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Texas Gardening: which tomato plants have you had success with?

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mamajack
Fate, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 8, 2008
5:05 PM

Post #4375630

lmk which tomatoes have produced the best for you. did they do well the year of the drought? how 'bout with last years rain?
MitchF
Lindsay, OK
(Zone 7a)

January 8, 2008
5:08 PM

Post #4375642

Homestead - this is the tomato I swear by, must have each year
Yellow Pear - love it loves to grow gives out when it gets hot
Cherokee Purple - fun in the garden, few fruit but worth the wait
mamajack
Fate, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 8, 2008
5:09 PM

Post #4375647

where do you get the homestead, mitch? do they produce even in the heat?
MitchF
Lindsay, OK
(Zone 7a)

January 8, 2008
5:11 PM

Post #4375652

That they do - Baker Creek Seed, start a tray each year.
http://rareseeds.com/seeds/Tomatoes-Red - 1.25 for a packet a seeds and a packet will last me two years.
MitchF
Lindsay, OK
(Zone 7a)

January 8, 2008
5:20 PM

Post #4375667

I have several friends here that swear by Porter - breed in Texas, for Texas. This is the big Texas tomato. They get fruit all summer long too..
mamajack
Fate, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 8, 2008
6:59 PM

Post #4376044

lol. you actually start tomatoes from seed. the only tomatoes i ever started from seed was from tomato scraps i threw out into my future garden beds. you are my hero. are they hard to start? when do you start them?
MitchF
Lindsay, OK
(Zone 7a)

January 8, 2008
7:15 PM

Post #4376102

I start them now - in the next few weeks.
I dont have the money to buy a lot of plants, so I buy seeds and start everything from seed - everything veggie wise that is.
AnnieJo
(Annie ) in Austin, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 8, 2008
9:21 PM

Post #4376613

Mitch,
Thanks for that great link to the seed company. My only problem now is trying to decide which varieties to try! There are so many on there that they list as doing well in the hot, humid South. Have you tried many? It sounds so fun to have some that come from Italy or came over with a soldier from Germany. But practically, will they really like it here?
Annie
MitchF
Lindsay, OK
(Zone 7a)

January 8, 2008
9:56 PM

Post #4376735

Annie - I only grow what I know will grow here for me now. When I first started I tried a lot of the older tomatos he offers and they all set fruit - just not in the summer and are a waste of space to me for that reason. Baker Creek is the only place I buy veggie seed from - Squash, melons, rasish, turnip, you name it and that is the only place I buy it. They have great seeds and really good seed to plant count.
mamajack
Fate, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 9, 2008
2:43 AM

Post #4377936

tell me the sweetest cantelope you have had? has anyone had any of those white cucumbers? i planted some last year and my sister and i thought they were wonderful. no bitterness and great taste even when they got big.
MitchF
Lindsay, OK
(Zone 7a)

January 9, 2008
2:56 AM

Post #4377988

cukes - I go with Thai Best.. not for pickling but for eating.

melons - I dont have room for both watermelons and Cats so I take turns... I have not found one that I just love of the Cats - they all take about the same IMHO... Melons - ohhh you have to try Moon and Stars, Desert King, and All the yellow flesh I find do better here... Desert King is made for the Texas heat and WOW the taste will make you jump in your socks.
mamajack
Fate, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 9, 2008
3:04 AM

Post #4378017

the seed site is wonderful. i have to try something new. how do you start tomato seeds? on the surface or under? how long for germination?
mamajack
Fate, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 9, 2008
3:05 AM

Post #4378025

you mean watermelons? i have never seen a watermelon that will grow here. do you guarantee that they will grow here? lol.

patrob

patrob
Goldthwaite, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 9, 2008
3:44 AM

Post #4378182

Tomatoes: Cabernet, Jetsetter, Early Girl, Viva Italia, and Pompeii

Cabernet is amazing in the greenhouse and outside. It's very disease resistant and sets fruit in hot, humid conditions. Jetsetter and Early Girl are good and a bit earlier. Viva Italia is good for eating and wonderful for salsa and sauce. Pompeii is our drying tomato.

We order seeds are from Tomato Grower's Supply and Renee's Garden Seeds. I also like Baker's Heirloom Seeds as well and order lots of winter squashes and melons from them.

I am glad to know Desert King is good. I bought seeds last year but did not get them planted. Maybe this year!


Mibus2
(Phyllis) Flint,, TX
(Zone 7b)

January 9, 2008
3:52 AM

Post #4378218

Oh Boy I am taking notes now.
I have the bug to get started mind you I have no idea where I am putting things other then the terrace area which is not that big unless I can find a cheap to use back hoe and get rid of the dang bamboo roots but I was going to start a post to ask y'all what I can grow and what was the best for Texas.
Like you Mitch I don't have alot to buy plants so seeds are my route this year

what about green beans, peas, heck any and all veggies I have no idea when the last frost would be ...HELP??????
pbtxlady
Garland, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 9, 2008
9:09 AM

Post #4378650

Not sure about your zone, Phyllis, but in D-FW the last avg frost date is March 17. Yours is probably within a few days of that.
MitchF
Lindsay, OK
(Zone 7a)

January 9, 2008
1:14 PM

Post #4378881

Yes watermelons will grow here, give the rich soil, some afternoon shade and lots of water. Desert King was made for well dry places and does great here.

Seeds - inside in trays undergrowlights, just pushed under the surface.
blue_eyes
Ashland, MO
(Zone 6a)

January 9, 2008
2:27 PM

Post #4379149

mamajack...I grew white wonder cukes last year for the first time and really liked them. Didn't even need to peel them, good flavor. I grow tomatoes from seed too, got some already going and have a few more new ones on order from totally tomatoes. I chose ones that mentioned they were good in the heat. Last year I had poor production from most due to the rains, but Juliet produced like mad, it was a pear-type, very tasty.

