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Keyword Search Results for:
tomatoes

39 Found

Question: 546-2111
We have large Supersonic and Brandywine tomatoes in buckets. What else can we put in with them? William, Atlantic City, NJ

Mort's Answer:
Tomatoes can get really big. Radishes are small and easily harvested in 30 days. As a root crop they will take up more potash, while the tomatoes pull phosphorus. Small salad greens will use up nitrogen. Herbs and onions will not compete. A listener to my radio show in Montana uses tomatillo with his tomatoes in planters with success. They may get too large in New Jersey.

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Question: 268-5201
I grew tomatoes in tire planters this year. The plants were lush green with plenty of tomatoes. I used lots of manure and liquid fertilizer. They were very sour. What did I do wrong? Lawrence, White River Junction, VT

Mort's Answer:
Soils need to breathe. Rubber planters are too efficient as containers. Excess fertilizer and heat build up from the black surface made for healthy looking plants. Salts from fertilizers need to drain. Clay pots will help release the acidity. These tires would have been fine for petunias and marigolds. I would grow the tomatoes in the garden and use the tire planters for flowers next year.

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Question: 269-5201
I have a friend in Texas that cannot grow tomatoes. Can you help? Fran, Mystic, CT

Mort's Answer:
Texan soils are alkaline and the air is dry. Both variants can be modified. A hole can be dug that can be filled with organic material, rich in steer manure ,peat and aged sawdust as well as the local soil. Old varieties, Homestead, Rutgers and Marglobe will produce early tomatoes before the hot, dry summer comes. Tomatoes love hot weather but they also need plenty of water.

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Question: 270-5201
I have blossom end rot on my tomatoes. What can I do to get rid of it? John,Cumberland, RI

Mort's Answer:
Rotate your garden to include a root crop, a leaf vegetable, a fruit veggie, like tomato and a legume. This 4 year cycle will require less fertilizer. Lime will help replace the calcium that is symptomatic of blossom end rot.

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Question: 271-5201
We have noticed that through the years, our tomatoes have acquired a different taste. Could the steel plants be affecting the taste? Veronica, IN

Mort's Answer:
Grapes are very much affected by the mineral content in the soils from year to year. If the minerals are leached out because of extra rainfall, this would influence the taste of the grape and the wine. Onions that have a great deal of sulphur are the sweetest. Vedalia, Georgia has a reputation for such sweetness. There is no doubt that the build up of sulphur from the coal would result in a variance in the amount in the soil. There are many plants like the spider plant, black locust and ailanthus that thrive on such pollutants. There is not enough evidence to support an argument as to wether this is beneficial or harmful. We all know iron is good for you.

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Question: 479-611
When can we start our Tomatoes indoors? Kenneth, Longview, TX

Mort's Answer:
It is a good idea to start your tomatoes indoors six to eight weeks prior to planting outdoors. People in zone 9 can usually plant the seeds outdoors at the beginning of March. Tomatoes love the heat so an early start indoors will give you earlier tomatoes. Most tomatoes will mature before 90 days. Starting earlier indoors will also cut down on mites and some blights. Grape and cherry tomatoes will mature in 60 days from seeding.

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Question: 483-711
Please explain the difference between determinate and indeterminate Tomatoes? Glen, Norwich, CT

Mort's Answer:
Determinate tomatoes have very little growth after the fruit is set. All the fruit develops at the same time. Many indeterminate will have varied waves of fruit usually on the larger vines. Other labels to look for the resistant or tolerant characteristics, V,F,N,T and A; Verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, nematodes, tobacco wilt and alternaria, respectfully. Many new varieities are labeled with these initials. Most early vaieties mature within 60-65 days from sowing. Late varieties mature in about 90 days.

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Question: 490-911
When is the best time to start tomatoes indoors? Frank, Peducah, KY

Mort's Answer:
Tomatoes require good bottom heat and plenty of sunlight indoors or out. You need to start them 6-8 weeks prior to planting outdoors. Your last killing frost can be as late as May 15 in zone six. Since tomatoes require heat, it is not advisable to put them out in April. You should harden them off by placing them outdoors during the day in April. You can start them in seed trays in mid March or earlier for the large late tomatoes that mature in 90 days or more. When putting the seeds in trays, place a layer of a quarter inch of sand on top of sterilized soil. This will cut down on damping off, which occurs at the soil line. Make a line in the sand and just tap the edge of the seed packet and draw them down the line. Mist them everyday but do not soak them with water.

