Tomato Troubleshooting

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Jun 30, 2015 6:14:00 PM

stupiche_tomato-resized-600So you've planted your crop and they've grown up big and strong...what could possibly go wrong?

As every experienced farmer knows, growing veggies is not always easy. There are plenty of pests and diseases that can plague your poor plants and minimize your harvest.

Never fear, Green Acres Nursery & Supply is here to walk you through some common problems and give you the tools and the know-how to fix them. 

Expert Help Available:  
Not sure what troubles your tomatoes? Just take a picture and/or sample into your nearest Green Acres Nursery & Supply Garden Solutions department, and we'd be happy to help you.

 




Problem:
 Blossoms falling off and not producing fruit. There are several reasons flowers will drop:

  • Insufficient Pollination: If the flowers are not visited by pollinating insects, they may fail to produce fruit.
    • Solution: Planting flowers around your vegetables can help attract beneficial insects to your garden. You can also hand-pollinate them gently with a small paintbrush.
  • Inconsistent Temperatures: When temperatures reach extremes, it can cause stress to the plant and make pollination difficult.
    • Solution: Mulching can help ease this stress, and will help conserve moisture in the soil. Creating windbreaks around your tomato garden can also help regulate temperatures. 
  • Improper Nutrition: When tomatoes are fertilized with high nitrogen fertilizers, they will push a lot of leafy growth and will not put energy into producing fruit.
    • Solution: Be sure to fertilize your veggie garden with an organic food specifically formulated for them, such as E.B. Stone Tomato & Vegetable Food.
  • Infestations & Fungi: If your tomato is suffering from pests, it will likely be too stressed to produce a good yield.
    • Solution: Bring a sample and/or picture into your nearest Green Acres tomato-hornworm1-406835-editedfor help identifying and eliminating pest problems. 

Problem: Tomato horn worms (pictured) are chewing the leaves of your plant.

Solution: B.T. is a bacteria-derived pesticide which kills the worms, and is safe to use on edibles even up to the day of harvest. 

Problem: Tomatoes crack leaving unattractive scarring on the fruit

Solution: Cracking fruit is usually the result of inconsistent watering. To fix this, mulch around the tomato plant, leaving 4-6" around the base of the plant, open for air circulation, and consider installing a drip system which will regulate water levels.

Problem: Brown, mushy spots on the bottom of tomatoes known as Blossom End Rot. Blossom End Rot can be caused by two main things: calcium deficiency and uneven watering. 

Solution: Mulching around your tomatoes will help keep the soil evenly moist.

Solution: Bonide Rot-Stop® is a great tool for helping combat calcium deficiency of tomatoes, peppers and melons.*

*It is always a good idea to test the soil first before adding amendments.

 

Want to learn more about growing tomatoes?

Tomato Tips

 

Topics: Edibles, Beneficial Insects, Tomatoes, Sacramento Gardening

Grow Your Own Salsa Garden

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on May 23, 2014 2:56:00 PM

Fresh salsa is so tasty on grilled chicken tacos, your favorite grilled fish, or added to grilled steak fajitas. And, whether you’ve got little gardening experience, or are an experienced Green-Thumb, a salsa garden can make a great addition to any backyard. It doesn’t take a lot to get started. With just three easy steps, you’ll be on your way to fresh homemade salsa, truly made from scratch.

3 Steps to Growing a Salsa Garden
to compliment grilled chicken, fish, or steak

creating a salsa garden

Step 1:

Choose Your Salsa Elements.

There are some key elements to salsa that you will want to plant in your garden.

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Corn, fresh or grilled
  • And, add a twist with nectarines or peaches

Unfortunately, not all of the above elements ripen in the garden at the same time, but tomatoes and peppers will thrive during Sacramento's hot summer months.  Many of the other ingredients prefer cooler weather, so simply supplement with store bought produce when not available at your local garden center.

