposedly some of those will be available this year. Obviously this does not help you immediately, but I will go in search of the article and post it here for you. Unfortunately all the varieties of tomatoes that I like the taste of grow 4 or 5 feet tall, and tumble over the tops of the cages. I do not know what you limitations are, but if you have any issues with bending or kneeling I had really good luck with straw bale gardening last year, there are many threads on here about that.
serenaski
Traverse City, MI
(Zone 6a)

May 17, 2011
9:36 AM

Post #8569224

Here is the article, Kent from the straw bale section had posted it on facebook awhile back, you might find it an interesting read while you are waiting for suggestions from people who know more than me about what is good to plant.

http://nctomatoman.weebly.com/dwarf-tomato-project-introduction-and-information.html
annabelle15
Niles, MI
(Zone 5a)

May 19, 2011
4:21 AM

Post #8573218

SUCCESS!!!! I found 6 Celebrity, and (6) a new variety " Mega Bite",
the plants are determinate, and it says that they are heavy producers of 3-4 inch tomatoes. So we will see. Thanks for all the help.
I tried the bales, messy as far as I am concerned, I have plent of land to use ( 7 acres).
serenaski
Traverse City, MI
(Zone 6a)

May 19, 2011
12:09 PM

Post #8574053

Cool, glad you found what you needed.
nancyruhl
Dearborn, MI

May 23, 2011
7:05 PM

Post #8583112

Seems this same discussion just happened on the tomato forum. People who want smaller plants think they want determinate. Not necessarily so. Determinate plants flower over a short period of time and all the tomatoes ripen in a short period of time. People who can and want a lot of tomatoes all at once would be interested in determinates. Once you get tomatoes, that's it for the season. There is another group of tomatoes that are dwarfs. These are not necessarily determinates. Lots of research is being done to develope new crosses and varieties. These are the people Seranaski is referring to. In order to speed the process along, they have sent seeds back and forth to Australia for a second growing in one year. I ordered 3 varieties to trial this year and am excited to try them because I have a particular interest in urban gardening. I have for many years grown a variety called New Big Dwarf, an heirloom variety that has been around for a long time. Very tasty medium sized red tomatoes. Very strong compact plants. There are many others. You would probably have to order seeds and start them yourself, as many places don't carry heirlooms.
serenaski
Traverse City, MI
(Zone 6a)

May 24, 2011
6:57 AM

Post #8583998

Nancy, I had not been aware of the dwarf tomato project, until the above link was pointed out. I went to the links within the articles info for places that were going to be selling their new varieties but none of them had any. Where did you purchase your new dwarf varieties this year? My mother lives in an urban area(Taylor) with a very small space with enough sun for a garden and the crappiest soil in the world, so when I went looking for dwarfs with old fashioned tomato flavor it was with her in mind. Oops I guess I should just pop over to the tomato forum and do a search.
annabelle15
Niles, MI
(Zone 5a)

May 24, 2011
10:27 AM

Post #8584422

the Mega Bite is a Dwarf tomato, new to this area this year. the nursery said that it will surprise me, so we'll see...
nancyruhl
Dearborn, MI

May 24, 2011
12:08 PM

Post #8584579

I ordered seed from Victory seed for Rosella Purple and Tasmanian Chocolate. They also sent me seeds for Dwarf Beryl Beauty. I got them a month after I started the rest of my seeds, so they are still small. Plants are nice and compact, though.
annabelle15
Niles, MI
(Zone 5a)

May 24, 2011
2:41 PM

Post #8584818

Ok folks!! I hit the "Mother Lode" of tomatoes. I just got my Territorial Seed Co catalog. they have several pages of tomatoes, of every size, shape and color, AND about half are determinate. There are seeds and Plants also. check it out, http://www.territorialseed.com
They also have "Grafted Tomatoes", a large article, very interesting reading.
Loon
AuGres, MI
(Zone 5b)

May 24, 2011
7:05 PM

Post #8585371

http://www.tomatogrowers.com/

I always get my tomato seeds from this company. THey send out a free catalog. I've had great results with seed germination and I really haven't found a source with more varities of tomatoes. Tomatoes are very easy to start from seed. It's probably too late to start from seed this year but try some next year. I have a problem picking just a couple I like so I save the seed from year to year of about 5 or 6 varieties and plant fewer of them. Even on the second and third year I get good germination.
nancyruhl
Dearborn, MI

May 24, 2011
7:20 PM

Post #8585407

Gosh, the reason I grow heirloom tomatoes is for unadulterated produce I have started from seed and grown to maturity myself. The idea of grafting tomatoes seems very strange to me (and probably very profitable for Territorial, considering what they are asking for them). The only possible application for this would be if you a double grafted variety with 2 types growing on one plant, if you had room for only one plant. At $11.95 a pop for one of those, I'll stick with Blue Ribbon Tomatoes, who sell 20 varieties of Kentucky heirloom seeds for $10.00. Of course, I am a big sucker for any tomato from either Kentucky or France. We all have our weaknesses.
annabelle15
Niles, MI
(Zone 5a)

May 25, 2011
10:13 AM

Post #8586517

The "weakness" is why we garden!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
nancyruhl
Dearborn, MI

