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chai June 19, 2008 06:14 PM

How's your garden doing North Cals?
I am in Davis and my heirloom tomato plants are anywhere from a foot tall to 2 and a half feet tall.Cherries have green fruit, and there are blossoms on just about everything else.Down in Stockton friends have huge still green tomatoes on a variety called Taxi that is obviously from the name going to turn yellow that I grew from seed but didn't plant in my own garden and good-sized tomatoes on a few other heirlooms and lots of tomatoes on their hybrids.I probably shouldn't compare, my plants are fine,I am fertilizing with organic fertlizers,maybe need to do a bit more often-am I doing something wrong? Should I have almost full grown tomatoes by now? I don't have hybrids this year and I know my plants will eventually start to produce but maybe not until July.What kinds of fertlizers do you all use?I grew all the plants in my garden and the garden in Stockton from seed-the heirlooms, at least,so maybe their advantage is simply better soil from being on the right side of the river.It's not a big deal, just wondering how I can do better.My community garden plot here is the same-lots of blossoms, plants not really big yet. Some plants in other plots are bigger, some are the same size as mine.Anyway, just wanting some advice, and to hear how other gardens in this area are coming along.Thanks-Chai

rnewste June 19, 2008 06:51 PM

Hey Chai,

Just another ho-hum year here in San Jose.

The Purple Haze and Brandywine Sudduth are over 7 ft now:

JD Special C-Tex and Purple Haze are putting out by the dozens:

The Paul Robesons are about to blush:

...and the Stupice keep on ripening:

So I guess, no complaints.:twisted::twisted::twisted::twisted:


chai June 19, 2008 08:46 PM

Wow Ray I'm speechless! If that isn't the most wonderful sight, gush gush.Just shoot me now, lol! Chai

chai June 19, 2008 09:13 PM

OK I just read the article on the forum from the San Jose Mercury-incredible! I'm not very handy and dh is worse...but we are going to try this.Maybe not this year, though by the looks of things it is not too late in the season.Thanks so much for sharing, Ray.This is really innovative-Chai

feraltomatoes June 22, 2008 12:04 PM

Weather has been a roller coaster this season.

It was the coldest spring since the early 70's in the Napa Valley. 20 nights in April where at or below 35 and the wind machines used for frost protection where on almost every night.

I am picking a few Early Girl's from some plants that made it through several frost's planted out in March, my first main patch planting was delayed until the first of May(two days after a frost)

Chai, Davis area has some of the most tomato prolific soils anywhere. How many thousands of acres of tomatoes are being grown within a few miles of your house? I think the whole area is class I soil, the potential for great tomatoes is there, not sure what is in the soil directly under your tomatoes but if they are young and flowering they will benefit from a good and regular feeding as most of this area in Northern Ca. is low in nitrogen but has great structure and super high minerals.

Ray, your plants look great!

I was kicking around the idea of a tomato fest around the first week of August.

chai June 23, 2008 08:37 PM

Well, if anyone knows about tomatoes it is you.I listened to the guy at the local Ace hardware this past week.He said I should not fertilize my tomato plants, that they need to be stressed and not watered often.I water them once or maybe if it's real hot, twice a week, that's fine, but have fertilized in the last few months once or twice and he says that is the problem, that they need to be stressed to produce.So what say you? I broke down at the Coop here and bought extra strength Tiger Bloom for fruit and bud but am torn on whether to use it on the tomatoes or not.Do I or don't I? My soil is fine-you are right- there are tomato fields all over the place here.I gave away some Tie Dyes I grew to 3 or 4 friends-they are the main tomato everyone is talking about just so ya know.I'm also growing Pork Chop and Bigbarred -did I get the name right, I'm on the computer afterall and not in the garden....and of course many many others...I know eventually the plants will be big but I want them to produce well.Dh is saying we should do a soil test. Last year everything got so big but did not produce that many and seems like each year has gotten a bit less but that could be our weird weather.I just think it's a matter of doing the right thing-so! Fertilize or not?

pbud June 28, 2008 07:34 PM

I just posted similar frustrations, Chai...should have looked at your thread first! I totally sympathize with you (and am in utter awe of your results, Ray!) I'm guessing that as Brad says, the strange and tomato unfriendly weather is what is setting things back more than your soil. My soil in both Contra Costa and Oakland is good and I haven't done anything differently than I have in the past 7 years, but my plants are smaller and fruitset is terrible - both are worst I've ever had. I'm just hoping for better weather ahead and a later than usual harvest.