If there is a recipe that you enjoy, then model the salsa garden on that based on that. If there isn't a recipe in mind, you can choose tomatoes, peppers, and herbs based on what is popular in your home. Feeling adventurous? Divide garden space between favorites and other varieties that you would like to try.  When the harvest comes in, enjoy classic favorites or invent new salsa recipes that can be enjoyed year after year.

creating a salsa garden

Tomatoes and peppers take between two-to-three months to produce fruit, but this will depend on the variety you choose to plant.

If you're looking for some inspiration, here are some of the most popular varieties:

Tomatoes:
Better Boy, Roma, Early Girl, Cherry, & Beefsteak are very popular for salsa making.  

Peppers: 
Mild: Bermuda, Poblano

Medium: Jalapeno, Fresno

Hot: Serrano, Tabasco, Cayenne

Since the peppers come in different heat levels those are some favorites at each tier.  If you find that your salsa is too hot, remove the seeds.  This will remove some of the capsaicin, the part of the fruit which is most attributed to heat.


Step 2:

Choose Your Location

A big part of any gardening is putting the plant in a place where it will be able to thrive. Salsa veggies need full sun, so it's important to plant them in a place where they get that. Herbs, including the ones you find in salsa, only require around four hours of sun each day. You'll want to find a spot that will provide your herbs with some daily afternoon shade. Fruit trees require full sun and well-drained soil. 

All of the vegetable and herb elements of a salsa garden can grow well in containers, if you remember three key things:

  • Use a large pot, giving plants room to grow
  • Remember to fertilize regularly, to keep plants nourished
  • Plant in well-draining soil to prevent root rot
  • If growing fruit trees, ultra dwarf, or pole fruit varieties do well in large pots


Step 3:

Plant and Maintain

creating a salsa garden

With the ideal spot and the perfect medley of tomatoes, peppers, and herbs you'll have the ability to make fresh salsa whenever you want. Food grown at home tastes much better than what is available in stores, not to mention it’s far more cost-effective. All that's needed is a little maintenance and with the following tips, it will be a piece of cake!

  • Add organic fertilizer to soil. Organic fertilizer will give plants the nutrients they need without burning them in the hot summer heat.
  • Pick and pinch your herbs regularly. The more herbs are picked or pinched, the more they will grow. It's also important to keep it from flowering; because once it flowers the herb will turn bitter.
  • Deep and infrequent waterings preferred. Instead of watering everyday, try a deep and infrequent watering schedule. This means letting a slow trickle of water seep in over a long period of time. This allows the water to permeate the soil and encourages root growth.
  • Convert to Drip. Drip is the easiest way to do deep infrequent waterings.
 


Want more ideas for your edible garden?

 
Green Acres on Pinterest

Topics: Salsa Garden, Peppers, Edibles, Organic Fertilizers, BBQ, Summer Garden, Planting Ideas, Veggies and Herbs, Tomatoes, Summer, Grilling

Planting Tomatoes Just Got Easier- Part 2

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Apr 25, 2014 1:23:00 PM

planting tomatoes

Hopefully you enjoyed our previous article about tomatoes entitled, Planting Tomatoes Just Got Easier- Part 1.  We will continue with some additional helpful tips for success in growing our favorite warm-season veggie.  

Topics:

  • Fertilizers
  • Pollinators
  • Varieties

THE TRUTH ABOUT FERTILIZERS

Many people believe fertilization is overwhelming and sometimes skip this step altogether. Fertilization is a key component to any successful garden, especially tomatoes. There are two basic types of fertilizers, organic and synthetic. 

Organics vs. Synthetics:

  1. Organics:
    Natural, organic fertilizer is derived from living things, organic matter, and from earth deposits. Feather meal, compost, chicken manure, humic acid, dolomite lime, earthworm castings, and bat guano, just to name a few. 
     
