Tomato Adventures - Part 3

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Cricket's Tomato Adventures Part 2 is pretty long and since many of us are outside of Zone 8 I decided to start a new tomato adventures thread that is not zone specific.

I wanted to show you folks my mega sized Black Cherry plant. It's huge. The second picture was two weeks ago.

Most of my plants are doing really well, tons of green tomatoes. The best producers are:

San Marzano
Black Plum
Cherokee Purple (looks like a 1# tomato growing on that plant)

The Momotaro is flowering, this plant got started late so I hope it's okay through the summer.

Big disappointments are:
Black Krim
Black Sea Man

The Black Krim is the one I posted the leaves curling and it continues to be problematic. Branches full of leaves that just turn brown and die. I keep cutting off the branches and now it's just a spindly, ugly thing. Black Sea Man, similar. Maybe these large black types do not like this heat. Anyone have good results with these? What else is doing well or poorly?

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Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Nobody wants to talk tomatoes? sob sob......I could hike on over to Veggie Gardening and see if I can scare up a conversation.....Hello? Maybe no one but me has fruits yet.....The black cherry toms are getting their first blush.

Richland, WA(Zone 7b)

I would be HAPPY to talk tomatoes-if I only had some !!!!! Mine are just in the ground a week, and looking great. I can post some braggin' pictures soon--but right now all I can do is read and be envious. Anyway, hubby fell and got a compression fracture in his spine, and I am nursing him. Tomorrow he gets Kyphoplasty (injection of orthopedic cement into the compressed vertebrae- it is pretty successful and almost immediate relief.) Say a prayer for him, please. My time in the garden is my biggest therapy for stress relief- and I sure do need it now.

Richland, WA(Zone 7b)

I will be back, Mary- I have Momotaros, but just baby seedlings.

Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)


I have lots of green tomatoes! Fruit on just about everything. Jet Star and Big Beef are in the lead. German Giant is doing well too. The cherry tomatoes are behind, I didn't get them potted up or planted out on schedule. They do have lots of blooms at least!

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I always plant my cherry toms last. They catch up and will set fruit more readily in the heat them some of the other maters.

My New Big Dwarf has 20+ fruits set and Money Maker has some too. I'm still planting more LARGE seedlings. The main ones are in but then I think aww..just one more. I'm going to plant my peppers in containers this year in an attempt to do some seed collecting.

I still have 3-4 flats of peppers to pot up for this market order (yah.....) at the beginning of the week the AM temps were 47* the Tomatillos, peppers, and Roselle just sat there. But this warm weather has really perked them up.

Hutto, TX

Joparrott.....sorry to hear about your hubby....I hope he has a successful crop of maters are awesome.....maters everywhere. I have been picking stupice, and julliet....I am getting ready to pick my first big bday is sat, and I hope to make my first rr plugs, and ihort plugs have turned into a mater forest....cp, black krim, big beef, rutgers, early girl, san marzano, amish paste, super plant, roma are are all doing great....I am on my g4, and I have not learned how to post links, but tomorrow I will post a video....tis the mater season here in hutto, texas...yaaaaaahoooooo.

This message was edited Apr 26, 2012 9:29 PM

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Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Still 15 days early for tomato plants here,only they are in the ground and growing. More than talking tomatoes I wish to be harvesting and eating them. Could and am wishing to have that southern growing season till it gets summertime(too hot hot for me where you are) . Cherokee Purple doesn't grow well for me. have a few OP that do though . Sometimes I'm believing it's because of colder climate here,only I don't buy that excuse to myself. Always back to practice, practice, practice.

Hutto, TX

I forgot to mention my indian stripe. I planted three in my front mater bed, and one at the hog farm. These are the plants that lisa from liberty hill, alaska sent me seeds for........lisa they are loaded with fruit...thanks again. ........these are pics from the hog farm....they were planted later than my hurro garden

This message was edited Apr 26, 2012 8:36 PM

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Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)


Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)

Hornstrider, where do you get your pine straw? Is that what you used to mulch in the photo of Indian Stripe?


