When to thin

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Well , I've got lots of tomato seedlings now ... and two in most cells . When do y'all thin your seedlings ? I can do it now , but then if one dies ... or I can do it when they're bigger , and the dominant one is more apparent . That approach however uses more of the finite amount of nutrients available , and maybe thinning now will make one that wouldn't have been dominant actually be stronger than ... Decisions decisions !
--
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On 1/30/2015 5:58 PM, Terry Coombs wrote:

all but the sturdiest seedling. Don't have enough space to plant a lot of tomato plants. The plants themselves need plenty of room around here and I keep them pruned so that sunshine gets into the plant.
On occasion I have transplanted extra seedlings from a group and mostly they succeeded but not as well as the primary. And, like you said, the secondaries suck up all the energy for the primary.
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wrote:

I tossed caution and common sense to the wind a few years ago.
I have a bed up front that is about 8' x 8'. It is enriched with compost every year in the spring - just after I pull the tulip bulbs.
Yes, I put in about 80-100 tulip bulbs each fall (maybe $10 worth, with a careful eye to local offerings). I think of the tulips as annuals and get rid of the bulbs after bloom...some go to neighbors, some wind up in other parts of the yard, some just get composted
After the pull, the new compost goes in, as do tomato seeds of many varieties. I am a seed saver and some of the seeds that get used are the older ones in the collection or ones I have picked up or ordered from end-of-season sales. Way too many tomato seeds go into that plot than any intelligent or knowing gardener would deposit. They come up like crazy, as do any number of volunteers from the compost or the tomato husks left as drops the previous fall (you know... when I pull up the tomato plants before I put in all those bulbs).
Oh, it means I do not get huge tomatoes up there early in the season, and that is ok. I tend to plant those that bear smaller fruits in that plot.
The wonder is that the plants come in so thick and lush and flower and fruit like crazy even though logic says they'd block the light from each other and be undernourished. Nah....that plot is incredibly productive....and it does not get a full day's sun, either...not once the neighbor's huge oak leafs out.
It is odd to direct sow here in northern NJ, but seed is cheap, and after the first experiment, I have continued it the last 5 years or so.
Then this starts daily happening in late July and continues until frost in October.
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Boron Elgar wrote:

Nice ! Not exactly what we're looking for though . This year I'm trying to maximize the type of tomato that we use a lot of for cooking . There will also be slicers and cherry tomatoes , but the biggest portion will be San Marzanos along with a few Romas . We're growing for later use , not only the tomatoes but several other veggies - green beans , squashes , peppers , berries and other fruits will all be preserved for next winter .
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Snag
Had home grown green beans with our dinner tonight ...
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wrote:

The kids have all fledged, and there is just so much we can consume, even over the winter, so I have cut back on some of what I grow. And except for that bed up front, the rest of the food gardening is done in tubs. We are critter-ridden, so using large tubs on the deck is the best way to actually reap the harvest.
The blueberry bushes and the asparagus in down in the back garden, but they are fenced/netted. Actually that tomato patch up front is fenced and netted, too. The netting gets put on when the tulips start to show in the spring, or the deer would have them for midnight snacks. The deer cannot get into the back, but the groundhogs, possums, raccoons and squirrels seem to have given me top honors on dining. I am the first garden off a 150 ace woods, so I am the appetizer, I think.
Boron
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On 1/31/2015 7:28 AM, Boron Elgar wrote:

Of course we have grands in their early thirties so we still plant a lot and share plus trade with neighbors for their excess. We find deer tracks behind our fence but no predation due to a six foot board fence, required by the HOA. Lots of empty land behind us but is now filling up with more subdivisions, newest is 300 homes going in.

the smaller critters. Groundhogs, raccoons, and squirrels are good meat in this part of Texas. My mother always had me catch possums alive and then put them up in a cage for a couple of weeks to "purge" them. Never liked possum myself but the others were okay. Might try one of those water guns that operates automatically. Friend in Ohio got one and the deer eventually quit coming around.
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Boron Elgar wrote: ...

