Tomatoville® Gardening Forums


Notices

Member discussion regarding the methods, varieties and merits of growing tomatoes.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old February 21, 2017   #1
StephenCoote
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
Posts: 42
Default A Tomato Growing Philosophy is Starting to Gel for Me

I've grown tomatoes for many years. Over the last few seasons it has become a bit of a passion. I get quite excited as I'm selecting seed to sow in early spring. Here is my current thinking about growing these wonderful fruit:

1. Best variety. Although I am still on the lookout for it, it may not exist in the form that I've fantasised about. My ideal is a mind-blowingly tasty fruit that is produced in staggering quantities on an early, reliable and robust plant. I still keep an eye out for such a variety, but it is apparent that what someone else claims marvellous results with somewhere is not necessarily going to be a winner in my back yard. Interestingly, the plant that has produced the fruit I've liked the most so far this season was a surprise. I'd planted seeds of Gold Nugget that I'd saved, and one of the plants turned out to be a big, productive vine bearing fairly tasty red fruit about 1" to 11/4" in diameter. I don't know what happened, but I have already saved seed to see how it performs next year.

2. Big or small fruit. Fruit that is smaller than, say, 5/8" in diameter is a bit of a waste of time to deal with if the tomatoes are going to be processed in some way. Sure, if they have some special quality like taste or good timing, then it is worth having a plant or two to provide snacks and salads. On the other hand, big fruit can take a long time to mature. They also seem to get more easily blown off the vine in a strong wind and a lot more can happen to them between flowering and harvest. This year, some of my bigger tomatoes had rot issues, particularly the ribbed ones. Right now I favour fruit that is maybe 1" to 3" in diameter for my 'staple' crop.

3. Early or late. Quick-growing varieties seem like the most sensible choice, especially if they can tolerate some lower temperatures. This is the second season I've been aware of psyllid beetles in the garden, but both years they have become apparent after I've started to harvest my earlier varieties. I'd rather not use pesticides, so I reckon that by growing early varieties I can get a good quantity of sauce and drying tomatoes before the psyllid infestation reaches its peak. And while I can always try to grow some later varieties, if I want more tomatoes later in the season, I can sow some of my early varieties a month or two after the first sowing.

4. Hybrid or open-pollinated. Open pollinated is what I currently favour. I want to keep growing seeds of my more successful varieties year after year. Perhaps I will end up with plants that are really well suited to my local environment. Maybe I will find that some become more pest (i.e. psyllid) resistant. I think I'm more likely to make a contribution to future generations by growing (and observing and selecting seed from) several plants of two or three varieties rather than growing just one or two plants of many varieties.

5. How many leaders on a plant?. While I like the idea of maximising production with multiple leaders, I see the wisdom of having just one leader spaced and located so that I can thoroughly inspect all the leaves and maybe brush off any pests (I've been using a pastry brush). Next year I'm thinking of having two leaders on many of my plants. This is a compromise that might give me less leaf mass to deal with, but I can maybe get more fruit from a plant compared to those with just one leader. I will also have a spare leader if the growing tip of the other gets damaged. Perhaps it is best to have single leader plants, planted as close as sensibly possible. This should give a better root to leaf ratio overall. Dunno. But it is interesting to think about.

I don't know much about the psyllid beetle yet. I panicked a bit when I first became aware of them, but now I'm thinking that there should be ways to deal with them that I'm happy with. Here's a photo of just a few of what I think is the nymph stage of the critters. I mostly see them on the underside of the leaves, but sometimes they sit on the top surface. These ones were maybe 1/16" long, or just a little longer.



I'm thinking that cutting off excess tomato leaves might be good thing to do. This will make it easier when I'm on a search and destroy mission for the psyllids. It will also mean there are less leaves for them to land on. I've read about folks who reckon you can remove heaps of leaf from tomato plants and still get good results (if not improved crops), so I should experiment with this. Does anyone here have a practice of trimming a lot of leaf material from their plants? Why do you do it? What results do you get?

Thanks in advance for your ideas....
StephenCoote is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 21, 2017   #2
heirloomtomaguy
Tomatovillian™
 
heirloomtomaguy's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: glendora ca
Posts: 2,559
Default

Last year i pruned my plants down to 1 stem in a few cases 2 stems. From there i did random pruning to help with circulation and to help keep down the bug populations. My method was similar to the pro greenhouse growers. I had more quaility fruit and more of it per plant than i ever had before. Needless to say i am a believer in pruning and will be at it again here shortly. One thing i will warn you about is the possibility of tomato sun scald once your season progresses. The cherry tomatoes did not show much but the larger tomatoes suffered.
__________________
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."

Last edited by heirloomtomaguy; February 21, 2017 at 07:22 PM.
heirloomtomaguy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 21, 2017   #3
jtjmartin
Tomatovillian™
 
jtjmartin's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Williamsburg Zone 7b
Posts: 735
Default

Heirloom:

What spacing did you use with single stem?

Jeff
jtjmartin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 21, 2017   #4
heirloomtomaguy
Tomatovillian™
 
heirloomtomaguy's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: glendora ca
Posts: 2,559
Default

I am at every 24 inches. I could put them closer but i have not had any disease issues since i spaced them that way.
__________________
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."
heirloomtomaguy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 21, 2017   #5
MissS
Tomatovillian™
 
MissS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Pewaukee, Wisconsin
Posts: 2,939
Default

Soapy water should help with the psyllid beetles. So should Neem oil and Diatomaceous Earth if you can find it over there. All are easy to apply and non-toxic for the most part.

I hope that this helps.
__________________
~ Patti ~
AKA - Hooper
Zone 5
MissS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 21, 2017   #6
BigVanVader
Tomatovillian™
 
BigVanVader's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Greenville, South Carolina
Posts: 3,011
Default

I'm going to do 16 inches this year under plastic. Then 40% shade in July till fall. Surround helps with sunscald but it isn't a silver bullet. I did 2 stems for a few years, mostly single last year and I'm undecided still. Planning all single stem beefsteaks this year then I will decide. For me the fruitiest varieties have been Fred Hempel's, specifically Blush and Sunrise Bumblebee.
BigVanVader is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 21, 2017   #7
BigVanVader
Tomatovillian™
 
BigVanVader's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Greenville, South Carolina
Posts: 3,011
Default

Oh and Surround might solve your bug issues if you can keep it on between rains.
BigVanVader is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 21, 2017   #8
Cole_Robbie
Tomatovillian™
 
Cole_Robbie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Illinois, zone 6
Posts: 8,192
Default

I use a bio-insecticide called Met52ec for whiteflies, and after spraying I notice a lot of dead potato beetles, which are very similar to the psyllid beetle. It is expensive stuff, but a little goes a long way.
Cole_Robbie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 22, 2017   #9
StephenCoote
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
Posts: 42
Default

Thanks very much for the comments and ideas.

I have both neem oil and diatomaceous earth. I sprayed neem on the tomatoes soon after I discovered the psyllids. The next day I looked at some psyllid nymphs with a magnifying loupe and they appeared to be alive and happy. So I squirted them with some dry diatomaceous earth powder. They were still alive after a few hours, but the next day some were dead.

I'll have to check out the garden store for the other insecticides mentioned. I'm not keen on using insecticides, but I realize some are more benign than others. And those psyllids are bugging me.

Haven't tried soapy water yet, but it would be good to see what it does.
StephenCoote is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 06:54 PM.


★ Tomatoville® is a registered trademark of Commerce Holdings, LLC ★ All Content ©2017 Commerce Holdings, LLC ★