Kim
AnnieJo
(Annie ) in Austin, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 9, 2008
3:31 PM

Post #4379367

Do you always have to use grow lights to start seeds? I have a utility room that has lots of west facing windows. I consider that it gets a lot of light, but how do you know?
blue_eyes
Ashland, MO
(Zone 6a)

January 9, 2008
4:12 PM

Post #4379530

Seedlings need a good light source or they will get leggy. You would probably be able to germinate them there, but I would worry about them getting leggy and reaching for the windows. But if that is what you have to work with, go for it. With tomatoes, you can always bury the leggy stems in pots when you pot them up, and they will develop good root systems that way.
Mibus2
(Phyllis) Flint,, TX
(Zone 7b)

January 9, 2008
5:10 PM

Post #4379796

thanks pbtx had no idea on a date!!

now any ideas or suggestions for things other then tom, cukes, and watermelons LOL

I called today and we are gonna rent a small backhoe and get the bamboo roots outta here so I can get things ready to put a veggie garden in.
mamajack
Fate, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 9, 2008
6:36 PM

Post #4380135

i wish you were my neighbor and we'd share that backhoe. i need trenches for water drainage dug. it's taking a long time with a pitchfork.
Mibus2
(Phyllis) Flint,, TX
(Zone 7b)

January 9, 2008
6:52 PM

Post #4380195

oh gee a pitch fork yeah that will take time yuck I would be more then happy to share if we were closer dang.
Bubba_MoCity
Missouri City, TX

January 9, 2008
6:58 PM

Post #4380220

Radishes, carrots, turnups, Swiss chard, beans (all kinds), peas, peppers, cabbage (maybe - FIL grew huge ones near Gilmer), corn.

How much land will you devote to the garden?

I'm in a subdivision and have a 10x20 ft garden, but have rosemary, tri-color safe, lamb's quarter, cilantro, parsley, dill, jalapeno, chili pequin, and basil all year long, then plant a few tomatoes and some root crops as well. Being just south of Houston, winter garden is always more productive - cabbage, lettuce, radishes all doing fine right now. DW & I also planted some onion sets and garlic.

Grew pole beans first year - harvested well over 200# from 12 plants on 8ft poles. Next year planted oriental egg plant mid-summer - again over 100# from 5 plants. Mustard greens also grew very well.
Mibus2
(Phyllis) Flint,, TX
(Zone 7b)

January 9, 2008
7:06 PM

Post #4380257

I wnat to plant as much as I can since I am the one that goes to work every day I figure if he isn't going to get a part time job then he can have the job of gardening...hehehehe ...besides it will keep him busy and he loves fresh veggies especially tomatoes

sounds like I need to come raid yours for herbs LOL
MitchF
Lindsay, OK
(Zone 7a)

January 9, 2008
7:11 PM

Post #4380271

My garden is in a city plot - I grow a oh 100x50 foot area of veggies... but I have no grass... and dont always plant out in rows.

Lights- you need grow lights... I know it is the hard part of cost and such but you need them and they are good year to year.
Bubba_MoCity
Missouri City, TX

January 9, 2008
7:32 PM

Post #4380350

Mitch, are you all organic? Do you have any bug problems?

I only use Murphy's Oil Soap for the bugs and crushed egg shells for the snails. The leaf-footed bugs are a real nemisis to the tomatos for me.

i have a set of Malibu lights I use in the garden to kill the night flyers - have each of them over a shallow pan of water with an oz of Murphy's. Use the decomposing bug-water on the compost pile, and reload every week.
AnnieJo
(Annie ) in Austin, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 9, 2008
8:10 PM

Post #4380509

Okay, if I have to bite and buy grow lights, what kind? Any suggestions on what to buy and from what source?
blue_eyes
Ashland, MO
(Zone 6a)

January 9, 2008
8:43 PM

Post #4380648

I just use regular fluorescents, Walmart usually sells them for $10 each for the 4' ones. I put one warm and one cool bulb in each, works great for my indoor plants as well as for seeds. In fact, I made two light stands this way using some utility shelving from lowes. A lot cheaper than the ones for sale.
AnnieJo
(Annie ) in Austin, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 9, 2008
8:54 PM

Post #4380698

So, I am assuming that these fluorescents need to be pretty close to the plants? I have fluorescent lighting already but it is obviously up on the ceiling. And I am sorry, what is the difference between a warm bulb and a cool one? Sorry, I am clueless!
Bubba_MoCity
Missouri City, TX

January 9, 2008
8:58 PM

Post #4380717

The color - Kelvin rating - cool is like the outdoors - sunlight - warm is more like incancescent. Any big-box or lighting store will have both bulbs.
Mibus2
(Phyllis) Flint,, TX
(Zone 7b)

March 9, 2008
9:56 PM

Post #4643344

bump:)
cocoa_lulu
Grand Saline, TX
(Zone 7b)

March 9, 2008
10:43 PM

Post #4643535

Mibus, This is a great, easy page to print out , I refer to it often. http://easttexasgardening.tamu.edu/Homegardens/vegetable.html
Mibus2
(Phyllis) Flint,, TX
(Zone 7b)

March 9, 2008
10:51 PM

Post #4643554

OH cocoa I never knew you gardened in Tyler area LMAO...thanks already found it though awhile back when I was surfing on Texas gardening stuff LOL
Mibus2
(Phyllis) Flint,, TX
(Zone 7b)

March 9, 2008
10:53 PM

Post #4643560

ok this is just an extra post as I goofed and double posted ...but I can say the seeds are all coming up and doing great that I ordered and planted so far

This message was edited Mar 9, 2008 5:54 PM
dmj1218
west Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 9, 2008
10:54 PM

Post #4643566

Bubba--yours in the ground yet? I got tired of looking at the seedlings and planted all but one today.

