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Hopleaf

Gardening: 2002-2009 Seasons

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Time for those of us in Zone 4 (probably Zone 5, too, and of course anyone north of Zone 4) to start trimming your tomato plants.  Pinch the new blossoms, and trim all foliage that's pointing downwards to give every tomato we've got a chance to ripen.  Let those plants work on ripening, not growing!

What excellent advice - what is the significance of downward pointing foliage? I usually trim off some extra leaves to thin things out a bit and let the sun in, but I don't know what downward pointing foliage means. I think we may have a few more weeks of ripening here Zone 5, with any luck they'll keep going right until the end of September, but that first frost can come at any time. It's New England, after all.... :wink:

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Time for those of us in Zone 4 (probably Zone 5, too, and of course anyone north of Zone 4) to start trimming your tomato plants.  Pinch the new blossoms, and trim all foliage that's pointing downwards to give every tomato we've got a chance to ripen.  Let those plants work on ripening, not growing!

What excellent advice - what is the significance of downward pointing foliage? I usually trim off some extra leaves to thin things out a bit and let the sun in, but I don't know what downward pointing foliage means. I think we may have a few more weeks of ripening here Zone 5, with any luck they'll keep going right until the end of September, but that first frost can come at any time. It's New England, after all.... :wink:

THe downward facing "branches" will never produce anything. At this point, I pinch off any new blossoms, but anything that has set a tomato (however small) stays. It is just important to allow the plant at this point to put it's energy into getting those tomatoes to the edible stage rather than working on the green stuff.

Next year, I'm going a new route with my tomatoes -- one my father did for many years. I'll stop at the tire store and take a mess of junk tires off their hands. Stack them two high, fill the rim with peat moss and the middle with dirt and compost and plant the tomatoes there. The big advantage of that in this place of the late spring is that the tires get nice and warm on a sunny day -- so the dirt is warmer, and they stay warmer at night (tomatoes don't like cool evenings). It always gave my dad a head start. And, with the peat in the rim, if I'm going to be gone for a few days, just soak the peat in the rim and it will leach out into the dirt and roots over the next few days. The season is short here, and we don't get the plants in until Memorial Day weekend.

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gallery_9387_874_7334.jpg

It turns out that these "currant" tomatoes are quite the little flavor bombs. My mom told me that of all of her tomatoes growing this year, they have the most tomato-ey flavor. 

She also found out little kids go nuts over them. Her neighbor's grandkids (on both sides of my mom's house) have discovered the "currant" tomato plant and have a great time harvesting and eating the little fruit. My mom donated the plant to the cause, so to speak.

So now it looks like both grandma neighbors will be planting "currant" tomato plants next year.  Who knew?! :laugh:

I have a few of those type of tomato plants, but I'm pretty sure they were called cherry tomatoes. And yeah they're amazingly good - almost like candy. Mmm mmm...

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I have a few of those type of tomato plants, but I'm pretty sure they were called cherry tomatoes. And yeah they're amazingly good - almost like candy. Mmm mmm...

Currants are about half the size or smaller than cherry tomatoes. I somehow got some orange currant seeds this year - they were supposed to be Sungold, and all the other Sungolds are of normal size, but one plant is tiny currant-size orange tomatoes - delicious nonetheless though!

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THe downward facing "branches" will never produce anything.  At this point, I pinch off any new blossoms, but anything that has set a tomato (however small) stays.  It is just important to allow the plant at this point to put it's energy into getting those tomatoes to the edible stage rather than working on the green stuff.

Most of mine are producing like crazy, the ones I worry about are the "Striped German" heirlooms, the few I have are just barely half the size they need to be and still dead green, they're really just starting to bloom now - is that late or what?

Next year, I'm going a new route with my tomatoes -- one my father did for many years.  I'll stop at the tire store and take a mess of junk tires off their hands.  Stack them two high, fill the rim with peat moss and the middle with dirt and compost and plant the tomatoes there.  The big advantage of that in this place of the late spring is that the tires get nice and warm on a sunny day -- so the dirt is warmer, and they stay warmer at night (tomatoes don't like cool evenings).  It always gave my dad a head start.  And, with the peat in the rim, if I'm going to be gone for a few days, just soak the peat in the rim and it will leach out into the dirt and roots over the next few days.  The season is short here, and we don't get the plants in until Memorial Day weekend.

