Cultivating Archives

Summer Update: Tomato Growing Q&A

Ernie shares his comments about this growing season so far and answers a number of tomato gardening questions:

“I had to stop my gardening due to persistent pests such as deer skunks raccoonswhiteflies and cutworms! The white flies lay their eggs but they fall on the concrete and die and no more cut worms. My main problem is the condition of my plants, the leaves are small and they seem to be curled and skinny.”

“I am a beginner gardener and last year was my very first time trying my hand at gardening. My problem was two things, first I had some kind of worm entering my tomatoes which looked so unattractive and the second problem was at the bottom of the tomato was soggy looking and eaten out. How can I correct this problem so I won’t repeat this again?”

“I have grown tomatoes for 15 or 20 years. I would like to increase my yield in my containers and am hoping you can help me with that.”

Plus other questions were asked during the call. Listen to this edition of Ernie’s Homegrown Tomatoes:

Tomato Review Summer 2013 and What To Do Next

An interview with Ernie Shiversveggiesharvest

What have been the challenges of this season?

“This has been the most unusual season in the 40 years I’ve been here. We’ve had more rain, all kind of problems with the tomatoes, blooms come on and fall off, low temperatures. Finally in the latter part of August the rain subsided and now I’m getting some tomatoes.”

“Ordinarily this time of year, I’m picking tomatoes by the bucket full and sharing them with neighbors, even selling a few, but not this year.”

What are some tips to extend the growing season?

“Continue watering and fertilizing a little along. When the temperatures drop put some plastic around the cages of the tomato plant. This keeps the cold wind off of the plant.”

“When frost is predicted for your area, go and pick all your green tomatoes, bring them inside and they’ll ripen.”

What should people do now to prepare for next season?

“This is cleanup time in the garden. Pull up the dead plants and either burn them or put them on the compost pile. If you have a diseased plant, burn them don’t put those in your compost pile.”

“Leafy vegetables are planted in the fall: lettuce, mustard, spinach, collards, beets, carrots, onions, etc.”

What about tomato seeds?

“Heirloom tomatoes can be good to collect the seeds from. Hybrid tomato seeds typically don’t produce fruit when the plant grows. When you buy plants or seeds it will tell you whether it’s a hybrid or not.”

Deal with more tomato problems with a membership in Ernie’s Homegrown Tomatoes

Tomato Fertilizer Tips – Part 2

Tomato fertilizer always comes in bags with three numbers to show the percentage of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium, but what do those elements do exactly? How should fertilizer be added to the soil? What are the recommended fertilizers?

Get Part 1 with a membership in Ernie’s Homegrown Tomatoes

Tomato Suckers Experiment – Part 1

To cut and remove tomato suckers or to leave them? That is the experiment!

Ernie is experimenting with two rows of tomatoes this year to solve the riddle of the tomato sucker. Take a look and leave a comment…

How To Identify Tomato Plant Suckers

Tomato suckers are easy to identify as Ernie shows in this video. The question is what to do with them…

Tomato Cages & Stakes Tips – Part 2

Ernie shows how to setup tomato cages and use them to cultivate tomato plant growth in this video.

Get Part 1 with a membership in Ernie’s Homegrown Tomatoes

tomato-plantQ&A call with Ernie Shivers

Tomato fertilizer used in proper amounts does result in nice sized and better tasting tomatoes, but fertilizing too much can cause problems as we’ll see in this Q&A session.

Q: I quit trying to grow tomatoes a few years ago because, I can grow lovely, tall, healthy looking plants but, no tomatoes? Is there something I can do to grow great tasting tomatoes? I always planted them where they would have full sun all day. Can they grow and produce in shady areas?

A: I haven’t experienced that but I suspect he is using too much fertilizer. He’s getting a nice healthy plant but no tomatoes, this can happen when too much fertilizer is added.

