Vegetables and Fruit forum: The Secret of "Big Ripe" Tomatoes

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Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
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Joannabanana
Feb 25, 2010 8:25 AM CST
Once there was a beautiful women who loved to work in her vegetable garden. But no matter what she did, she couldn't get her tomatoes to ripen. Admiring her neighbor's garden, which had beautiful bright red tomatoes, she went one day and inquired of him his secret.

"It's really quite simple," the old man explained. "Twice each day, in the morning and evening, I expose myself in front of the tomatoes and they turn red with embarrassment." Blinking

Desperate for the perfect garden, she tried his advice and proceeded to expose herself to her plants, twice daily. *Blush*

Two weeks passed and her neighbor stopped by to check on her progress. "So," he asked, "Any luck with your tomatoes?"

"No," she replied excitedly....

"But you should see the size of my cucumbers!" Rolling on the floor laughing
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Roses
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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Joannabanana
Feb 25, 2010 8:39 AM CST
If you have a short growing season, it's important to start tomatoes early, indoors, so there is time to vine ripen. This is especially true if you are growing late season varieties. I start my tomatoes in early March. By May, they are in 1-gallon pots.

As seedlings, I fertilize once a week with fish emulsion. Once more established, I use fertilizer that is specific for tomatoes. The tomato fertilizer spikes work great, sorta like a slow release. I also add epsom salts every few weeks. This helps the plant to absorb and break down the nutrients. Promotes flower production and also bigger fruit.

Of course weather and temperatures are the biggest influence on tomatoes growing and ripening. But if you feed and water them regularly, you should have a great crop.
Name: Cherie (Cece) Coogan
Southeastern WI zone 5a (Zone 5a)
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cececoogan
Feb 25, 2010 10:23 AM CST
lol Joanne I like you little tale. I'll have to remember this thread. I am trying tomatoes again this year. Last year they did diddly sqat.
the faster I go, the behinder I get
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hummingbirder Region: New Jersey Dog Lover
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Onewish1
Feb 25, 2010 5:44 PM CST
very funny!!

last year was bad all over
Name: Barbara
North Pole, Alaska
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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chocolatemoose
Feb 25, 2010 6:00 PM CST
I still say you southerners did something to tick Mother Nature off. We had the absolute best summer ever last year...and are following it with a great winter. I am AMAZED at the stuff the midwest & northeast have had and are still getting...It's crazy...
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hummingbirder Region: New Jersey Dog Lover
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Onewish1
Feb 25, 2010 6:02 PM CST
guess so... I know NOT the way to big tomatoes ... is to have a yorkie that can pick the ripe ones

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Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hummingbirder Region: New Jersey Dog Lover
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Onewish1
Feb 25, 2010 6:03 PM CST
I put a containerized plant for them in there space every year

Lily only picks the ripe ones

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Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
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kqcrna
Feb 25, 2010 7:41 PM CST
chocolatemoose said:I still say you southerners did something to tick Mother Nature off. We had the absolute best summer ever last year...and are following it with a great winter. I am AMAZED at the stuff the midwest & northeast have had and are still getting...It's crazy...


You've had great weather because you stole it from us. Angry Now please send it back!

Karen
Name: Linda
Carmel, IN (Zone 5a)
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mom2goldens
Feb 25, 2010 7:55 PM CST
Sure, blame us Barbara! I agree with Karen--it's our turn for the good weather this year.

Allison, I love your little tomato picker. Be glad she only steals some of the ripe ones. We had a basset hound who ate the green ones, so they never even had a chance. He used to squeeze between our picket fence and the rabbit fencing around the veggie garden (maybe a width of 6-8"). After eating too many tomatoes, he'd get stuck back there and just howl until we came and retrieved him. It took me a while to figure out why my tomato production was so poor until I discovered the culprit.
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hummingbirder Region: New Jersey Dog Lover
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Onewish1
Feb 25, 2010 8:04 PM CST
that's the bonus of little dogs.. they can't reach the top... those are for me
Name: Barbara
North Pole, Alaska
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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chocolatemoose
Feb 25, 2010 8:30 PM CST
Nope...Ah'm a keepin' it!
Name: Linda
Carmel, IN (Zone 5a)
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mom2goldens
Feb 25, 2010 8:41 PM CST
Good thinking, Allison. Everyone always comments on how short basset hounds are. They've never seen one stand on their back legs and stretch to reach what is sitting on the kitchen counter that they smell. We once lost an entire meatloaf (truly just out of the oven and turned onto a plate) to a basset we were fostering--and it was pushed back off of the edge of the counter!

Do you really plant a tomato plant for them? Too cool!

Gee, Barbara--you can't hog ALL of the good weather.
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hummingbirder Region: New Jersey Dog Lover
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Onewish1
Feb 25, 2010 8:45 PM CST
I always start some from seed... and they always have one or two for them
Name: Joanne, too
Calgary, Alberta
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Yoyo_Jo
Feb 25, 2010 10:08 PM CST
I had my best tomato season ever last year. All container grown. I gave them away at work because we couldn't eat them all. Just a few plants, 'Early Girl' (started from seed by Joannabanana), and several cherry plants: Sungold and Sungella (started from seed by moi).