I figure the worst that can happen to them is the fence will fall on them (my 80' back fence fell down like dominoes in the wind storm last Monday--I have it "shored up pretty well, I hope). It really looks attractive back there right now.
=)
Bubba_MoCity
Missouri City, TX

March 10, 2008
1:41 PM

Post #4645605

No, not in the ground, but at least on in the pots has flower buds.

Spent last weekend removing the mold - !@#$% HOA.

Spent this weekend reducing my 7ft high 15 ft long brush pile - now a 4 ft high cone of fine mulched wood, leaves, etc.

Since we now will have an extra hour of daylight when I get home, I will attack the garden itself.

Toms will go in the south end. Gymgirl gave me a bunch, and I bought 5 at SW Fertilizer.

Thanks for thinking about us. BTW: a couple of yours survived in pots all winter and we ate the last in January.
dmj1218
west Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 10, 2008
2:15 PM

Post #4645808

Bubba, then those were phenomenal tomatoes if you were talking to me--its been 3 years since I gave you any tomatoes. I don't think it will freeze here anymore, we even missed the last 2 and I'm much farther north than you. I will probably wait a week or two before planting the peppers, but they need to be too.
=)
Bubba_MoCity
Missouri City, TX

March 10, 2008
2:58 PM

Post #4645982

They were yours Debbie - I clipped a couple of the tops when they were about done for in the garden and started them in some big pots - they sprawled all over the patio, and we got 3-5 tomatoes from each, but it took a long time for them to ripen - but no bugs.

There is nothing like a vine ripened tomato in December and January.
dmj1218
west Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 10, 2008
3:15 PM

Post #4646034

That's a quick way to do fall tomatoes if you are just going to plant the same variety. Why bother from seed if you've still got healthy tops--they root so easy.
=)
Syrumani
Whitsett, NC
(Zone 8a)

March 10, 2008
3:35 PM

Post #4646098

I wintersowed a bunch of tomatoes this year, and will have NO room for them all! I'm starting to transfer them out of the soda bottles, and into their own 6-pack or 3" pots. Once they're a bit bigger, I'll put them out where I want them in the yard.

I have over 20 each of: white cherry, yellow pear, a gold cherry. I have 3 of baby beefsteak, aunt anne's(?) german green tomato, too.

Anyone in San Antonio need some tomato seedlings?
s_edwards
Fort Worth, TX

March 10, 2008
11:35 PM

Post #4648088

I have had really good results from seeding vegetables and flowers in a cheap four-shelf "greenhouse" to which I added flourescent lights. I followed the advice of an earlier DG article that suggested that you buy regular shop lights rather than the full spectrum grow lights. I have the "greenhouse" in front of double windows and I kept the vinyl covering zipped until the plants came up and really started growing. Then, I unzipped the vinyl covering but left it on the "greenhouse." I'm going to the Waxahachie RU and will have extra tomatoes (Early Girl and Big Beef) and extra red bell peppers for trade. Hope to see you there!
feldon30
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 1, 2008
1:41 PM

Post #4739900

Very interesting topic. Not sure how I missed it.

In N.W. Houston, I grow and have had success with Jet Star, Arkansas Traveler, Cherokee Purple, Sungold, Black cherry, Jaune Flammee, and Gregori's Altai. I do not like Celebrity, Big Boy, etc. etc. as they are marginally better than grocery store tomatoes to me.

My plants go out the first time I see a week's worth of weather (at http://www.wunderground.com -- the most reliable weather website I've found) with no evening temps below 40. Thats usually the 2nd week of March. I put out huge plants (10-14" tall) in the ground buried up to their necks in very well-amended soil. I use lots of composted cow manure (Black Kow is $4.62 a bag at Lowe's and is really wonderful stuff, a little goes a long way, maybe 2-3 bags per 3' x 12' bed) and TomatoTone 4-7-10 or PlantTone 4-6-6 (notice the numbers have very low nitrogen and high fruitset numbers).

Most of my fruit set in late March, early April.

I start from seeds in the first week of January in soilless seed starting mix. I make a pot of tea and pour a little into individual cups and then drop my tomato seeds into the cups and pre-soak for up to 12 hours before planting. I dump the seed starting mix into a large bowl and water it and mix it by hand until it is moist but not sopping wet. I then scoop that into my trays and flatten it out by gently pushing down. Then I drop the pre-soaked tomato seeds on top of the soil and very gingerly nudge a few strands of peat moss on top of the seeds. I do not dig a hole and plant my seeds. Cherries especially have to be sown extremely shallow.

I cover the tray with the clear plastic dome it came with (it's ok if it's a bit loose) and leave it alone for 3-5 days until seeds start sprouting. Once a good number of them are up or some are starting to get an inch tall, I take off the clear plastic dome and immediately put the tray under my fluorescent lights as close as I can get them (less than 2 inches). These are the bog standard 4' long 2 bulb fluorescent light kit with a cool bulb ($4) and a warm bulb ($7) for 16 hours a day.

Keep in mind that if you live anywhere near Houston, Houston Plants and Garden World on I-45 near 1960 and Houston Garden Centers all around town always have large healthy Arkansas Traveler, Jet Star, Cherokee Purple, Sweet 100, etc. transplants for sale at the end of February. Wabash Antiques, Another Place in Time, and Buchanan's Nursery in the Houston Heights have a fantastic selection of tomato and pepper plants. Bloomers in Elgin, TX close to Austin has a fantastic selection this year.