Big advantage of your tire method is also that you can plant them plenty deep for a better head start. I don't have room for tires, though! I tried something new this year, the red mulch that's supposed to heat the soil and increase production. My tomatoes are better than they have ever been, so I will probably do that again. I don't dare plant anything out here till Memorial Day weekend, but I put the mulch down a week or two before, by then the soil was good and warm and I planted them all with a bulb planter so they went in fairly deep. Even with all the horrible cold rain we had, they survived and thrived.

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Heidi, I completely forgot about my Wall o' water things. Have you tried those? They do work. I used them for years and then just rediscovered them during a garage clean-out project!

To change topics, but garden related, thoughts on best ways to compost? In my old house, I had three chicken wire rounds. One had new stuff that was turned into the second one that was turned into the third one (the third one was gold). When we moved to the new house, they gave us some black plastic thing with a lid that is absolute crap. Now that my neighbors have cut down a couple of trees, there is some light on the "unsightly" part of my hard (next to the garage, behind a shed), and I'm about to go back to the former system. I don't think that the black plastic thing gets enough water or sunlight.

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Heidi, I completely forgot about my  things.  Have you tried those?  They do work.  I used them for years and then just rediscovered them during a garage clean-out project!

Nope, haven't tried those, our weather can be so dodgy in the spring that I don't bother to plant anything early (except peas and sweet peas), I start all my tomatoes myself and I would be seriously cheesed off if they got whacked in an early frost. I think they take up too much space for my little postage stamp - I use the spiral tomato stakes about a foot apart, I think I crammed 14 of them in this year, with a couple of small cages for the pear tomatoes.

ETA...Green Zebras are ripe today - so sweet.....

gallery_44086_3290_4224.jpg

To change topics, but garden related, thoughts on best ways to compost?

My landlords had a three-bin composter, they'd turn it every year, and what they got out of it was nice but it was not enough to be bothered with the turning. IMO they never 'fed' it or watered it properly so they didn't get out of it what they could have. Now we just grow tomatoes in it, they self sow there anyway and they're the nicest ones on the property. I do miss the compost though, hate having fruit waste in my house because of the fruit flies!


Edited by Heidi the Pilgrim (log)

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Depending on the amount of compostable material you create, you could also try vermicomposting. We bought a small indoor composter this year and have been very pleased so far. The worms take care of almost all our kitchen waste, the unit doesn't smell, and it produces a very rich dark compost in almost no time at all.

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Help! I need some advice, quick.

Recently we have gotten a lot of rain in a short period of time and a lot of my tomatoes that are sitting halfway ripened on the plants have started to split their skins. What is the best way to handle this situation? Do I leave them on the vine to ripen and hope that insects don't find them and/or they start to rot? Or do I remove them and find some way to ripen them indoors?

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split tomatoes...depends on whether the split is small enough, and the weather cool and dry enough, for the tomato to "heal over". Otherwise...

Now for my question: MINT

I have no trouble growing hairy mints, but a great deal of trouble with smooth-leafed mints. Bugs eat 'em, even in places where I don't think there are many bugs.

The only one that got by the bugs fell victim to my husband's enthusiasm one "Neighborhood Clean-up" Day. I bought another one, and SOMETHING strips every leaf off it every time it has the temerity to sprout any. The area is relatively dry, and I don't see snail or slug tracks, but I'm reluctant to spray or lay bait around herbs that are eaten fresh.

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Helen: I thought that all mints were pest-free! Anyway, my mint is pest-free. :biggrin:

TogoRad: Sorry to hear about your tomatoes. People here in my rural city often use plastic covers to keep out rain.

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split tomatoes...depends on whether the split is small enough, and the weather cool and dry enough, for the tomato to "heal over". Otherwise...

Now for my question: MINT

I have no trouble growing hairy mints, but a great deal of trouble with smooth-leafed mints. Bugs eat 'em, even in places where I don't think there are many bugs.

The only one that got by the bugs fell victim to my husband's enthusiasm one "Neighborhood Clean-up" Day. I bought another one, and SOMETHING strips every leaf off it every time it has the temerity to sprout any. The area is relatively dry, and I don't see snail or slug tracks, but I'm reluctant to spray or lay bait around herbs that are eaten fresh.

Is there a possibility it's much bigger creatures? The rabbits and squirrels in my neighborhood dined much better off my garden than I did this year.

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much bigger creatures?

This is a strip between the house and the street - some 8 inches wide. The only bigger creatures infesting it are the local middle schoolers, but we find a video camera and microphone deters them effectively :rolleyes: .

