Category Archives: Tomatoes

This Season’s Tomato & Pepper Seedlings

The Tomato and Pepper seedlings are coming along very well.
I started the tomatoes and peppers in small seed starting plug trays – with between 72 and 128 cells in each flat. This works very well.

I put at least 2 seeds in each hole, sometimes more if I think the pepper seeds won’t germinate well. I had almost full pepper germination! I have a hard time just pinching off the extra seedling, so I end up pulling the plug out, separating the roots and replanting them in recycled plastic plant holders. I put the one of the seedlings back into the plug tray using the original seed starting mix and I use garden soil/potting mix to plant the extra seedlings.

These Rutgers are the extra tomatoes that I replanted instead of just pinching them off. They are all doing well – this picture is a week old. Tomato and pepper seedlings seem to transplant very well with no stunting.

transplanted tomato seedlings

Tomato seedlings in the original plug trays.  You can see Arizona Cypress seedlings in small pots.

tomato seedlings

These are 2 pepper plug trays.  Hot peppers are in one tray and sweet peppers in another.  These are not quite big enough for me to want to transplant them yet.   I am very pleased with the pepper germination.

transplanted tomato seedlings

I learned to seed tomatoes and peppers in separate trays because tomatoes germinate quicker and I can put them out in the cool greenhouse earlier.  I have to keep the peppers in the warm house longer as they fully germinate and this would cause any tomato seedlings to not get sufficient sun and get leggy.  Peppers also take longer for all different varieties to fully germinate and so I have to put them out in the sun during the day, then bring them back into the warm house for the night, then back outside the next day.  They only go out to the cooler greenhouse after all varieties have finally germinated.

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Toxic Compost? Aminopyralid? Thanks Dow AgroScience

I posted a while back that I thought that our wetter than normal spring may have been responsible for my pepper leaves being deformed.  Well, after weeping over my destroyed garden – peppers, tomatoes and beans shot for the season, I have found that a herbicide may be responsible.  After thinking about it, I do believe that the tomato leaves do in fact look like previous herbicide damage to tomatoes that I have seen.

My tomato damage and pepper leaf damage does indeed look like pictures of aminopyralid damage seen all over the internet.

Here is an update on what my tomatoes now look like:

aminopyralid damage to tomatoes?
dow agroscience damage to my tomatoes?
aminopyrlid dow agroscience damage to my tomatoes?

The EPA won’t help me – they are too busy trying to shut down our coal burning power plants and cripple the American economy.

Manure and compost can kill your garden – thanks to Dow chemical company.

They peddle a herbicide called aminopyralid.

Dow Agroscience released this environmental poison in 2005, from what I can tell.  They aggressively market it to horse and cattle owners to control perennial weeds.

Dow strikes again – in 2001, Dow’s clopyralid – still sold as Confront, was found to be the contaminant in compost that killed home garden and nursery plants in Washington, Pennsylvania and New Zealand.

Aminopyralid is the active ingredient in the herbicides Milestone and Forefront and belongs to the same class of chemicals that includes clopyralid.

Dow’s behavior defies environmental corporate responsibility.  They know their product is capable of causing significant environmental harm, yet they continue to not only sell it, but to develop and sell new products that pose equal or greater risks.  The EPA lets it happen again.
My peppers:

The peppers grew perfectly fine in the pots that I sprouted and grew the seedlings in.  They seemed OK for the short while that they were in the garden.  After a rainy spell, I noticed that they suddenly had deformed, small and cupped leaves.  After a few weeks, the leaves dropped off.  At this time, it looks like new leaves may be trying to grow from the spots where the leaves dropped along the main stems.
aminopyralid killing my pepper plants?

These leaves are deformed and long.
did dow agroscience destroy my pepper crop this year?

These leaves are cupped and wrinkled.
is aminopyrlid and it's toxic compost destroy my garden?

More deformed, cupped leaves.  Some of these leaves don’t look totally deformed.
did dow agroscience kill my garden?

My beans were also deformed.  I replanted Heriloom Rattlesnake Pole Beans three times.  This image is the third planting.  I can’t get a good picture, but maybe you can see that the new growing ends of the plants just shrivel up and never grow into new leaves.  After a few leaves, the growing ends are deformed.

did dow aminopyrlid destroy my garden?