Buying a 6 pack of tomatoes in early April you are really setting yourself up for a poor season. Buy (or grow) large plants the first of March and put them in the first day you can. Even better if you have some 5 gallon buckets you can put upside down on the plants to protect them if we have a cold snap.

Looking forward to seeing all of you guys and gals at the 2nd annual South East Texas Tomato Fest at the Washington on the Brazos state park (20 minutes from Brenham, TX) on June 21st at Noon. We will have over 90 varieties of tomatoes to taste. http://www.settfest.com/
mamajack
Fate, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 1, 2008
3:20 PM

Post #4740398

wow, feldon. that was very informative. there have been some very good ideas here. i can only find brandywine seeds locally. but next year by jan. i am going to have some seeds of the varieties you all are mentioning.
sure wish i could come to the tomato fest. i never knew there was such a thing in texas.
feldon30
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 1, 2008
8:12 PM

Post #4741842

Calloway's has a huge number of nursery locations in and around Dallas. Should be able to find dozens of different types of tomato and pepper plants. http://davesgarden.com/products/go/advanced.php?state=tx

I really do hope you make it to SETTFest this year. Fate, TX to Washington, TX is 3 1/2 hours. There are decent hotels in Brenham if necessary. SETTFest 2008 will be our second year. I expect at crowd of at least 50 fellow growers and tomato enthusiasts. Photos from last year's event: http://www.settfest.com/photos.html

Special thanks to Eric (foolcontrol) for drumming up interest in having a Texas tomato tasting event and organizing the first forum topics about it.
mamajack
Fate, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 1, 2008
8:38 PM

Post #4741962

lol. my sister and i would love to bring the cucumbers and vinegar, lemon pepper and come join yall. i checked the photos out. that's quite a lot of different tomatoes.
when i was a kid my parents grew some tomato that was huge and pink. not so acidic. but that was in mississippi. i have always been under the impression that in texas we need to grow tomatoes that are determinate (that means they have one growing period, right?) and they need to be on the small side. some of those tomatoes were pretty big though.
feldon30
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 2, 2008
1:30 PM

Post #4745270

There are a lot of myths about growing tomatoes in Texas, which lead people to grow stuff like Bingo, Merced, Celebrity, BHN444, etc. I know some people do like those tomatoes so I don't want to be impolite, but if that was all I could grow, I would not grow tomatoes.

Houston really has two short seasons. We have some of the same problems growing tomatoes as far as short seasons that folks do growing in Canada. It varies year to year, but in my garden, I really have March 10th -> July 10th to grow the "big" tomatoes. That's just 4 months. Then in the fall, we grow cherries and a few medium sized tomatoes in late July early August and pray for a few cool days to set some fruit in September. Sure, you might get lots of fruitset in October and November, but will the fruit be ripe by the time the 40 degree nights sap all the taste out of them? (Hint: Never refrigerate tomatoes, indoors or out!) Gregori's Altai is the only pink beefsteak I had success with last fall (it rocked in the spring too). I wish everyone in S.E. Texas would try Gregori's Altai.

So at the earliest possible date, which has been around March 9th or 10th for me this year and last, I plant out very large plants. Planting out of a six pack on April 1st reduces your chances of success. I actually am regretting that I only had plants about 10-14" tall in 4" pots this year. The plants are very healthy and some have their first set of flowers, but they are still about a week behind compared to how they looked last year. I started seeds January 15th by the way.

I am thinking of starting January 1st so that at the end of February, it will be time to pot up those plants from 4" into 1/2 gallon pots. This will give them an extra 2 weeks of growth so they are VERY large plants (maybe 2' tall) when I plant them out. And I bury them as deep as I can get them to go, picking off lower branches.

So far, the "bulletproof" productive varieties which have good to very good flavor for me have been Jet Star (hybrid), Arkansas Traveler (OP), Gregori's Altai (OP), Cherokee Purple (OP), Sungold (hybrid cherry), and Black Cherry (OP cherry). OP meaning open-pollinated so you can save seeds from year to year.

We are working diligently to build up a library of useful information for SETTFest.com. It will be a Resource for growing tomatoes in Texas. The festival is a great thing, but just the beginning. :)

As a test market, I grew and sold 75 tomato plants at this year's UrbanHarvest farmer's market. Mostly Sungold and Black Cherry, but also some Gregori's Altai and JD's Special C-Tex, which is a fantastic black tomato bred in Conroe, TX by JD Whittaker (thus the naming :) ).

You might also want to check out photos of the Showdown at Suze's http://www.feldoncentral.com/garden/photos/v/memberphotos/suze/showdown/ I drove up to Elgin, TX and Suze (a frequent post here at DG) and I did a grueling tasting of 49 varieties. It also has lots of pictures of her tomato plants.

