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this year's tomatoes

5 burpee big boy plugs ordered Laughing

if all survive to grow on i might have to get a bit imaginative in the use of sunny walls or i need to work out how to trail one on a shed roof, last time i tried trailing stuff it insisted on vertical and flop Embarassed

50 litres of levington 3 to top out matured guinea pig compost

i will report back, last time was surprising and this time i am going for bigger containers to reduce the maintenance, watering twice a day is a pita but a plant sitter might manage every other day with little harm Wink

optimism is it's own enemy with my tomato history but last time with bb's turned out ok.

outside with shading from buildings etc etc is challenging but there are three sunny months on several walls and surfaces. those are half dayish for direct sun but the warm brickwork seems to make up for the lack of lumens.

Good luck with them DPack. We expect pictures when they are in full flow. Smile
Mistress Rose

Yes brickwork can make a big difference. In our first house, with reflected heat from the walls, we could get a rotary line of washing dry in about an hour. Good luck with them. I think I will grow courgette, squash and peppers in the greenhouse again this year, perhaps have another go at tomatoes next year.

the plugs arrived, fairly well packed but a little travel worn from overnight in the post Rolling Eyes they are undamaged if a bit flat.

they did post a sixth one in which is nice just in case

anyway they are potted up into 2" cells of compost but when i saw them my first thought was where are the pumps and can i get a safe outdoor rig up and running in a week or so.

it almost makes sense as i could use more wall if water and nutrients just flowed along a bit of guttering but the care factor is even greater than soil unless you go full auto on the situation even then it takes somebody who knows to check it is working properly .

i have 4 decent soil in a container ( fish boxes are ace ) positions but i do have a 2 bigboy size, perfect for a channel and frame rig on a wall spots

if i rigged it in a way that was practical (delete from practical and add ) but practical and sensible are not the same .

if all survive i will plant what i can in fish boxes and give the others to a good home Laughing Laughing Laughing
Mistress Rose

Sounds complicated Dpack. Perhaps you and HL ought to get together on this as it sounds right up his street for ideas, perhaps with you doing the making.

I use a watering can. Very Happy


aye hose for drink and can for food works for me apart from 10 ft up a wall.

if it was more than 2 spaces it might be worth doing.

10 plants need the same pumps etc as two and a full gable end or such like can be a massive growing space but i have about 6 sq meters that gets half day sun so as a cost benefit thing it probably is not worth the effort.

all 6 have recovered from the journey, spread out and grown half an inch since yesterday morning.

i remember that from last time, they start as little boys but get big fast.
container size was an issue with one of them so this time that spot gets a much larger box of soil

all boxes will get an evaporation reduction cap of sack n gravel rather than trying under planting in a water sensitive situation.
3 times a day with a hose in hot weather was daft but effective, depending on what guinea pig compost i can steal back from the sammison tribe who moved into it a few years ago i am hoping for at least 30 litres per plant which is a fullish fish box and a top up as it settles and to earth up the stem ( hairs can root ) over the first couple of weeks once they get planted out .

so far so good

from a plug the size of my thumb end to roots filling a 2" propagator cell with seed compost and growing 3 times the leaf area and height on top is rather impressive.

they are now in deep 7" pots with innes N3, as the weather is 9c min overnight they are also having their first sleep out.

with some toms that would have been a month's worth of development in the conditions they have had for a week

pampered, a bit, treated carefully ,yep but mostly down to really good F1 genetics.

iirc creating the seed is a matter of crossing 2 stable strains to give a beasty big , ace eating but non stable offspring.
by stable i mean if you have a patch of them and bees do their thing and you plant seed from your toms, next year's toms are like last year's ones.
iirc both parents are pretty ok but nowt special, the cross is rather unusually vigorous and the tomatoes are better than either mum's or dad's ones.

plant genetics is fun even if mum or dad can be one plant, 2 plants in both or either direction or oops here comes some random pollen or even stuff that i think i will clone myself and snap off an arm

re the plugs the supplier of those was pot and grow , based in scunthorpe and they have an ebay presence so you don't have to visit Wink Laughing

they might have sold out of big boys as we got 6 of the last dozen of lots but if that is the quality they work to they are worth a thought for plugs, domestic or even small commercial

plug folk plug

ps as they gain height they get earthed up ( like cousin spud ) so these are now planted so as the lowest leaf stems are at soil depth and several inches of purpleish hairy stem is now starting to root .

note to self, yer daft old fool show em pictures , i must try to work out how to make camera on new phone talk to ds or i need to resurrect the proper camera which is 15 " away from where i am sitting and use that Rolling Eyes Laughing

We have four varieties growing including tigrella.
Trying outside growing for the first time this year.

my top tip for outdoor tomatoes is to keep them mobile ie in pots until they are a decent size to tie in to the support then plant and secure them in one go.
the run and grab to save them if it looks like hail or a late frost while they are growing on and hardening off is easier if they can be moved rather than wrapped.

