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Tomatoes near Tampa

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Post  Ericka2385 7/14/2012, 9:30 am

Hello Everyone.

In the excitement of getting my garden beds built for my first year in a house where I can actually have a garden, I think I started my tomato plants a little early... by about a month. They had a slow, leggy start, but I replanted them a little deeper and got my light situation fixed, and they seem to be doing better. I've been thinking that they're way too big to keep inside but it's too early to plant them, until I was a the hardware store nursery (not that I really want to use them as a gauge for this) and their plants were 4 times the size of mine.

So, the question is, in zone 9B, what is the 'right time' to set out tomatoes? I remember reading that tomatoes won't flower or set fruit when temperatures are too high, but I'm also thinking if they won't set flowers yet they'll have some time to grow taller/bigger/stronger before flowering? Maybe, I don't know... I'm still new to this.

However... They have been getting lots of time outside the last weeks to get used to the heat and some light rain, and they spent the night on the patio last night.

Here are some pictures of my little buggers, any thoughts would be helpful.

Tomatoes near Tampa Cam00015

Tomatoes near Tampa Cam00016

Tomatoes near Tampa Cam00017
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Post  Pollinator 7/14/2012, 10:51 am

Don't you have a sea breeze? I've gardened farther south than you (on the east coast), and you can grow tomatoes year around. I'd plant them right away. If it gets too hot, you can always take some cuttings from suckers, root them, and replant to renew the vine for a fall garden. Also, if it's really hot, there is only a brief period each morning when they are receptive and the pollen is viable. If you have lots of bumblebees in your garden to take advantage of that narrow window each day, you'll have better odds of beating blossom drop.
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Post  Ericka2385 7/14/2012, 11:22 am

I don't have much of a sea breeze, unfortunately, I wish we did. I'm still in a flood zone, so I'm near the water but not close enough for the breeze. And I don't have much by way of bees right now, but the right flowers could fix that pretty quickly I think.

I was thinking about planting the larger ones now, and saving the smaller ones for a couple of weeks. If I could figure out the ideal temperature for pollination I'd have no problem sitting outside with a small paintbrush watching the thermometer...

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Post  walshevak 7/14/2012, 6:19 pm

I found this link in a thread from last year. It is an article on blossom drop, but it address the question of heat and tomatos setting fruit. Hope it helps.

http://gardening.about.com/od/problemspest1/a/BlossomDrop.htm

My son planted some of his tomatos in buckets in a fairly shady part of his yard hoping to nurse that batch through the hot days of July and Aug. zone A Last I talked to him, this batch was still setting fruit but was ripening slower that the ones in more sun, but were still looking good.

Perhaps you can put out your seedlings now with a bit of shade and give them time to grow to blooming size and allow a few suckers to grow to a size to allow for rooting in water or damp MM for a later crop. I'm convinced that hot climates need succession planting for tomatos. Eventually the weather will cooperate.

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Post  elliephant 7/14/2012, 7:50 pm

I'd go ahead and put them out now. My local sources say July and the first half of August for putting out fall tomatoes.
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Post  givvmistamps 7/15/2012, 3:34 am

glad you\'re here I agree with everyone else...go ahead and plant them! July and August are noted for putting out your tomato seedlings for a fall harvest. You will want to take off the bottom leaves and plant them deep, anyway, so they'll have a good root structure. The best temperatures for pollinating are supposed to be between 65 and 75° F. Tomatoes are open pollinators, they do not require an insect for pollination. Rather, the wind is all that's required, or, if there's no wind, a gentle shaking of the plant will do for "hand pollination". I don't know if temperatures get down below 75° there at night, but they do here in N FL. My tomatoes are still producing, just not as vigorously as they did last month. I think TS Debby may have something to do with that, though. Anyway, if nothing else, your plants will have an opportunity to grow a good root system and strong stems before the night temps get to ideal temps. It sounds like you're already hardening off the plants, so once that's achieved go ahead and plant...and please keep us updated on how they do!
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Post  Ericka2385 7/15/2012, 8:56 am

I woke up this morning thinking i'd put down half of my little guys now, and put down the other half in a couple of weeks. After reading everyone's replies I am feeling a lot more confident about putting them all out now. My garden beds run along our fence, which happen to go east/west, so I'm going to split them between the full sun side, and the part sun sides, and if nothing else the plants that get some will survive our hot Florida afternoons. I was wanting to experiment this year with where in the garden certain plants would thrive, so this will be good. I'll post something in a month or so with what I find out.

I'm taking out an insurance policy and will start some more seeds in the grow room, just in case.

Thank you for all the replies and info, it's appreciated.
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Post  Pollinator 7/15/2012, 9:49 am

givvmistamps wrote: The best temperatures for pollinating are supposed to be between 65 and 75° F. Tomatoes are open pollinators, they do not require an insect for pollination. Rather, the wind is all that's required, or, if there's no wind, a gentle shaking of the plant will do for "hand pollination". I don't know if temperatures get down below 75° there at night, but they do here in N FL. My tomatoes are still producing, just not as vigorously as they did last month.

"...do not require an insect for pollination..."

