On a lark, I decided to try growing Roma Tomatoes. (I am very
successful with cherries, but never big tomatoes.)
Well, I got lots of green Roma's , which is a good sign. But
when they ripen, the ends turn brown.
could be blossom end rot, which is a lack of
even moisture/calcium deficiency issue that often
happens when the plant's root system can't keep
up with the demand for moisture in the
next season try dryland farming a variety that
is better suited for not being watered. if you
have the space for them, they are planted further
apart and the soil is prepped when there is moisture
to fluff it up, but after that they are not watered
at all. you may not get a large amount of fruits
but what you get are what you think of as a tomato.
i've seen Early Girl mentioned as a popular
dryland farming tomato.
i also think that if the cherry tomatoes are
working out for you why mess with a good thing...
the tomatoes are just now coming in here. we
gave away about 15 lbs of Roma tomatoes yesterday
along with me putting up 9 quarts of tomato chunks.
just the start...
we've been having a bit of a dry spell the past
few weeks so i have had to keep watering otherwise
our clay soil will crack deeply. today we are
finally getting some rain, i'm not sure it will
be enough, but we'll see what it looks like tomorrow
when i go out there and poke around.
how's the pH where they are planted?
remember for a big tomato plant you need
a lot of root system. i recall your soil
being non-existant for the most part so i'm
guessing that you're just not going to be
able to support a big tomato plant in your
conditions until you get enough topsoil
it doesn't hurt to try things and to check
out different varieties, but if the cherry
tomatoes keep working you can try different
larger varieties of them and what are called
also, of course, look into varieties that
are BER resistant and acclimated to aridity.
This is a spot where I have been working on the soil
for years. It could still be a tiny bit alkali, but
garlic grown there looks purple instead of red,
with is a good sign. But..
I probably need more fertilizer to add to add the
organic matter I have plowed under.
The bushes themselves are growing quite well. I gots
lots of green tomatoes on it. Before (early girls,
etc.) I would get only one or two stunted tomatoes
I learned this year that you have to fertilize your
yes, but how deep (how many cubic feet per plant)?
for a large plant figure the root system has to be
down in the soil about the same as the size of the
plant above... you can help some roots go off and
down by pounding a metal chunk of rebar in the hole
you dig for the tomatoes to give some extra area to
them, but if the soil is really bad they're going
if you want humus you can usually balance your
carbon and nitrogen ratio (like any other composting
situation). one way i add more N is by grown legumes.
alfalfa and birdsfoot trefoil are two of the better
ones because they can get to be larger plants that
also cast some shade, smother weeds, give off plenty
of seeds for starting other plants and they can also
be chopped a few times a season if you have enough
rains to get them growing. once established they
also can have a pretty deep root system so that also
helps in an arid climate. i'm picking some of mine
now and drying it for winter food for the worms. :)
good to see progress happening. :)
some vegetable plants have an effective limit and if
you add more you'll get plenty of green leaves but not
much production. i've found that out with certain
varieties of green peppers as just one example. also
for some other plants too much fertilizer will give
you weaker leaves and stems more subject to certain
have you added sulfur once in a while?
Never added sulfur. Is there some indication when I
I have only treat the soil down to about 14". My tomato
plants are five feet tall. That would kill me to
treat that deep!
I have backed off on the fertilizer as soon as they
I only use organic fertilizers so I can't burn anything
(and not poison my wife).
high pH is the indication you need acidifiers.
humus is a mild acid, not sure what you've done
already or how it buffers.
it takes a while to get things going to that
depth, but once you have worms and plant roots
working for you they can make holes down a ways.
also if you space plants further apart then
their roots can spread out more and not compete
with the neighbors. if you don't have cardboard
or some other mulch you can use flat stones over
the surface to hold moisture in.
other things you can do are grow arid adapted
trees that fix nitrogen (they do exist) and use
all that organic matter for your gardens.
Romas are determinant so they come on mostly for
a certain period and then are done. so yeah, adding
more fertilizer would be a waste.
i can't say much about any of that since i don't
know what's in them or the strength. with you being
in an arid climate that changes how fast some things
happen and if you can grow cover crops afterwards to
soak up anything that might otherwise leach away.
Followup: Blossom Rot.
Spoke with the local university extension and got
a real education on large tomatoes.
First off, everything Songbird said was dead nuts accurate.
She told me that Blossom Rot is caused mainly by two things
in our parts: 1) lack of calcium (not an issue as my
muni water is full of calcium), and 2) missing a watering.
To add, to what Songbird said, I found out the
rest of the mistakes I was making.
My growing spaces for tomatoes is basically a football shaped
ellipse that is about six feet across and 12 feet long. I
have been amending the soil for years.
My mistake. Large tomatoes require a lot of space for
their roots. Roots can be up to eight feet long and as
deep. So, you basically need a six foot down and six
foot across area to grow them.
My ellipse is only amended down to about 1-1/2 foot. At
about two feet, my ellipse might as well be sitting on
Large tomatoes require "deep watering".
The indent I made when I planted the Romas, too keep
water from running off, turned into a dome when the plants
grew, so water ran off rather and ponding.
1) you don't want a Pot of water, you want a soaking of
the area six by six.
2) spot water works for zukes but not large tomatoes.
Why cherries worked, she did not know.
So poop! Large tomatoes are out, as I do not have the
energy or funding to amend such a spot for them to grow.
I would need a back hoe!
Is okay, at least I know now why I can't grow a large
tomato. And why all my other attempts had blossom rot
on their ends as well.
She also told me that I have to "Hot" compose. Just burying
vegi scraps only works marginally.
And also told me that the local compost dealer's stuff did
not work as it was very "inconsistent". I had stopped
using it years ago as it was worthless. No one else seemed
to have this experience. I am glad she removed the veil.
Thank you all for the help is getting me to this point!
Cherry tomatoes it is! I am awash in them. :-)
a slight pond is ok to capture and soak in some
of the rains when they happen, but you are right
in the main. in our clay here i keep the gardens
fairly level for the tomatoes.
it rained several times last night and it's raining
again now so i'm hoping i don't get a lot of split
tomatoes, but that is a problem when you have them
ripe and sitting on the plant. i hoped to be able to
pick but now that won't happen until tomorrow. at
least worms like them no matter what. :)
because they're small. :)
you should have asked her about worm composting. :)
best stuff ever. worms secret calcium in their poo.
and you can grow several kinds for some variety.