Even though mine are in the greenhouse, I always keep them in pots. I just find it easier and of course at the end of the season, I dump the soil from the pots into the carrot bed.

after a few days hiding from cold,wind and rain they are back in the sun

at the mo they have about 6" underground and 6" above so hopefully they will be just about to outgrow their pots as the warmer weather starts, fingers n hooves etc.

the aphids noticed in minutes but slaughter by hand ensued and hopefully the sunshine will make the toms toxic enough to repel boarders asap. if not they will be washed which i don't like doing but aphids like it less Twisted Evil

i have places for 4 but 2 will go to new homes if there are still 6 in a week or two

because of the orientation of the yard 4 places with at least half a days sun for 3 months is the best i can manage but work with what you have can be ok for summer ( a cool year makes the growing season too long and the crop misses out on light when it needs it to ripen.

3 in fish boxes , one in a big window box style trough that can be earthed up if needs be.

i managed to get another few inches of stem buried on this transplant so now they are about 10" down for the base of the roots.

even in the short time they were in levington 3 in deep 7" pots the roots had got to the edges and were holding the compost together reasonably well.

these lads have vigour Cool

one of the 2 spares has a home to go to which is nice .

the guinea pig compost was pretty good when i dragged it out and sorted it into 120 ltr of well rotted and 100 ltr of part rotted to add to the bramble prunings in a dumpy bag for next time.

the tops are cored in levington 3 with 30 litres of gp compost around that Very Happy

ps that was rather hard work for a couple of days but it looks better, is easier to use and i might even get a few things to crop this year.

Mine are not nearly as technically tended but seem to be doing well. Laughing

shan this is not technical , technical would be i can play with an EC meter or do even better by dead reckoning and reading the plants Laughing .

this is organic, compost and talk to the plants stuff and just as technical but less numerate and more skilled perhaps Laughing

i do like total environmental control but i also like muck n magick, both have a place and at times can be combined.

the first reason i am being so careful is that i have limited space and a bad history of dismal toms when i dont get it right and a few bumper crops when i got everything right.

and the second is so as others can follow the process
i must get the photos started but words sort of explain some things better as circumstances are easier to adapt to with words than pictures

at this stage the important thing is a big volume of good soil at the bottom that will provide water , oxygen and feed to the roots while giving them something to grow into as a mechanical support as well. (toms that are not earthed up are vulnerable to wind bend etc )
a 5" by 5" plant in a huge tub looks a bit lost but in a week or several the tub will look small compared to the top growth, same goes for planting direct into the ground, lots of well rotted and a big hole are good.
Mistress Rose

I assume by 'technically tended' you mean you bunged them in and hope for the best Shan. Very Happy

I assume by 'technically tended' you mean you bunged them in and hope for the best Shan. Very Happy

More or less but then I have easier growing conditions than dPack. Laughing


yours are about a month ahead of mine but as you do have them under glass in a sunny spot i would expect that.
they look good though, nice and bushy and getting ready to flower.

i will be adding radish, salads and some more herbs this week which if i had a south facing site would have been in for 2 months Rolling Eyes
i get half day sun from mid april to mid sept. outside that it is a few hours to nothing for the growing sites.
tis rather challenging and depends on a sunny morning for one, a sunny aft for two/three and sunny aft and evening for 4 which means all day sun for all of them to get half a day on their spot.

They’ve got flowers on and I spotted 2 tomatoes. You can’t see the other side but I also have peppers, chills & pak choi along with some various other seedlings.

All the tomato plants I started from seeds all the way back in February as no taller that 2" tall and seemed to have stopped growing. What have I done wrong?

I'm going to have to buy some plants I think.

Where have you got them growing?

I started them off in a heated propagater and then they were in the shed in the prop but with the heat off and whilst we've had the warm weather on a sheltered but sunny wall up against the shed.

Have you potted them into bigger pots or are they in fairly small ones? The moment I transplant from a small pot into a big one, they tend to have a growth spurt.

I did move them up to the next size pot Shan but it's not even like they were pot bound or anything when I did move them.

