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Aug 6, 2012 05:38 PM

Late season heirloom tomatoes??

It's been so hot here in South OC, Ca that my early tomatoes have dried up and I don't think they'll last much longer. With this year's weather, I'm thinking can get in a second crop if I plant now.

Can I just look for types with smaller "days to pick"? I'm planting in containers, so watering and weather are really critical. What types would be best?? I've been told to avoid larger varieties.

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  1. Try Stupice (Stoo-peech-kuh) heirlooms. They produce loads of 2 inch fruits earlier than anything else I have grown - right around 60 days give or take a week. Big time tomato flavor in a small, reliable package.

    1. Are your tomatoes determinates? Have you ever tried using shade cloth over your tomatoes?

      5 Replies
      1. re: raytamsgv

        All are indeterminates. Do you think the green fruit will ripen correctly with shade cloth now, after all the leaves are gone? Looks like most of the branches are still alive.

        1. re: Midlife

          If all the leaves are gone, your plants don't have much of a chance left. Do you know why your leaves dried out?

          I don't know where you live, but if you live inland, you can normally use shade cloth to reduce the amount of sunlight they receive. You don't need to block out all the sunlight. I know people who have used about 50% shade cloth in the inland valleys for their plants.

          At this point, I would just buy more tomatoes from a local nursery. It's a lot faster than propagating from seed or cuttings. If you're lucky, you might be able to get another crop before this winter.

          1. re: raytamsgv

            SouthOC is Southern Orange County, California..... halfway between LA and San Diego.

            My guess is it was under-watering, due to the extremely hot weather this summer. But I had the same yellowing (at the bottoms of the plants only, last year, at our previous home (where the temps are as much as 25 degrees lower). The tomatoes ARE ripening slowly now, and I bought an inexpensive moisture gauge to check the soil. Next is some shade cloth. Last year I sprayed with neem oil and that stopped the yellowing. This year I was too late I guess and all the leaves browned and withered. So.... I'm not sure if both years were the same problem.

            I bought a few 4" plants and am keeping them in the pots until I see what happens with the bare vines. Can't keep them that way much longer.

            1. re: Midlife

              Why did you spray with Neem? Early Blight?

              Another trick you can try is to use a small tray at the bottom of your pot. Fill it with water. That way, the soil can draw the water from the bottom of the pot throughout the day. But you need to make sure you don't drown your plants.

              I personally don't use a moisture gauge. They don't actually measure moisture levels. Instead, they are dependent on ions in the soil. As a test, try putting it in pure water (distilled is the best). It will probably show that there is little moisture. Using your fingers to feel the soil is probably more reliable.

              1. re: raytamsgv

                Yes. The Neem oil was for what we concluded was early blight.

                It seemed like this year the plants went from just yellow at the bottom to totally dried leaves in just a couple of days (about the time it got really hot). Interestingly, a few of the branches are green growth, and one tall dried one has green growth at the end. I'm assuming that means moisture is still flowing through.

      2. You can get a jump on it by pulling a sucker off a current plant and sticking it in the ground. It will wilt for a couple days, but should then root and perk up. This way you'll have a sprouted plant in the ground and won't have to worry about germination.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Novelli

          Bought plants, not seeds. That's what we do all the time.

          There ARE a few decent newer branches, so I was thinking about keeping those and trimming the rest of the plants back.

          1. re: Midlife

            I had stated that this method does not require seeds and is much fast than germinating seeds. I thought it would be beneficial to you since you were looking to get a jump on a fall crop.

            'Suckers' are the growth on an existing tomato plant between the stem and a main branch. They kind of sprout out from those "crotch" areas on the plant.

            When you see a sucker that is about 12 inches long (or longer), you can trim them off the plant and stick them into the ground (or a pot in your case) about 6-8 inches deep and water it in very well. Those planted suckers will sprout a new root system and you'll have a new tomato plant growing in no time.

            If you have trouble identifying a 'sucker', you go to Google images and search for 'tomato sucker'.

            1. re: Novelli

              Wow, who knew!! I'm doing this tonight. All my tomato plants are seriously unhappy with drought and heat conditions we've had all summer.