Pictures of my more modest tomato spread:
http://www.feldoncentral.com/garden/photos/v/memberphotos/morgan/fall2007/
mamajack
Fate, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 2, 2008
1:47 PM

Post #4745341

well of all of those you like which is the most acidic tasting? and is there a place to get seeds in texas? so jan. 1 is our shoot date for next year. i started way too late as i only got the bug at the last minute. but i want to be ready next year so lmk where i can get some of these seeds. you had some beautiful plants.

and i have always buried my tomatoes "up to the neck" so to speak but i don't usually take the lower leaves off. but you do so i will start doing that too.

now i bought some plants a while back and stuck them in pots and i have brought them inside when i needed too. will the pot growth stunt them vs. getting them in the ground early?

another thing feldon. are you from texas? i didn't know texans ate tomato sandwiches. i am originally from miss. and everybody eats tomato sandwiches. that picture made me laugh as i don't think i have ever seen a texan with one until now.
Mibus2
(Phyllis) Flint,, TX
(Zone 7b)

April 2, 2008
2:46 PM

Post #4745671

I have Homestead and Illinios Beauty both started inside and have several int eh green house but have planted 5 of each int eh garden and they are covered with milk jugs to protect them for now from the birds and the change in weather yet...so far they al seem to be doing great. But this is my first gardening year in Texas *S*
feldon30
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 2, 2008
3:52 PM

Post #4745988

Technically, the acid of one tomato variety vs. another does not change that much. It is more a function of sugars and other elements which can either mask or accentuate the acidity of different varieties. Jet Star is one of the few exceptions. It has low acidity to the point that it has warnings about needing to add extra acid (lemon juice or powdered citric acid) when canning.

I guess I like full-flavored tomatoes with sweetness, acidity, even hints of smokiness and saltiness (which are perhaps imagined!). I guess if I wanted to talk about the strongest tasting tomatoes with a "zippy" flavor, I might try some of Brad's unusual tomato varieties like Berkeley Tie Dye Heart, or some of the yellow/orange/gold beefsteaks like Aunt Gertie's Gold and Summer Cider.

It can be a challenge to find seeds at stores in and around Texas for interesting tomato varieties. I used to order all of my tomato seeds online but have subsequently gotten to trade with a lot of people on this and other forums. If you are looking for a reliable source to BUY tomato seeds, http://www.TomatoGrowers.com has a fantastic selection and excellent service. They carry some of the better hybrids too, so I don't have to shop around so much.

Note that some of my favorite tomato varieties might only give me 10-15 fruit per plant. If you ask me my "favorite" tomato varieties, I would have to include Earl's Faux, Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, JD's Special C-Tex. Some of those varieties can be particularly reluctant to give up any ripe fruit. I have heard of people growing 6 Brandywine plants and getting no more than 20 fruit from the lot of them!

The varieties I listed in my earlier post all gave me ~20-30 fruit. Sungold and Black Cherry gave me hundreds of cherries off of 1 plant each.

When did you buy your tomato plants? How big are they? How big are the pots? You can grow tomatoes all the way to maturity in the right sized pots if you use good potting mix (Pro-Mix and Jungle Growth are great but hard to find). Determinates and dwarves are fine in 7-10 gallon pots. Indeterminates benefit from 15-20 gallon pots. I am tempted to start a couple of dwarf tomato plants perhaps on December 1st and bring them in the house when we have cold temperatures, so I'll have some tomatoes in April. :)

I'm not from Texas, no. I've lived in Arizona, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, etc. And I didn't get the gardening bug until I moved into a house with a decent backyard.

This message was edited Apr 3, 2008 10:15 AM
feldon30
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 2, 2008
3:57 PM

Post #4746015

It is a bummer that we are all so spread out in Texas. It's nice to have all that land, but it makes it really impractical (especially with the cost of gas these days) to have a plant swap. I would love to grow hundreds of transplants of all of these and put on an event like this, but Dallas is 4 hours from here!


P.S. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of using fertilizers that are good for tomatoes. Dumping 30-30-30 on them might give you gigantic, lush plants with very few fruit. TomatoTone is just one of many possible tomato-friendly fertilizers with a low Nitrogen number (4-7-10). GardenTone seems more available in the market and is 4-6-6 and has all the same micronutrients and calcium of TomatoTone.

This message was edited Apr 2, 2008 11:00 AM
dmj1218
west Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 2, 2008
4:04 PM

Post #4746050

I always have good luck with fall tomatoes here--but they are in the ground by July 1st. I am out of the Houston "banana belt"--well out side. About 3 years ago I gave foolcontrol some of his spring seedlings. I just don't grow near the volume--that ya'll do, no need for that many or space.
=)
mamajack
Fate, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 2, 2008
10:16 PM

Post #4747440

feldon, these tomatoes are prob. 6 in. tall. i have them in gallon pots just so they could start to grow while i waited to put them outside. i forget the name but it was like a code...bhn32 or something like that. i saw heatwave tomato plants today. do you know anything about them?

next year is going to be my year for tomatoes then. so i may look you up again if i forget. that link you posted...will they let you buy? i won't have any tomato seeds to trade so wondered about that. and i am assuming the best time to get the seeds will be in the fall, right?

so i am understanding from you that i can grow indeterminates...and those are tomatoes that produce again and again, right? although i am understanding you say that they will prob. stop when it gets hot. so it really doesn't matter then, right?

another thing...on collecting tomato seeds...when do i do it? would seeds from any ripe tomato be viable? do you just stick them in a collander type thing, wash and dry?

but feldon, i want to know whose tomato sandwich that was? lol.
feldon30
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 3, 2008
3:04 AM

Post #4748979

I have not grown or tasted BHN 444 or Heatwave.

I guess I am an impatient sort. I'd find a way to squeeze in some more tomato plants which should still be available around Dallas. ;)

TomatoGrowers Supply is a seed vendor. They sell seeds to the general public and greenhouses.

When I say trade, I usually just do seed offers for SASE (a self-addressed stamped envelope). I have so many tomato varieties already it will take 3-4 years to grow them all! So I am happy to send seeds out with nothing in return (except paying for postage). :)

The next time to get tomato seeds is to start them on June 1-15th for a fall crop. I will be dramatically scaling back my large-fruited tomato varieties this fall as I have struck out 2 years in a row on them (except GA). My key varieties will be Sungold (hybrid), Black Cherry (OP), Sweet Quartz (hybrid), and Jet Star (hybrid).