Q: What am I doing wrong? Last year I had one grow so high that I attached it to my porch and it went as tall as the roof, but I could not get any tomatoes. This year I thought I would be slick and try several different varieties of plants… They all grew, but NO tomatoes. What am I doing wrong?

A: Again, it sounds like he should cut back on the fertilizer.

Q: Every Friday, I go outside and fill my 1 1/2 gallon container with 1 scoop of miracle-gro for tomatoes and 1 1/2 gallon of water and sprinkle it on my 4 tomato plants. They are so big, they vining on to each other. I think its probably ok to stop fertilizing now. Whats your opinoin. Will this make huge tomatoes?

A: Yes, I think she’s right. Good idea about using Miracle-Gro and watering, but cut back on the fertilizer. Miracle-Gro can help with getting bigger tomatoes in proper amounts.

Q: I’m going to try to grow a tomato plant in a pot on my back deck. My pot is about 12 ” deep, and 14″ around. Will this be big enough? I filled it with potting soil, now do I need to add a fertilizer before or when I plant the actual plant? I live in Iowa, so I figure I’ll plant this thing about Mothers day.

A: Fertilizer can be added at the time of planting or afterward, both with great results. The size of the pot is adequate.

Q: What can I use to grow my tomato plants stronger and faster?

A: Most tomato plants begin bearing fruit between 75 and 90 days. Get plenty of sun light and make sure the soil is moist.

Q: We have had rain for two days, especially heavy late yesterday. Purple and Black Prince all have a lot of cracking and some of it seems to be healing. I’ve never had this problem before as I usually pick them after blushing. I was hoping to ripen some of them on the vine. Can this fruit be eaten if it heals? How will I know if it is OK?

A: When the tomato grows fast, the skin will split. When that happens pick those off the vine and let them ripen inside. Sometimes flies will lay eggs in the crack, if this happens you should discard the tomato.

More tips and jokes in the podcast. Listen to the Q&A session:

tomato-plantQ&A call with Ernie Shivers

What is the best way for growing tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers?

“Plants that you shouldn’t grow near tomatoes include cucumbers, cantalope, some types of squash and other vegetables that grow along the ground. These plants will get into your tomato plants and grow up the vines and perhaps hinder the tomato growth, so it would be better to grow those in another location.”

Is it possible to grow tomatoes from the seeds of a tomato that you buy from a supermarket?

“Maybe, but if it’s a hybrid tomato it will produce a plant but no tomatoes. However, if it’s an heirloom tomato, then you would get the plant and the fruit.”

I had a problem with the chip monk, I was told to go to my nearest monastery and talk to the frier about it.

“The best way to handle chipmunks is to get a mesh screen and put it around the base of the plant. They primarily go after the green or ripe tomatoes.”

I’d be interested on any tips you may have on controlling pests!

Checkout our membership area and get access to the free videos that cover a number of pests that attach tomato plants.

I’m trying to grow tomato plants indoors with homemade upside down hanging planters… how much water should I use when watering and is their a special soil to use?

“Have plenty of sun shine, good soil, water frequently, fertilize from time to time. Treat the same way you would a tomato plant in the ground.”

From California: I am having a problem with white flys this year, more then last year on some of my tropical plants and I want to keep them away from my tomato plants. I have learned that worm castings work well so I am going to give them a shot and  see what happens there.

“I’ve used soap suds on my tomato plants to keep white flies away. You could also use a mild insecticide.”

I am growing tomatoes in pots. Is there any way to keep the bugs off of them without having to use chemicals? Is there a right way to grow tomatoes in pots?

“It depends on the bug, whether it flies or stays on the plant.”

“We have a video that covers how to grow tomatoes in pots.”

My husband is growing tomatoes in our backyard in tubs. For the last 2 years the bottoms start to turn a tannish brown when the tomato is ripening? What are we doing wrong?

“That sounds like blossom end rot. Handle that by putting a little lime in the soil with the plant; the lime will control that blossom end rot.”

