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Vegetable Gardening: Tomatoes in zone 8 TX

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oldflowerchild
Dodd City, TX
(Zone 7b)

April 4, 2014
11:11 AM

Post #9804821

I need help with possibly the location for planting my tomatoes. I have had them in an area that got lots of sun from noon to sundown in most of it and from sun up to sun down in the rest of it.

Plants grew taller than I am and had lots of branches with healthy leaves. Got a few tomatoes during the summer, but towards fall I had tons of green tomatoes setting on - just before a hard freeze.

Second year in a row. So what do I do to get the tomatoes during the growing season? I can't plant earlier that I do. I set out large plants as early in the spring as I dare, with some cover for protection from late frosts.

Suggestions for location, fertilization, etc will be appreciated.

greenhouse_gal

greenhouse_gal
Southern NJ
United States
(Zone 7a)

April 4, 2014
11:18 AM

Post #9804823

I am wondering whether your tomatoes are getting too much nitrogen. The fact that you have plenty of foliage but little fruit suggests that possibility. Otherwise certainly the plants in full sun should be producing much better than that.

carrielamont

carrielamont
Bedford, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 4, 2014
12:07 PM

Post #9804840

Did they, do they bloom? When?
decherdt
Fort Worth, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 4, 2014
3:56 PM

Post #9805002

It might be temperature related. Most tomatoes won't set fruit if the low temperatures are over 75 F. I have to get all of our tomato fruit set in April and May. Shorter maturity varieties set out early and protected from cold are part of my practices in 76108.
oldflowerchild
Dodd City, TX
(Zone 7b)

April 4, 2014
4:47 PM

Post #9805033

Carrie, yes, I had some blooms, but not a lot and they were during the early part of the summer. I did pull the flower off to see if there were little tomatoes setting on and there were. We enjoyed all 15 of them. (12 vines. . . .)

Like I said, just before the first killing frost I had tons of small green tomatoes.
oldflowerchild
Dodd City, TX
(Zone 7b)

April 4, 2014
4:48 PM

Post #9805035

decherdt, How early do you set your plants out to get tomatoes set in April and May?
oldflowerchild
Dodd City, TX
(Zone 7b)

April 4, 2014
4:50 PM

Post #9805036

greenhouse gal, I have wondered that too as I planted in pretty much a high nitrogen composted manure bed. So this year I will plant in plain old soil and fertilize with plant food to see if it makes a big difference.

jmc1987

jmc1987
Cascade, VA
(Zone 7a)

April 4, 2014
4:52 PM

Post #9805037

also did you remember to pinch off the suckers, and the very first blooms? doing both will cause an explosion of flowers if above said nutrition and temperature levels are right

jmc1987

jmc1987
Cascade, VA
(Zone 7a)

April 4, 2014
4:57 PM

Post #9805041

well i should have said prune all but just 1 or 2 of the suckers, leaving that few wont be a problem
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 4, 2014
6:41 PM

Post #9805122

I don't do anything to my tomato plants but my first guess is too much Nitrogen, it has probably started to leach out of the soil as the season progresses, so the plant sends out flowers and sets fruit. Tomatoes are very sensitive to Nitrogen. I fertilize with a product that is high in phosphorous (the middle number) and use as little nitrogen as possible. Phosphorous is good for roots and fruits.
decherdt
Fort Worth, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 4, 2014
7:19 PM

Post #9805135

Yeah, "When " is a tricky question. Don't really remember when I planted out 2009-2011 but always before Easter, and small hybrid tomatoes did pretty good.
Since then I start seeds between Christmas and 01/07.
Planted Feb 25, 2012 and had no problems, lots of maters, gave away lots, best year so far.
Planted Mar 2, 2013 and fought multple frosts through April with wrapping cages, and row covering, replacing maybe 1/3 lost to frost, It was half a recurring nightmare, but still got some good'uns, enough to give some away.
Mar 05, 2014 we lost half of the seedlings in an insufficiently heated HFGH , and planted out Mar 23 2014, under row cover, so lets find out...wish it had been a week earlier. I want to target the first week or first half of March. If it gets the best of me maybe I'll just plant Roma's and cherry toms on Good Fridays, they set more fruit in upper 70's temps than some others.