I do not grow indeterminates because I believe they will produce longer. Because of the heat, they really don't produce that much longer than determinate varieties here. I grow indeterminates because the vast majority of the great tasting tomato varieties are indeterminates. That is starting to change with Craig L's dwarf project which now has ~30 breeding lines going, with the goal of producing a least a dozen dwarf (2-4' tall) tomato varieties with excellent flavor. They will be open-pollinated too.

I usually save seeds from the earliest tomatoes in the season simply because of reduced bee activity (ideally, your tomato plants should be pollinated by wind (or an electric toothbrush), not by bees (specifically sweat bees, not so much honey bees) since they will carry pollen from variety to variety).

There is more than one way to preserve tomato seeds. I do believe in processing them to reduce disease carriage from one year to the next, and also because the seeds are just neat and tidy with no bits of tomato hanging off of them. The classic way of processing tomato seeds is fermentation, but because of the unpredictability on the number of days it can take, and the aroma, I have switched to 1 tbsp of Oxiclean powder dissolved in 1 cup of water and the tomato seeds stirred into that for 20-25 minutes, then rinsing in a strainer and drying on an uncoated paper plate for 1 week before storing in paper coin envelopes.


P.S. That's my Gregori's Altai tomato sandwich. Again, it's not the best tomato in the garden, but it's early and productive. We'll see how it does this year as it is only my 3rd time growing it!!

It is enjoyable to answer questions like this, and I really do appreciate constructive criticism, feedback, differing opinions, etc. I would rather find out I'm wrong and learn something than remain oblivious and lead anyone astray. Sometimes my willingness to answer questions leads people to believe that they cannot approach me if they have a difference of opinion.

This message was edited Apr 3, 2008 10:16 AM
Mibus2
(Phyllis) Flint,, TX
(Zone 7b)

April 3, 2008
3:17 AM

Post #4749046

ok probably a dumb question but can you explain the difference between indeterminates & determinate

DH loves tomatoes so anything and everything I can learn will help grow them here as it is very different then Illinois LOL
I am still reading and re reading all your posts
mamajack
Fate, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 3, 2008
3:59 AM

Post #4749212

let me do it feldon and you correct me if i am wrong.

determinates...sort of like having a predetermined amount of tomatoes on a single plant. they produce just that many and that's it.

indeterminates...if we didn't get so hot they would produce and produce again. don't know how long if the temps were right. but like feldon said it really doesn't matter here because they stop anyway when it gets so hot.

so feldon, you are saying that tomato growers will give me seeds for a sasbe? if i got seeds for fall growing now when should i sow them? and just to get me started name the 2 best varieties for spring and the 2 best for fall? just name 2 as so many names are getting me confused.

another thing...those brandywine plants i have are very small...about 2 in. now. i know they won't have time to do anything for the first season but if i pot them up and bring them in the house during the hot summer would they be ready to grow and produce by fall?

i am thinking you said that for fall the cherry tomatoes produce the best. of all the plants that i grow i can't grow tomatoes worth a hoot. i am always frustrated with the tomato crop. and would the 2 best for you be the 2 best for me? i know we prob. get the same heat but i have clay soil. it's rich dirt but i do have to amend it.
feldon30
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 3, 2008
3:10 PM

Post #4750754

You are correct on determinate vs. indeterminate. Sometimes people say that a determinate is a small plant (2-4 feet) and an indeterminate is a large plant (5-8 feet) but this is not always the case. A true determinate will set trusses of tomatoes, ripen them, and then die. Indeterminates can have a range of growth habits, but generally will set trusses of fruit along the stem and ripen them all while continuing to grow. An example I can think of is Sungold. In Suze's garden, it produced and continued to grow for 8 months. If she had not cut it back, it would have probably reached 14 feet in length.

I would check out the Seed Trades forum here at DG ( http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/f/trading/all/ ) for more information about seed trading. Some people want trades, some are just wanting to be really nice especially to first-time growers and will send you seeds in exchange for an SASE. Each seed offer is different.

I have never heard of Brandywine producing fall tomatoes, but I suppose anything is possible. ;)

As for soil, I know it's expensive, but raised beds seems a necessity here in Houston, so that is what I have done. All the amendments in the world will not make my soil drain properly. Wet roots, even for just a few hours, can stunt or kill tomato plants. Believe it not, tomato roots "breathe" and need access to air. They will not survive if exposed to standing water for any length of time.

You may be able to get shredded mulch and compost from your waste management company (or the city dump) for free or a very low price. Then I'd add a bag of Black Kow composted manure ($4.62 a bag) for every 3-4 tomato plants. If someone in your neighborhood is tearing down their old fence, maybe you can have their old fence boards (there are usually some good ones left over) and nail them together and fill it with good dirt. If you are willing to do a little legwork, you can save money on gardening. I realize raised beds are expensive, and containers even more so. If there isn't a "Gardening on a Dime" forum here at DG, maybe there should be. :)
Mibus2
(Phyllis) Flint,, TX
(Zone 7b)

April 3, 2008
3:12 PM

Post #4750768

Well Thanks Mama very impressive *S*
I was reading about the ones that only produce so much then the ones that keep going if the temp is not too hot so I guess that is where I got confused as to what was what.

