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rnewste

The EarthTainer 'Farm' Update - July 4 (pics)

rnewste
13 years ago

July is kicking into high gear with temps in the low 90s the past few days. The Sun shade over the main bed is working fine, with most all the plants now being topped at 72 inches.

{{gwi:44544}}

From left to right: Druzba, Purple Haze F4, JC Special C-Tex, and Japanese Black Trifele

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Now harvesting: JBT, Early Girl, Bloody Butcher, Danko, and German Red Strawberry. Goose Creek is blushing:

{{gwi:44548}}


Not without issues however, as my Brandywine Cowlicks are developing several bronze stems, and one Goose Creek plant is wilting:

{{gwi:44550}}

The mistake I made was waiting until June 20 to apply Serenade, and Daconil. Next year on May 1, I am going to do a regimen of: Excel LG, Serenade, Actinovate, and Daconil on a rotating basis every Saturday morning. If I don't develop major amounts of infection, I will drop the Daconil from the spraying rotation cycle before fruit develops.

My real standout 'Tainer houses a pair of Big Beef plants. This 'Tainer is located in the worst spot of the yard, alongside the Hot Tub, and in addition, was Number 31 planted, a full month behind the other tomatoes put in beginning March 17. Like a green forest inside, and loaded with tomatoes that are hard to spot:

{{gwi:44552}}

I've had to add second cages to the Bell Peppers as they are now over the top of the first cage:

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Another lession I've learned is that even with the large size of the EarthTainers, 6 Pepper plants makes it too crowded, and next Season, I will back it down to 4 plants each:

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The first "crop" of sweetcorn has matured and is ready for picking today:

{{gwi:44558}}

Most stalks have developed 2 ears this year, where last Season, only a few doubled up:

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And the hand pollination assist seems to have paid off:

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One of the "fringe" benefits of the plants growing tall now is that I can scamper in to, and out of the Hot Tub sans-bathing suit, without hearing the neighborhood-lady "shrieking" anymore!!!

{{gwi:1263}}

Raybo

Comments (12)

  • farkee
    13 years ago

    Amazing looking as usual. Must be so much fun to walk around your yard taking it all in.

    How is NEW Tomato Tone stacking up against the others yield wise? It would be great to find a good organic fertilizer for those who want to go that route. I am gathering up a couple brands to try in the fall. I also have some water- soluable Tomaten-dunger , bought in EUrope by DH. It had some tomatoes on the label so he bought it. Not sure how I will use it. I remember you were using the granular T-D.

    I know you said you used calcium nitrate in all your containers except the fertilizer trial ones. I was thinking that organic fertilizers may also benefit from a 'boost' too so in a couple containers I will add something (bat quano maybe?) that would provide a similar kick of nitrogen. Of course , as we all know , we don't want all plant and fewer tomatoes so there is a fine line to tread.

    Great pics, thanks for posting.


  • rnewste
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Hi Farkee,

    Congrats on scoring the Tomaten Dunger!! I would add it in through the Filler Tube, after diluting it in a quart of water. (You can send me whatever you don't use....)

    As I have not had any Goose Creek taste comparisons as of today, I can't definitively judge the fertilizer trials. Having said that, the Goose Creek with Tomaten Dunger are the first to blush (see the photo above), so "points" to this fertilizer.

    From a foliage production standpoint, Tomaten Dunger is further along as compared with the Old and New Tomato-tones. I am pleased that the plants in New Tomato-tone are perhaps 90% the size of the ones in the Old Tomato-tone - - so this is promising. But again, my real measurement is taste - - not foliage production. Will need to wait another few weeks until all are ripening for that comparison.

    Raybo

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  • bencjedi
    13 years ago

    Raybo.. as usual.. all very inspiring!

    The Goosecreek didn't pan out so well for me, even in the 3:2:1 mix. Maybe I didn't shred the pine bark fine enough.. not sure, but disappointing for me nonetheless (NARX to the left, Goosecreek to the right): {{gwi:44564}}From 070410

    I will note that I got ripe Goosecreek tomatoes before you did (3 weeks now). I planted out on April 13th and had to protect 3 or 4 times from frost (which was easy to do because my cages are detachable and were not up yet, so I used the empty shells as incubator tops covered with blankets). Having a dozen early ripe tomatoes isn't as good as having healthy plants that produce all summer though. I broke some suckers off other varieties of tomato plants I had in the ground and hoping it won't be too late to get some production in the fall in those Earthtainers with the dying\dead Goosecreek.

