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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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Post  plb 4/30/2010, 5:49 am

This morning I bumped into a mirror next to the tomato, eggplant and pepper plants I have been growing for more than two months; the mirror fell on them, completely decapitating two of the tomatoes, one of the peppers, and seriously injuring one of the eggplants. Depressed... Icon_sad
After all this work on them, I'm absolutely gutted. One moment, and months of work destroyed. I now have no spare tomatoes left - anything happens to the others, any of them having another accident or not surviving the hardening off, and I won't have as many as I was planning. And with the short summer we get in England, I won't be able to grow more from seed at this point.
And of course they weren't the weakest ones, they were actually some of the best plants, tall and bushy and healthy.
Another lesson - I had planted more than I needed, but really you need to plant WAY more than you thought you needed, especially when you're as clumsy as me. And don't put all your plants of one variety next to each other, since one accident will wipe them all out in one go.
I'm so upset... Maybe one gets used to it after a while, but this is my first year growing veggies and I'm heartbroken.
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Post  Icemaiden 4/30/2010, 6:13 am

How dreadful! Did they get chopped off below the bottom leaves? If not, perhaps they will grow back bushier....

Didn't I see that tomato plants can be grown from cuttings? Can you pick up the bits and use rooting hormone to get cuttings going?

Failing that I suppose you will have to "buy in" which won't be near as much fun Depressed... Icon_cry


Last edited by Icemaiden on 4/30/2010, 6:32 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post  plb 4/30/2010, 6:20 am

They were chopped below the leaves... I'll try the rooting idea, cross fingers....
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Post  LaFee 4/30/2010, 7:11 am

If you were a little closer...I'm currently farming out my extra tomatoes to friends because mine are finally beginning to grow again after moving them to the boxes.
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Post  quiltbea 4/30/2010, 11:02 am

plb...good luck in rooting them to save them.
I certainly hope it works for you.

Can you buy started seedlings somewhere locally, like a nursery or a feed store?

Good luck!


Last edited by quiltbea on 4/30/2010, 11:03 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling)
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Post  plb 4/30/2010, 11:04 am

*Sigh* The worst part is that they're all heirloom varieties, not something I could buy from a nursery... Cross fingers, maybe I'll manage to get the broken ones to grow some roots, and I'll have to be extra, extra careful with the surviving ones...
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Post  martha 4/30/2010, 11:42 am

I certainly know nothing about England, but here in the States if you look, you can find nurseries carrying heirlooms - good luck - I'll be praying for survival AND replacements!
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Post  Kabaju42 4/30/2010, 12:10 pm

What a bummer, I hope the clipping test works for you.
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Post  plb 5/5/2010, 10:54 am

I'm waiting to see if the cutting puts out roots (it looks quite wilty at the moment), but in the meantime, more tomato disasters! Two of the healthy plants got their leaves entangled, and when I pulled to separate them one snapped in two!!! I can't believe how fragile they are!!!
Now I have carefully staked every single one of the remaining plants. I'm hoping things get easier after the first year of growing veggies...
Another thing I'm trying with one of the tomato plants that had been almost severed in two but still had a few fibers keeping the two parts together: I read somewhere that if you put a stake around the part of the stem that has snapped, and keep the two parts of the stem together with some tape, it will knit back together, a bit like a broken bone. The plant I'm trying this on seems to be doing fine - despite the accident, it hasn't wilted at all. We'll see how it goes...
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Post  Chopper 5/5/2010, 11:29 am

You seem to think all is lost. It is only early May. My New England relatives can't even plant yet - or at least usually don't until the end of May. So you buy a hybrid. So what? Chalk it up to bad luck, but you still have tomatoes to eat, dry or can. For quite cheap you can get a perfectly healthy plant today and go on with your summer.

I do not find tomatoes particularly fragile. No more than any other plant. That said, you did have them staked already? Were the stakes inadequate? The season has just begun, this is the time to make mistakes b/c they can all be fixed right now as opposed to this happening in July when there really isn't enough time to recover. No worries, the season is young!
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Post  plb 5/5/2010, 1:15 pm

I know it's still early, I don't think it's all lost but sure it's annoying to lose so much of the work done, and I feel sorry for the poor plants I don't seem to be able to care properly for... I guess it's inevitable when you're doing things for the first time, but I'm surely killing a lot of plants (not just the poor tomatoes...). And I will buy some tomato plants if none of the remaining plants makes it - but I'm still crossing my fingers...
To answer your questions, no, the tomatoes were not staked. They clearly should have been already since they are quite tall; they just didn't seem fragile so I had no idea I should have staked them. At lunch time I went to the garden center to buy some stakes, and I took a look at their tomatoes. Most of them were a third of the size of mine, except 3 plants that were the same height but (and here I guess is the clue) the stems were at least twice as thick.
So I am doing something wrong here. Clearly my plants are not sturdy enough. These plants have grown indoors. Maybe I should have put them out earlier so they'd get more light and some breeze (I did a bit of googling and it looks like the action of the wind - or a fan - makes the plants sturdier). But what is the minimum temperature at which it's OK to put the tomatoes out, at least during the day?
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Post  Saartje 5/5/2010, 3:56 pm