I know I did alot of reading on sweet corn and learned alot of the differences in them ..maybe that is why I got so easily confused here LOL still had sweet corn on the brain...which I may add is coming up already
feldon30
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 3, 2008
3:16 PM

Post #4750792

mamajack,

I went back and looked at my post and I can understand why you thought I was saying that Tomato Growers Supply (TGS) might do seed trades. I've gone back and fixed it to make it clear that TGS *sells* tomato seeds. :)
mamajack
Fate, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 4, 2008
2:37 PM

Post #4755961

that is fine feldon. i would rather buy them anyway as i can then ask for as many as i want. lol. i think i won't get any for fall this year but i want them by jan. 1 as i hope to have some really good tomatoes next year. and i am assuming that when i write to tomato growers that they will have suggestions for my part of texas, you think? i have just received so many plants and bulbs that i can't even concentrate on my tomatoes anymore. but next year i will know who to go to that does have a lot of experience with texas tomatoes...and that is tomato growers and you. lol.
feldon30
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 4, 2008
10:42 PM

Post #4758159

>> and i am assuming that when i write to tomato growers that they will have suggestions for my part of texas, you think?

They are very fast on responding to orders. I usually order on their website and have my seeds in 3-6 days. If you prefer catalogs, they have a beautiful full color one.

I would be curious what they would recommend for Texas. I always hear Carnival F1, Celebrity F1, Better Boy, Roma VFFNT, BHN 444, Bingo, Merced. I get so many recommendations from people and they never include those modern hybrids so I simply have not had space in my garden to grow them. The first year, I did what I think most people do and ran to Home Depot and bought a 6 pack of Celebrity and a 6 pack of Roma and crossed my fingers. They were certainly productive, but for fresh-eating I felt they both fell flat. I will say that Celebrity did pick up some good flavor when oven roasted. I missed the opportunity last year at SETTFest to taste the other ones I listed above. I think I was so excited that so people showed up, I forgot to actually taste a bunch of varieties!

Personally, I think with the right soil and planting at the right time, most tomato varieties have the potential to grow and produce well here, so I would focus on flavor.

You might want to check out Heirloom Tomatoes of Texas ( http://www.heirloomtomatoesoftexas.com/ -- watch out for the music!!). They sell tomato plants by mail all over Texas. I have never dealt with them, but it is interesting to see that they have really all kinds of tomatoes on their website, especially Brandywine which is known for being light on production in most of the South.

Hope to see you at the SETTFest so you get to taste dozens of varieties and figure out which tomato varieties you like best. You do not need to be a tomato grower to attend the SETTFest. It is an open-to-the-public event. We realize that in some ways, we are trying to educate the public that it is possible to not only grow tomatoes in Texas, but some really interesting varieties!!

This message was edited Apr 4, 2008 5:47 PM
mamajack
Fate, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 5, 2008
1:06 AM

Post #4758842

i could be getting near the end of my questions but i know i want to ask this

what is the best tasting to you but also best producer in texas that you know of? and if i like really acidic tasting tomatoes which do you think is the best? just name one. lol.
feldon30
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 5, 2008
2:43 AM

Post #4759231

My favorite tasting tomatoes are the purple tomatoes. Cherokee Purple, Paul Robeson, Indian Stripe, JD's Special C-Tex. My second favorite group of tomatoes are pink beefsteaks such as Brandywine and Earl's Faux. Third are heart-shaped tomatoes. Fourth are just a couple of yellow-orange tomatoes. And honestly I have yet to be blown away by a red tomato with the exception of Jet Star. I am growing 11 purple tomatoes, 10 red tomatoes, and 13 pink tomatoes this year. So I'm really giving the reds a good chance this year. :)

The tangiest (I guess you call it acidic) tasting tomatoes I have had were probably not Berkeley Tie Dye Heart, Silvery Fir Tree, and Green Zebra.

You should be able to find Green Zebra at some of the better nurseries. Green Zebra is not one of my favorites. I find it very one-dimensional in its zestiness and sharpness.

Silvery Fir Tree is a very small tomato plant with strange carrot-like foliage. It can be very productive and very early here in Texas, but even though I initially had some warm feelings towards it, there are so many better tomatoes out there that it did not come back this year.

Finally we arrive at not BTD Heart. What in the world is this? Well, There is a fellow in California named Brad who has developed/discovered several multi-color tomato varieties, some of which are mahogany brown with green or red striping and all kinds of variations of that, with some very exotic flesh inside as well. Brad has been very successful growing over a thousand tomato plants and selling these tomatoes to finer restaurants and farmer's markets. Some of them have names like Large Barred Boar, Black and Brown Boar, etc. which is fitting as his business is Wild Boar Farms! :)

Berkeley Tie Dye ( http://www.localharvest.org/store/item.jsp?id=7716 ) is one of his most well-known varieties, and he later found a Heart-shaped version of it. Some of those seeds were sent to Suze. The resulting plants from those seeds produced a tomato similar in appearance to the original BTD (no heart shape), with an incredible sweet, tangy overall flavor. After one taste, I seriously considered growing it this year!

If you are really interested in seeds of this variety, you'd have to ask Suze (Who posts here as Suze_). The question is, is this a stable variety or is it still settling out? I don't want to get into a whole tomato genetics story (unless you really want to :) ) but it is unknown if not Berkeley Tie Dye heart was simply a stray seed (in which case it is a stable variety) or if it is a cross of 2 tomato varieties (thanks to a bee or other pollinating insect). If it's a cross, then we could see some very unpredictable results. You might plant 16 plants and find only 1 or 2 are as good as the original, with the rest having a variety of colors, flavors, plant growth habits, etc.

This message was edited Apr 4, 2008 9:43 PM
Suze_

(Zone 7b)

April 5, 2008
3:47 AM

Post #4759467

Quoting:what is the best tasting to you but also best producer in texas that you know of? and if i like really acidic tasting tomatoes which do you think is the best? just name one. lol.


I can't just name one, but I'll name a few that do well for me, taste good, and are productive. Note: I don't generally like "sweet" tomatoes, they tend to taste bland to me.