Hmmmmm, good quality potting soil?

A photo of them would help.

I'll get one sorted for you Shan. I think the compost was Westlands or something like that. I check on that also and get back to you. Smile

a several things spring to mind

as mentioned pot size matters if they are 2 ft tall something bucket size is appropriate and they are ready to move up to something about 50 ltr or so

the compost they are in might be nutrient deficient, bad at holding air and water or even toxic ( i had some "green waste" compost several years back and it still looks like a eco disaster in a small part of the under bramble bed )

they might just be a sickly bunch of plants or one of the many less than enthusiastic varieties for your particular conditions.

first is easy, pot em up.

the nutrient thing is easy just feed em and they will get on with it very soon.

the poor/ toxic compost thing will not respond to repotting as they will take it with them into the new tub.

if i had space i would try repotting those but also get some decent plants and different compost as back up which also covers the sickly/ unhappy plant thing

I'll get one sorted for you Shan. I think the compost was Westlands or something like that. I check on that also and get back to you. Smile


i would be looking to get a few good plants and a different growing media.
Mistress Rose

It could also be that they have been a bit cool. None of my plants that have been out on the patio have grown very fast this year as it has been rather cool. Not a bad thing as I can't put them out until husband decides what is happening about the raised beds i.e. we get on with them or we go with what we have for this year. sgt.colon

Here you go Shan, this is how things are looking. A tomato and a pepper plant.


they dont look good and there are no weeds on the compost.

i might consider starting again with new compost and some plug or pot plants

the slimey hoard ate a third of the stem of one of my boys, insert expletives as appropriate, i have dispatched tt for poison.

poison is not nice but i will bottle it to protect the birds and soil and will use barrier and beer as a longer term thing but that was unacceptable and my wrath is unbounded in a jules / haber sort of way. Twisted Evil

you opened the gates of janus ya slimy ####
Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil

decency and good council led to copper bands and some sheep wool pellet things that smell like a long dead sheep got carded and popped through a mincer and then dried so i hope they repel the slimy hoard as much as they repel me.

i might top that up with a binliner of wolf and yellow hell hound fur i have been keeping for something useful.

poison and perhaps even a new dressing of nematodes is a bit extreme as i rather like the rare breeds snails and little black slugs that turn dead plants into soil and dont bother green stuff.

i must check the bycatch/ target list for the current nematodes on sale as i do not want to go no molluscs just no pestilent molluscs on me delicates

there " might " be knife fighting in the dark to thin em a bit and gain intel as to which species and how many are about to inform for the next stage.

ahhhhh im going full caddyshack on their slimy little asses Laughing

as i wrapped a copper band round a pot i thought it would be better with two electrodes that were an inch apart and had 20000v across them Rolling Eyes
Mistress Rose

Possibly a little extreme for slugs. I have some rather dirty fleece I might try as a slug deterrent as it seems to be a non- poison way to go. I usually use a combination of beer traps and old copper pipe, which works fairly well in all but wet years. Shan

Here you go Shan, this is how things are looking. A tomato and a pepper plant.

Not good! I’d suspect the potting medium. I think you’re going to have to start again. Make certain you disinfect your pots with jeyes fluid.

i suspected the medium when westland got a mention and seeing the snap it does seem the most probable cause.

my chewed one is still alive and might survive with only a little retardation, i will give it a few days and then possibly replace it with a spare.
space is premium here so any plant has to be as good as poss to start with.

I could cut some of the side-shoots off my tomato plants and get them going for you if you have anyone passing or near? sgt.colon

Thank you Shan and DPack.

Thank you for the offer Shan. We were at Wyvale garden centre yesterday and they are selling tomatoes off. 6 for £1 Smile

I'll try again next year.

i suspected the medium when westland got a mention and seeing the snap it does seem the most probable cause.

Are Westlands not very good for compost then?

i have had problems with them in the past.

as a general thing bagged composts vary quite a bit from maker to maker from year to year and even batch to batch.

the current online reviews help a bit and the annual yearly survey of 50 or so brands by which magazine is very useful

i suspect some makers are less than fussy about ingredients or ruthless at abandoning batches with a low success rate than others

from what i found out it seems that some firms compost animal bedding that was treated with herbicide ( rape seed straw for horse boxes has been an issue ) and the other source of herbicide residues is domestic/local authority green waste (folk spray it then put the dead stuff in the compost bin Rolling Eyes )

Thanks for that DPack, I never knew. Next year I'll do a bit more research before I buy a seedling compost. First year I've ever bought one and what a disappointment. Mad dpack

no shame mate , i had no idea some composts were less than reliable if they came in a bag.

i would have thought reputation was a high priority but it seems the odd dodgy batch or year still works for some firms , not specifying any by name but i spose some just work the bad reviews into costs and expect most punters blame their lack of green fingers rather than the compost.

if/ when you dispose of it pop it under the patio or on the knotweed rather than anywhere you might wish things to grow

Idea duff compost to murder knotweed might actually work Cool
this should be trialed Wink

Thanks DPack.