Palm Coast, FL(Zone 9a)

I've got lots and lots of Red Cherry babies all over my two 4ft plants. Can't wait for them to mature. I've also got two 4ft Beefsteak plants covered in blooms, but no babies on it as of yet. :(

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Jo, best of luck with that procedure today, so sorry to hear of his fall. Hopefully he will get some relief soon.

hornstrider that really *is* a forest of tomatoes, good job! And happy birthday a day early. Sounds like we're all tapping our collective foot, waiting for the green to go red. I've been able to harvest a few ripe tomatoes from plants that over-wintered: a Glacier (best tasting of the 3), Kimberly and what I think is an Oregon Spring. That last is better than a store bought tomato, but not by much.

Let's keep the thread updated. I'm interested in what works in climates similar to mine but welcome all conversation about tomato growing. I will start more seeds in mid-July for a fall/early winter crop and am looking to replace the Black Krim and Black Sea Man, neither of which did well.

Anybody grow Sioux? I think it was gymgirl who really likes this one. What's your top three choices? Maybe we'll get the same one(s) mentioned several times.

Happy Friday.
Mary - who is still on her quest for the best tasting salad/slicing tomato

Hutto, TX

dreaves.......I get the pine straw from the Natural Gardener, They are the only people who carry the stuff. It's $7.00 per bale. I use it in the isles also.

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Richland, WA(Zone 7b)

Great photo, hornstrider- I love the swivel stool-

Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)

Here is my "main" tomato section. There are 30 plants, with a mix of hybrid and OP. The ring around the bottom of the cages is what's left of the mover's plastic that I wrapped the cages in earlier to protect them from the wind and make it possible to cover if there was a frost. I can water by running water at the base of each plant. I need to mulch around the cages still-- I hope to get some pine straw next week.

The close-up is of one of the Jet Star plants. There are several clusters of 3 or 4 tomatoes, all between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball. No sign of color yet. This group of tomatoes was transplanted March 8. Based on normal DTM, I should be seeing ripe tomatoes in a little over a week. I'm not sure that will be the case, though.

It's clear to see that the cherry tomatoes in the third photo are WAY behind the other tomatoes. They were planted three weeks later, on March 29th. They have lots of blooms and a few tiny tomatoes.


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Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

LOL. I was pre-occupied with making a small pumpkin patch for a large pumpkin. I know= that is a whole story all by its little lonesome.

Jo, hope your hubby recovers quickly. Sorry he got hurt. My husband has two brackets in his spine. I have an idea of what you're going through.

I'm gonna try to catch up on post between my customers. I might be in and out.

Mary.....your plant looks great but i really love that wooden planter!!!!!! I been going around here gathering up scrap wood from making shutters and coming up with wood planter designs. Haven't done anything with it yet. Too many irons in the fire. I tend to do that often.
I am current growing the Super Sioux.

hornstrider. love your mater jungle. really nice mater garden!

I have a problem in one tomato grow bed. ( Verticillium Wilt ) The one that has 30 varities in it. I might have to pull most of the plants to prevent the fungus from spreading. I will try to treat it first. Give it a few weeks and see what happens. I know I won't be growing tomatoes in that bed next year.

The tomatoes in the hanging turvys are actually doing pretty good. Their growth has slowed down cause I stopped fertilizing them when I saw their leaf fungus. I was thinking they were gonners for sure but after I pulled the bad leaves off the fungus slowed down. I might start fertilizing them again. We have been eating green tomatoes off those plants and some ripe Sweet Million Cherries. I still much prefer pots on the ground. or the ground itself.

I hate to , but I will have to put a shade cloth over the greenhouse that has the potted tomato plants. Some fruits are getting sun burnt and it will help cool it off in there while the fruits start to ripen. I already cut the tops off all those tomato plants.

