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Any Advice for Jfood with These Tomatoes

Jfood just picked up his tomato plants with the following varieties:

Sweet Olive
Viva Italia
Cherokee Purple
Early Girl
Mr Stripey
Mortgage Lifter
Yellow Pear

Any suggestions or advice?


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  1. Don't plant them yet! It's too early in Connecticut. Still a danger of frost. Are they in six-packs? If so, you should check to see if the roots are coming out the bottom. You may have to plant them in larger containers while you wait for that last frost date.

    4 Replies
    1. re: clamscasino

      Shoot - do you think I planted too early here in Boston? They went in yesterday when I saw the temps for the upcoming week. Walking around other community plots in the city today though, I saw that I was the only one who made this rash decision. Don't suppose it would be a great idea to pull them and put them in the greenhouse?

      jfood - like you, I planted Rutgurs, juliet and early girl (plus others). The early girl and juliet have been pretty hardy in the past. I had trouble with Mortgage Lifter last year - it collapsed pretty fast although we had a really rotten May/June last year with tons of rain.

      1. re: alwayscooking

        Get one-gallon plastic jugs and fill with water about 3/4 full and surround each plant. During the day, the water in the jugs heats up and surround the plant with a hothouse effect, at night they release the heat so the plants don't get frozen overnight. Some garden centers near you may sell Wall-o-Water, which is a more sophisticated version of what you can do with milk jugs....and may be cheaper than all that milk if you don't go through a lot normally.

        1. re: weezycom

          That's an excellent thing to do when you get them in the ground a little on the early side.

          1. re: weezycom

            Or easier yet, you can cut out the bottom of plastic water or milk jugs and put on top of plant (w/ top removed), anchored a bit into the soil to keep them in place. it's not quite as protective of the wall-o-water, but much more economical if you have a lot of plants.

      2. Rutgers is a nice, pretty sturdy, medium-size general purpose tomato. We like it, and I think a lot of people do, judging from our difficulty finding them some years. Early Girl is also your basic medium-sized tomato, pretty reliable. I killed a Cherokee Purple seedling given to me, so not going there.

        One important thing which you probably already know but we still run into occasionally is calcium and more calcium for your tomato soil to help prevent blossom end rot. Have fun with your tomatoes!

        We might be past the last frost date for this year - I haven't been to the Agway lately, and that's where I get the info -- but it still gets pretty cold at night, so might be a little early for them to go in the ground.

        1. In the ground date is next weekend.

          1. Funny. Except for Early Girl, I've never heard of any of those. Must be a left/right coast thing. Though months away still, I'm already looking forward to BLTs. No planting for me this year however. We're mostly at Tahoe and it's just too short a season and not enough heat. But a good weekly farmers market.

            1. Bury the seedlings up to the top inch or two of stem. The buried stem will send out roots and the plant will grow better.

              If you are a smoker, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching any tomato plant or anything that will touch a tomato plant. Most tomatoes are not resistant to tobacco mosaic virus.

              Add one handful of bone meal or ground limestone per tomato plant and one teaspoon of magnesium sulfate (epsom salts) per tomato plant to the planting area, along with slow release fertilizer (one or two handfuls per tomato plant) , and rake into the ground before planting the seedlings. The first prevents blossom end rot, the second makes the plants healthier, and the third makes them grow. Do not fertilize again, or you will encourage leaf growth rather than fruit.

              1 Reply
              1. re: therealdoctorlew

                those are great suggestions doc. thank you very much

              2. So, do you have one acre and a mule? that's a lot of tomatoes. Of those listed, I love Mr. Stripey, Juliet, Mortgage Lifter, and above all, Cherokee Purple.

                1. We grew Mr. Stripeys last year - be careful of cracking! They seemed to grow faster than their skins could bear. Additionally, the plants were monsters; we didn't prune early or often enough so they ended up at about 6'.
                  Of course last year we had all that rain (I know you're also in CT) so that might have been a factor. The ones we did have ripen were pretty tasty and neat to look at (I was calling them Mr. Ugly over the winter).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bakinggirl

                    The skin splitting is indeed usually because of too much water, too fast. I think they are breeding or have bred some split-resistant varieties, but I have not tried them and don't know if/how available they are.