I'll stick it on the knotweed and let you know how I get on. Laughing

i like tomatoes, i like mice.

discombobulating 2 of them while murdering slugs did remind me that gardening needs to be done for all involved

for a small space i have quite a selection of critters that visit or live here and are welcome, trying to accommodate them and grow stuff can be a bit fraught at times.
Mistress Rose

I quite like mice outside, and the wood mice we get in the woods are lovely, but not indoors. I found 2 huge snails in the compost heap yesterday, so squashed them and left the remains for the attendant robin, or the thrush that has been singing for the last few days. dpack

all 6 are still alive, all are different ranging from bushy to single stem tall, the most beasty one got best place and has gone for two trunks .

the slugged one is alive but in the way Twisted Evil

the variation is quite striking as they had the same conditions until they got their final boxes

it will be interesting to find out how each develops, i have tried to give each a place it's shape seems suited to but in many ways they could be different strains

ace, from what slim said last time these are the real deal, ie variable but the best are very best and i just put the big un in the best spot Laughing

as they are in fairly rich soil i will give em another couple of weeks growing roots before i start feeding them liquids

i must give thought to the spots that are better than the best spot , brackets, steel rope , pulleys etc, hey ho
grrr the best sun is not at floor level Laughing Rolling Eyes Laughing

the one that got slugged tried hard, grew new roots above the slug damage and then spotted with blight.
culled and binned.

one has gone to a nice new home leaving 4.
one tall broad and bifurcated half way up
one similar but bushier from low side shoots
two very bushy from soil level

they look like 3 different strains but the bigun is most certainly big

Mine are doing pretty well. I think I might end up with my first ripe fruit within 2 weeks. dpack

fruit is a while off here, the bigun is just setting second layer of flower buds with the first ones almost open .

last time fruiting was from the end of august and continued into autumn.

Mine fruit into November but then I have artificial help with the greenhouse.

Also got my first cucumber fruit and the first few peppers and chillis. Aubergines are close to flowering too.

my cucumbers are just at first proper leaves but they will soon go from propagator to sunny spot in a big pot for a couple of months.
mini cloches made with a plastic bottle should ease the journey

. i thought they were a right off but as they are an outdoor, rapid season, F1 i might get some little uns for pickles

the toms still look ok even though they are a bit damp and have not had good sunshine for a week.

a few aphids but not owt to worry about at the mo considering the number of ladybird larvae Cool

Warning about aphids: I have had a rather nasty infestation! Worse than I have seen in years. dpack

damp suits aphids, the only nasty patches have been on things other than toms but i am watching very carefully in case there is an outbreak rather than a few for the ladybirds and birdy birds to eat. Shan

They seemed to like my Pak Choi and peppers. dpack

the first tomato is harvested which is nice but....

the one with best light has only set a dozen or so , the others are pretty big but are only just starting to set fruit

even though it has been hot a few times it has not been steadily sunny in the afternoons, 1% more sun=1% more fruit has been shown by experiment.

the one that sd has in a sunny corner is doing well Rolling Eyes Laughing

under plastic or glass in a full sun position these things would be spectacular in my climate, in a sunny place for 6 months and a decent water supply should work as well.

re other stuff the fast growing f1 cucumber is doing well in a jack and the cucumber stalk with flowers sort of way and the fast growing f1 courgette has set one to little finger size and is flowering well so both seem to have some merit.

i want a south facing, very gentle slope. umm
Mistress Rose

That is always an advantage. Our garden is west facing but sadly has a high hedge and trees courtesy of our next door neighbours on the south side. We had to move the greenhouse because it was in constant shade. Jam Lady

In a "what a coincidence" moment vis-a-vis dpack's Burpee tomatoes - on Saturday there was a Garden Conservancy Open Days at Fordhook Farm in Doylestown PA.