I only have 4 Big Beef tomato plants growing in a raised garden in the backyard. They had 4 foot reinforcement wire cages and they have outgrown their cages. I started putting another 4 foot cage on top of those yesterday. The plants are already in a 2 ft raised bed and with those two cages it looks like a tower. I just hope the plants stay healthy enough to reach the top of the second cage. Their growth rate will slow down now that they are putting energy into fruits. It might be two months before they reach the top.

this Chocolate Cherry plant is growing leaps and bounds. I sure hope the tomatoes taste good. That is a vigerous plant. The black cherry and sunsugar are right behind it..

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

Dreaves! and folks say I work too hard............. Look at you. You got it going on.

that is some pretty dirt too.

This message was edited Apr 27, 2012 8:47 AM

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Thanks cricket - glad you found us over here.

That wooden box is what the mesquite tree came in. I have two of them. I just asked the delivery guys to be careful removing the tree so I could re-use the box. It's a 24".

Gotta run, the day has begun. I'm outta here,

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

THANK YOU for a ZONE FREE thread! Finally!

The garden we love to hate! That is totally awesome!

I planted my Sioux out late, sort of on purpose, because of what I saw it do last summer during our drought. Even when I refused to go out and water, this lil trouper just kept on cranking out tomatoes.

Mine have only been out since March 27th and, so far, I have two little china ball tomatoes forming on one plant, and some blooms on the other. Those fuzzy gnats are back, so tomorrow I'll spray with more soapy Ajax water. It worked the first time.

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Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

I like Ajax dish soap. I add mouth wash to mine too. Its helps with fungus.

1 tbs of ajax and 1 tbs of mouth wash to one gallon of water. I have no evidence that it really works but the garden smells fresh and clean.

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

The 4ft Big Beef.....with the one cage addition.....some squash in there, huge rosemary.

Big Beef growing in 4 gallon pot loaded with tomatoes. They won't ripen for another 2 weeks.

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Hutto, TX those are some healthy maters. have a huge garden....beautiful plants....I really would like to see your do you like this wind we are having right now?......the wind has given us a break this year..dont ya think.......until this week..

Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)

The windcwas killing me this week. At least it was consistent. I had to water, but could adjust the sprinkler to allow for the wind.

Vista, CA

Does anyone know how to encourage healthy blossoms to set fruit? I have had blossoms for several weeks, plants are healthy, growing 3 to 5 inches a day, but no fruit is setting yet. Am i just being impatient, or should i switch my plans to just growing tomato vines, and leave the actual tomatoes to you experts?


Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Enrie, that could be a sign of too much Nitogen. Sometimes they won't bloom but sometimes the blooms won't set. What are your temperatures like?

When you say how fast the plants are growing, with no fruit set, it makes me think too much Nitrogen.

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Ernie, try a fertilizer with more phosphorus than nitrogen. That is, a higher middle number....5-8-4 for example. Instead of 8-5-4.

Nitrogen is the first number, phosphorus is the middle number. Plants need more phosphorus when they are pushing out blooms and fruit.


Vista, CA

Normally, too much nitrogen elongates other types of plants making the vertical growth out of proportion to the horizontals, and i have not seen that in these plants. I have been fertilizing with some Fish extract from Ray der Phan, and Miracle Grow. I do not know the proportions of either one of those. I have balanced fertilizer here for other things, but do not use it on the tomatoes. I will increase the P, and see if that helps. Temps have been 50 to 60 at night and 60 to 75 in the daytime.

I will see what i can find with a high P component. And i will hold off the fertilzer completely for a couple of weeks and see if that helps.

Thank You all,


Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Tomatoes in general don't need alot of fertilizer if they are in a good soil. They are a true vine so their growth habit isn't the same as other plants. One good thing is that when you get their fertilizer in balance you'll have big plants that can have even more blossoms.

With veggies you want them to bloom as well as grow, so a higher middle number is good for fruits and roots. Your temps sound perfect.

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Lisa, that's exactly what I just said in the veggie thread!

crickets those big beef look great!!! My San Marzano's have big clusters like that, and the Black Plum too. Come on babies, ripen. DH and I split the first Black Cherry ripe fruit last night. It was so-so. I like a nice TANG to my tomatoes...still waiting.