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Question: 531-1711
How can I get an early start with my Tomatoes? Henry, Taylorville, IL

Mort's Answer:
Start the seeds indoors now for planting outdoors on or about May 30th in zone 5. You can give them a boost with manure a foot under the loam. The manure cannot touch the roots or they will burn the plants. Granular 5-10-10 fertilizer can be applied on the soil surface. Manure under the loam creates heat in the soil, which can give your plants a early start. Early and mid season tomatoes are best in your area. Some 60 day tomatoes include cherry and grape size fruit as well as Jetsetter, Red Rocket. Marglobe, Homestead and some Beefsteak are good 75 -80 day varieties.

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Question: 533-1811
I live in Willmar, MN and so I think that puts me in zone 4. I started my Tomato plants indoors on March 16th and I think I may have started them a bit early. They are in 3'' peat pots and are already about 6-7 inches tall each. The roots are starting to poke through the bottom and I was wondering if I could just keep then in the tray they are in and add a little dirt to the bottom or if I need to move them all to bigger pots. Or do you think they will be OK as is for about another month until I put them outside? Brian

Mort's Answer:
I would put them in six inch clay pots. Place them in a sunny location to slow the growth rate. Give them a higher phosphorus fertilizer to build strong stems. You will have to wait until June before putting them in the ground. You could leave the pot on the sidewalk in May. If you expect any frost in May, bring them indoors for the night. There is no benefit to putting them out early. They love heat. In zone 6 we put them out May near 15th.

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Question: 540-1911
I am going away next week and my Tomato seedlings are quite tall. They are in peat pots. Would you suggest planting them now or wait two weeks until I get back? Bill, Tulsa, OK

Mort's Answer:
I would wait until you get back. May 15 is the last average frost date in zone 6. Tomatoes love heat and water. They will be easier to water, if you have a solid tray under your peat pots. There is no advantage to planting early with tomatoes.

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Question: 552-2211
We got little scars on the leaves on our tomato plants. It is a grayish white covering in spots. What can it be? Laura, Austin, TX

Mort's Answer:
It is important not to handle seeds and seedlings if you smoke. Tobacco mosaic is also spread by little green worms as well as tobacco and the wind. It is common in areas that grow tobacco, melons and tomatoes. It is sometimes found on roses. When you purchase plants, be sure to get plants that are resistant to the disease. Hybrids mat have a series of letters after the name. This indicates tobacco mosaic resistance. Tomatoes will often outgrow the malady and produce a good crop but I would hedge my bet. Rotate your crops each year. Throw away the finished plants and cultivate in the fall and spring.

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Question: 553-2211
I cannot seem to find Jet Star here in Livingston, MT. Where can I find them? We had plenty in Kansas when I lived there. Michele.

Mort's Answer:
Jet Stars are a good reliable tomato. Since you have short summers, I can understand the stores stocking early tomatoes. Most small fruit are 60 day tomatoes. Jet Stars are verticillium and fusarium wilt resistant. They produce a large half pound fruit and are indeterminate. You could try my website. We have a link to one of my sponsors that carry seeds for mailing.

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Question: 556-2311
I brought my Tomato seedlings outdoors to harden them off before I leave them outdoors. Unfortunately, I picked up some spider mites. What can I use as a spray for them with to get rid of the mites?. Denver, Livingston, MT

Mort's Answer:
Pyrethrin comes as a powder and a spray. Do not put it on too heavily. You could try alcohol before the pyrethrin, which is an organic compound that is also used to ward off ticks. You should be able to plant the tomatoes the second week in June.

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Question: 574-2811
My tomatoes that I planted three weeks ago as transplants have flowers but no tomatoes yet. My neighbor has tomatoes on her plants. I planted Big Boys and Better Boys. I used good soil with fertilizer in it. Lois, Taylorville, IL

Mort's Answer:
You tomato envy will be rewarded soon. Big Boys and Better Boys are large tomatoes that mature in 80 to 90 days. Your neighbor probably planted 60 day tomatoes. I also planted Big Boys three weeks ago here in zone 6. Since you are in zone 5, your big red boys will appear within in two weeks. I saw a tomato this week on mine.

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Question: 584-3011
My tomatoes in raised beds have sun scald with all this 100 degree heat. What do you suggest? Bill, Tulsa, OK

Mort's Answer:
You need screening to shade the plants. You have too much of a good thing. If you can find parachute silk, it would be perfect. If you use weed barrier, it will have to be elevated with about an inch opening between sheets. I would make some lathing on two by threes . Put the lathes about an inch apart. You can save the lathing each year.