From what I have read, lettuce and carrots are also affected by this poison.  This past fall – in some of the areas where the peppers and tomatoes are deformed this spring – I grew carrots and lettuce – they seemed to be OK.  One of the links below mentions Peas as being damaged by this poison – my pea crop was a total failure this past fall. Out of a whole raised bed of peas, only a few germinated and those never grew more than about 3 inches – perhaps Dow’s poison damaged my peas. In a previous post I show the trailer of horse compost that I shoveled into my beds in about October.  It should have affected the lettuce and carrots that I then planted.

Dow chemical seems to be playing games with studying the half life of this poison so I don’t know what to expect this spring.  I shoveled that horse compost into all 7 raised beds and put the rest into my compost pile.  It seems that this poison doesn’t start to degrade until the toxic compost actually gets mixed with soil.

I don’t know what to think.  I will have to call our county extension agent and talk to him and give him this blog URL so that he can see the pictures.  Will keep you updated.

Some links for further information:

Manure Matters 
Tomato Ville forum
Aminopyralid images

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Too Much Rain – Peppers Water-Logged

We have had a very unusual week of rain and my peppers don’t look too happy.

The new leaves, grown since the rain which left the soil in the beds drenched, are curled and deformed looking.
water logged peppers

All of the peppers in the raised beds have these curled, defective leaves.  The few peppers in pots that didn’t get rained on look normal.

Doing research, the most likely cause of these leaf issues are either too much water and/or temperatures too cool, which it is with all this rain.  Peppers like it hot and dry.  I have to hope that things will dry out and the peppers will grow back normally.  The beds are filled with fertile soil rich in humus and organic matter, so they drain well.  The problem is that it has rained just about every day.
water logged pepper leaves

You can see that the older leaves look just fine, but the newer leaves that grew during the rainy time are deformed.  I started my pepper plants from heirloom seeds that I save and use year after year.  Gotta hope these plants make – I’m counting on all of the peppers – AND the fresh seeds for next year’s plants.

The swiss chard and squash are loving this rain.  I’m not sure about the beans or tomatoes – they don’t look just great either.

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Overview Time

Time for another overview of my garden:

This shot shows all 6 long beds – 3 are straight in front.  To the left is my new garden shed.  The area around the shed in in the process of being developed.  I plan to plant about 4 more blueberry plants and many wild black berry bushes in the area this side of the white shed.

This front bed has hot peppers on the left side of the raised cattle panel and summer squash on the right side.  Directly under the panel, winter squash is growing.  This bed has Waltham Butternut.  You can see onions hanging over the edges.  Earlier this year I planted onions around the edges of most of the beds.  I have bark and shredded wood chips as ground cover between my raised beds to discourage weeds.

overview of garden

I plant marigolds all over the place – in the edges of the raised beds and in small pots placed all over.  If I didn’t have so many seedlings drying out and dying this spring, I would have many more pots of marigolds all over.  This bed has summer squash (yellow and zucchini) on both sides of the cattle panel.  Early Winter Butternut squash is growing under the panel and will grow up the panel.  I grow my winter squash vines up the cattle panels.  I planted a couple of peppers at the ends of these beds.  This bed has Dwarf Kale going to seed.  I didn’t particularly like this smaller leafed kale, but I so enjoy Brassicaceae plants going to seed.  I am using bamboo poles to hold the kale plants out of the way so that the squash planted around them have plenty of sun and space to grow.
overview of garden

The bed at the top left has summer squash this year.  Last year it was my pepper bed.  I try my best – with my limited space – to rotate crops each year.  The bed at the top right – the one with my winter tent hoops still up, has a batch of Autum King carrots at the front corner.  I need to pick most of them soon.  A few of them are already going to seed.  I am also letting a couple of these Slo Bolt leaf lettuce plants go to seed.  I have the time because this is going to be my Basil bed this year (love that pesto) – but my basil seedlings are not all ready.  Some are already in, as are some peppers.  The swiss chard at the back of this bed will all be harvested and dried when my latest batch of basil seedlings are ready to go into this bed.  At the top left are some large pots with tomatoes, mentioned in another post.  Between the beds are bark and wood mulch, in the beds is leaf mulch.  I mulch all bare dirt.
overview time

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Tomatoes in Pots

I am growing some tomatoes in pots – they look to be about 5 gallon pots.  I simply don’t have enough raised bed space for all of the tomatoes that I start from seed.  These guys didn’t make it into the garden proper.  We have a secondary raised bed where we are growing about 4 dozen tomatoes.  This is the main eating and canning bed – where we grow the crop to can.
tomatoes in pots

These are Twilley Seed Co seeds.  The large tomatoes (8 oz) are Grandoise.  I don’t recall off the top of my head what the cherry toms are, but they are a hybrid variety that fruits like a cluster of grapes.