  2. Synthetics:
    Synthetic fertilizers are artificially made from chemical reactions and are more commonly used in large scale agriculture and landscaping. The downside to using synthetics is that after time, salt from the fertilizer starts to build up in the soil resulting in the plant not being able to uptake water and essential nutrients. Another disadvantage is that if you end up using too much then you can run the risk of “burning” which can damage, even kill plant tissue. 

organic fertilizer

Backyard gardeners should stick to organic fertilizers because they are easy to use, won’t burn with over application, and are better for soil composition. Come by one of our locations and pick up E.B. Stone, Tomato and Vegetable food. This product takes out all the guesswork and provides a mixture of the important nutrients including calcium.

 

Did You Know?
Calcium is key for proper tomato development. Lacking calcium in soil can lead to a problem called blossom end rot which destroys your crop! There are many afflictions that can harm your precious tomatoes but using a good fertilizer is a good start to preventing some difficulties.
 
Mason bees
POLLINATION & THE SOLITARY BEE SOLUTION

We can do all the right things when planting our tomatoes, but one aspect slightly out of our control is pollination. Bees are an example of a pollinator we depend upon.  If you have ever had a vegetable plant that produced tons of blossoms but little fruit, the problem was likely a lack of pollination.  

With the decline of honeybees across the U.S. more gardeners and farmers are relying on solitary bees for pollination support. Mason Bees are a solitary bee that don't live in colonies & don't produce honey but are pollinating powerhouses. They are non-aggressive, docile bees. One female mason bee does work of 120 honeybees in a day! 
 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT VARIETIES

When it comes down to choosing the right tomato variety, you need to know what you want make with your harvest. Will you be eating them fresh, canning, sun drying, or making sauces?  This is the most important aspect to keep in mind when shopping for seeds or starters.  

Large Tomatoes: 
Most people like to go for a hearty and large sized tomato, good for burgers, sandwiches, and salads.  'Brandy Boy' is a great large tomato hybrid variety.  It is a cross from two of the most successful tomato varieties, the 'Better Boy' and the 'Brandywine'. This tomato has incredibly high yields of large size tomatoes sometimes up to over a pound each.

Cherry Tomatoes: 
When it comes to cherry tomatoes some of the sweetest and most popular are 'Sun Gold' and 'Sweet 100'.  The 'Sun Gold' is a very prolific plant that has fruits ripen to a vibrant orange color and has a sweet tropical taste, great for kids! Another option is the 'Sweet 100', another very high yielding plant with a lively red hue.

Paste Tomatoes: 
Some paste tomato varieties slightly differ in taste but the most popular would be the determinate, hybrid, 'Roma' or the sweeter Indeterminate, heirloom, 'San Marzano'.

 

Come see our extensive selection of tomatoes this Spring!

Visit Us!

 

Topics: What Can I Plant This Season?, Edibles, Veggies and Herbs, Tomatoes

Planting Tomatoes Just Got Easier- Part 1

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Apr 22, 2014 1:36:00 PM

planting tomatoes

Cultivating a spring-time garden and reaping the rewards is a popular and satisfying hobby that many homeowners enjoy. 

Many gardeners would agree that one of the most rewarding spring-time vegetables to grow, is the Solanum lycopersicum, also known as the good ole’ garden tomato. Growing tomatoes with even a bit of basic knowledge can help make you a pro in no time.  

In our two-part blog article, we will be touching on everything you need to know about tomatoes including:

  • Tomato types
  • Soil
  • Planting
  • Fertilizing
  • Varieties

DETERMINATE VS. INDETERMINATE

First things first.  Know the difference between the two types of tomato plants, Determinate and Indeterminate.

