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

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Old January 14, 2018   #16
taboule
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My personal experience matches what Karen described above. One of the pleasures I seek in the new growing season is that very first ripe tomato. Of course other early milestones and objectives are desirable too, and we have various means to achieve them. But aiming for that first fruit is always a fun goal of mine, and for the past ~4 years, that came from plants that carried blossoms when they went in the ground. It doesn't matter if that plant never grows as big as expected, nor yields a lot of fruit -that's why we grow many others. If those early plants give me a few early fruits, they've done their job.

Ideal growing conditions are needed throughout: lots of light (intense and duration), large pot (1 gal), proper hardening, then set-out with minimal disruption. Once plant is established and a couple of blossoms are close to fruit set, I cull the others. The only thing I plan to do differently this year is to wait 1-2 weeks longer until the ground gets warmer.

We're talking full size fruit here, cherries don't count. Black Krim won for me 2 years in a row.
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Old January 14, 2018   #17
sageib
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KarenO,
Thank you for the info. I do almost all of your suggestions. In my basement, my seeds are planted in 3 inch paper cups, filled with potting soil, warmed by my grow lights to 80 degrees. At first true leaves, I turn on a 4 inch fan set at low to simulate an outdoor breeze to stimulate the plants. At 3 weeks from germination, (the beginning of March), the grow lights and plants go into my attached garage. Temps range between 50 and 60 degrees, with a 6 inch fan to simulate a somewhat stronger breeze. At the beginning of April, I transplant all plants into plastic 4x4x4 inch pots. Plants are watered when needed, and fertilized every 2 weeks with a 1/4 dose solution of MG tomato food. At the end of April all plants are again transplanted into 1 gallon plastic pots. All plants are then put in my homemade greenhouse, ( a 4x4x4 foot structure wrapped with 6 mil opaque plastic, with a double hinged roof and access doors) At the end of May (approx.) the plants are literally outgrowing the greenhouse, and are taken out of their pots and transplanted into the garden. Even after all this preparation (even if I love every second of it) my 60 day DTM tomatoes give me only a few ripe ones in mid June, and only start to produce decently in mid July. What else can I do to get tomatoes earlier?
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Old January 14, 2018   #18
carolyn137
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MickyT View Post
Thanks Carolyn for that great explanation, which of course leads me to more questions. Does this cycle continue all season and is it regular (3 days sexual then 3 days vegetative)? Does the amount of sunlight affect the length of the phases? When fruits have already set, do they grow and ripen during only one of these phases or simultaneously while the plant continues to cycle through them?
There many factors involved and you've named some of them

Yes,the amt of sunlight is one, and does affect the cycle, but usually only near the end of the season

Fruits are at all stages of ripening on the same plant

And I'm talking primarily about indeterminates.

What did I forget to mention this time?

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Old January 14, 2018   #19
Koala Doug
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What else can I do to get tomatoes earlier?
Try putting them in the garden earlier. The end of May is two or three weeks after I do my final transplant and we're in the same general area.
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Old January 14, 2018   #20
bower
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I wonder which varieties of 60 DTM tomatoes you're growing? Many toms with a nominal dtm of 60 days are also selected to be tolerant or well adapted to early season temperatures, so they may do better simply planted out earlier as KD suggests.
I think the reason for having a DTM "from date of transplant" is to acknowledge the time it takes for tomatoes to develop enough root system to pump out the fruit as well. You are providing some extra root space with a 1 gal pot but it's not enough for full production to kick into gear.
Larger pots would be another option, but then you would need a bigger greenhouse.
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Old January 15, 2018   #21
sageib
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Bower,
I buy my seeds on line from either Johnnys or Burpee, and try to choose varieties as close to 60 DTM that give me my chosen size. Last year, I planted Burpees Early Pick VF Hybrid (62 days), and Johnnys Pink Beauty F1 (74 days) Even with the 12 day difference, some of the Pink Beauties bore fruit earlier than some of the Early Pick plants. Go figure. Do you think a 2 gallon pot would be big enough to give the root ball room to run?
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Old January 15, 2018   #22
bower
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Bower,
I buy my seeds on line from either Johnnys or Burpee, and try to choose varieties as close to 60 DTM that give me my chosen size. Last year, I planted Burpees Early Pick VF Hybrid (62 days), and Johnnys Pink Beauty F1 (74 days) Even with the 12 day difference, some of the Pink Beauties bore fruit earlier than some of the Early Pick plants. Go figure. Do you think a 2 gallon pot would be big enough to give the root ball room to run?
I don't have the experience to advise about that, you may have to experiment.
I usually plant mine from beer cups right into 5 gallon or larger containers - but I'm growing in containers anyway with no plan to transplant into the ground. I have grown a few in 1 gal for transplant and a few I kept in 1 gal just for the sake of trying a fruit or two (which is about all they produced). I would imagine it gets harder and harder to transplant when you move up from a gallon to two or larger, because the plant will be larger as well, but it may be worth a try.

If I was in your position and wanted some steady fruit from June onward, I would probably plant one or two into 5 gallon pots and let them stay in the pot and provide the early maters while the others are getting on the go.

The other possibility is to experiment with different varieties that meet your size and earliness criteria, as well as trying different size containers. That is one thing I have noticed definitely, from growing the same variety several years, that some varieties just need that root space much more than others, and will be cranky and late if there's any delay in the root space.

Cherries can do a lot in small containers, more than others, but that is not the size you wanted!

If you do decide to experiment, I hope you will take some pics and post your outcomes, so we can all learn from it.
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Old January 15, 2018   #23
sageib
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Bower,
Thank you for your opinions. I love this site, and am learning as I go.
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