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Old June 12, 2011   #31
AZRuss
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I just tasted a ripe, warm-from-the-vine Jetsetter F1. Yes, it had BER, but it was a large tomato so I just cut the rotted part away. It was DELICIOUS!! Full, old-time tomato flavor, ever so slightly sweet. Nice surprise for an early-ish hybrid. Hope there will be a few later on without the BER problem. It's a good producer and it's supposed to be fairly heat tolerant. It's still setting and it's been around 95 degrees here for a few weeks now. Nights are still relatively cool (69-75) though. That might be it.
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Old June 12, 2011   #32
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desertlzbn, I agree with the other guys that it is more likely soil problems... as we desert gardeners all know, watering is a serious balancing act here. I presume your not container gardening... you might try turning over a shovel full of dirt between rows and smelling it ... check it out at the bottom of the hole to see how dry or wet it is. Sometimes the subsoil just needs a good deep long soaking this time of year and on the other hand if kept too wet it sours. A good long soak can also help leach out salts or fertilizers if too much nitrogen is in there. Tell us a little about what kind of soil and watering system you have. Keep the faith girl, Your tough! It is a real challenge here, but when it clicks WOW, what fun!
I had a garden at Orange Grove and I10 for about 25years and thought I knew how to garden here, but moved to Oro Valley for about 7years and had to start over learning and then built a new home here in Catalina a few years ago and am still struggling and learning every day.
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Old June 12, 2011   #33
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AZRuss, I haven't tried Jetsetter f1 sounds great.... Rutgers has always been a favorite for canning .. it really likes it here and since determinate we can get all the canning done at one time. I tried Burpee's Steaksandwich this year for the first time and have been impressed with it ... taste and production is great. I'm also trying a few new ones (for me)this year ..
Atkins
Ashleigh
Van Wert
Hoy
My greenbeans have started struggling in the heat and am about ready to pull all of them and get my cowpeas in .. this has worked well planting them at the onset of the monsoons and I do love purple hulls and cornbread
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Old June 12, 2011   #34
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Tuk, I'm growing Rutgers here for the first time and I really like it. They seem a bit sour unless fully ripened, and I'll bet anything they cook up well. Lots of tomatoes from only one plant. I'm also trying another determinate (and one of the parents of Rutgers), Marglobe. Delicious, buta very low producer. One I grew a year or two ago, Stupice, was just mediocre off the vine. But super prolific, and cooked--outstanding. Also very, very early. Let me know how you like Ashleigh. I have a friend back east who loves that one. I'll be curious how it does here. I've been curious also about Steak Sandwich. Might give that one a try next year. I'm giving up on Burpee's Brandy Boy. Taste is excellent, but production is seriously low and it's been very prone to BER this season. I'm not a snob re: heirloom/OP/hybrid. I just want lots of great tasting summer tomatoes!!
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Old June 12, 2011   #35
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Stupice and Rutgers are both used in our salsa recipes and sauces, but I agree that the taste is not there for using as a slicer.
I've got two very big problems here...
1. My garden is an old driveway with a lot of rocks, seriously compacted and no organic matter.
2. My elevation is about 3500ft, so it goes from light frosts to extreme heat in a few weeks time.
This is my second year here and literally have been adding tons of organic material and still have areas in the garden that won't drain. I've started digging deep trenches between rows and filling with horse manure, Christmas tree mulch and bark and just ordered buckwheat seed to plant between rows for a summer cover crop.
With all this the Ashleigh and Atkinson have been impressive, they both are loaded with fruit, but seem to be very late maturing. I'll try and get some pics of them and let you know how the taste is.
I have always grown my tomatoes for an early harvest and then keep them alive for a fall crop. Next year I am going to try a different approach with a lot of early varieties and try and get my crop in by July 1st and have a second batch ready for planting with the monsoons ...
I've had very good luck with taste and production in the past with Japanese Black Trifele, Green Zebra, Cherokee Purple and its potato leaf version Spudakee and NAR, these are our favorites for slicing... NAR is the least productive of this bunch, but it is worth growing for the very large perfect red slicer that I impress the neighbors with ... LOL.
If it is not Red and Perfect its not a tomato to most.
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Old June 12, 2011   #36
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I posted earlier that NAR is my favorite of the year! It is SO darned beautiful and delicious. It really isn't the most productive, but the fruits you get are so worth it.

Big Beef has been the most productive for me this year. Flavor is so-so, and they're really not all that big. A lot of them are going into tonight's pico de gallo salsa. I might give this one a year off in favor of Steak Sandwich.

Good to know that Cherokee Purple does well here. I'll try it next year. When I lived in CA I used to get tons of CP from the Santa Monica Farmers Market each week. It has always been one of my favorites.