once you get an elder who knows where you are they will bring their youngsters to your gardens. we had a similar problem as we are about the only garden for some distance from several wooded areas. once the local hunters took out the ring leaders we've not had as many deer come through. there are still plenty of deer around, but they mostly do not know we are here.
*shhh!* :) *be vewwy, vewwy quiet*
we were able one year to get some old rusted fence from someone who was throwing it away and that we've put along the edge that they were coming through most of the time. that helps a great deal.
we also put large field stone patches around, deer have a pretty tough time walking through those. kinda like cattle guards for deer. they won't work in the winter if we get a heavy snow, but once the snow is gone i won't see any tracks in those areas. other than the fact that they are heavy to put in place they do ok. we put down heavy black plastic in a few layers under them so we don't have to spray for weed control. raccoons go through them at times looking for hornet nests.
songbird
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On 1/30/2015 10:32 PM, Terry Coombs wrote:

them, then into a large vacuum bag and vacuum seal. Toss into the freezer. Take a bag out, put in fridge, let thaw, pour off the liquid (I usually drink it), skins, etc. go into compost, use the tomato meat in soups, chili, etc. Has worked well for several years now.
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George Shirley wrote:

My preferred method is basically the same , minus the vacuum bag (we don't have the vac unit - yet) . I thaw differently though , run them under warm water and slip the skins off then toss them into the cookpot . Chickens love the skins .
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wrote:

About this time next year check the supply of foods you have preserved. Figure out how long it will last you at your present rate of consumption. Allow for a bad year and decide how much you really need to plant and preserve. We went hog wild the first few years we lived here and I am still finding stuff that is 5+ years old. I am trying to go through everything and toss anything that is old and we have not eaten much of any of it.
I am going to get back to arranging the shelves so I can find things. DH's idea is to stick stuff anywhere there is spot. I like to have it organized so I can walk to the spot where an item should be (and find it there.)
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On 1/31/2015 9:29 AM, The Cook wrote:

one who sets everything up so I can eat the oldest stuff first. I always put things back exactly where I got them, she just shoves stuff in storage willy nilly. Aggravating to say the least but after being together since 1958 it's a little late to change plus we like arguing with each other. >G>
Good to hear from you Susan. Need more posters on rec.food.preserving nowadays.
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The Cook wrote:

I'm the organizer here . She sticks stuff anywhere there's room and then wonders why she/I can't find it .
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On 1/31/2015 9:56 AM, Terry Coombs wrote:

like me, a place for everything and everything in its place. Should have waited a couple of years. Naw, she and I are fine together, met her in June 1958 and told her I was going to marry her. Sure you are Sailor was her reply. Eighteen months later we married and her it is 54 years later we're still together and still gardening and arguing about where stuff goes. Both of us grew up on small farms with Dad's that worked and then farmed. Me in Texas, she in Maryland, ain't a bad deal after all this time. Two kids, five grandkids, six great grandkids, and we're still together. I'm happy. I do wish she wasn't a packrat though. <G>
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On 1/30/2015 8:47 PM, Boron Elgar wrote:

sunshine getting into the interior of the plants the bugs take over. It's a PITA trying to get in there and pinch all the stink bugs and save some 'maters. They aren't as bad if there is lots of light getting in.
Looks like your method works well for you.
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George Shirley wrote:

And this morning I snipped all but the strongest in those that had multiples . The saved Romas from last year germinated better than expected , some cells had up to 4 seedlings ! I'm seeing some action now on the peppers , my serranos are coming up though none of the rest are yet .
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On 1/31/2015 9:45 AM, Terry Coombs wrote:

doesn't agree with me anymore. Only grow sweet chiles and a bunch of those. We like Gypsy, Giant Marconi, Carmen (a poblano type that gets huge) and the occasional Aji Limon de Peru, a hot yellow that doesn't bother my innards as much as others. I've been growing the Aji's for over 20 years, traded with a gentleman in Lima, Peru for the seeds back before it was banned. Had some nice hot ones from a fellow in Bulgaria, sort of a hot Longhorn, right tasty. I miss those days sometimes and then I don't due to worldwide terrorism. Never could eat the really hot habs though, did not agree with my digestive system and hurt on both ends. <G>
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Once upon a time on usenet Terry Coombs wrote:

Here's another decision that I haven't got around to experimenting with yet.....
What if you're actually pulling out the plants that're slower to grow vegatively but are better at fruiting when you remove the smaller ones?
--
Shaun.

