Very late in the season last year around late July (because I was moving), I was finally in the position to put a few plants in the ground.
I was at Kmart buying something else and noticed they had a few bedraggled tomato transplants left on sale. I have no idea what cultivar they were. Well, like Charlie Brown with the Christmas tree, I bought the 4 they had left and brought them home. I had enough sense to know they would need a better home than the hard-packed clay left after our house was built so I poured two bags of miracle grow garden soil out and set them in it.
They actually did quite well for awhile. The plants took off and I had to put cages around them soon thereafter. They were quickly 4 feet tall and set fruit. All looked well until after we'd harvested the first few tomatoes. After that, the fruit was all either cracked and/or had a white/green growth on it.
Well, we had a major drought in Georgia last year and everytime I saw the plants wilting (every day), I watered them. I have read, since then, that if you overwater them as I did, that the water will go to the fruit and cause the cracking I observed. So, I'll watch my watering, but what I'm wanting some help with is the white/green growth.
I'm assuming that it was either fungus or mildew. Things I have read say the only way to control this is with a chemical fungicide. Well, when I started out I was trying to be organic (the Georgia climate is quickly talking me out of that) so here finally is my question:
If I grow tomatoes on a black plastic mulch, will it stop the fungus/mildew problems? ie, where do fungus, mildew infestations come from? Are they from the ground or from insects that would fly over plastic I had on the ground?
Fungus and mildew come from the ground and from other infected plants. Insects introduce things like viruses. I'm thinking that since these guys were in rough shape when you bought them that they already had it. Good air circulation (don't crowd them too much) and keeping them up off where dirt could splatter on them helps. When you see leaves starting to look funny, take them off carefully and move the diseased leaves away into the trash. Spray with an organic fungicide as a regular weekly thing for prevention not cure. Once it gets started it's hard to stop, all you will be able to do is slow it down. Please consider checking out our Tomato forum where there are lots of experts including our own Dr. Carolyn who can identify anything you have a picture of! :)
About the cracking...yes it's too much water too fast. Once the skins start to firm up they can't take a larger amount of water than they were used to without cracking. Good thing is they taste just as yummy!
Was your 'white green' stuff on the tomatoes that were cracked? It might just be mold from the exposed insides, like any rotting fruit.
Thanks for the info! Both cracked and non-cracked tomatoes had the fungus on them. Some tomatoes had both cracks and fungus, some just cracks, some just fungus and a few were fine (which we promptly ate). I had them mulched with pine needles but didn't know at the time much about watering and i probably got the leaves wet and dirty watering.
I have some black plastic I was going to try growing melons on so I will try some tomatoes on it too. If I see problems this year I'll take pictures and post over in the tomatoe forums.
I have found it hard to grow tomatoes in our humid heat. You can't trust the stores to be providing what will really grow in your area. The last two years the absolutely best tomatoes I've had have been the Roma type. There are tomatoes available that are specially designed for the heat and I just found some seeds in the Burpee catalog for a couple of varieties I am going to try this year, even though I have rotten luck with seeds. I have some websites listed in my paperwork someplace that have seeds and/or plants available for heat. If you are interested, I can look those up for you. Actually I should be looking them up anyway, as I am helping one of my grandsons in Florida get a garden going.
The tomatoes that are "best for heat climates" are those that have pollen that is viable at higher temps than other tomatoes. Normally, tomato pollen is only viable during warmish temperatures (some varieties have pollen that is good at lower temperatures; others at the other end of the spectrum). Once temperature gets above 80º or so and nighttime temperatures don't fall very much then there is no fruit set. The "heatwave" types produce pollen that can handle the higher temps.
And yes, excessive humidity will certainly play a role, too, as it tends to make the pollen clump together and not "get to where it needs to get to" to pollinate the flower.
jkehl, your tomato plants may have gotten "grey mold" but without seeing pics it would be hard to tell. (And trust me, I've realized I'm the worst person to ask for a diagnosis of certain pathogens/diseases, etc! I need to see it first hand.)
As someone mentioned above though, good air circulation is a must for tomato plants, which interprets as good spacing between plants.
Well I looked up all the tomatoe cultivars I had on plant files and the ones people seemed to have the best luck with in the south were the ones that bear fruit earliest and that kind of seems to jive with what you're saying Horseshoe. So I planted a bunch of 'Fourth of July' and 'Big Beef'. I also planted a bunch of other types too so I can learn what they all do this year.
Thanks Paul. I've already planted a bunch though...I'll do more smaller batches over the next few weeks.
On another note... I saw a picture in the Gurney's catalogue of a Tomato with Blossom End Rot and I'm pretty sure that's what I had last year. The soil here is very acid, tested 4.8 before I did anything to it and they say Blossom End Rot is caused by lack of calcium so that makes sense.