  • Determinate varieties, also called “bush” tomatoes, such as 'Roma' and 'Celebrity', are going to be shorter, more compact tomato plants, perfect for the patio gardener. These varieties will still require support but not nearly as much as an Indeterminate. 
  • Keep in mind that Determinate tomatoes will ripen relatively around the same time. Within a two week period of each other all tomatoes should be done and ready for harvest. Shortly afterward, the plant's health will decline and it won't bear any more fruit. Some determinate varieties are able to produce another yield but it will not be as productive as the first.  
  • Indeterminate varieties, also referred to as “vining” tomato plants.  Varieties include 'Early Girl', most cherry tomato varieties, and many heirlooms.  Indeterminates grow very tall and require much staking and support. Indeterminate plants are preferred by many gardeners simply because they will continue to produce until the season has ended.

planting tomatoes

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

A key to a successful tomato garden is choosing a proper location. Pick a worthy spot in your yard that has a minimum of six hours of sunlight, preferably a location that receives adequate morning sun. Once you dedicate a portion of your property for tomato cultivation you need to build up your soil with amendments.


GOOD EARTH- AKA GOOD, HEALTHY SOIL 

Feeding and building your soil is a critical step for your garden plot.  There are many different recipes for an adequate garden soil but, E.B. Stone products takes out the guesswork. We offer a wide variety of E.B. Stone garden soils already pre-mixed with all the essential ingredients your tomato plants love.

  1. E.B. Stone's ready-to-use GreenAll Planting Mix is a great start for any gardener. With components such as a wetting agent, mushroom compost, and earthworm castings to name a few, this all-purpose amendment is a great start. 
  2. E.B. Stone makes other soil mixes like Soil Booster, which even has a few extra beneficial elements to increase plant productivity. 

planting tomatoes

Now that you have your amendments added to your new planter box, or garden plot it’s time to till it into the top layer of native or existing soil.

Tips for Tilling:

  • Take a small tiller or garden fork and incorporate the amendment into the ground.
  • Don’t skip this step because it is crucial for proper drainage.
  • Remove all large rocks, sticks, old roots and make sure the only thing remaining is fresh, healthy, living dirt.  


PLANTING TIME 

Planting tomatoes is nothing to stress about.  

When planting follow these steps:

  1. Trim off lower branches and then bury the fresh cuts underneath the ground. Roots will develop along the stems and when they become established it will increase the health and vigor of your plant. Tomatoes are one of the few plants that don't mind being planted deep.
  2. Once you have buried the root zone and lower portion of the plant make sure you give a good thorough watering.
  3. Use an organic starter fertilizer, like E.B. Stone Sure Start. With a higher level of phosphorous that promotes root development, this is a great product all gardeners should use.

planting tomatoes

SOIL TIP:
**Another soil tip is that tomatoes love rich organic soil...and so do earthworms. Get a hold of some creepy crawlers so they can penetrate the soil improving texture and soil composition.** 

Stay tuned for Part 2... 

 

Topics: What Can I Plant This Season?, Edibles, Veggies and Herbs, Tomatoes

The Difference Between GMO's, Hybrids & Heirlooms

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on May 15, 2013 11:18:00 AM

We’ve been getting a lot of questions from our customers lately about genetically engineered plants. To clarify, a genetically modified organism, or GMO is not the same as a hybrid. Here is a brief overview of what these terms mean and why these methods are used.

 

genetically modified

What is a Genetically Modified Organism?

Genetic engineering is a process that allows scientists to move genetic material from DNA between organisms to change their characteristics. The genes transferred to another organism are selected to enhance or repress a certain characteristic. The genes of one organism are physically incorporated into another organism, changing its genetic makeup. These traits are now a part of the organisms DNA, and passed on to it’s offspring.

 

What is a Hybrid?

A hybrid is a variety of plant which has been strategically bred to encourage desirable characteristics possessed by the parents. It begins with people observing certain characteristics that a variety of plant has developed, such as resistance to a certain disease. These characteristics are often natural mutations that plants adapt to give them an advantage in their environment. The plant is then bred, and produces seeds for a plant which hopefully inherited that desirable characteristic from its parents. It is a process of trial and error that eventually results in a plant with improved resistance to a particular disease. These characteristics are not passed on to it’s offspring.  Hybridization is done by the grower through the transfer of pollen however has nothing to do with altering the DNA of the plant.

See the diagram below for an esoteric explanation of the steps involved to hybridize peas.

Hybridization resized 600

Why modify plants?