May 25, 2011
10:53 AM

Post #8586600

ANNABELLE15. would love to hear your results with megabite tomato. There is no evaluation in PlantFiles of this variety, so please think about adding one after the growing season, so the rest of us gardeners can benefit from your experience.
annabelle15
Niles, MI
(Zone 5a)

May 26, 2011
3:55 AM

Post #8587903

I will, the plants are really stocky and have a nice thick stem, according to the tag they will produce "an abundance of 2-3 inch tomatoes". So we will see. the plants are actually pretty, nice form and a dark green color. Nice healthy ones.
annabelle15
Niles, MI
(Zone 5a)

July 12, 2011
3:26 AM

Post #8687482

Well, the plants are loaded with small green tomatoes, really nice. EXCEPT yesterday we had a huge storm, rain, and winds up to 60-70 miles per hour, the Corn was torn out of the ground, and the tomatoes all blown to the ground. We went out and put cages around them, lots of broken leaves,but the fruit is still there, so II'll keep my fingers crossed. Seems like every year just as the garden is looking good, here comes the summer storms. the area was hit hard, trees down, power out, homes damaged.
HopeSue
Laingsburg, MI

May 2, 2012
6:14 AM

Post #9106889

Hello, I am responding to your question about compact tomato plants for southwestern Michigan. I recently purchased seeds from Tomato Growers Supply Company out of Ft. Myers, Florida for New Big Dwarf, #2522. The description is: compact plants only become about 2 feet tall yet produce a very early harvest of flavorful deep pink tomatoes that grow up to 1 pound but are more typically 8 to 12 ozs. Wonderful in the garden and also in containers since the plant stays small. We consider this an heirloom tomato as it was created before 1915 by crossing the Ponderosa and Dwarf Champion varieties. Determinate, 60 days.
nancyruhl
Dearborn, MI

May 3, 2012
10:49 AM

Post #9108761

That is one I think you will be very happy with.

Just to let you know the other dwarf varieties were also excellent. Rosella Purple was an early purple varieties with excellent taste. Tasmanian chocolate was a deep brick color, and also very tasty. Dwarf Beryl Beauty was the most productive with green-when-ripe tomatoes with good, but I wouldn't say excellent flavor. This year I am adding Summertime Gold for a gold colored dwarf. I also signed up to help with the trials of new varieties being developed for release, so I will be growing 6 of those varieties.
annabelle15
Niles, MI
(Zone 5a)

July 4, 2012
7:38 PM

Post #9193359

Well with watering and fertilizing a must right now the garden is doing great. no rain to speak of in the past three weeks, so the sprinklers are going strong. The tomatoes are growing, and growing, 8-ball zucchini ( round )is producing so many it is hard to keep up, and the rest, corn etc is doing well. the tomatoes are loaded with little ones, I can hardly wait to taste the first one.
HopeSue
Laingsburg, MI

July 6, 2012
4:47 PM

Post #9195749

Was Niles affected by the strong storm that passed through our area the night before last? We lost power for about one day. It looked as though at least a couple of inches dropped on us. That is the only rain we have had in three weeks.

The heat wave was supposed to break tomorrow, but now it's moved ahead to Sunday. It's great veggie garden weather provided you can keep everything watered.
annabelle15
Niles, MI
(Zone 5a)

July 10, 2012
3:51 AM

Post #9199982

We have not had any rain for at least three weeks, all of the storms have gone south of us,with all of the heat, the field crops that are not irrigated are drying up, looks like the farmers are facing a bad year. I have been watering the garden every three days, so far the veggies are doing fine. I picked peppers and baby watermelon today, also several 8-ball zucchinis, tomatoes are doing great, and the sweet corn is starting to send out ears. I am about ready to do a rain dance, washed the car and windows, but no help!!!!!!!!!!!
nancyruhl
Dearborn, MI

July 10, 2012
4:07 PM

Post #9200729

The upside to the dry weather is that tomato foliage diseases are minimal in my garden this year. We have had several showers in the last week, but I know they are spotty. I was just viewing pictures from a coworker who had $100,00 worth of damage from a hail storm July 1. The ground was covered with more that one layer of 1 1/2 inch hail. Wiped out her perennial and vegetable garden, put holes though her fencing and broke many windows.

Got my first full sized tomato last week, Amana Orange. Tasmanian Chocolate had full sized tomatoes on it when the plant was only 7 inches tall.
nancyruhl
Dearborn, MI

August 5, 2012
6:20 PM

Post #9230889

Summertime Gold has been a great dwarf tomato. I have had a large number of tomatoes off this plant already and there are many more ripening. Large yellow tomatoes with mild sweet taste. Yellow in color. It'll be back in my containers next year.
annabelle15
Niles, MI
(Zone 5a)

August 7, 2012
3:28 AM

Post #9232623

Rians have saved the crops here, and the tomatoes are really producing, yesterday I picked a peck of grape tomatoes, beefsteak and huge, and celebrity is loaded, just the right size for green fried tomatoes, yum!!!
We got enough rain in the past three weeks to save the local corn and bean crops, but furthur south the crops are lost. Seem like mother nature is very selective on who she blesses.
My sweet corn, three varities, is all coming on at once, strange but it is really nice and going into the freezer.
This year the veggies seem to be confused, green beans are just blooming, zucchini, had a few and then just turned up leaf and died, sweet corn early, mid, and late are all ready at once. I thing getting a lot of rain all at once confused the veggies.

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