Side note: I was really sorry to have missed last year's N. Cal tomato get together and I'd be happy to come to one the first week of August.

Hope you all are breathing easier this weekend that we all were last week!


chai June 28, 2008 08:23 PM

Well, I think I was sounding a bit neurotic in that last post-told myself to chill out and let things be this week and my plants are getting more flowers on them.I saw only one brown blossom through all the smoke haze we are having from the fires. I haven't decided yet whether to fertilize or not,except for one plant which looks like it just won't make it if I don't.So I'm going to wait a bit more.As for a tomato gathering the 1st week of Aug-I am in.I am dissappointed I missed the ones from years past.Just wasn't on the right forum! Always great to hear how the nor cal gardens are doing - Ray, I am in complete awe, But Paul, don't worry yet.I'm not! keep me posted-Chai

annietomatomad July 2, 2008 02:40 AM

Ray, that is an amazing garden you have there. Any chance I can come by and pick your brain on how come your plants are all that tall and mine are only half that size? I did pick my first ripe JD Special C-Tex yesterday and cut into it tonight. It was out of this world good!

Cheers, Annie

feraltomatoes July 4, 2008 01:36 PM

Finally got to the computer after a LONG week.
The smokey air was terrible, going to be a smokey summer since it is only beginning.

As far as stressing your plants for fruit it can work but can will usually cause more problems like locking up nutrients and causing blooms to drop.
Looking at Ray's tomatoes I would say they have not been stressed at all but given an even diet of water and nutrients.
Those fields of commercial tomatoes in your area use about 200-400 pounds of fertilizer per acre. (which has almost doubled in price in a year)

Since your plants are already in the ground apply liquid fertilezer at 30% strength once a week. (five gallon bucket with small hole drilled in bottom, MG is rated at 1 tbs per gallon so add a tbs. to the bucket and put about 3 gallons of water=about 30% dosage. Let it slowly drip from the hole so it goes deep in the ground, shallow fertilizing makes shallow roots=problems.
You need to build a factory for the fruit and if your tomatoes are exposed to the sun around hear you can be in trouble.

Look at your leaf length(20inches or better), color(green not yellow), the way the leaves a cupped(are they liking the sun or hiding from it?)

Can you post some pics?

Thinking mid August for Norcatt would be better as this year is alot later then normal.

pbud July 4, 2008 03:11 PM

Thanks for that advice, Brad, and encouragement, Chai. I have a couple of 5 ga buckets and am going to start the fertilizing treatment for my plants ASAP.

I'm out of town the last two weeks of August. Any chance folks could get together for NORCATT August 9th or 10th?


betsylt July 8, 2008 12:28 AM

Hey Ray, Brad, Annie, all...

I'm game for another NORCATT tasting event (yeah, it's redundant, but what the heck...) this year -- I'll check the calendar and see what is open in August. I know that we're away the last weekend in August (that has Labor Day on the Monday).

More soon,


rnewste July 8, 2008 01:28 AM


We had a wonderful time at Brad's NORCATT event last year at Wild Boar Farms, and without imposing on Brad, I would really like to see the 2008 event at his Farm again this year. We all got a great tour of his many thousands of tomato plants, especially his unique striped varieties, and he was generous to fix each of us with a box of his tomatoes to share at home with others. What a great day!


feraltomatoes July 9, 2008 06:46 PM

It is smokin hot out there. 107 in my garden yesterday and on it's way to the same an hour ago when I realized I better get out of there.

Looks like a couple more days in the frying pan before we are back to good weather.
I have been asked several times what I thought was the ideal tomato weather, my reply was 90 for a high and 60 for a low, just happens to be very close to what the averages are for my area.

I am thinking August 10th or maybe the following Sunday. I think I might go out on a limb and invite about 100 people so we might have a dozen people this year;)

Ray, I think I remember you offering to volunteer:)
I moved the garden about a mile down the road this year and hope all my plants handle the heat.

I have about 16,000 plants in so no one needs to worry if they do not have tomatoes to bring.

Hundreds of wineries very close by if anyone from far away needs another reason to fly this way, I can supply some recommendations:yes: .

rnewste July 9, 2008 07:40 PM


I'll be happy to come up several hours early to help set things up (in fact, I'd love to come WAY early - salt-shaker in hand and just wander your fields, they were amazing last year!).

August 17 would work better for me, but it would be good to take a poll on (first) your schedule, then (second) when the largest population could attend.


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