People have been breeding plants for desirable characteristics for years. It is done for increased yield, pest resistance, improved aesthetic qualities or even nutritional benefits. The limitation in traditional hybridizing is that the species which are bred must be closely related to one another. Genetically modifying an organism is different in that it allows scientists to take the genes that produce desirable qualities in plants and transfer them to any organism, not just those which are closely related.

What is an Heirloom?

Using tomatoes as a prime example, an heirloom tomato variety must be at least 50 years old.  Heirloom tomatoes are often valued for their taste, unusual markings, color, and shape.  They can be planted from saved seed and result in the same plant as the parent plant.

heirloom

How are Hybrids and Heirlooms different?

According to the UC Cooperative Extension program, "hybrid tomatoes are cross bred from two or more different plants and are created for a particular purpose (disease resistance, color, shape, etc.)" as mentioned above.  "Their seeds will revert back to one of the parents, so they are not reliable to grow from saved seed.  Heirlooms on the other hand are open pollinated and the seeds have been handed down through generations of growers, and they can be grown from saved seed to replicate the original plant.  

 

Green Acres does not carry any genetically modifided plants in our seeds or starters.  

Contact Us!

 

Topics: Veggies and Herbs, Tomatoes, GMO's

The Grafted Tomato

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Apr 16, 2013 12:03:00 PM

grafted tomatoes

Did you know that Worldwide, over 1 billion vegetables are grafted annually, primarily for commercial production?  

Grafted tomatoes are created by attaching the top part of one plant (the scion, chosen for fruit quality) to a vigorous, disase-and pest resistant solanum rootstock.  As tissues heal, the two plants fuse, combining the rootstock’s vigor and disease resistance–for increased water and nutrient uptake for higher yields–with the scion’s exceptional fruit quality and flavor. Mighty ‘Mato makes great gardens plus they are NOT genetically modified.  (Non GMO).  

grafted tomato
At Green Acres you'll find Mighty 'Matos brand grafted tomatoes during Spring.  Mighty 'Matos bring the benefits that produce growers have used for decades to home gardeners.  Mighty 'Mato flavors are grafted onto exclusive SuperNatural rootstock-selected it for its perfect combination of soil-borne disease resistance and its ability to support higher yielding plants.

Benefits of Grafting onto SuperNatural Rootstock

- Stronger, more vigorous plants
- Bigger, better, and longer harvests
- Improved ability to withstand temperature swings and extremes
- Superior defenses against soil-borne diseases and pests, including nematode 

The neat part about grafted tomatoes is that they are available in heirloom varieties like 'Cherokee Purple', 'Mortgage Lifter' 'Pineapple' & 'San Marzano'.  When planting Mighty 'Matos don't forget that they do get larger than other non grafted tomatoes, so be sure to provide plenty of space.

grafted tomatoes

How to transplant?

Plants should be kept 24-36" apart in rows of 3-4' apart in full sun.  Keep graft well above soil level or the scion might root.  It is important not to bury the graft.  Each Mighty 'Mato is tagged where the graft begins, so as long as you keep that well above the soil level then all is well.

Mighty 'Mato Varieties at Green Acres:

  1. 'Mato Beefsteak'
    grafted tomatoes
     
  2. 'Mato Big Beef'
    grafted tomatoes
     
  3. 'Mato Black Cherry'
    grafted tomatoes
     
  4. 'Mato Cherokee Purple'
    cher purple tomato resized 600
     
  5. 'Mato Mortgage Lifter'
    grafted tomato
     
  6. 'Mato Pineapple'
    grafted tomato
     
  7. 'Mato San Marzano'
    grafted tomato
     
  8. 'Mato Stupice'
    grafted tomato
     
  9. 'Mato Sun Sugar'
    grafted tomato 

Interested in planting edibles?  Visit our stores this Spring.

Visit Us!

 

 

 

*Subject to availability

Topics: Planting Ideas, Veggies and Herbs, Tomatoes

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