"In 1888, W. Atlee Burpee acquired several hundred acres of farmland in bucolic Bucks County. Today at Fordhook Farm, hundreds of new vegetables, annuals, and perennials are still grown, tested, and evaluated on a 60-acre test farm and network of gardens to guarantee Burpee's high standards of quality. In addition to the test plots, there are extensive display gardens of choice perennials, shrubs, and trees for sun and shade. Over 30 new tree specimens have been added since the last Open Day. Important large-scale sculpture by Steve Tobin and Daisuke Shintani animate the landscape. The sixteen-acre core of the property, including the original Burpee Seed House, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places."


thankyou , nice to see that.

i recon tis well worth trying their varieties if the big boys are owt to go by.

given good conditions they would be awesome, even in a bad place but good year they had a stunning crop in quality and volume.
Jam Lady

Saturday's Fordhook Farm kitchen garden display of what Burpee's been growing. Tomatoes, eggplant, summer squash, watermelon, sunflowers and more.

that stuff looks yummy . Mistress Rose

That's a brilliant display. Are they anything to do with Burpee cucumber variety? dpack

yep. sgt.colon

Great photos JL. That last one is a nice collection of veg and stuff. Smile Jam Lady

Anything with Burpee or Fordhook in the name is a Burpee / Fordhook cultivar. Tomatoes, cucumbers, lima beans, Swis chard, nasturtiums and more.

Didn't realize you all would be this interested. If you want to make a virtual visit here are the two links to my entries. Fordhook Farm and Kitchen Garden at Fordhook Farm


we have a few good seeds folk this side of the water but i have never seen or eaten toms like big boys.

if the rest of their stuff is as good as it looks it is worth looking far for good seeds of other things.

they are not well known over here, yet.

They also do beetroot. Wink Mistress Rose

We always thought that the Burpee cucumber was not a good name, and it is good to know where it came from. That looks a lovely place and seems to have been worth the visit. We went to the Waitrose farm not too far from us a couple of months ago for a show, and it was a bit like that, and really liked it there too.

Thanks for the links.
Jam Lady

Too funny, Mistress Rose! I never thought of it that way since Burpee as a company is so well know here.

If you liked those two entries from last Saturday here is how I finished the day.
Mistress Rose

They used to harvest potatoes here a bit like that, but with a tractor drawn machine to turn up the potatoes. It used to be quite common to see women waiting for a bus to take them potato picking, but it is all mechanical now. My mother did it one season, I think only for a few days, in 1947 or 8 when it was particularly important to get the harvest in as this was the deepest days of rationing.

Looks as if you had a really good day with the two events.

eventually we have had enough time and light to start getting tomatoes

plenty still to grow on and ripen but there have been a few decent ones this week.

bigboys are ace but i recon to get the best out of them a full sun site and maybe a tunnel or glass house to extend the season length would be ideal to get the best from them

i do have an fi fast growing, spiny cucumber on a wnw facing wall that only gets direct sun from just after mid day in june and mid afternoon now.
it has grown like jack's magic beanstalk, flowered well and has a considerable number of rapidly expanding cucumbers
a bucket of bought compost and a bit of feed seems enough pampering
on mixture and manure i recon they would be awesome
Mistress Rose

I think I might try some tomatoes again next year, as the greenhouse has rested from them for several years. Glad you are getting some crop off yours Dpack. Shan

Wash the greenhouse out with Jeyes Fluid; it seems to keep things disease free. Mistress Rose

Yes, I think I need to do that this year. Things don't seem too bad, just mildew on the courgettes and some mould on the grapes. I think I need to spend more time on the greenhouse, but time and energy at the right time of year seem strangely lacking. Very Happy Shan

I generally find my courgettes do better outdoors than in the greenhouse. dpack

a big boy and spiny cucumber salad was had with dinner Cool Mistress Rose

Sounds good Dpack. I have a courgette outside, and it is producing, but not as well as the one in the greenhouse, and it is rather later too. If the weather keeps up, both should give us a few for a bit longer. dpack

dismal toms as far as fruit goes, i think i got about a kilo of edible ones

big plants , plenty of flower, plenty of fruit, not enough sun for too long , blight

Bordeaux mix can buy you some time with the fruit.... Unfortunately, doesn't buy sunshine. dpack

quicklime in a hole is a better treatment for these Rolling Eyes Embarassed

it is the sun thing due to the NW and shade aspect of the small grow space i have outside

I want a south facing slope in a walled garden with assorted poly tunnels etc etc.

pv on a few bits of roof, battery, led rig,vent and hydro and do it indoors would be easier than growing in what is basically a canyon
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