I think I made a big tomato mistake.. help please

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by TxCloverAngel, May 1, 2006.

  1. TxCloverAngel

    TxCloverAngel Happiness is Homemade

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    This year is my first year doing raised garden beds.
    I filled my frames (old queen sized water bed frame) w/ WONDERFUL composted wood shavings/chicken droppings cleaned out of the hen house.

    I planted my tomato plants, (in a kinda square foot garden type of grid)
    They Grew HUGE
    These are beautiful plants! tons of nice new green tomatoes.

    But...

    They seem WAY too close together now. Cant tell that stem is off of what plant.

    And... (hanging my head in shame) I didn't get the tomato cages on them in time.

    I have "rambling" tomato plants.

    will the lack of sun from over crowding mess w/ the crop? even tho they look sooo healthy now?

    I ended up setting the cages OUTSIDE of the bed to "prop" up the droopy stems lol

    What to do?

    I have other plants that I stuck in my older rows, got them caged but BOY do the ones in my raised bed w/ the composted wood shavings and chicken poo look way BIGGER and healthier!! Have never EVER had them grow so fast and look soooo full!

    Are they gonna die now?

    Thanks so much!
     
  2. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    They will still do fine but you will not get as many tomatoes from them, If it was me I would transplant a few of them to another location.
     

  3. VALENT

    VALENT Well-Known Member

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    a big problem with tomatoes down here is the humidity and fungus problems which closely follow. Without air flow around the plants, you do stand to have lots of problems following quickly. You may do best with some heavy pruning or just plain removing a portion of the plants. Of course, transplanting would be wonderful, but I dont know if it is an option for you at this point.
     
  4. hisenthlay

    hisenthlay a.k.a. hyzenthlay

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    How close did you plant them together? According to the Square Foot Gardening method, you can plant one tomato plant in one square foot. The idea is that they will produce less tomatoes per plant, but more tomatoes per square foot. I'm trying it this year for the first time, so I can't be sure that it will work, but that's the theory!

    Last year I had about the same situation as you--the plants got away from me and started growing together before I got cages on them. I ended up staking them. It took a lot of hard work, but I just tried to get all the branches untangled, and tied them to stakes wherever they needed support to stay upright. I also did some heavy pruning of branches especially near the ground, and also pruned a bit all the way up the plant to improve air flow and light to the plant, since they were so densely packed together. This year I have my cages all ready, and they won't get away from me again!

    I think it's ok for you to just let the tomato plants sprawl over the ground--they will still grow tomatoes. The biggest problem with this, I think, is that you will probably have more tomatoes ruined by bugs/rot, and that the plants may produce less since they will get less light and air flow.
     
  5. swamp man

    swamp man Well-Known Member

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    I quit staking/caging tomatoes years ago.Yeah,once in a while a branch breaks,but I still end up with way more 'maters than I can use,even with just a few plants.By early summer,my tomato bed is one big cluster of plants,I cant really tell what is growing from where,but between the mulching and intensive planting,I have very few weeds to deal with.With the plants planted so intensively,you may need to really put the water to 'em if you go through a dry spell.Nick
     
  6. TxCloverAngel

    TxCloverAngel Happiness is Homemade

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    the first is a comparison of the tomatoes planted from the chicken coop compost. and right in front of them are the peppers and tomatoes (caged) planted in a high quality garden mix I bought.
    they were planted one week later than my first plants.. but WOW what a HUGE difference!!

    click on any of the pics for a full-sized view.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  7. VALENT

    VALENT Well-Known Member

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    You were not kidding. Those are growing thickly. However, being in the open like that they will get a fair bit of air flow. Harvesting may be tricky though.
     
  8. mama2littleman

    mama2littleman El Paso

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    you're right, no way on earth to get cages on those big boys. I would just stake them up as best as possible, and if it get's too dense where airflow is being impeded, prune some branches.

    Beautiful plants!!! (I'm jealous)

    Nikki
     
  9. wy_white_wolf

    wy_white_wolf Just howling at the moon

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    Is there anyway you can build a trellis over them to hang strings down from to hang them by?

    Also by the sq.ft. method aren't you supposed to cut back the suckers as the plant grows so you end up with 1 long vine instead of a bush?
     
  10. hisenthlay

    hisenthlay a.k.a. hyzenthlay

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    With the sq. ft. method, I do believe that you are supposed to do some pruning so that you end up with a central leader, and a less bushy plant. I'll have to re-read that section when my tomatoes get big enough to need it!
     
  11. Jillis

    Jillis Well-Known Member

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    So, you invented your own gardening "method"! The chicken poo jungle method. Bet the 'maters taste better too!

    Best garden I ever grew was planted over a spot that had a turkey house on it...