I have limed the area I'm goign to put in tomatoes in already but I'll hit it again to make sure they get plenty of Calcium.
IMHO, don't buy vegetable plants from the ***Marts & Depots...Try(&$upport) a local nursery. Better variety and quality. My favorite nursery literally has dozens and dozens of varieties of tomatoes and peppers to pick from. Not that pricey either(for starter plants...). Think I pay $1.50 for a 2-pack. Everything always grows great! They can offer good advice as well. Btw, our local grocery store wants $3.99/lb for tomatoes right now - in Cincinnati not Anchorage! They don't even taste good...Oh well, Wish I had a greenhouse...
I'm a newbie in Zone 9a (Houston) who's been hanging out in the tomato forum for almost 7 months now. Learned quite a lot. I transplanted 26 tomato plants that I started from seed into styrofoam cups last night. Have about 30 or so more to transplant. Have you all ever heard of the Earthboxes (EBs on Dave's Garden)? They are self-watering grow boxes, in the sense that you keep the reservoir filled and the plant takes in all the water it wants to -- you can't over or under water as long as you don't let the reservoir run dry.
There are also several DG sites that show how to make homemade Earthboxes (HEBs). Though they cost more than homemade, the patented EBs actually are more rigid and sturdier and will last years and years, so think of it as an investment. Start off with just a few and add every season.
I'll be stopping by this newbie forum periodically to see if there're any questions I might be able to help you out with. I'm not so "new" anymore, and I want to return the favor by helping the next crop of newbies!
Jeff, I garden in an area where 95% humidity and at least 90 degrees temperatures is the norm during summer, and while the blossom end rot is certainly one of the problems, the white proportion is most often tomato wilt, caused by overhead watering. A micro organism in the very acid soils in high rainfall areas down here is splashed onto the leaves, and watering only at the base at soil level prevents this. Beefsteak, or Big Beef, which I think you mentioned earlier in the thread, is fairly resistant to this, but the varieties with the least chance of developing it are any of the cherry tomato varieties.
Thanks for the info fourx. I was definetly sloppy with the watering so maybe I can avoid it this year. By the way, I'm a big fan of XXXX the beer which I'm assuming you're named for. I worked in Sydney and Melbourne 5 or 6 years ago. I must admit I liked Toughey's also though...
...it"s my favourite beer, and yes thats where the inspiration for the name came from:) What areas of the US do you think are most similar in climate and growing conditions to Sydney and Melbourne, Jeff? And did you get further North than Sydney, where the climate becomes more sub-tropical?
We got to do 2 weekend trips so of course we went to the great barrier reef for one of them. Just a bit north of Cairns (spelling?) I was very impressed by both the jungle there and the reef itself. For snorkeling and diving we just have the carribean here and it is nothing like the great barrier. Of course the beaches were all closed because of box jellyfish and we were warned about umm sharks, snakes, spiders, crocs and other beasties. On my other weekend I went to Hobart in Tasmania. Tasmania is amazing, so few people there...
Without a doubt I'd say San Diego, California is most like the Sidney/Melbourne climate except it doesn't get as hot there. The inland deserts east of there maybe are more comparable. We lived in San Diego for 3 years and the temperature rarely varied from 60-80 degrees F all year. What's that 15-30 C? Anyway, a lot of Southern California has a very temperate climate like Sydney and it's very dry there. Rains hardly at all.
That's the thing that really surprised me about Australia was how little rainfall you get. My Americanized view was that it was all like the Queensland rain forests until I got there and saw what a small part of the country that was.
Yeah..the driest country on Earth, a fact that surprises many folk. It makes vegetable gardening a challenge east of the Great Dividing Range, but the coastal strip where I am on the East coast is where most people live, and rainfall averages 50 to 70 inches a year in that area. Here, halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, there are pecan plantations, peach trees grow wild along the riverbanks, okra is a staple crop, at least in my garden, and it's no problem to grow tomatoes all year round.
Thanks for that welcome, Horseshoe. Summer runs from Dec to Feb, so this is now the time when winter crops go in here ( winter as in a very occasional light morning frost and mid-day temps around 75 degrees F) and the big plus for a keen gardener in the Northern half of the country is that winters are dry, which means that the soil temperature remains reasonably high and the days are mostly cloudless- rainfall is common in summer, when you really need it. In the Southern half of Australia, with a few minor regional variations, the opposite applies- lthe winters are wet and the summers mostly dry.
Upon further review, I'm not sure we have an area in the U.S. that is comparable to your growing conditions there. Probably the best growing areas for fruits and vegies here in the U.S. are on the west coast, Northern California, Oregon, Washington. A majority of our grocery store fresh fruit and vegetables come from there.They have some similarities to what you describe. The temperatures are very moderate and rarely get very cold. They also get a ton of rain off the oceans until the storms hit inland mountain ranges.