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

Hey Ernie. Are you shaking your tomato plants or vibrating the bloom clusters? I also think the growth rate of 5 inches a day shows you have too much nitrogen. The normal average is 1 to 2 inches per day during its peak growth with a normal nitrogen level.
Holding back on fertilizer for 10 to 14 days is a good idea.

I put a shade cloth over the greenhouse with the container tomatoes. The evening sun was scorching my maters. Some big pretty ones too. Hoping i salvaged them. They already had light yellow shoulders. (about 20)

Arrrrg. I am a sucker for growing tomato plants. I have two earthboxes and I will be growing 20 single vine tomato plants for giant fruits.
Big Zac, Beefmaster, Large Red (1500s heirloom), and Delicious. Another monster grower suggested I cross the Big Zac with the Delicious. It's a monster thang. This should be fun and interesting. I can definitely grow single vine tomato plants. My problem starts when I have to cut off the extra fruits so all the energy goes into one special large fruit on that one lonely 5ft vine. I normally don't have the will power to do that.

Hutto, TX

Hog farm up date. I finally finished the garden. I was able to plant the tomato's on March 11. I installed a automatic watering system for drip irrigation. Last week the pump that draws the water from the creek went out, and I had to go to the farm Sat, and Sun to water the garden. I hauled the water from the creek to the garden in five gal buckets. This was old fashion gardening.¤t=Tothecreek.mp4¤t=Tothegarden.mp4

Vista, CA

Lisa, the good soil may be the problem. except for the crusting problem, it is the best and richest soil i have ever seen. I have Artichoke plants much larger than any i have seen, Eucalyptus trees next door are 80 feet tall instead of the usual 60 feet, etc. The five inch growth was on the Sweet Carneros, and the plants are very well proportioned. I learned the hard, and expensive, way how much damage too much N can do when i was growing Specimen Ornamental trees on the Nursery, so i am always leery of over fertilization. I will not use any more MG for a while and check the N in the Fish food that Mark gave me.

Cricket, I have been shaking the plants, trying to help the pollination. Not sure they need help from the bugs and bees, but we have had a dry winter and i have not seen hardly any bees or flying insects this Spring.


Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

hornstrider, I loved the trip to the creek. Serious hammock envy here. Any more old hog farms for sale around Hutto TX?

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

hornstrider,,,, i could watch and look at those pictures and videos all day. Looks like vacation to me. yep........i loved the trip to the creek too. Ready to set up a tent!!!!!!!

and wow,,,,,tomato garden envy. with zinnias and onions and Leeks? and and and. Very very nice.

This message was edited Apr 28, 2012 3:19 PM

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

it will take me a couple of weeks to see it all........i wont get bored for sure.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Ernie- tomatoes are self pollinating. They don't need insects just a breeze to pollinate, shaking the plants can't hurt but if they are outside the breeze should move the blossoms enough to get pollination.

Vista, CA

Lisa, I recall reading that here on the forum, but i also saw somewhere else that having bumble bees in commercial Greenhouses increased tomato pollination by 25%. I am going to hold off fertilizing for a while. The special Tomato food has a lot more N than it does P, and Miracle Grow has 25 N, to 18P, or something like that, so I will try to find some straight P. We used to be able to buy that on the farm, but i have not looked for it down here. We had turnips and beets from the garden, and the lettuce is ready, but Alas, no tomatoes yet for the salad.


Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

after dinner tonight, I ate a half ripe brandywine and I ate it like I was starving.........I needed that!

sorry Ernie. I thought your plants were in a greenhouse. ?????? sometimes I get lost.

Hutto, TX

Earnie....bees are not your problem in my lisa said maters are self polinating......I have not seen a bee all spring, and I usually have lots of bees hanging around...but not this year...lots of butterflys, but no bees, and my plants are loaded with maters....I do have one plant that I only have five fruit set so far....its a brandywine sudduth....its a hugh healthy plant, but the flowers keep falling offf.....maybe its a variety problem....just a thought...I really dont know

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