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Old May 27, 2012   #1
meadowyck
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Default Growing Tomatoes in Florida

How in the world do you grow them?????

I tried last year and this year and have been unsuccessful in doing so.

I've been told (sorry if you have read this before) that when the temps stay high at night that the tomatoes are done, finish, won't put out another bloom.

I'm so tomato prived that it isn't funny. For the last 8 years I've not really had much in the way of good tasting, red (not green or white) juicy tomato, you know the ones I'm talking about, like when you are out in the garden find a beauty of a tomato and pick it and eat it right there, with the juice running down your chin....

When I lived in Kentucky didn't have a problem growing them, moved to northern Ohio for 8 years and they would get started good, but didn't get any real tomatoes, plenty of green tomatoes for frying, before the first frost hits. And no I wasn't blessed to have a greenhouse.

So now I'm back home and I wants me some tomatoes...... Help......

So hopefuly some Floridians will stop by and explain why I can't grow any?????

I live in sw Florida, off the Gulf/bay inlet.


Jan
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Old May 27, 2012   #2
jerryinfla
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Jan -

This link - http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021 - will tell you when to plant tomatoes, other veggies too, in Florida. I think Bradenton would be considered South Florida so you should plant tomatoes August to March.

If I were you, and assuming you will be planting tomatoes in the ground, I would spend the next couple of months augmenting your soil with as much organic matter as you can get your hands on. The Soil Building 101 Tomatoville forum has some good info on improving your soil and also building raised beds. Some folks in Florida plant tomatoes in containers but I've not had luck doing so. There is a Growing in Containers forum here on Tomatoville where I'm sure you can get good advice if you go that route.

I too have struggled trying to grow tomatoes, or any veggies for that matter, in Florida but I'm finally having limited success thanks to the fine folks and good information I'm getting here on the ville plus lots of hard work amending my soil with organic matter.
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Old May 27, 2012   #3
ContainerTed
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Keep the faith, Jan. The Di Mare Corporation (and some others) raises a lot of tomatoes all around you. BTW, my first grandchild was born in Bradenton.

The problem you will have from Sarasota to north of Tampa/St. Petersburg is the soil and the summer temps. You need to get used to TWO growing seasons - sort of Spring and Fall. Summer is way too hot and humid and winter can get you some freezing temps from time to time.

Look at the strawberry harvest to the northeast of you in Plant City. In Kentucky, you would harvest strawberries in May/June. Plant City brings in the main crop in February.

As far as the soil, Florida has some of the worst vegetable growing soil in the United States. The big commercial outfits use a lot of chemicals and they harvest stuff green and then gas them to sell them. I think you would find a lot less frustration if you use containers and "soil-less" potting mix type growing medium. Also, the containers should have some means of keeping the sun from being directly on the sides of the containers. This will help things run a little cooler down at the root level. Mulching and frequent watering are normal with containers.

Maybe some of the other Tomatoville members from the Sunshine State will chime in and make some more specific recommendations.
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Old May 27, 2012   #4
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http://www.fshs.org/Proceedings/Pass...%20(SCOTT).pdf These guys have a ext here in Homestead,and they are in your town.Should be a way to contact and maybe get some input and seeds.
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Old May 27, 2012   #5
horses4jess
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I'm from Kansas originally, in an area where tomato growing means tossing a few seeds in the ground in April and pretty much ignoring them until it's picking time from July. My first year in South Florida was a rough one too, Jan. Out of 5 plants, I had a handful of Sweet 100's before foliage disease finished off what the nematodes and caterpillars started. I found the UF website the next year, planted in September and moved to containers--both EBs and traditional 5-10G pots--and started preventative spraying. Much better production, but the whiteflies and TYLCV still really limited things. Insect netting was suggested to me since sprays, the yellow sticky traps and trap crops didn't work. After going through all that, I've finally got it down. At least, until the next species of horrendously-unmanagable-crop-destroying-invasive disease and/or insect arrives. Moral of the story is that adaption to your local conditions and pests is key to success.

Jessica

P.S.- You might give Better Boy or Atkinson a try for the eat-in-the-garden red tomato. I'm a bit south of you, but they were relatively low maintenance in my area compared to many other varieties I've tried.
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Old May 27, 2012   #6
meadowyck
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wow you folks are great source of knowledge. I thank you, thank you.

I'm going to grow in containers, and I think I will grow inside the gage over the pool. I've got one area that has direct sun and should keep most bugs out.

when I gardened up north I always used horse, and goat manure, the best stuff to give great results. I'm not a chemical person, although the guy we rent from sprays, and sprays.....

Jerry thanks so much for the link.