Break O'Day - has that sort of tangy, "old fashioned" tomato taste, on compact plants
Indian Stripe - more productive for me than Cherokee Purple, outstanding flavor
Aunt Ginny's Purple - really a pink, very productive, great flavor
Green Giant - the most consistent green-when-ripe I've grown for production, wonderful flavor
Arkansas Traveler - does well here, fairly productive, very good flavor

(Not) BTD Heart is another nice one, but I probably need to work with it a little more to see if is going to be stable. Very productive and tastes like a good dark, but with green exterior striping.
mamajack
Fate, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 5, 2008
4:07 PM

Post #4761475

and here is the suze we have been hearing about. i am really happy to find both you and feldon. and hope to trade seeds with one of you in the future.

i am in the middle of a mum co-op and can't look these places up right now but are the varieties you both listed ones i can get seeds from at tomato growers? i have heard of arkansas traveller but that's the only one.

thanks to both of you for some really good information.
feldon30
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 5, 2008
9:18 PM

Post #4762442

Arkansas Traveler, Cherokee Purple, Aunt Ginny's Purple, Paul Robeson, Jet Star F1, and Green Giant can be found at TGS.

Indian Stripe can be found at Victory Seeds and Sandhill Preservation.

You can read about Break O'Day ( http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/139375/ ) at PlantFiles. I did not immediately find a vendor for these seeds.
mamajack
Fate, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 5, 2008
11:12 PM

Post #4762890

feldon, another thing, which of those tomatoes listed above produces the BIGGEST fruit?
feldon30
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 6, 2008
10:24 PM

Post #4767619

Aunt Ginny's Purple

If you want monster tomatoes, then I'd grow Wes, Linnie's Oxheart, etc.

There are so many tomato varieties that it is almost better to find out how many slots you've got and fill them. ;)

This message was edited Apr 6, 2008 5:25 PM
mamajack
Fate, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 7, 2008
3:29 AM

Post #4769195

well i can't get used to the idea of a purple tomato yet but it sounds like i have to try them as they are high on all your lists. i see that aunt ginny is really a pink and i hope it is. tomatoes just need to be a shade of red to me.

thanks so much feldon and suze. i will try to locate these seeds soon so i will be ready by jan. i know a guy down the road who plants about 100 celebrity plants every year and sells them from his home. he might just be interested in something new as well.
feldon30
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 7, 2008
12:52 PM

Post #4770073

Here are some of my harvest pictures from Spring 2007:
http://www.feldoncentral.com/garden/photos/v/memberphotos/morgan/spring2007/?g2_page=27

I post 200-400 pictures of my gardens every season (Spring and Fall). I jokingly say that never has so little been so well documented. :) I just find it easier to snap pictures than to take notes. Answers to questions like "When did my first fruit set on variety X?" and "How many tomatoes did I get from X?" and "When did I plant my tomatoes?" can be answered by looking at my photos and at the Date field on them.


and check out these pictures of Suze's tomatoes from 2007:
http://www.feldoncentral.com/garden/photos/v/memberphotos/suze/Spring 2007/Ripe fruits and sliced pics/

and pictures of Suze's 2006 ripe tomatoes (including an Aunt Ginny's Purple):
http://www.feldoncentral.com/garden/photos/v/memberphotos/suze/2006 tomatoes/


Before true purple tomatoes were discovered (i.e. Cherokee Purple), pink tomatoes were known in the trade as purple tomatoes. So there are still some pink tomatoes with the old nomenclature around like Aunt Ginny's Purple, Eva Purple Ball, etc. which are really pink. Some people love purple tomatoes, some find them about as good as others, and some do not like them at all. You'll never know until you try one. I know Cherokee Purple makes it onto a lot of top 10 tomato lists these days.

This message was edited Apr 7, 2008 7:54 AM
mamajack
Fate, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 8, 2008
1:39 AM

Post #4773378

well when i seed shop i will include that one as i just have to see if a purple tomato will be hard to eat. hate to sound discriminating but tomatoes just oughta be red. thanks again feldon. i am going to save this thread if i can figure out to do that. this is the best information i have ever gotten on texas tomatoes.
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

March 6, 2009
4:07 PM

Post #6229256

(Bump)The info here is great maybe a little late for this year but I just found this thread
feldon30
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 6, 2009
4:49 PM

Post #6229455

Hi Lisa :)

Yes, I had fun writing all this stuff and some of the posts were the foundation for what I've put on SETTFest.com. There's still a lot more work for me to do on SETTFest.com though.

Local nurseries are really getting better about carrying more interesting tomato varieties. For black tomatoes, I've seen Black Krim, Cherokee Purple, Black, JD's Special C-Tex. And there are just a lot of choices out there if you skip the big box stores. :)


I've got 17 tomatoes planted and today I plant the other 17 or so plants. Then I have to decide if I want to try to squeeze any more plants in or if I am done. :)

I'm really thrilled that we are having this great warm weather and I'm able to plant nearly 2 weeks earlier than I did last year. Hopefully we then have a cooling trend for a month or two. :)

And I've got blankets and row cover ready if/when we have a cold snap.

This message was edited Mar 6, 2009 10:50 AM
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

March 7, 2009
1:27 AM

Post #6231338

I just read on another thread that there will probably be a freeze at the end of next week in my area. I have potted up 100+ seedlings today and that doesn't even count the seedlings that are the size of trees. If anymore plants come in the house there won't be room for people. Good Luck with your tomatoes, I'm jealous. I have some in containers but they haven't "taken off" yet but they were under sleeping bags last weekend because of the cold! It's so windy too the weather is crazy. Thanks for all your help.

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