    Oh by the way.. that black rubber washing machine drain hose is GREAT when the fill tube is on the back side along the fence. My watering can actually plugs on the open end perfectly and I stretch the other side around the back to the fill tube. I still need to do the atmospheric pressure automatic watering setup you pointed out to me. Unfortunately it has been so dry that out of 200 gallons of rain water in my barrels.. I only have about 10 left.

  • farkee
    13 years ago

    Benc. , I wonder if that could be fusarium wilt? Some varieties are more susceptible.
    Even the 4th one over looks like it might be yellowing on half the plant first.

    The thing is it is difficult to really know by just looking at one static picture on the internet when you don't know how it developed and progressed or how the plant was grown -plus I am not a plant disease expert.

    Google fusarium wilt on tomato--to see symptoms and images-wilting, yellowing (initially on just one side), etc. Need a lab to distinguish fusarium from verticillium. (http://plantpath.ifas.ufl.edu/rsol/RalstoniaPublications_PDF/IFASExtTomatoDis_PP205.pdf)

    Here in Fl I take plants to Univ. of Florida Diagnostic lab--charge is now $40 but worth it to me in some instances. I take the whole plant including roots. I get a lab report analysis and recommendations.

    Got this off the internet:
    http://www.ca.uky.edu/agcollege/plantpathology/extension/pdd_lab.html

    Or your local extension office may be able to help. You could also bring that pic. If you can't take it anywhere for help you can cut the stem and look at vascular system and compare to pics on internet.

    Hopefully it is not fusarium but if it is I would dispose of container mix in trash and disinfect tools.

    The thing is with a nitrogen deficiency caused by wood bark it would show up on lower leaves first and eventually effect entire plant but that doesn't look what is happening on the 4th plant over. I also would think the green leaves would have a paler green to them. Plus why would just a few plants have a severe nitrogen def. when I presume you used the same fert. What sort of fert. did you use.

    Good luck with getting to the bottom of the problem.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Kentucky Lab

  • farkee
    13 years ago

    Also wanted to mention that fusarium would seem unlikely in a container with a new mix. THough if I remember correctly it can be transferred by seed to the transplant but maybe this is very rare--I just don't know.

    Aggie site has an example of very yellow leaf on plant and they say it was a salt problem.

    Or could your mix be overly wet (clogged drain?) and impacting roots? Take some mix out with your hands and squeeze.

  • rnewste
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    ben,

    I will only use ages bark fines in my EarthTainers, as several have claimed new bark has tannins and other potentially harmful sap that might have caused your plant's early demise. I buy my bark fines at least 6 months in advance of use, slit open the bag, and let the rain and all in. This is the best advice I can share with you today.

    Raybo

  • rnewste
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    ben,

    I also think you have your 'Tainers much too close together. I am now keeping at least 15 inches of separation between mine, with 18 inch spacing planned for next Season.

    Raybo

  • bencjedi
    13 years ago

    Thank you both for your insights. In the drought run we've been on for the last couple weeks I have held back watering and the 2nd plant in the container all the way to the right is actually starting to 'come back' and some new tomatoes are forming on the flower buds. The first plant on the right in the front actually had a really low sucker and it has also sprung to life looking very normal. Not sure what to make of this, but the soil in that ET is very wet (inexplicably). I've not added water to it in a week now.
    I did cut off the dead stuff and tossed it in the trash instead of compost. If it is diseased I don't want it around.

    Raybo.. some of the bark I used was very new. Some wood pieces were mixed in and they did have a sappy kind of feel. I picked them out as I was sifting. Bummer... sounds like I goofed. My neighbor gave the mulch to me as they decided to go with stones out front and not the bark.

    I think instead of cramming the extra 5 gallon earthtainers all the way to the left (in the pic, some out of frame) I need to instead spread the 5 tainers apart further and make sure the ETs are perfectly level. It'll let more air in and minimize another potential cause of problems if they are spread out more.

    farkee, it's a semi old mix. I used the soil last year, but it has been amended with more perlite and pine bark fines. The seeds I used in these Earthtainers were exclusively from Raybo and as you can see how fantastic his plants are, it's very unlikely he gave me a disease on my seeds. I had yellowing last year too, but the moisture of the soil mix was thought to be responsible.