                  2. BTW, where did you get your tomato plants?
                    I started seedlings for Giant Belgiums and Heinz, along with a cherry tomato, but some of them are pretty leggy. I might just go buy plants!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: bakinggirl

                      Leggy plants are fine it you bury most of the stem to make roots (see my previous post above). One year i was unable to plant for a few weeks and the "seedlings" had reached 2 feet tall and spindly. I lay them sideways in trenches and left only the top 6 inches above ground. The plants grew very well indeed.

                      1. re: therealdoctorlew

                        Thanks for the post - it's about time to repot, and I'll keep in mind the "sideways" trick!

                    2. Those "topsy turvey' planters you might see advertised frequently work quite well. I have tomatoes, squash, peppers, and cukes planted all over the yard. The plants in the inverted planters are all bigger than the in ground plants.

                      BTW, if you talk to the plants don't refer to yourself in the third person. Tomato plants hate that : )

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Brandon Nelson

                        They told jfood to tell people they do not like being hung upside down on the deck as well. :-))

                        1. re: jfood

                          Early girl and sweet 100's lie though. They like to play bat and hang from their roots. I think they like guano too.

                          The hanging planters offer better access to full sun (in my case). I have had my 12 plants in for 3 weeks. They started in 2 inch 6 packs. Every one is at least a foot tall and most are pushing 2 feet with broad healthy canopies and a few blossoms.

                        2. re: Brandon Nelson

                          That made me snort coffee up my nose!

                        3. not advice.... but mr. stripey are my favorite tomatoes ever...... with green zebra a close second....

                          1. Pet your plants! I kid you not. A few years back scientists at Cornell found that petting the plants makes them grow stronger.

                            This blog has the best explanation of why it works: http://www.thisgardenisillegal.com/20...

                            "You don’t have to talk to your tomato seedlings, but they do like to be petted – Ok, so your tomato seedlings won’t be replacing your cat or dog any day soon, but “petting” your seedlings will result in a stronger plant. Petting or “tickling”, as the tomatophiles call it, mimics the wind and triggers a thigmotropism response. (Can you say thigmotropism? Good for you, because I can’t.). Thigmotropism is a plant’s response to its environment. In the case of tomatoes, wind means that it can get blown over, and the tomato plant grows thicker to compensate. Pretty clever plants. (BTW, if petting creeps you out, a fan on low will also accomplish this.)"

                            1. I have fewer bugs when I plant lots of marigolds and geraniums in my garden, interspersed among the plants.

                              1. Jfood, I use religious help with my tomatoes in Maine. All help is needed since frost free gardening is only from Memorial Day to Labor Day. I have only planted peas and asparagus is just peaking through.
                                Buddah keeps a benign eye on my tomatoes last June and gives them good karma.
                                Darth Vadar keeps the deer away w/ the dark side of the force.
                                Mr Magoo favors Rutger's tomatoes. "On the banks of the Raritan..."

                                1. I have used Automaters for over 20 years. Not only for tomatoes, but any thing I put in as a plant (peppers, squash, etc.). I like that you only put water in the pan and don't water the weeds. How to: http://www.gardeneer.com/howto/a5_red...

                                  They come 3 to a pack and if you are careful you can get several years out of them. When I use these, I mulch the ground between the plants with a couple layers of newspapers, and lots of grass clippings.

                                  You can get them from Burpee (http://www.burpee.com/product/vegetab...)

                                  In the past I have purchased them in bulk directly from the mfr, Dalen Products, 865-966-3256. I don't know if they still sell them directly any more.

                                  There is another brand called Tomato Boosters that are wider, and have a wider flange, but they don't hold up for more than 1 or 2 seasons, making them a poor value. (http://www.countrystorecatalog.com/Si...)

                                  1. Of the roughly 8 varieties that I plant...just early Girl and Juliet are on your list. Most of mine are staking varieties with Juliet being the exception. Those plants grow like a bush in the jungle....tried staking ...Impossible...then a cage like structure. each plant would yield a ridiculous amount of fruit...Like 250- 300 tomatoes per plant. ......very tasty though