Since the summers are so hot here, I can not grow jumbo heirloom varieties.  I have tried – it just doesn’t work.  No fruit sets when the daytime temps rise above about 90 degrees – which is just about all summer!  I grow varieties whose fruits are about 8 oz.  This size sets fine and is large enough to easily process for canning.

For this volume of potting soil, I have been making my own.  I have been mixing my home made compost, some perilite (I buy it by the 3 cu ft bag), some peat moss and some cheap compost stuff from the big box store because I need the sand in it.  The ratio changes – I just eyeball each batch.  Seems to work well.

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Not a Wonderful Tomato Harvest

This spring, since we moved, we were not able to prepare a good tomato bed. (As noted in earlier posts).   This pic is about how I freeze tomatoes.  On the plate are boiled tomatoes that are about to be skinned.  The fruit then goes into the blender.  To freeze tomatoes, I puree them first since this is how we use them – pureed.  I measure out 16 to 20 ounces in the measuring cup and then put the fruit into zip-lock sandwich bags and then into the freezer when they cool off.  (Since they get banged about in the freezer, when thawing a baggie of puree, always put it in a bowl to catch the tomato water that drains out of a damaged bag during the thaw).

The meager harvest was not enough to fire up the canning kettle.   (I usually can tomatoes in a hot water bath canner.)  I think that we have passed the height of our tomato harvest.  We eat all we can and preserve the rest.   This year, freezing is the method.
freezing tomatoes

So far this year, I have only frozen a little over a dozen bags, mostly 20 ounces, so that makes a few more pints of volume.    We are already planning our tomato bed for next spring.

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Tomatoes Are Growing

When we moved here, we had to build the garden from nothing – in April, it is TIME to plant tomatoes. I wouldn’t have the raised beds built for another month, so we had to use logs and put together a shallow, quick tomato bed.

a quick planting of tomatoes

A few weeks later the tomato transplants are doing fine, growing right along.

tomatoes- may 11

A month later the tomato plants are starting to producing the red prize.

tomatoes - june

We usually plant 3 times this many tomatoes, but couldn’t this year.  Don’t think I’ll be doing much canning this year.

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The Tomato Crop Failed This Year

This is the first year in over 20 that the tomato crop failed.

In my area, I planted a hybrid variety, Grandeur, whose seeds I purchased from Twilley seed.  This variety was listed as ‘high resistance’ to fusarium wilt, root know nematode, gray leaf spot, tomato mosiac virus and verticilium wilt.  Well, they quickly turned yellow and died.  (See previous posts also).

This main tomato patch consisted of tomato plants purchased from a locally owned nursery, so I don’t really know what type of tomatoes we were dealing with, but they died just like my supposedly resistant hybrids did.

The disease – whatever struck this year – started quickly with a yellowing of some of the leaves, like this:

tomato leaves starting to yellow

This is a broader view, with some yellowed branches already turned brown and shriveled up:

yellowing tomato branches

A closeup of the previous picture:

closeup of yellowing and browning branches

The tomato patch is almost gone – to the left, where you see emptiness, was and should be crowded green tomato plants and branches filled with tomatoes. Not this year – unknown disease spread faster than the plants could produce tomatoes.

overview of the destruction

This is the first year that I haven’t canned tomatoes in 2 decades!  I was only able to freeze a half-dozen or so quart bags.  (I freeze tomatoes that aren’t good enough to can).

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A Quick Overview – What It Looked Like In Early June

Time for a quick overview of one section of the garden.

This is what the area outside the greenhouse looked like (the greenhouse has a solid glass door on it, so it has to be propped open all summer):

outside the greenhouse

Looking west from just outside the fence, visible is the squash row in the middle, the pepper row to the left and the tomato patch to the far right – before the tomato diseases set in:

overview looking west

A close up of what was once a beautiful tomato patch (we allow castors to grow where they sprout, and only cut them out when they get in the way, or when the wind blows them over) :

looking toward the tomatoes

Gardens look so beautiful for a month or 2, don’t they – then the diseases set in and things get difficult.

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