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#79213 Jun 29th, 2007 at 06:01 PM
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My tomatoes are really having a hard time competing with those bleeping tree roots! :mad: They just aren't growing. They are as tall as when most people buy and plant theirs. Some have flowers and teeny fruit but they are all so short. I should have grown them in pots. badday I'll have to take photos to show. I am trying to give them extra water and I fertilized again and I spray with bug and fungus stuff too. They are mulched with weed blocker and have basil plants with them (which are also way smaller than the basil plants in my hot pepper pots). Some stuff is ok with the root competition. potatoes, onion family and cabbage also green beans are doing good. The tomatoes, peppers, squash and cucs could be much better. Another crappy thing is that I don't have anywhere for pots to go if I did put them in pots next year. I guess they would have to go in the garden. rspb Last year I had one tomato in the garden farther from the roots and it was so tall I couldn't reach it. I put that one closest to the roots this year and it is so short. I am pretty disappointed since last year I didn't have many maters either.

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Do you have a foto of the area Tamara? Are the plants in shade too or are the roots from a tree in the neighbours yard or something? Did you know You can take the lower leaves off tomatoes and bury the stems in compost and they will put out roots into the soil. One of the few plants that you can do this with. It needs to be mulched as the mounded compost can dry out quickly, but it's one way of feeding the plants and not the roots of the tree.


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While I'm sure the tree roots don't help any it could also be the MN weather. I don't know what area of MN you are in but I live 1/2 hour northeast of St. Paul and this year my tomatoes and my Father's who lives only 6 miles away we both have had a odd crop of tomatoes. We did 6 different varietys with 10 plants per variety and even within one variety some plants are just tiny and short. While a some have gotten bigger and bushier(but still not the size they have been in years past) other stay scrawny. both of us have gardens in full sun, no trees, his is next to hayfield and mine is next to horse pasture. We've been watering ever other day due to lack of rain. Heck I've got one plant thats 10" tall tops with maybe 4 branches that started flowering...if it gets some maters it'll bend the main stalk right over!! nervous

Hang in there!

Soilmover #82250 Jul 4th, 2007 at 04:42 PM
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I'm 45 min NW of Minneapolis. It has been dry and some of my plants maybe aren't getting enough water. 2 are doing better than the rest. That is strange about your tomatoes being irregular. I let a volunteer go this spring and it is bigger than some of my real plants that I planted early in wall o waters. Part of the problem was that my plants were smaller than normal when they went in. I have a neighbor who buys the big ones at the nursery and his plants are as big or bigger than my potatoes! They look like they might be in more shade though. Anyway I have fertilized at planting and about a week ago. I wonder if I should fertilize more. I used calcium tablets, epsom salt and Tomatoes Alive organic food along with compost. I could compost more too. It has been hot and rainy now so perhaps they will have a growth spurt.
I did go take photos.
[Linked Image]
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Now look at the difference between those tiny peppers and the ones not as near the trees.
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Isn't it funny though to see the maters get fruit when they are so small?

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I have the same problem-- big tree[a pine at that] right on top of my veggies, with the addition of heavy clay soil... boohoo Last year, it was all on a slope, but I leveled it last fall, thus ripping out all the roots near the surface[a few inches down too] on the one side of the tree I planted on.. I planted starting about 3 feet away from the trunk of the tree, and just cut all the branches away, that were in the way.. lol
My peppers, which are closer to the tree then my tomatoes, are very small, but are producing fruit... I'm trying to fertilize that area more...


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badplanter #82435 Jul 5th, 2007 at 03:14 AM
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I found the addition of potash caused a nice growth spurt in my tomatoes earlier this year. I only sprinkled it lightly around the base of the plants and then scratched it in. The difference was fantasic. I would suggest trying it.

I used fireplace ash. It should be sifted first by filling a container 1/4 full of the ash and then filling with water. Syphon off what rises to the top and then let the water evaporate. What is left is what you want to use. Although you could probably apply it wet without much problem. About a teaspoon around each plant should do it.