Don't be so depressed! These things happen all the time in gardening, and it's really part of the thrill. It can be absolutely exhilarating one moment and heart breakingly sad the next! This year half of my sunflower have been 'chopped down' by some stupid critter, who munched half way through the stem just near the ground, and then left the rest of the plant to rot, and half the crops I sowed didn't germinate (or I didn't recognize the tiny plants and pulled them, thinking they were weeds, also very possible). But I still have radishes, lettuce (we'll have see if they survive the snail attacks once I lift their mini greenhouses), peas and strawberries, and in the empty plots I can plant so many other things. As the season advances I'm more likely to buy little plants instead of seed, which is more expensive (but still cheap for such a rewarding hobby), but a lot easier and still very satisfying. So: try to save the wounded, mourn the deceased and carry on with life, is what I would say!
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Post  aptgardengirl 5/5/2010, 10:58 pm

Please dont feel discouraged, remember way excited you about this to begin with and enjoy your trials, success and failures. Last year was my first year planting anything since I was a girl growing beans in my Mom's coat closet in the dead of winter in Ohio (yes, the thought I was a special one..LOL). Last year I went through 3 or 4 tomato plants not one single tomato, 4 pepper plants 1 pepper from 2 plants. 25 to 40 strawberry plants 1 strawberry. 2 lemons, well you get the idea. I was told by the man at the nursery because I lived in an apartment with out full sun forget it. I said Hum, not excepting that package and resolved to start out this season strong. O yeah I broke my squash when it was a seedling, I staked it with velcro garden tape it mended itself an grew beautifully, then the critters got it, but it sure was pretty, same with my Cukes.

This year, I bought Mel's book, built my beds to fit my balcony and hit it hard, I have my 1st tomato about the size of a button mushroom. I also found a worm camped out on it that had been eating my Collards , broccoli and Kale! I politely snipped him off, threw him over the balcony and dusted everything. I found out my plants just need daylight not direct sunlight to grow. Sometimes I turn on my porch light and they are fine. All that to say dont give up! A grow light in your house works or a lamp in my case my one strawberry even turned red and ripened.

There's more than one way to skin a cat....so All is well and getting better. Much success with your plants Very Happy
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Post  LaFee 5/6/2010, 1:26 am

Somehow I'm guessing Alan Titchmarsh and Percy Thrower have had broken plants, yellowed leaves, and *gasp* dead plants, too. But had they thrown away their trowels at the first disaster, they wouldn't be A.T. and P.T....they'd be those blokes down the street with the horrid-looking gardens.

It's frustrating, but it's just part of life...do what you can to save them, then replant or buy a seedling or two...and your tomatoes and other veg will taste twice as nice because you worked so hard for them!

And don't beat yourself up...we all make mistakes - the worst ordeal becomes the best teaching moment!
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Post  boffer 5/6/2010, 1:34 am

I wish Alan was still doing his show with Charlie and........Bubba?! I've forgotten his name-the hardscape fellow.

But who is Percy Thrower?
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Post  LaFee 5/6/2010, 2:35 am

Percy was (he passed away years ago) the very first celebrity TV gardener in the UK...Alan Titchmarsh has been heard to say that he was inspired to garden by Percy Thrower.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Thrower
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Post  Chopper 5/6/2010, 2:49 pm

Lesson learned. Tomatoes are too big to let lie around on the ground - esp. for square foot gardening. With the next batch, make sure you have your stakes/cages/trellis ready immediately. And don't feel bad - I am in So Cal and I just put mine out a month ago - feeling a little behind. And I can't keep up with the beans b/c something (snails or slugs) is eating them faster than I can plant them - and don't get me started about the dogs digging up my strawberries before I had a chance to fence them. And I have many years of experience.

Let me tell you something. I had a very huge personal setback in the last year. The depression has been clinical and unrelenting. Trying to meld with mother nature and get a garden to be productive is FUN! Even the setbacks. It ain't a problem, it's a challenge and the learning curve of gardening is always there. None of us gets through a season without some bonehead move - or natural attack of some kind. Look at poor New England last year that didn't see sun until mid-July. Now THAT would have taken its toll on me!
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Post  Chopper 5/6/2010, 2:54 pm

Also: Are you aware that when you plant a tomato, you can strip off the lower leaves and plant it either deeper, or lay down the stem lengthwise. This give the plant a stronger root system.
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Post  plb 5/6/2010, 6:54 pm

Chopper, yes, I had planted them deeper when they were potted up.
On the bright side, I noticed today that some of them are starting to grow the first, tiny truss!!! I really believe that after seeing sudden disasters striking their companions, they realized that if they want to pass on their genes they have to hurry up! Depressed... Icon_biggrin
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Post  quiltbea 5/6/2010, 10:32 pm

For future reference, I've been told that the stakes should go into the ground the same time the tomato is planted outdoors. That way you don't damage any roots later. Plunging a stake beside a growing tomato plant will probably cause root damage if its been growing more than a week.
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Post  plb 5/7/2010, 3:39 am

The plants are still indoors, it's still way too cold here for them to be out. Next year I'll put the stake in earlier...
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Post  Megan 5/7/2010, 4:07 am

quiltbea wrote:For future reference, I've been told that the stakes should go into the ground the same time the tomato is planted outdoors. That way you don't damage any roots later. Plunging a stake beside a growing tomato plant will probably cause root damage if its been growing more than a week.

GREAT idea. Mental note to self: Get those trellises up soon! (My tomatoes aren't set out yet.)
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Post  plb 5/9/2010, 6:31 am

I have a wonderful trellis ready out there, but the weather is not cooperating... It's still two or three degrees above frost most nights.
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