The difference I think, (I've not lived there so I can't say for sure) is they don't get the temperatures as hot as you describe. I remember being in Sydney and having 40 degree celsius for like 2 weeks in a row. That's the kind of heat we get in the southeast U.S. It is so hot it outright kills some plants and causes others to just go into suspense until it cools off some. Even tropical plants sweat a bit :)
I'm curious do you all grow Blueberries there and if so what types? I'm planting a lot of different things here, but thru some reasearch I've decided that blueberries are my best bet so I'm focusing on them.
Blueberries were tried here on a commercial basis during the early 1980s, Jeff, but the cost of netting to prevent losses to birds, mostly Bower Birds, meant it was not viable. I pay around $AUD3.00 on special per punnet for blueberries at the local supermarket, and after seeing what happens to my strawberries, peaches and nectarines, I don't think they have a great prospect of success:)
""having 40 degree celsius for like 2 weeks in a row."" is very unusual indeed, Jeff. There was a freakish summer of extreme heat and massive bushfires in, I think, 2003 ( Ah, how quick we forget), perhaps you were here during that hellish time?
Excelreality, I bought that particular musa basjoo at a local nursery. I put a 3' tall cage filled with pine needles around it for winter protection - some of my basjoo's go without any protection. We've had an unusually brutal winter this year so I'll be curious about ALL of my "cold hardy" bananas... I am yet to get any fruit in 5 summers of trying... This variety wouldn't be edible anyway.
Thanks Daryl. I love the way the banana trees look, but I probably wan't buy one unless I find one that can produce edible bananas in my zone. I have been told that only ornimental banana trees can make it here. Take care, Mike
I think you CAN grow an edible banana variety where you live. It may take more than one season to get it to fruit. You may have to bring it indoors but if you get an early start and some luck, it may be fine outside all year. There are some fruiting varieties for your zone. Take a look at the banana section in www.centralfloridafarms.com for example. Also try www.bananas.org. or the banana forum on Gardenweb.com. I know that a few people have gotten some to fruit w/o a greenhouse here in Cincinnati and even up in New England. If I lived in Texas I would definately give it a try. Good luck
Oh my gosh!!! I need help!!! I moved to Georgia from Conneticut (where grass is easy to maintain). We arrived last August to real heat and I got a John Deere and mowed, etc. Now, in mid-March I have many little White flowered things coming up in the Bermuda grass. I have never had Bermuda grass - - - I think they are all weeds... My neighbors have GREAT lawns (although still brown) - they are tight and full and mine looks like I don't have a clue - which I don't. Should I get a service or can I fix it myself? Help - from a northerner...
As for your "little white-flowered things", could they be daisys? If so, don't worry about them, enjoy them. Or if you would could you be a little more descriptive of them?
Also, you might get more answers specifically geared towards lawn questions/maintenance in the Landscaping Forum (but my words are here to let you know to breathe deep and know that everything is fixable, usually!)!
We have the Brown grass as well, is that Bermuda grass? If so I love it because I only had to mow it like 3 times last summer when it was so hot and dry. We moved down from Chicago so I'm a bit baffled by it too. We went thru by hand and pulled what seemed like weeds although there's some cool looking plants in there that we left to see what they'll do.
They do lime their lawns down here which is new to me, otherwise I'm just treating it like Northern grass. My guess is if you want a lush green lawn you'll have to hire a service at first until you learn what to do. My approach has always been to let whatever wants to grow there because it all pretty much mows the same:)
Watch out for the fire ants, that's not something I was prepared for at first. They are apparently pretty dangerous and I got bit a number of times messing around with them. You'll know when they're there, you will suddenly see a dirt mound where there wasn't one before.
Did you ever discover which tomato varieties do best in your area? I'm growing in central Texas and have problems (like you) with heat. We don't have so much trouble with humidity. I'm growing about 20 varieties this year--many of which are reported to be "heat tolerant." Cherokee Purple, Arkansas Traveler, and Big Beef are varieties that I've grown in previous years that seem to do a little better in the heat. Also, I can't make Sungold cherries stop producing, though the size and flavor change with the heat.
Welcome to Ga. The white things in your grass could be clover, which are good for the soil. Do you have a master gardener group in your area? They can be a great help with advice for what to do in your area. Unless your yard is huge, I'm sure you can get by without a lawn service and all the chemicals they usually use. Everyone in ga has had a tough time with plants for a few years. We have had record droughts alternating with record rains
You can also subscribe to the Walter Reeves e-mail newsletter, which is sent out each month with a "what to do, when to plant" list, just for Georgia.