This is true, BUT -- Tomato pollen is not released without motion. The wind will release a little pollen - if the wind happens at the right time, some pollination may occur. A crop of tomatoes can be produced with only wind. But crop failure can also occur, if the wind did not come, or it came when the pollen had already been killed by heat.

And keep in mind that the fertilization of the incipient seeds is what stimulates the flesh of the tomato to grow. The size of the final tomato is directly proportional to the number of fertilized seeds that were created at pollination.

In other words, pollination is not an on/off switch. It's progressive, depending on the number of pollen grains that are placed on the stigma.

Motion releases the pollen. Light, random motion, may or may not release sufficient pollen for complete pollination. The best guarantee of full release is the resonant motion of a bee that is vibrating her wing muscles to deliberately release pollen.

If you want to see what this means, use a tuning fork (Middle C). In the morning after the dew dries, hold a dark paper under the blossom and touch the stem of the blossom with a vibrating tuning fork. Pollen will actually spew out.

When a bee sonicates, she pulls down the flower into the best position for pollen release; then releases large quantities of pollen down through the hollow anther tube. Some of this may strike and adhere to the pistil on the way down. Other may strike the bee's "belly" and bounce right back to the stigma, due to the vibration. Other grains may adhere to the bee's fuzzy body.

This vibration of a sonicating bee is your insurance of the best possible pollination of your crop. It affects both the quantity and the quality of your final result.
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Post  floyd1440 7/15/2012, 3:51 pm

How does this high heat effect pollination? I got some tomatoes set a few weeks ago but recently have had a lot of blooms but no fruit. My grape toatoes were doing fine by my brandywines just seen to produce flowers and no fruit.

Here are some pics.
Tomatoes near Tampa Dsc_1325

Tomatoes near Tampa Dsc_1326

And here are my WV 63 that are doing a little better

Tomatoes near Tampa Dsc_1327

Tomatoes near Tampa Dsc_1328


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Post  RoOsTeR 7/15/2012, 4:13 pm

What an informative post Pollinator. thanks I really enjoyed reading it!

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Post  Pollinator 7/15/2012, 4:16 pm

floyd1440 wrote:How does this high heat effect pollination?


Heat doesn't seem to be the main problem. Folks from Texas to California are getting tomato set this year with triple digit temperatures. But they are different from the folks on the East Coast in two ways - One: they cool off more at night, and Two, their humidity is much lower. High humidity makes the pollen too sticky and hard to release. Oftentimes there's a narrow window of time when pollination is possible. Much of the pollination occurs in the morning after the dew dries, but before the heat, sometimes only an hour or two. Again, if you have lots of bumblebees during this time, you have the insurance of the best possible pollination.
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Post  floyd1440 7/15/2012, 4:53 pm

Thanks for the info and here a few more pictures. Just went down and noticed there are more bees were the cucumbers are and the tomatoes in that area, WV 63 are setting OK

The lower SFG is setting grape tomatoes but not many brandywines

Tomatoes near Tampa Dsc_1329

Tomatoes near Tampa Dsc_1330

Tomatoes near Tampa 3170584802

Tomatoes near Tampa Dsc_1331
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Post  Goosegirl 7/15/2012, 4:55 pm

Pollinator wrote: Again, if you have lots of bumblebees during this time, you have the insurance of the best possible pollination.

Or a good thunking finger! Last year I was much better about smacking all of tomato blossoms every time I was in the garden. It has been so hot and HUMID that I have spent as little time as possible outside. I will have to make sure that I am giving each one a good thunk every morning.

GG
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Post  Ericka2385 7/22/2012, 8:30 pm

It's only been about a week... (I can't believe it's only been about a week... I work shift, so 'weeks' are irrelevant to me)

I'm happy to say that everything seems to be going well. I was really worried about the storms we're known to get in FL this time of year, and we've had nothing but downpour THREE times this week. It seems like the more it storms, the bigger they get. It's crazy, I love it...

Thanks for all the 'go for it' messages to get my confidence up to put them in the ground.

Now it's time for all of the 'I found these spots...' and 'what in the world is this critter...' posts. Please do know I'm trying to research these things in order to not re-ask things all of you experienced gardeners have answered 25 times already.

I do **love** this forum.
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Post  jeffhbell 7/25/2012, 4:52 pm

I was thinking on new tomato plants late August. But my current plants are still flowering (but they drop off before any fruit). Should I keep my current plants?
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Post  Ericka2385 8/8/2012, 10:44 pm

Just a quick update if anyone wants to share in my excitement.

I had split my tomatoes between two sides of the garden. The 'more sun' side seem to be doing rather well, but the other half that get a little shade during the heat of the day have taken off and are growing like crazy. I had given them liquid fertilizer once, but since the compost has been getting somewhere they've been getting compost tea. They have nice thick stalks, it seems like I have to pull suckers and wrap the string I'm using to keep them against the trellis every other day. And the number of blossoms... My oh my.

And to my amazement this morning...
Tomatoes near Tampa Cam00012
My very first baby tomatoes. There are little baby tomatoes on 3 of my 15 plants, I'm giddy.
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Post  camprn 8/8/2012, 11:05 pm

So pretty! Very Happy

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Post  cheyannarach 8/9/2012, 9:42 am

cheers Yay! Such a fun suprise to see! I love those first ones!
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