"Humans will have advanced a long, long, way when religious belief has a
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On 2/2/2015 2:19 AM, ~misfit~ wrote:

unless you have ESP with plants. Maybe a Zen experience with tomatoes? <G>
Gardening, at best, is a hit and miss experience in my opinion. You can do everything right and the damned plants won't grow properly or the weather changes to bad, or bugs and birds eat everything you plant, or the dog digs them up. Basically gardening is a crap shoot but if you do the best you can most times you are rewarded. Wife and I gardened with our parents at a very early age and here we are in our mid-seventies still trysting with the garden gods. Just go for it.
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George Shirley wrote: ...

learning and trying things are both important, but i like to also help the overall production from the gardens by increasing diversity in my patches.
i divide my plantings into smaller plots and then hope the critters, bugs and diseases don't get them all. usually they don't.
sometimes things do go wrong, but you can sometimes cut your losses and replant with something else if you notice in time.
experimenting with different systems of production can be good too. like the ways i've been trying the strawberries in different gardens and seeing how they do when mixed with other plants. i'm now well past the point where critters can eat them all -- they may raid a garden and eat some of the berries but they can't seem to find them all. i still have plenty when i go out to pick. if i'd planted them in more formal rows and there weren't any surrounding plants to provide some cover i think the critters would also have it much easier to find the fruits.
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Once upon a time on usenet George Shirley wrote:

I'm a couple of decades younger than you but have a similar experience. Actually my parents started cutting back on food gardens when I was young (both employed so less time coupled with the rise of the supermarkets.) and so I took over. I've always believed that a person should be part of nature, not seperated from it by plastic bags and cling film.
My thinking about which tomato plants might yield better not necessarily being the fastest starters comes from my recent involvement in grafting dwarf fruit trees. I've been keeping my own tomato seeds for years and, for the most part it's been a success. However there are always plants that do so much better than others. Being an invalid and seeing a year-on-year reduction in mobility recently I've been thinking about how best to grow less tomato plants but better ones.
As it is for the past few years I've started plants inside very early, put out maybe six and taken cuttings from them. Then, as they start setting fruit discarding the cuttings from the worst fruiting plants and only using cuttings from the best. (They fruit so much faster from cuttings than they do from seed so it's not like you need to live in the tropics to do this.) However recently I've started wondering about my selection process for the starting six, as per my previous post.
I've been playing with LEDs and a couple of planted aquariums over last winter (I'm in the southern hemisphere) and am thinking of trying to keep cuttings of the best couple of tomato plants going through the winter, just enough light and nutrient to keep them alive at first then boost both to start extra cuttings pre-spring. Select plants for disease resistance and fruit production this summer and clone them as we've been doing with fruit trees for hundreds of years.
Alas, as you say above it's a crap shoot at times and this spring / summer in NZ has been crazy so it's hard to judge which plants will be worth keeping through winter. Normally at this time of the year I'd be giving excess tomatoes to neighbours already but this year I've only had one tomato sandwich and the rest of the fruit is still very green.
This summer I've had success bud grafting peaches, nectarines and several citrus varieties, mostly on dwarfed trees in pots as I rent and even though I've been in this house for over a decade I don't see the point in developing a home orchard in-ground. It's got me thinking... I wish there was a plant that would serve as a perrenial rootstock for tomatoes, one that I could graft new scion 'wood' to each spring so I don't loose weeks of potential fruiting time on growing roots. ;) I love tomatoes but refuse to buy the fake ones sold in supermarkets.
--
Shaun.

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