Vegetables and Fruit forum: my poor tomatoes!

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Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

Tomato Heads
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texaskitty111
Apr 14, 2014 8:03 AM CST
It's supposed to get down to 33° tonite. Hard to believe. I do have frost cover, but it didn't save my 2013 tomatoes I was trying to over winter. What do all of you do to protect your tomatoes?
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Apr 14, 2014 2:54 PM CST
Buckets and thisyear Wall - O - Waters. But mostly I don't have them planted out until middle od April at the earliest. I have two I put out woth the Wall-O-Waters on and they are fine.
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
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SongofJoy
Apr 14, 2014 3:16 PM CST
Mine are still in their pots so easy to move to a sheltered location. We're supposed to be freezing or below tomorrow night. Glare
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Apr 14, 2014 3:43 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

We cover our tomatoes using several steps.

First we cover the tomato with a upside down 1 gallon nursery container. Then we cover that with generous amounts of straw, hay, or leaves. It saved our tomatoes last year and we're doing it again today.
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

Tomato Heads
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texaskitty111
Apr 14, 2014 5:23 PM CST
Thanks everyone, I covered them with multiple feed bags topped with frost cloth. Hope it helps.
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
Greenhouse Region: Georgia Garden Sages Organic Gardener Beekeeper Vegetable Grower
Seed Starter Cut Flowers Composter Keeper of Poultry Keeps Goats Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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abhege
Apr 14, 2014 7:02 PM CST
Good luck!
Name: Claud
Water Valley, Ms (Zone 7b)
Charter ATP Member
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saltmarsh
Apr 14, 2014 9:34 PM CST
I have 224 in the ground. 48 are in boxes like you see in my avatar and have been in the ground a month today. The lids are on tonight. A few have clusters of blooms which have been open for several days. The temperature got down to 28 twice during that time and all have survived but some look like 10 miles of bad road.

All of the plants were seeded at the same time and the ones not in the boxes have been enjoying the outdoors when it's nice out and the protection of a house when it's not. They had hardened off nicely and were transplanted 2 weeks ago this Wednesday. Last Friday it got down to 33 degrees and the exposed plants were undamaged as were those in the boxes. Needless to say, I'll be out at 5:30 in the morning looking for sighs of frost and will sprinkle them with water if I find any on them.

I have another group which were seeded 3 weeks after these to use as replacements but I really hope I don't need them.

I'm still hoping to get an additional 3 clusters of tomatoes to set on each plant before summer temps shut them down. Claud
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

Tomato Heads
Image
texaskitty111
Apr 14, 2014 9:56 PM CST
I hope you're successful too. It seems to be something every year with me. Poor soil, chickens eating fruit, bugs eating fruit, too much phosphorus, too hot, now it might freeze
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: Linda
SE Houston, Tx. (Hobby) (Zone 9a)
"Godspeed, & Good Harvest!"
Region: Texas Vegetable Grower Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Master Level Canning and food preservation Gardens in Buckets
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Gymgirl
Apr 15, 2014 8:22 AM CST
TexasKitty,
I'm growing veggies in Houston. Last year this time my tomatoes were bearing fruit. I took a big calculated risk planting out the earliest I ever had before. I started the seeds at the Winter Solstice in December, and planted out in mid-February (yes, almost in the middle of winter). But, I had researched and had several frost/freeze contingencies in place.

First, I grow my veggies under pvc HOOPS covered with plastic sheeting. By far, keeping the plants covered against our constantly blowing Texas wind has proven to be a primary factor in the health and productivity of my veggies this year. It has also kept most of the moths off the plants, so now, there are relatively few bug holes in any of my greenery.

The tomatoes were kept under the plastic. On those rare nights when we dipped into the freeze zone for a couple hours, I threw old bed sheets over the hoops, then covered with the plastic. Leaves touching plastic in a freeze tend to get burned, so the sheets went on first. Of course, our freezes usually last only a couple hours in the late night/early morning, then back to relative temps. If there were sustained freezes (1-4 days in a row), my strategy was the sheets, plastic, and add either a couple strings of old-fashioned Christmas lights (the ones that throw off heat), or a small space heater underneath the hoop. You could also fill gallon milk jugs with hot water and set them under the hoop, but for longer dips, the space heater would be my protection of choice. It would throw off enough heat underneath and the plastic would contain it. Also, most small heaters today have an automatic shut-off if it's tipped over, so I'm not worried about a fire or anything. And, it's just through the night most times.

If you don't wanna go the electric heat route, Dave's suggestion of the bucket covering is pretty good, too. I'd create the pvc hoop, and cover each plant with a bucket, then throw the bed sheets and the plastic sheeting over the hole bucket patch UNDER THE HOOP. Then, I'd cover the entire hoop with bed sheets and more plastic sheeting. It'd be a double layer of protection under the hoop. I don't have hay in my garden.

Hope this helps! I tip my hat to you.
Thumb of 2014-04-15/Gymgirl/492185
The portable mini-greenhouse over the trays is 18" tall. The larger hoops are in the background beyond...

Thumb of 2014-04-15/Gymgirl/9725cd
Cabbages, beets, spinach, mustard greens. No bug holes in the greenery, which I attribute to keeping the bed covered during the winter when the moths were trying to light on the leaves to lay eggs. They just bounced on the plastic and flew off elsewheres. Also, I learned to turn my yard lights off at night so the moths were not attracted to my yard. They visited the neighbor's, LOL!