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Question: 657-4911
Can I grow tomatoes and peppers indoors during the winter? Hamo, Cranston, RI

Mort's Answer:
You may be able to grow small peppers but not the large in the house. They all require strong sunlight and cooling to harden the stems sufficient to hold the fruit. You would be wasting time with the tomatoes until after December. I would suggest that you get a grow light, if you want to try hot small peppers now. Hot houses do grow winter tomatoes with additional light and heat.

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Question: 739-1712
Just curious if you know if the hybrid BHN-444 are GMO tomatoes, or are they a safe natural plant just hybrid crossed with another tomato? The reason for my concern is because if this is GMO, I do not want the plant to continue to grow and contaminate my other crops., especially the heirloom tomatoes. David

Mort's Answer:
Hybrid plants are genetically modified by definition in the broad sense. They are bred to have the best characteristics of both parents. Experts feel there is not enough research yet to conclude that any harm to second and later generations will come. If you are using new heritage seed each year, first year crops are not altered. Second generation hybrids are only 50% true to parents. If the hybrids are sterile , then they will not affect other tomatoes. I do not know the parentage of BHN-444. This information usually is not available. from breeders.If you do not want crossing with the Heritage plants, plant new seeds or new plants every year. Tomato genes are not worn by other species.

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Question: 754-2112
Why do I get blossom end rot on my tomatoes. I use a lot of manure each year and 13-13-13 fertilizer. The plants are vibrant. Tony, Fordyce, AR

Mort's Answer:
You are using far too much nitrogen. You are getting vegetive growth. This year try side dressing with bonemeal to add more phosphorus proportionately to the nitrogen. In subsequent years you should use 5-10-5 . Your soil is probably quite friable at this point with all the manure. You should also rotate you crops between leafy, root and fruit vegetables to insure efficient use of nutrients.

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Question: 760-2212
My 20 tomatoes are heavy with fruit about the size of golf balls. They are mulched with wood chips and well fertilized. The plants are starting to have curled leaves and yellowing at the bottom with black freckles. Will this affect the tomatoes? Bill, Tulsa, OK

Mort's Answer:
Your plants have early blight and septoria wilt. It is too late to spray for other maladies that might affect the weakened plants. Your first wave of fruit could outgrow the septoria. I would pull the mulch off the plants and cultivate by hand to keep the weeds out. I know how hot it can get in the summer in your area and understand your need for a mulch. You can create a dust mulch by using a four tine clam rake to scarify the top two inches.

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Question: 764-2312
I now have Japanese beetles on my tomatoes. The tomatoes are large enough to start turning red. What can I do to make them stop eating the leaves? George, Boaz, AL

Mort's Answer:
Pheromone traps act as sex lies to keep them away from your plants. You will also need to put down grubicides this fall and next spring in your lawn. This should be applied at 65 degrees to effectively kill the larvae. This will also help you establish a good lawn because grubs are feeding on the roots of the lawn. It is now too late to use a poison on the plants. There are organic compounds like rotenone that can be applied next spring on the soil. To get to the root of the problem, you will need to use a grub control.

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Question: 792-3012
I have been using coffee grounds on my tomatoes. It works okay. I tried to purchase 10-10-10. It was expensive at 12.95 for 10 lbs. Is there another way to fertilize my tomatoes? Jim, Salem, CT

Mort's Answer:
You do not need that amount of nitrogen for tomatoes. Since the first number represents nitrogen you can best be served with 5-10-10 or 5-10-5. When adding organic amendments , like coffee grounds, shredded leaves, manures and grass clippings , you are increasing the bacterial action that breaks down essential elements in your soil like phosphorus. Continue to supplement your soil with these supplements each year but add the 5-10-5 this year.

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Question: 795-3112
I have been growing tomatoes in a three foot by one foot plastic container that is 15 inches deep. I have used a popular soil with fertilizer in it with two cups of epsom salts and some other granular fertilizer. My Big Boys do well but not the Romas. They develop end rot. What causes this? Richard, Lincoln, MA

Mort's Answer:
Since the Big Boys take 90 or more days, they are able to absorb the excessive amounts of fertilizer. Some of these boxes have drainage under the soil. This helps get rid of some of the extra. When using soil with fertilizer, there is no need to add more. A tablespoon of epsom salts is a good enough additive.

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Question: 804-3312
My tomatoes on my patio have not produced much fruit. The flowers just withered on the plants. I have them in clay pots and I used manure . They are 75 day tomatoes. What happened and what shall I do? Constance, Bordeaux, France

Mort's Answer:
Most of the northern hemisphere experienced extreme weather this year. Since your temps are generally moderate throughout the year, you may have had success in the past. Tomatoes love heat and you may have been tempted to start earlier this year like so many other folks. Sudden drops in temperatures will keep plants from pollinating as the flowers mature. Another possible problem is the use of manure instead of a high phosphorus fertilizer. You may still have time to get more blooms and have them pollinate now. Use a tablespoon have granular 5-10-10 on the soil of each plant. This should bring more flowers for the bees to visit.

