Planted out tomatoes and peppers


#1

Hey all, just wanted to give an update on our gardening, now that our first year fruit trees are getting established.

Last week we planted out about 70 tomato and 20 pepper seedlings. We’re trying over 30 different 'mater varieties this year, don’t know what I was thinking. Guess I went a little crazy ordering seeds this winter!

Naturally, the day after we finished putting the last plant in the ground, we had a storm blow through with very heavy rain and high winds (40mph+). It was bad enough to knock out the power for about 7 hours.

After the storm blew thru, I pulled on my Muck boots and went out to the plot to inspect the plants. I was surprised to only see 2 or 3 laying over, but the patch was just a big mud pit, with 20 or so plants under water. So, I spent the next 3 hours digging drainage ditches and bailing out the water logged plants.

This week quite a few of the plants looked a bit rough, so the last couple of days was spent hilling up dirt around them and putting down some straw mulch. They’re looking a bit better already.

For those of you interested, here are some of the tom varieties: Watermelon beefsteak, yellow, pink and black Brandywine, Russian Queen, Red Calabash, Amur Tiger, San Marzano, Black Krim, Cherokee Purple, Paul Robeson, Siberian Pink, Yellow Pear, Abe Lincoln, Jaune Flamme, Dr Wyche Yellow, Great White, Purple Russian, De Barao, Chocolate Cherry, Lemon Oxheart, and many more.

If all goes well the next few weeks/months, I’ll update with some pix.


#2

So many different tomato varieties, you will surely find a winner with all you have to choose from. I came real close to trying out the Cherokee Purple this year, but I chickened out and went with my usual Better Boys. Let us know how they taste.


#3

Thanks John,

Like I mentioned above, I might have went a little wacky when I ordered my seeds back in the winter, but they just all seemed to sound so good!

I’m not going to get my hopes up this year until we’re done with the season. Last year our tomato patch got off to a great start, about a month after we planted out, our plants were huge, some were over 6 feet tall and setting lots of fruit. But in July, we got a lot of rain, and my plants caught some kind of blight/disease and pretty much rotted from the ground up. The plants that did set fruit did OK, but the flavors for the most part seemed a bit bland prob because of all the rain. And to add insult to injury, deer pretty much took care of what fruit that were left. Stupid deer! Out of 40+ plants, we only canned about 8 quarts of 'mater’s.

I should have mulched and staked the plants better, something I’m doing more of this year, especially the mulching. So, hopefully this year will be better for us.

BTW, we grew Cherokee Purples last year, but again, the fruit wasn’t as good as they could have been. But, the year before we grew them, they were great, for the few fruit we got.


#4

Had the same happen to me. Tomatoes look wonderful then the blight sets in. Some years I have tomatoes until Christmas, other years they’re done for in July thanks to blight. I’ve got 40 plants this year, usually enough for me and close family and neighbors. Hoping for a great year for you and me!


#5

Black krim has a nice flavor. Yellow pear is a great tomato but is susceptible to cracking. If rain is coming make sure and pick them.


#6

We grew Black Krim last year, and they produced some good sized fruit. But, the flavor was kinda disappointing, considering all the good reviews I’d read. For that reason, I’m giving them another shot this year.

I blame the poor taste on all the rain, causing the flavor to be watered down. This happened to a lot of the tomatoes. The varieties that did have good flavor were Yellow Brandywine, Orange KY Beefsteak, and Chocolate Cherry, which we all are growing again this year.


#7

Tomatoes until Christmas? Guess that’s possible in SW Arkansas sometimes. I grew up in the Tulsa area, and worked in the Dallas area for almost 30 years. The summers in Texas were brutal sometimes. We couldn’t get much to grow in that heat, except okra. Plus, that nasty black clay soil didn’t help either.

Are you close to Fort Smith? I have a lot of kin on the OK side, close to there.

We moved up here to KY a couple years ago, and the summers are much more tolerable. Today, though, it got up to 92, and is supposed to be in the 80’s all next week. It’s nice to get 4 distinct seasons here, but I sure don’t care for the winters. Last year, we had one night of -14, which is unusual for even these parts.


#8

The normal pink brandy wine looks like a potato. It does not bear heavy but the flavor is up there in my list of favorites. Cherokee purple does not produce much but has a good flavor here. My favorite for production and taste is Rutgers.