Question: what do you do to keep your plants alive through monsoon? Also, anything I've planted in July and August to date has just sat there. Didn't die, didn't grow, just sat there drinking water and taking up space. What's the secret? (BTW, I'm a total back yard container gardener.)
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Old June 12, 2011   #37
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If the summer is above the 105 or so mark there is not much and I've had the same thing, but keeping the root area cool seems to help the most.. I've never had great success with container tomatoes or raised beds because of the heat. Very heavy mulch that breaths, like wheat straw, Christmas tree mulch and one year my son in Las Cruces brought me a load of pecan hulls. I also use overhead sprinklers at 1pm for 30minutes each day when above 100deg. I think the evaporation does more for cooling than anything else. Also the city water is so hard that there is a noticeable difference with our well water or after a rain shower ... the tomatoes just do better. I've also had better luck with plants that are heavy leaved and provides some shade for themselves. I have a friend in town that has built a shade cloth awning over his whole garden, but I gave up on that a long time ago because of the monsoon winds ... and I really do believe that the cool roots are the biggest advantage. The tomato plants themselves handle the extreme heat well enough.
You mentioned BER.. It may be because of the containers and stress, but you might try only in one container for an experiment a half solution of the stuff called Cactus Juice.. Cactus plants need a lot of calcium and most cactus fertilizers have it available.. it is a liquid sold at HD and Ace and Lowes.. I also use this stuff with liquid kelp again at half strength during the heat as a spray at daylight once every few weeks. This gets involved and only experiment with one to see if it will work for you.
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Old June 12, 2011   #38
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Ok, let me answer a few of the questions then I have a few more for you.
I have everything on irrigation, and most of the flags are rated 8 or 10 gallon per hour. Up until 2 days ago I was watering for 40 min in the morning. I was out of town for ONE day and I came back to most of my plants being very wilted, and looking bad. Yesterday I started watering for 60 min in the morning. I don't think the water system turned on this morning, so everything (all my melons and zucs, and cucs were completely wilted). I will go out in a little bit to see if they come back. I hope so.
Anyway. I built three Earthtainers this winter and fixed them exactly the way the instructions said. I am seeing signs of whatever disease is plaguing my plants. I will try to take pictures later. on a couple of my beds I have been doing some intensive fertilizing, to see if that may help.
I will have to take a soil sample to the UofA to try to see if this is soil born or what. I guess I will take in a couple of the plants to get them looked at too.
I just feel l cannot win. I planted out over 80 tomato plants and I have only gotten about a pound of tomatoes off of them. That is horrible.
I should have lots of tomatoes now.
I will check in later with more thoughts.
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Old June 13, 2011   #39
AZRuss
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tuk50, the Cactus Juice is a good idea. Thanks. I think some varieties are just more prone to BER. The Earthboxes hold two plants each. Jetsetter is with NAR. Jetsetter has loads of BER, NAR has none. Brandy Boy is with Sunset's Red Horizon, and only Brandy Boy has BER. If I decide to grow them next year, I'll put the Jetsetter and Brandy Boy together with major calcium enrichment in the soil mix. To help cool things down, I keep the Earthboxes close together and surround them with silver insulation material from Home ★★★★★. Seems to help. Wish I could use shade cloth, but you're right: monsoon winds will just rip it apart and/or blow it away.
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Old June 13, 2011   #40
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sammie- you're right, you should have lots more tomatoes. I've gotten much more than that this year from just 8 plants!! Please let us know what you find. Puzzling that the Earthtainer plants seem to be sick too, especially if you used different potting mix. Hope you can solve your problems.
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Old June 13, 2011   #41
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Yeah, Russ.. your right that some are more prone to BER.. and I had the same experience with NAR.. it is one good tomato here.. one of the few with no problems including no cracking either. Very good idea to use insulation. I have had no good experiences with container growing here, but have seen some great tomatoes grown in them.
I took a few pics this morning ...
This is the Ashleigh:
Followed by Green Zebra, my old standby to judge my garden soil and this year its larger than last year, but still lacking.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 2011 6 13 015.JPG (820.0 KB, 30 views)
File Type: jpg 2011 6 13 009.JPG (572.6 KB, 29 views)
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Old June 13, 2011   #42
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The first is Atkinson another first time plant for me followed by Japanese Black Trifele another yearly variety for us, we love, and it also does well all year, but again not up to snuff yet, as my soil still needs a couple more years of organic matter and the last is a picture of Burpee's Steak Sandwich that has impressed me so far for taste and also early ripening.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 2011 6 13 004.JPG (609.5 KB, 22 views)
File Type: jpg 2011 6 13 010.JPG (626.4 KB, 23 views)
File Type: jpg JUNE 13 2011 007.JPG (257.6 KB, 21 views)
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Old June 13, 2011   #43
AZRuss
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LOL... the picture of the Steak Sandwich created this incredible desire in me to go eat a tomato. And so, I'm off to give in to the urges...
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Old June 13, 2011   #44
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Me too!
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Old June 19, 2011   #45
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Here is an update!
I am getting some tomatoes off of my plants, not a lot but some.
I am using the fert mix that came from the food for everyone site. I am seeing more growth on my plants. I am going to add more fert today, along with going and getting some alfalfa pellets again. that really seemed to help all my plants out. I am going to make a alfalfa/molassas/compost tea and fert with that.
i am getting a BUNCH of BER but don't really know what to do about it.
I have a plan for next year. I am going to till in a HUGE amount of compost/manure and see if that helps.
I have a feeling that my garden is just depleted.
maybe my winter crops just took so much nutrients out, and I did not replace all of it well enough.
I still have to get my soil tested, just have not had time.
MORE GOOD NEWS
My wife bought me a (almost) brand new Honda Element yesterday. It is so great. Has only 16500 miles on it.
AWESOME
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