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Question: 938-2013
I have specks on my tomatoes. I have covered them when the temps went down to 30. Bill, Tulsa, OK

Mort's Answer:
Although you are in zone 7, you are early this year. Last year you may have been on time. Roses love heat and water. Those specks can be merely water holes made by mist. The sun uses the droplets of water like a magnifying glass and burns a hole eventually. It could be a rust and the tomato should outgrow it. Tomato plants are tender in early spring. If the spots proliferate, you can spray with a light mist of fungicide like Benlate to stop the spread. I can understand the need to get the earliest tomatoes but you might get in a stew first.

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Question: 943-2113
I planted some tomatoes two weeks ago; the foliage is turning white. Will they come back? cLen, Norwich, CT

Mort's Answer:
You have hardened them off to an extreme. It is good to bring them outdoors before May 15 in zone 6 but you cannot leave them out too long. Because they love heat, it is not advisable to plant them out earlier than the last average frost date of May 15. They will come back just as soon as we get prolonged hot weather.

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Question: 960-2513
I purchased a tomato plant in an eight inch plastic pot. I also planted cucumber seeds and broccoli in the ground. When do I fertilize and add water? Frank, Milwaukee,WI

Mort's Answer:
If your tomato is a 90 day, you need to put it in in a tub or the ground. If it is a cherry size or 60 day, eight inch pots may suffice. You can side dress the broccoli and cucumbers with 5-10-10 fertilizer and add a teaspoon to your tomato plant. Tomatoes and cucumbers love heat and water. Container plants require frequent water especially in black pots. The best pots are unglazed clay because they breathe.

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Question: 976-2913
We have had an unusual month of June with excessive rain. My tomato plants are wilting at the tops. What can I do? We have fruit on the plants. Frank, Lewisburg, WV

Mort's Answer:
Excessive rain can cause plants to be addicted to more water for a long period of time. My large tomato plant suffers from this same malady. I have been watering every day and the plant is doing fine. If you do not see any other wilt or yellowing of the plant, you should be able to prevail in our quest for the perfect

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Question: 1022-4013
I have a small garden and I planted four Celebrity tomato plants. This year I had a Mosaic fungus on leaves and stalks. This fungus was small dots size of a pencil point. The people at URI identified the fungus. My question is that I am closing the garden for the winter, how can I treat the land to eliminate this occurring again next year? I usually put down manure compost and cover with black weed-proof cover. John, Rhode Island

Mort's Answer:
All vegetable plants should be in a rotation of stem,root and fruit vegetables. This means less fertilizer each year and more vitality. Manure compost can incubate the fungus, especially with a cover. You can apply lime to the composted material and it will lessen the probability of fungal growth. Tomatoes require less nitrogen and more phosphorus. I would recommend that you find a new sunny spot where the fungi do not hang.

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Question: 1086-614
My friends tell me that you can plant tomatoes before the average last frost date in spring. Any thoughts? Dottie, Griswold, CT

Mort's Answer:
Last year, because it was unseasonably warm in March and April, a lot of folks planted vegetables before the last average frost date of May 15 in zone 6. I took a shot in late April. The soil was warm and I was impatient. There was no advantage because it got too hot in June for the bees to pollinate them. Eventually they were pollinated in July and my tomatoes came in later than usual. Since we are experiencing global warming, this could occur again and again. If you take a chance this coming year, you can protect the plants from a frost with a cloche. Empty milk bottles work well. Because warm weather vegetables need heat, it is better to wait for May 15 in zone 6 for tomato plantings outdoors.

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Question: 1151-3114
My tomato plants turned yellow from the bottom to the top. We have been removing the affected leaves. Some had black spots. We also have a wood mulch underneath. Will this adversely affect the fruit, which is green now? Pat, Richmond, IN

Mort's Answer:
You probably had a virus or fungus. Wood mulch will rob the soil of nitrogen as it rots. When it is completely rotted, it will take nitrogen from the air and put it into the soil. Yellow leaves can be a sign of not enough nitrogen. I would recommend that you pull away the much and let it rot in some other place. You can cultivate every ten days and make a dust mulch. It is not much, but it is a mulch. It works. Whether it is a fungus that could grow in the wood mulch or a lack of nitrogen, the fruit will not be affected. A small handful of 10-6-4 fertilizer will help strengthen the plants.