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/fwd/?n=d32info
My average last frost is Mar 13, record latest is 4/13, I average 7 freeze days in Feb, and average 2 freeze days in Mar. over ten years Of course average is just the middle of the extremes, and both extremes have been experienced.
Maybe I get all leaves no flowers with high N, maybe get flowers no fruit with high heat

http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KGVT/2013/8/4/MonthlyHistory.html says that Fanin county had milder temps last Summer, reducing or perhaps ruling out temperature as a culprit

This message was edited Apr 4, 2014 8:25 PM

This message was edited Apr 4, 2014 8:42 PM
oldflowerchild
Dodd City, TX
(Zone 7b)

April 4, 2014
7:57 PM

Post #9805155

I am originally from KS and always grew enough food to feed my family of 7 for a year every summer. No problems, and I loved doing the canning and freezing as much as the gardening.

So different here in TX. I am thinking from all the help given here, that it is the nitrogen content causing the problem. Easy to fix - will try a different location this year without the composted alpaca poop as the base soil. It is very high in nitrogen.

Thanks everyone! ! !

dreaves

dreaves
Hutto, TX
(Zone 8b)

April 5, 2014
5:12 AM

Post #9805324

Just to be sure, you need to plant much earlier than you would have planted in Kansas, too. Now is not too early. Many of us in central or southern Texas have to plant in February or March to beat the summer heat. Since you are north of Dallas you may have a little more time, but my guess is not very much.

Maybe you could plant a few tomatoes in each area this year. The spot you fertilized last year with alpaca manure may have had some of the nitrogen leach out and be perfect this year. Also, to me, the way you describe your problem setting fruit sounds a lot like heat... once it cooled in the fall your plants were able to set a lot of tomatoes, just not in time to mature before frost.

David R

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

April 5, 2014
6:05 AM

Post #9805366

I agree with David on the timing. When I first started, I followed all the planting charts that said tomatoes go out in March-April. All I ever got was a few scrawy tomatoes, and tons of diseased, distressed foliage.

Last year I started seedlings on December 20th (the Winter Solstice). I planted out on February 15th, under covered hoops, with all all sorts of frost protection contingencies at the ready. Perforated plastic sheeting, ols sheets, lightweight blankets, old fashioned Christmas lights (the ones that throw off some heat), and a small space heater.

Only had to go as far as the plastic and sheets.

Had my biggest and BEST harvest ever!

I grow long-season beefsteak heirlooms that take from 90-120 dtm. This season I've been too sick to get the seedlings in. It's way too late to plant them now. The heat would take them out by the end of June, which is when I usually rip the vines. July heat is brutal, and brings bugs and disease.

My recovery plan is to start new seeds in June for a plantout by mid-August, under SHADE cloth for protection against the bugs and heat.

Praying for a great late-fall harvest by mid-November.

Hope this helps!

dreaves

dreaves
Hutto, TX
(Zone 8b)

April 5, 2014
8:35 AM

Post #9805447

Linda, it's not to late to plant if you buy some early or mid-season plants from a local grower. Just can't grow the really long seasons tomatoes now. I've learned that sometimes health forces a compromise.

carrielamont

carrielamont
Bedford, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 5, 2014
1:41 PM

Post #9805628

True that.
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 5, 2014
6:26 PM

Post #9805777

There are also many microclimates in TX. I still haven't planted mine, I planted a few early ones last year and they just sat there until it warmed up. The night temps can be 8* cooler here then where David lives, but it's really not that far away. I have two garden areas and the one that has dappled shade does MUCH better. I thought your post said that your plants didn't bloom much until latter in the season but the plants grew fine. That sounds like a Nitrogen issue, as extreme heat, disease and pests will usually kill/damage the plants too, but you said your plants look healthy, they just don't reduce until late in the season. I agree with David, the only way to find out is to plant some in each spot.

stephanietx

stephanietx
Fort Worth, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 6, 2014
8:07 PM

Post #9806551

I am in Fort Worth. I start my tomatoes from seed right after New Year's Day. I usually order them around Christmas. I try to plant them out mid-late March, but this year I've not gotten them in the ground yet.

What are you feeding them?
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 7, 2014
5:31 PM

Post #9807298

Stephanie, who are you asking?

"What are you feeding them?"

stephanietx

stephanietx
Fort Worth, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 7, 2014
7:19 PM

Post #9807390

The OP.

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