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Cauliflower and broccoli bed. Again, notice the greenery. Though the hoops stayed covered during the winter months, the ends were vented to allow for airflow, and the covers were raised to take advantage of occasional rainstorms.
[Last edited by Gymgirl - Apr 15, 2014 8:34 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #590409 (9)
Name: Linda
SE Houston, Tx. (Hobby) (Zone 9a)
"Godspeed, & Good Harvest!"
Region: Texas Vegetable Grower Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Master Level Canning and food preservation Gardens in Buckets
Tip Photographer Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ferns
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Gymgirl
Apr 15, 2014 8:49 AM CST
I am in the process of constructing this Mittleider T-Frame for my tomato plants. Four lines of 165 lb. 9-gauge wire will run parallel to the bed at the top of the frame. Bailer twine will be looped to the base of each tomato plant, wound around the stem, and looped to the overhead wires. The bailer twine will not cut into the plant stems, nor snap under the weight of the loaded vines.

I'll be starting new tomato seeds in mid-June for planting out by mid-August. Praying for a successful fall crop by Thanksgiving dinner, LOL!

Hope this helps.

P.S. The T-Frame converts to an over-the-bed greenhouse! (see the pictures of ldsprepper's Mittleider greenhouse below). I have ordered shade cloth which I will affix to the 2x4 box at the top, to create walls around the bed. In the winter, I will convert to the greenhouse plastic covering for frost/freeze protection. The frame can also be boxed in with frost cloth.

The couplers you see will accommodate bent pvc hoops which will form a "roof" to divert rain and (in some cases) snow.

Hugs!
Thumb of 2014-04-15/Gymgirl/dae803
ldsprepper's T-Frame
Thumb of 2014-04-15/Gymgirl/2fbd84
MY T-Frame in progress #1
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MY T-Frame in progress #2
Thumb of 2014-04-15/Gymgirl/95430e
ldsprepper's over-the-bed greenhouse with greenhouse plastic covering and vertical grow lines for his beans.

The T-Frame and vertical lines allow for growing 4x the veggies in the same amount of space. The long sides of the box at the top extend one foot over the bed. The vertical lines form a "V" and extend the plants 1 foot outside of the bed. The "v" creates an airflow & light space between the two rows of plants growing on each side of the bed.

Very efficient system to maximize growing in small spaces.
I tip my hat to you.

[Last edited by Gymgirl - Apr 15, 2014 8:50 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #590436 (10)
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

Tomato Heads
Image
texaskitty111
Apr 15, 2014 9:56 AM CST
That's very clever. Do you open the hoops so bees can fertilize the tomatoes? I've seen some pictures where they release bumble bees inside the hoops. That's where they stay.
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

Tomato Heads
Image
texaskitty111
Apr 15, 2014 9:58 AM CST
Update- it only got to 34 last night so everything is just fine! Took all the covers off this AM. Things a a little droopy, but unharmed.
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: Claud
Water Valley, Ms (Zone 7b)
Charter ATP Member
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saltmarsh
Apr 15, 2014 10:08 AM CST
Mine made it fine last night. The only change is more blossoms were open this morning. The blowing rain knocked out my thermometer so I don't know what it got down to. No frost last night at least. I hope everybodyelse faired as well. Claud
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

Tomato Heads
Image
texaskitty111
Apr 15, 2014 10:19 AM CST
Me too. I think those farther north probably haven't planted them yet.
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

Tomato Heads
Image
texaskitty111
Apr 15, 2014 4:13 PM CST
Someone who lives only 15 miles from me sent out this picture. She had frost cloth over her tomatoes. It got down to 31° there. Makes you wonder if the frost cloth helps at all.

Thumb of 2014-04-15/texaskitty111/badbb0

Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: Linda
SE Houston, Tx. (Hobby) (Zone 9a)
"Godspeed, & Good Harvest!"
Region: Texas Vegetable Grower Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Master Level Canning and food preservation Gardens in Buckets
Tip Photographer Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ferns
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Gymgirl
Apr 15, 2014 9:49 PM CST
Tkitty,
Tomatoes don't need bees for pollination. The wind helps. You can shake the vines vigorously each day and the pollin will fly, as long as the humidity allows for the pollin to be dry enough to fly. If it is too humid, the pollin will clump.
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

Tomato Heads
Image
texaskitty111
Apr 15, 2014 10:06 PM CST
Wow, last summer I hand fertilized them every morning as we have few bees. Should have just kicked them, huh?
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: Glen Ingram
Macleay Is, Qld, Australia (Zone 12a)
Kaspar-scourge of daylily seedlings
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Gleni
Apr 16, 2014 2:26 AM CST
Amazing frames Linda!!
Name: Claud
Water Valley, Ms (Zone 7b)
Charter ATP Member
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saltmarsh
Apr 16, 2014 8:21 AM CST
It got down to 26.7 degrees in the garden last night for about 1hour and 15 minutes. I'll have photos later. Claud
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Cat Lover Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds
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SongofJoy
Apr 16, 2014 8:32 AM CST
It was almost that low here.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller

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