Joanne



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Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hummingbirder Region: New Jersey Dog Lover
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Onewish1
Feb 25, 2010 10:15 PM CST
nice!!!.. hopefully this year will be better for us
Name: Linda
Carmel, IN (Zone 5a)
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mom2goldens
Feb 26, 2010 5:24 PM CST
Oohhhhhh, those tomatoes look SO good. Our growing season last year was just ugly--no other word for it. Not only were our plants slow to produce, production was very light and very few fruits were not cracked or blemished somehow. We certainly would not have won any beauty contests with them. Now Joanne's tomatoes--they would definitely be a winner.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
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kqcrna
Feb 27, 2010 7:20 AM CST
Ugh! We got up to another fresh coat of white covering the world today. It's probably only an inch but it's an inch too much for me. The east coast is getting bombed with blizzards again. And I'm so sick of cloudy dreary skies. I think I have seasonal affective disorder. I need sunshine.

How could tomatoes grow in this gloom? I think we need something of a miracle to see sun. So far, much like last year. I might chicken out on wintersowing the tomatoes and start them inside like last year. I'm torn.

Last year my good friend was at my house, popping my Snow White cherry tomatoes in her mouth, raving about their taste. She asked where I get them, I told her that I order the seeds online and grow them from seeds. She doesn't do any seedstarting, doesn't grow tomatoes. Her Dad grows tons of them and suplies her with tomatoes every year, as do I. She asked me to get some for her this year, and she would get her Dad to grow them for her. That was last summer.

I received my seeds in the mail a couple of days ago. We ran into this friend and her husband at a restaurant last night. I told her I had the tomato seeds for her. She went nuts and said "SEEDS! What am I going to do with seeds ?!!! I thought you'd grow the plants for me!" So, now I have to grow a few extras for her (her Dad really), as well as another friend. I should wintersow them so that the plants are really tiny when they get them. Boy, they'd be surprised when all that fruit ripens.

It's a good thing these people are good friends.

Karen

Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hummingbirder Region: New Jersey Dog Lover
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Onewish1
Feb 27, 2010 7:26 AM CST
the chipmunks always spread my seed around for me... I always have tomato plants popping up amongst the flowers.. just start laughing while doing my spring weeding.. I like to start mine inside just because I don't want a disaster happening and not have any
Name: Linda
Carmel, IN (Zone 5a)
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mom2goldens
Feb 27, 2010 8:30 PM CST
I get volunteer tomatoes every year, also. Last year, they were hardier than anything that I grew from seed. Most seemed to be some sort of hybrid from other types I've grown (not enough distance between my plants to prevent cross-pollination).

Karen--please tell me about your Snow White cherry tomatoes. I've not heard of them, but they sound interesting. Do you have a favorite source for them? Are they known to be sweet, prolific?

I always find friends to give away my extra plants to, as well, I always start way more than I need because I'm not positive that everything will germinate. This year, I'll be helping a friend that will probably not have time to plant her garden due to her husband needing extra care.

A number of years ago, we were living in a temporary apartment while our new home was being built. As I was driving through a nearby neighborhood, I noticed a beautiful property--I circled around several times before noticing a sign that said "Beauty is meant to be shared--please feel free to come in and enjoy". So, I parked and started exploring this beautiful property. I often ran into the owner and enjoyed talking with him. This was one of my inspirations to start gardening, and I've always loved the thought that gardens were meant to be shared. I love having the opportunity to share extra plants, especially ones that will feed and nourish, such as tomatoes.

Back on topic--does anyone do anything special with fertilizer or growing conditions to grow that perfect tomato? I am now growing mine mostly in earthboxes, so have steady supply of fertilizer. Had a terrible time with blossom end rot, but that was probably due to the horrible amounts of rain we had last spring (washed out all of the necessary nutrients).
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
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kqcrna
Feb 28, 2010 5:49 AM CST
Linda, I have found wintersown plants - not just tomatoes but any kind of plant- to be hardier than indoor grown ones, just like volunteers. They are born outside, much like volunteers, and learn to be tough. At planting time, though, the wintersown toms tend to be tiny, only a few inches tall, but they quickly catch up to greenhouse started ones and seem to produce first fruit at the same time.

I don't think the Snow Whites are well named- I'd call them yellow, not white. In my picture they're the little yellow ones. They're very sweet and oh so tasty, my very favorite tomato. It's the one that several friends have asked me to grow for them.

I don't do much fertilizing. I do feed with Tomato Tone and usually Epsom Salts at planting time, and maybe once more during the growing season. I try to keep things pretty much organic, especially with anything that we're going to eat. I also use organic mulches and my homemade compost.

Karen



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