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tkhooper #82578 Jul 5th, 2007 at 06:09 AM
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A few things I noticed in your pics. One is shading, does the area receieve periods of shading during the day due to trees etc? Tomatoes need full sun-preferably all day.It can make a very big difference. Also the black mulch works well with peppers- but many dont suggest it for tomatoes. I also noticed a sprinkler in the corner of one pic. Is that the only way you water the garden? Tomatoes do not like to be spray watered (I know the rain but....)as it makes it prone to disease, especially blights, and fungus. Try to water right around the roots with a watering can jug etc. Also is your soil on heavy side? If so next time try growing in furrows, which are raised rows. This will keep the roots from drowning in water, and the heavier soil will retain water enough to sustain proper growth, it also give more area for the roots to grow in.I cover my rows for tomatoes with grass clippings before I plant, as mulch and nutrients. When you go to plant, pluck off the non true leaves from your seedlings, and plant them up to the first true leaves, in the furrow. Set up your supports before you plant- I like to grow on a trellis type fencing. Planting them that deep, will cause the whole stem thats in the ground to root, and makes a much better tomato plants. I planted my tomatoes Memorial weekend, and the large cherrys are already above chest hieght! I like to feed using a higher nitrogen fertilzer (standard miracle grow) to get the growth going, then switch to a high phosphate to increase blooms, and fruiting.Dont use too much nitrogen, for too long as it will make more green growth and little fruit. This works well for your peppers too! (as does furrows) Here is a pic of my tomatoes, It kinda hard to get them in the pic to get an idea of the size, as they are row planted.

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DeepCreekLake #83004 Jul 5th, 2007 at 06:26 PM
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I do have light shading now, due to the trees that are causing the problem as I have posted about before. I suppose I get 2 hours of part shade and the rest sun. That is not a sprinkler but a motion detector deterrent for rabbits. I do not sprinkle overhead but use soaker hoses. My soil is sand base with good compost and manure based loam on top. It doesn't get much better, but the tree roots soak everything up. I am not sure how often I should fertilize with this situation. I only use organic products and would never miracle gro. I use Tomatoes Alive, but would it be ok to use more like once a week? Can you buy potash ready for tomatoes?
another thing is that I prune the suckers off of my tomatoes and so don't show as much lateral growth; it's more the vertical growth that is missing this year. My onions are suffering too. It is so sad. I am thinking about completely digging out the garden soil with a backhoe and putting in a border after the growing season is over. I would still have the shade increasing though unless those 2 trees come down! badday

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A part of the problem is probably the black sheet mulch you're using. Black absorbs heat and so the root systems may be overheating. As DCLake says, peppers may enjoy this but few other plants like hot roots. The excessive heat is possibly also causing a lot of moisture loss thru evaporation too. Organic mulches are a better way to retain moisture and reduce root stress. You could mulch over the top of the weed mat.
Tomatoes flower when small due to being stressed. It's not a bad thing if you can reduce that stress once they set their first fruit.
Potassium is available as sulphate of potash or potassium permanganate.(Condies crystals) but your plants look like they're getting all the food they need. I'd work on the soil temperature.


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The plants that didn't fair well are all nightshade plants and their roots cover a vast expanse.
I would suggest getting wine barrels(halved) and placing them in the middle of your garden path for your tomatoes. That works incredibly well for me...
...Good luck next year


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chefbillruiz2004 #97764 Jul 27th, 2007 at 07:56 AM
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Hey Tamara from MN, i like your pics of the garden; beutiful everything but I really like your finnocchio(with all due respect)...lol. My question is your tomato "poles". Never seen them before and they not only look great but they look as though they serve form function...where did you purchase those??


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Here they are! I'm sorry I didn't answer sooner. I don't have the rainbow colors because mine are a few years old. They work if you keep the tomatoes pruned to a single stem. Last year my sungold got out of hand and I had to tape another pole on top of 2 spirals. But these spirals are better than the ones I bought at first. Those were shorter and had no ledge to push them in with. Pruning to the extent I do slightly reduces harvest but keeps everything really neat and clean. I don't use these for determinate tomatoes.

Update on my tomatoes:
They are doing better. A few are big and a few are still small. But without any rain and with the fungus spray I use I have no fungus at all. The neighbor down the block that had such nice looking plants and that I was so jealous of, has blight. He must water in evening because it hasn't rained here much at all! So I have harvested a couple handfuls of sungold and I have one regular tomato that should be ready tomorrow. So it is something! I used to grow tons and can, but I don't want that many anymore- just a few to eat. ;)

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Is finnochio the same thing as fennel?

DeborahL #101610 Aug 2nd, 2007 at 04:07 AM
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Finnochio is a fennel but is sold here as Anise, it has a strong licorice flavour.


~~Tam~~Those who think country life is simple....have never lived on a farm.
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Sunflowers #101749 Aug 2nd, 2007 at 09:17 AM
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Thanks ! Are the leaves edible too? I thought it would be cool to sprinkle a few bits of the leaves on top of potato salad.
They're pretty plants-we have them naturalized and they're growing wild in open spaces everywhere.


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