I live in north florida and i want to grow tomatoes. what varieties should i try? It gets very hot here in the summer.

“Shade the plant during the hot weeks of the summer using an open mesh cloth to shadow your tomatoes. Of course watering your plant every day can help with that as well.” “Some people get this problem when planting next to a brick wall or something that reflects the sun’s heat on to the plant.”

Get off to a great start this season by getting free access to some of our videos and podcasts that answer all of the basic questions about growing tomatoes today.

Listen to the interview:

Productive Tomato Plants Q&A Call

Ernie answers questions on the call:

  • What tips do you have for people growing tomatoes at this time of year (mid-May)?
  • How to deal with the tomato hornworm?
  • Is it better to use a sprinkler or a soaker hose to water tomato plants?
  • How to deal with a black spot that forms under the skin of the tomato?
  • How to deal with common diseases and deficiencies.
  • What if I have a lack of honey bees in my area?
  • How to deal with slugs, birds, squirrels, rats and other animals on the ground?
  • What are the benefits of using mulch?
  • Alternative ways to water tomato plants.
  • Fertililzing a plant after it has been planted.
  • Is it possible to add too much fertilizer?

Becoming a Professional Bee Keeper

Some people mistakenly believe that beekeeping is a simple task. In fact, it takes commitment, dedication and some skill. Beekeeping can become a professional activity, providing an individual with steady income.

What does it take to become a professional beekeeper? The answer to this question involves several requirements and basic steps. A beekeeper can make money through the production of honey, wax, bee pollen, propolis and royal jelly. All these products can be created through specific procedures that a beekeeper needs to master.

Basic Beekeeping Prerequisites

To become a professional beekeeper, a person needs to get several questions answered.

It is of uttermost importance to find out whether you are allergic towards bees. All people experience pain and swelling if a bee stings them. Allergic people, however, experience a more severe and threatening reaction.

Blood tests can be used to determine if a person is allergic to bees. You can also know how your body reacts if you have been stung before. If you experienced no severe swelling and pain, you are not allergic to bees.

Professional beekeepers are knowledgeable. They read and know a lot about bees, keeping bees and making different products. Information can be found through a basic web search or through reading specialized beekeeping literature.

Knowing All About Beehives

Once you know everything about the basics, you will have to determine where to position the beehives and how many of them you would need.

You will need a garden or a lawn, where the beehives will be placed. For best results, you need a space that is not neighboring houses. You risk disturbing your neighbors otherwise.

Beginners should start with two or three beehives. Beehives and bees should be purchased solely from licensed providers. A new beekeeper should get started in May so that bees have the chance to grow strong and survive the winter.

Professional beekeepers will also purchase all the equipment needed to take care of bees. This step might be somehow expensive but if you are serious about it, you will have to get professional tools.

Medicines and Veterinary Care

Beekeepers should also make sure that they have the medications needed to keep bees healthy.

Bees need treatment against some of the most common diseases that affect them. Read about such conditions, what results they cause and how to prevent the disease from occurring.

You might use the services of a vet occasionally. Veterinarians can examine bees and determine how healthy they are. An inexperienced beekeeper might have difficulties determining if bees are suffering from a certain condition.

Love and Respect for Nature

If you want to be a professional beekeeper, you will need to learn how to love and respect nature. You will be successful only if you enjoy the activity.

Professional beekeepers are curious about the details of this business and they are daring enough to experiment. Honey can be produced in a number of ways and learning how to do that will guarantee the success of the beekeeper.

Technologies are constantly improving and people are discovering new ways to increase production and to make beekeeping an even more winning activity. A professional beekeeper needs to have an open mind and the desire to become better. This is the only way to make sure that the business will turn out to be a successful one.

Jamie Highland writes about various family, animals, and baby topics. For more info or to check out the bee baby shower theme or some baby shower gifts, visit My Baby Shower Favors.