Tomato Plant Progress

May. 6, 2010

Would you LOOK at these tomatoes?
Last year I had such a miserable time starting tomatoes from seed. This year Id say i got it right!

This tray of tomato plants was started in my bedroom on March 5th, 2010 and I’m amazed at the progress they’re making. I planted Rutgers, Beefsteak and Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes (oolala). Originally started under warm spot lights, until they burned out, then move under florescent lights. I did nothing special, a nice fluffy peat starter soil, seeds and water.

by March 26th, they were making some progress.
tomato-plants-in-tray-3-26-10

Here they are, one month later on April 25th, a little more progress… getting there
tomato-plants-in-tray-4-25-10

Later that evening, I started pulling the tray apart and planting them in drinking cups of all things, with a lot of drainage holes drilled in. I used Shultz’s ‘Potting Soil Plus’, with extended feed plant food (2 cubic feet was on sale for $6 bucks!) After reading that tomatoes like to be ‘buried’, I sunk them in deep, all the way up to the first leaves. All the little hairs on the stem will grow in to roots if covered with soil, creating a ultra strong root system.
tomato-plants-4-25-10

In just under 2 months they grew to 7″ tall.
tomato-plants-rutgers-7-inches-tall-4-25-10

But here’s the impressive part. In 10 days, some of them grew 3 more inches! The ones in front are 8″ tall, the ones in the back are 10″ and the tallest¬† clears an entire foot.

tomato-plants-rutgers-10-inches-tall-5-5-10

And now I have 30 tomato plants in these cups! (3 more in regular pots)
tomato-plants-5-05-10

And though it looks kinda scraggly, there are at least 15 more decent plants left in the tray.
tomato-plants-in-tray-5-5-10

I’ve started hardening them off, taking them outside for a couple hours a day when the weather is extra nice. The wind does a number on ’em so I’m extra careful to baby them a little longer. Soon the nights should be above 50 degrees, and they’ll have a happy life outside.

When its Time to Plant:

Last year I had a terrible time with the tomatoes. What the deer didn’t eat, the fungus killed (tomato blight). NONE of them did well. Most of them rotted before they ripened.

This year,¬† I’m just going to bring them all on the patio. My plants aren’t all the patio variety, so some consideration must be taken when its time to plant.

Beefsteak tomatoes are large indeterminate tomato plants, meaning they can grow quite tall and continue producing fruit throughout the season.  Alternatively determinate tomato plants grow to a fixed height and ripen all at once. I have yet to find someone who can tell me whether Rutgers are determinate or indeterminate, but I get the feeling they grow at least 5 or 6 feet tall. In any case, these plants will need at the very least some large pots to grow in.

It might be a crazy idea to plant Beefsteak tomatos on your patio, but Im going to try it. I read that cutting a garbage can in half, and drilling some good drainage holes would make a great home for large tomato plants.

A 5 gallon bucket may almost cut it for Rutgers, but it might be time to get creative with something a little bigger. Plastic laundry baskets or toy bins might do the trick??? Time will tell.

chocolate-cherry-tomatoesI have a ton of pots to plant the Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes in. Im excited to see if they’ll really look this good. Theyre supposed to be super sweet!

Last but not least, I hear the winning mix is peat with perlite and a lot of organic matter mixed in.

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3 Responses to “Tomato Plant Progress”

  1. krounded says:

    I planted Choco-Cherry tomatoes this year. They are HUGE! They’ve overrun everything. There’s one that I think is ready to turn ripe. It’s still a little green but has a dark red blush. That tomato is getting soft now. I’m not sure when to pick.

    Weird season in Chicago this year. Nothing is getting ripe except that one tomato. I hope I’m not blowing it by leaving it on until fully red.

    Good Luck!

    • Trisha says:

      Amazing that you got your tomatoes to grow that well this year. This weather is terrible! Most of my tomato plants had tons of dead foliage at the bottom. I was so busy with everything I didnt water well enough, so they’re really sparse, but they’re actually producing tomatoes… Id like to know if your cherries turn as dark purple as that photo! I would absolutely wait to see how red that baby gets, you’ll have more if that one rots. Be patient, they’ll all ripen. Also, its ok to prune your plant if its too big. One other thing I’ve been trying to figure out how to do is to ‘pinch’ the new suckers. My neighbor, who had tons of tomatoes on every plant, told me to do this and I never knew how… Now i know (love his stakes too!)

Leave a Reply to krounded