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Question: 1201-4714
We had 27 degrees this past Saturday. I brought my tomato plants indoors last week just in time. I have them in a southern facing porch with plenty of light and heat at night. It can get really hot there in the daytime. I do not know what kind of tomatoes they are. They volunteered to be in my garden. One plant is too tall. I want to cut it back. Will I continue to get fruit and I will I harm it? George, Boaz, AL

Mort's Answer:
You can cut it back but pay attention to where the flower buds are. You were fortunate to pick up these tomatoes on time. You will need to hand pollinate the flowers, if you want fruition for your efforts. Use a Q-tip and gather the yellow pollen and gently insert the pollen into other flowers. You have the ideal temps for tomatoes. They love the heat and 70 at night is perfect. When you prune the top of the larger one, take the entire branch down to the next stem. You could add liquid fertilizer in small amounts every other watering. Vine ripened tomatoes in the winter is something to be envied.

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Question: 1228-515
Last year, I dug three feet below my tomatoes and filled with good loam and manure. I noticed, when I pulled the roots that they were stunted. The fruit was good but I am concerned about the roots. Jim, Wilimantic, CT

Mort's Answer:
You need not go that deep. You may have rooted the roots and they grew laterally. Some farmers will put a shovel full of manure a foot under loam. This will allow for an early start and not overwhelm the plants.

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Question: 1249-1615
I noticed that they are selling tomato plants at the box stores here. Can we plant them now? Mike, Long Branch, NJ

Mort's Answer:
Your last average frost date is May 1st in zone 7. I would not plant tomatoes, which require temperatures above 65 to thrive. Night time temps are also a consideration. You could get a cold night frost and lose the plants entirely. I am in zone 6 and have advised people to wait beyond our last average frost date of May 15 for warm weather veggies like peppers, tomatoes and melons. Cool weather plants like lettuce, kale and spinach can take a frost. Keep the tomato plants indoors or start some from seeds now with plenty of heat and sunlight.

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Question: 1256-1915
I am about to purchase two patio tomato plants. I plan to put them in some old plastic pots. Is there anything else that I should be concerned about? Can I wheel them into the garage at night? Francis, Norwich, CT

Mort's Answer:
Container gardening has been increasing every year. Having casters is excellent if you want to prevent cold damage. This year the weather has been volatile. We could still get a very cold night before and after our last average frost date of May 15 in zone 6. I would recommend using clay pots and a soil mix of good potting soil and a third sand. If you feel a need to use some old plastic pot, be sure to wash the pot out with bleach and leave it to sun dry for a few days before filling with soil. I like Roma plum tomatoes as a container plant. There is no advantage with planting warm weather veggies earlier than necessary, even if they are Roman at night.

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Question: 1278-2815
I have grown tomatoes indoors from seeds. I have used water soluble fertilizer. They are very leggy and have few flowers. Do I need a larger pot? Jim, Salem, CT

Mort's Answer:
You should use a 12 inch clay pot for medium and large fruited tomatoes. Whiskey barrels work well for two or three large plants. A ten inch will work for cherry and plum tomatoes. Tomatoes love heat and water in the summer. Bring those beauties outdoors where they bill thrive in the sun. Your new soil should include a third sand for good drainage. A handful of 5-10-10 or 5-10-5 on the top of the soil will raise the phosphorus level to a good proportion.

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Question: 1361-2916
Is hot and humid good weather for tomatoes? Hank, New London, CT

Mort's Answer:
Tomatoes, melons, peppers and eggplant, to name a few, love heat and water, especially in July. If we have too much heat in May, we may not get enough pollination by the bees. Tomatoes in black containers on patios require daily water in the heat of summer. Tomatoes will also do better with a higher middle number fertilizer like 5-10-10 in the spring.

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Question: 1363-3016
Is hot and humid good weather for tomatoes? Hank, New London, CT

Mort's Answer:
Tomatoes, melons, peppers and eggplant, to name a few, love heat and water, especially in July. If we have too much heat in May, we may not get enough pollination by the bees. Tomatoes in black containers on patios require daily water in the heat of summer. Tomatoes will also do better with a higher middle number fertilizer like 5-10-10 in the spring.

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Question: 243-5201
How can we save our green tomatoes? Raymond, Watertown, NY

Mort's Answer:
My sources tell me that you can wrap each tomato individually with brown kraft paper. Place the tomatoes in a cool dry place. You can take a few out of the storage bin and let them ripen on your sils. They can last up until December in the bin and ripen within three days on the sills.

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