Specifically, the smooth-leaved mint is planted UNDER the outside water-heater, where previous unwanted invasions of other mints and ferns throve wonderfully (without that protection, the area is surrounded by so much concrete that it's a bit dry for mint). Even the most hell-bent middle schooler couldn't get under there!

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Help! I need some advice, quick.

Recently we have gotten a lot of rain in a short period of time and a lot of my tomatoes that are sitting halfway ripened on the plants have started to split their skins. What is the best way to handle this situation? Do I leave them on the vine to ripen and hope that insects don't find them and/or they start to rot? Or do I remove them and find some way to ripen them indoors?

After I read this post, I went out to check my cherry tomato plants and found there were a lot of split cherry tomatoes :shock: . This is definitely due to yesterday's heavy rainfall, but I hadn't expected that it would cause such damage to the cherry tomatoes... :sad::sad:

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This is embarassing, but I thought tomatoes split because they had not enough water. That would explain why watering heavily didn't help..... :wacko:

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Thanks for the replies helenjp and Hiroyuki. It looks like we have more rain on the way and that may seal the deal for me. I'll just harvest what I can from now and hope for the best.

Sorry to hear about the mint and cherry tomatoes.

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Forgot to say, freezing what you pick now is probably more reliable than canning.

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Here is a photo of my cherry tomatoes, some of which were split:

gallery_16375_5_132000.jpg

I posted this and another photo here.

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My son dug out a head of cabbage from one of our SFGs (Square Foot Gardens).

Photos here.

It was soft and sweet!

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Wow. That's pretty amazing! I never seem to have time to do over-winter gardening, although building a greenhouse stays on my list of "to-do" things! Right now I'm in the throes of planning for spring planting, here... and seed starting in just a couple of weeks!

No snow here, yet, so far this year...

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What a treat, to have fresh greens from the garden, despite the snow.

Im thinking of planting bell peppers this year. Does anyone have any favorite varieties? Otherwise I shall take the seeds from a supermarket donor.

thanks

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Im thinking of planting bell peppers this year.  Does anyone have any favorite varieties?  Otherwise I shall take the seeds from a supermarket donor. 

Good timing for me; I just started my pepper seeds this week. I am growing two new varieties this year: Northstar and Alma Paprika. I ordered my seeds from Territorial for these, and they have good descriptions online. Returning from last year I also have Jupiter Sweet bells, Purple Beauty, and King of the North peppers. I can't remember where these seeds originated, as I've had them so long (I save seed.) I do have inordinately fertile soil, but these peppers have all grown flawlessly here in south-central Virginia, as have the fifteen hot pepper varieties I've grown! (We really like peppers.)

If you're ordering seed, the company I've had the best overall experience with (including price) is Heirloom Acres. As the name suggests, they carry a lot of heirloom variety seeds, which I really love... although I like planting new varieties each year, as well.

Are you growing anything else? I'm *this* close to ordering a Meyer lemon tree!

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I need to replace two trees, before they destroy the plumbing. I'm thinking a Meyer Lemon will take one spot, but Im not quite sure its tall enough. My dad has one that grew in a big flat shrub. Wonderfully easy to harvest!

The other might be a Buddha Hand, if its compatible with the space. What a weird and freaky fun thing to have.

Thanks for the heads up on the peppers. I save seed too, but this is only the 2nd year of the garden.

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I need to replace two trees, before they destroy the plumbing. I'm thinking a Meyer Lemon will take one spot, but Im not quite sure its tall enough. My dad has one that grew in a big flat shrub. Wonderfully easy to harvest!

The other might be a Buddha Hand, if its compatible with the space. What a weird and freaky fun thing to have.

Thanks for the heads up on the peppers. I save seed too, but this is only the 2nd  year of the garden.

The little blurb in the Territorial catalog says that the "Improved Meyer Lemon" trees that they sell can reach 8' in height at maturity, but that you can limit that by container planting and pruning. It also says that the plants can withstand temps as low as 18°F for "very short periods," so I'm thinking that I might want to container-plant mine, so as to be able to bring it in on the few days a year that our temps fall into that category.

I had to look up Buddha's hands... but how spiffy! I might just have to have one of those, myself, if only for ornamental purposes. None of my normal seed companies seems to carry rootings... did you find it locally or do you know of an online source?

Good luck with your garden!

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Once or twice I've taken a moment to re-read parts of this thread over the years, and it never fails to make me happy. Thank you, gardening foodie friends. :blush:

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