Author Topic: Tomatoes-your best advice  (Read 1346 times)

Offline Rooney

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Tomatoes-your best advice
« on: December 31, 2013, 02:59:15 PM »
Ok, so this is our fourth attempt at tomatoes.  The first DS overwatered them, so it was no surprise it didn't work.  The second attempt was indoors and the plants got big with small (but good) tomatoes. The third attempt was last summer when the temps were about 108 during the time they were to set fruit (huge plants with no fruit).  Now in the greenhouse the starts have gotten up to about 7 inches tall and are not looking so good.  The soil is loaded with composted llama manure and straw.  Some of the best gardening soil I have ever seen.  The temperature in the greenhouse is only staying around 60-65 degrees because it has been so cold.

My question is do you think it is the soil or the lower temps or both? Maybe too low or high nitrogen levels?  If you think it is the soil, do you have an all natural organic soil recipe you use that works? (preferably not store bought)  Everything else looks so good in there (especially the kale).  I am told anyone can grow tomatoes, so why can't we?  Gonna get some more tomato starts going today later.  Wondering if I can still save these 15 or so plants.  Any info you can give will be appreciated.  I hate for a whole 4 x 8 plant bed full of tomato plants to go to waste. :P

Offline greyhoundgirl

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Re: Tomatoes-your best advice
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2013, 03:11:07 PM »
I'm wondering if your nitrogen may be too high in relation to the other minerals?  Not just P and K, but everything.  Seems like straw and manure both would be very high in N.     Might be worth an inexpensive test.  We have the same issue with summer heat and them not setting fruit.  I am thinking of trying some shade cloth this summer to see if it helps.

Offline Rooney

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Re: Tomatoes-your best advice
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2013, 03:33:25 PM »
Are you just talking about a regular PH test or something else?

Offline greyhoundgirl

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Re: Tomatoes-your best advice
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2013, 03:50:59 PM »
Something kind of like this:  http://www.lowes.com/pd_214248-83666-1210_0__?productId=3024638&Ntt=soil+test+kits&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNtt%3Dsoil%2Btest%2Bkits&facetInfo=

I see something similar at our local feed store and places like Lowes, usually for $4-5.  I've used one to test before and they check nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, and pH.  Then you know if you need to add sulfur or potassium or whatever to balance your soil.  Extenstion offices also usually offer tests but you'd have to ask the cost from one in your area.  You take in your soil sample and I think they send it off.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2013, 03:51:19 PM by greyhoundgirl »

Offline Rooney

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Re: Tomatoes-your best advice
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2013, 03:59:30 PM »
Thanks Cath, I'll have DH pick one up tomorrow.

Offline Sandlappersue

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Re: Tomatoes-your best advice
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2013, 06:08:02 PM »
The temps are definitely too low. Perhaps your soil has too much compoost. A soil test as Catherine suggested is the best way to know.

Offline Rooney

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Re: Tomatoes-your best advice
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2013, 06:19:10 PM »
The temps are definitely too low. Perhaps your soil has too much compoost. A soil test as Catherine suggested is the best way to know.
Ya know I have been worried about the temps in there but it is the best we can keep it until the other heat source is hooked up and running. Right now we are operating on a wood burner alone. We have the other unit, just lack the hooking up part (saving for that now).  I will admit that I am also concerned about the lower humidity level due to using all dry heat.  This should only be an issue until the fish aquaponics beds are in there to provide moisture though. I can tell that this is going to be more of a balancing act during the winter months.   Is there a chance to save these plants if it is the temps?
« Last Edit: December 31, 2013, 06:55:14 PM by Rooney »

Offline wrancher

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Re: Tomatoes-your best advice
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2014, 07:30:18 AM »
You cant put warming trays right? I really think the soil mix might be to much overkill. I would try and repot if possible. I would love to have your greenhouse

Offline Sandlappersue

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Re: Tomatoes-your best advice
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2014, 09:59:20 AM »
Also, what kind of straw? Certain types would be a big no-no due to PH. I'd up the temp and humidity and cut back on so much compost.

Offline Rooney

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Re: Tomatoes-your best advice
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2014, 02:34:26 PM »
You cant put warming trays right? I really think the soil mix might be to much overkill. I would try and repot if possible. I would love to have your greenhouse
We use warming mats and lights for the starts, but once they are transplanted they are just in a cedar raised bed.  I think maybe I didn't mention that the soil isn't straight composted manure and straw, it was mixed with lots of dirt also and composted like that for like 9 months to a year before usage.

Also, what kind of straw? Certain types would be a big no-no due to PH. I'd up the temp and humidity and cut back on so much compost.
You may be right about the temperature. :)  It may be the issue because we had warmer temps last night and today and DH says the plants have perked up and grown a little.  :)
I really am not sure what kind of straw. ???  We got this from our neighbors.  I assume it is what they feed the llamas.  We usually use horse manure instead because we have horses in the back field, and that seemed to work better with tomatoes.  May have to go back to this, but won't know until we test the soil. We are also going to get some worm beds and some tumblers going soon to help with this. The weird thing is that everything else is growing right along, the oninons, radishes, garlic, cauliflower, cukes, cantilope and especially kale.  The one other plant that isn't really growing that well is the peppers and they seem to be another one that likes the warmer temps.  I think all might be well, if we could just get the supplementing heat source hooked up. (not this month)  We are still going to test the soil anyway.  Fortunately, once we move things to the aquaponics beds, soil is only used in the starting process.  We will still use the dirt beds for root crops though, so I need to get this right.

I will try to post some pics later so you can see what you think by sight. :)
Thanks
« Last Edit: January 01, 2014, 02:43:40 PM by Rooney »

Offline Rooney

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Re: Tomatoes-your best advice
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2014, 10:21:46 AM »
Well girls, we had just decided to pull up this bed of tomatoes that we THOUGHT were not going to do anything (You know the ones from LONG, LONG time ago.  Went out there yesterday evening and DH had to stake them (actually tied with string to rafters) because they were completely LOADED down with them.  YES, WE CAN GROW TOMATOES!!!!! ;D  I was starting to wonder.  The Tiny Tim's I planted are especially plentiful and yummy too.  Evidently the trick is to leave them alone and pretend they are not there. LOL ;)

Offline greyhoundgirl

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Re: Tomatoes-your best advice
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2014, 02:26:39 PM »
Glad you got tomatoes after all!  What a pleasant surprise!