Ted - I've seen their harvest and both DH and I have through about contacting them so we could purchase and then go pick some. Right now the last of the crops are just laying rotting in the field down from my house... oh what a waste. But when I think of all the chemicals and think I'm not so interested....

Kurt - you live in my birth city, how is Miami these days? thanks for the link very interesting reading. Just what I'm looking for.

Jessica, yes you are just down the road, we usually go to that area every 2-3 months. I would love to move further south, but need to stay in Bradenton for my father.


Jan
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Old May 28, 2012   #7
ginger2778
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Jan, I have had successful tomatoes here for 13 years, but thids is by far my best season ever. The difference: Earthboxes. They are closed off, "soil" pre amended by their directions,via added dolomite lime to prevent blossom end rot( calcium deficiency), fertilizer placed in a strip away from the plant but able to feed it, and there is a water reservoir that keeps the plants always watered, but never over watered because any overfill just runs out instead of drowning them. This is the first year I have had plants survive this late, always been dead by 3rd week april before. I am sold, and just ordered 15 more.
They can be used year after year and they are resistant to Uv rays so they wont break down for a long time.
South Florida soil is sandy and has nematodes and centipedes, and we have thrips and whiteflies, which Kurt says get eaten by ladybugs. I have found that spraying the whiteflies every 7 days with Neem oil/ and a little dishsoap to spread it well controls the whiteflies very well. They will get into a patio because they are small enough to fit through most screens. Neem oil is organic, comes from a Neem tree, and it is antifungal and a miticide too.
Try the self watering container systems, there are several, and plant out in October, and again in late January, and you will do fine.
I had to give away sooo many this year due to abundance!
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Old May 29, 2012   #8
meadowyck
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ginger2778 if I lived closer I would be over to purchase your excess....LOL

I'm looking now and starting to work on some varieties for later this year...

I love container gardening as you can make the soil the best without having to do a lot of ground and as well all know the sand will eat new, wonderful soil.

I'm a hugh user of neem in my soaps that I make and I use it on my collies as well. Excellent for any cuts you or your pets might get, almost heals them overnight.

Jan
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Old May 29, 2012   #9
ginger2778
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meadowyck View Post
ginger2778 if I lived closer I would be over to purchase your excess....LOL

I'm looking now and starting to work on some varieties for later this year...

I love container gardening as you can make the soil the best without having to do a lot of ground and as well all know the sand will eat new, wonderful soil.

I'm a hugh user of neem in my soaps that I make and I use it on my collies as well. Excellent for any cuts you or your pets might get, almost heals them overnight.

Jan
Wow, I didn't know it was good for pets. Thanks! See, you learn alot on this website!
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Old May 30, 2012   #10
MargeH
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Jan

The man who invented the Earthbox is from Manatee County. His family has a "research center" in Ellenton where they sell them and give free demonstrations on how to use the Earthbox. Check out the Earthbox website for more info.

I have been growing tomatoes in Sarasota for more than 5 years. I have had some spectacular years (this year) and some real disasters (last year).

I grow in pots. I start my own seeds in December and July. I think the key here is timing and a mild winter. Fall is tougher but I have had some success. I usually fight TYLC virus and plants are more likely to show signs of it that time of year before they set many tomatoes. I have better luck with cherries then. I was so discouraged last year that I didn't plant a fall garden at all.

I am glad I got over it because this year is probably my second best year of all time and I have had no signs of the virus.

Marjorie
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Old May 31, 2012   #11
ginger2778
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MargeH View Post
Jan

The man who invented the Earthbox is from Manatee County. His family has a "research center" in Ellenton where they sell them and give free demonstrations on how to use the Earthbox. Check out the Earthbox website for more info.

I have been growing tomatoes in Sarasota for more than 5 years. I have had some spectacular years (this year) and some real disasters (last year).

I grow in pots. I start my own seeds in December and July. I think the key here is timing and a mild winter. Fall is tougher but I have had some success. I usually fight TYLC virus and plants are more likely to show signs of it that time of year before they set many tomatoes. I have better luck with cherries then. I was so discouraged last year that I didn't plant a fall garden at all.

I am glad I got over it because this year is probably my second best year of all time and I have had no signs of the virus.


Marjorie

I had a great year this year too, but I had a constant battle with the whiteflies after late part of March, and they did eventually win. All my plants got TYLCV but not before giving me the most amazing season I have ever had . Last year was horrible for almost everyone I know of in Florida.
I start my seeds in early Sept, and again in January. That's to take advantage of the cool weather. I do have to cover them with our one or 2 days of very low temps and frost danger, but they usually survive just fine
Growing in pots is the key for me.
There is an excellent youtube video by the Earthbox man on how to use them,
Also a video by the Growbox people on their very similar and a little less expensive ones.
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