    I can't justify paying $40 in testing for the small number of plants in my tiny back yard, but thanks for the suggestion. I'd be better off supporting local farmers at the farmer's market with my $40 and buying their tomatoes. I did hedge my bets by also growing tomatoes in the ground in case something happened. I put them wherever I could find a spot. Here's two of them: {{gwi:44566}}From 070710

  • gtippitt
    13 years ago

    BENCJEDI,
    Even if the bark was not fully composted, it shouldn't kill the plants unless it was freshly shredded, and you put a lot of it on the plants. If the bark had not aged enough, it might have stolen a bit of nitrogen from the soil, but not too much worse than that.

    I would suggest pulling up that plant and getting rid of it. You should still be able buy a new plant and start it in that pot. If you've got a problem with a disease, it will kill the new plant, but it will be cheaper than a lab analysis. It will also let you know if the soil in container should be disposed of.

    The new plant started now may not set blooms until the temp drops a bit, but there should be time still for you to get good late crop before frost, even in Zone 6. I've just pulled some suckers off my tomato plants and put them in the shade with water and rooting hormone. I normally do this every year around July 4th to have some young plants that will give me a good fall crop. I pull about 6 of them and half will normally start rooting. Once they have a few roots, I sink them in the dirt up to the top few leaves, and then stand back as they take off growing.

  • farkee
    13 years ago

    Benc.,

    I didn't catch that the seeds came from Ray and I agree his plants look fantastic.

    I grow over 100+ tomatoes so it is worth it to me to pay the $40 (until recently it used to be only $20 which was a real bargain) to verify my suspicions. IN some cases I am hoping they will prove me wrong but then they affirm my amateur diagnosis as was the case when I got tomato spotted wilt virus.

    But I can understand that it is not worth it for a plant or 2 especially when you already know some possible causes.
    (ie wet soil, old mix, sappy wood, etc)

    Glad you have some tomatoes to fall back on.

  • rnewste
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Guys,

    If you look at picture #4 above, my Goose Creek on the deck is also turning yellow and wilting. I attribute some of this due to being on the deck with less than 50% Sun exposure under the lattice panels, along with being ass-to-teakettle jammed in next to the adjacent EarthTainer.

    Next Season, I am really going to space the 'Tainers out with more room for airflow, and Sun exposure. I am also going to try to make my own Combo Mix from high quality Sphagnum Peat Moss, aged Bark Fines, and Perlite in the 3:2:1 Combo Mix.

    My past experience has been that Goose Creek is prone to yellowing much more than Big Beef, and other varieties. Like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, I will tolerate indiscretions, as it is my favorite tomato.

    Raybo

  • bencjedi
    13 years ago

    Raybo... your soil idea is essentially what I did.. the peat, perlite and vermiculite as my base, which was 100% of my soil mix last last. I re-used that by adding more perlite and that shredded pine bark. It was VERY recently shredded.... right before it became part of the 3:2:1 mixed used for my Earthtainers this year. The good news is I finally found a landscaper that sells the right size pine bark (and in bulk). I think it was $18 for a cubic yard. I should get a scoop now and bag it. I don't have a spot for a pile, but can bag it and stash it under my deck I think.

    gtippitt, I'm actually one step ahead of you.. when I saw these tomato plants begin their decline I swiftly grabbed suckers off the NARX and an Aunt Ruby's German green and stabbed them right into the top of the Earthtainers in failure status. These suckers rooted and are very healthy next to the failure plants (in the same Earthtainers no less!) They've been growing a couple weeks like this and I am not adding any more water because the soil does feel kind of wet and the water level isn't decreasing much (probably because there's not enough roots from any plant in those first few Earthtainers to drink it all quickly). We did finally get a decent amount of rain today, so I imagine all Earthtainers are maxed to the drain holes with water (we needed rain badly so it's a welcome thing for the benefit of all my other garden plants).

    I've gotta thank those Gooscreek for the extra early tomatoes they did produce. Neighbors were impressed I had ripe tomatoes so early for our area. They were delicious too (the tomatoes, not the neighbors). I'm about to have a gap between those first tomatoes and the next ones that should be getting ready. The NARX ones have some blushing going on. My other in ground ones are just now getting tall enough to reach some sun. They are right up against the fence and don't have the benefit of much light, but I see they are forming little marble tomatoes, so it's a start!

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