#9

Yeah, our Yellow BW has those big potato leaves. That plant last year grew into a 6 foot beast, and was one of the last plants to die off, very hardy. The fruit was delicious and big. That’s why I planted a couple other colored BW’s.

It’s weird seeing those big ol tater leaves on a tomato plant. But, they are both nightshade species, so guess that kinda makes sense.

Our Watermelon Beefsteak, Japanese Black Trifele and Stupice plants also have the same type leaves.

What kind of 'mater’s are you growing this year?


#10

If you like Brandywine you might try Burpee’s Brandy Boy. A Brandywine cross. I’ve grown it in my GH for 2 years running and it seems very productive and tasty.


#11

Red cherry heirlooms (no names) and Rutgers. Just keeping it simple and shooting for production. Roma is another I like to grow sometimes for sauces. They really produce!


#12

You’re in Kansas, right? Does it get too hot at times for the tomatoes to pollinate? I know when we were in Texas, you could forget about getting tom’s from June to September because of the heat. The only thing that would grow was okra.

Are you getting any fruit from your trees yet, or is it too early? The only things we have ripening now is some wild blackberries and raspberries, plus a few of our grapes are plumping up, but still green, pea sized. Our old Milam Apple trees have marble sized fruit on them now. I thinned out the branches I could reach, so hopefully we’ll have some decent sized fruit this fall.

Our new fruit trees we just planted this year seem to be shooting out all kinds of leaves and little sprigs, which I guess will turn in to branches eventually.

My two peach trees are shooting out leaves and some sprigs, but don’t seem to growing up that much. I headed them off at about 3 feet when we planted them. But, it’s only been a couple months they’ve been in ground. Guess I’m too impatient. But, how much of vertical growth should I expect out these peach trees this first year?


#13

Sounds like you are really having fun with tomatoes. I know exactly what you mean about ordering the seeds…they all sound so great, and you want to see how they will do in your own dirt and climate, so you just go nuts. I do exactly the same thing with watermelons. I order about 8 new varieties every year that I try along with 4 tried and true varieties. I planted over 200 this year. So I get your tomato thing and look forward to hearing your report at end of season. I’m trying a new tomato called Black Beauty. I paid like $1 per seed which is completely stupid, but it is suppossed to be the blackest tomato ever created so I fell for it.

Here in TN/KY, I think you will find that even though it gets really hot and humid, tomatos do produce all summer. It does seem like you are getting yours out a little late since most people shoot for first week of May in this area. That being said, I was a month late myself because my garden was just a big mud hole for almost a month- sounds like yours was too. Anyway, sounds like you’re having fun and I wish you the best. Let us know which ones work best for you!


#14

It was getting really parched here last week after that storm blew thru a week ago, I was thinking we were going to have to water our tater and 'mater plots. But thankfully when got home from church, we had a nice little rain storm come thru and give us about 20 minutes of irrigation.

We had a big pastor’s appreciation lunch at church so we just vegged out this afternoon. Too full to do much of anything. Just went out to inspect the tomatoes, and they are looking better than they did a week ago.

A dollar for one seed?? Did you happen to get it from Baker Creek? I got a print catalog from them this winter and remember them offering a black tom at exorbitant prices. I got 90% of my seeds from Ohio Heirloom Seeds the last couple years. They carry about 60 different tomato varieties, a lot from Eastern Europe, mostly Russian, but also a lot of “domestic” types.
I have never paid more than ~$2 for a pack of 25 seeds. Most of them cost less and I get 50-75 seeds in some packs. They also sell peppers, leafy veggies, herbs, etc. Check out their site.

How much space do 200 watermelon plants take up? Good thing you got all that land. You could have a PYO WM “orchard”. What are the 4 that do so well for you? And where can one get so many different WM seeds? Are you familiar with Charleston Gray, my bro in law was going to try them this year.

Yeah, I would’ve like to got the tom’s in the ground earlier, but it was too cold and wet for them in may, plus we even had a freeze on May 16. Our corn looks like it didn’t get burnt but it looks like we lost about 30 tater hills. Plus the tater bugs chewed up a lot of them too. We’re going to have to mow the weeds out of the corn patch before we plant the beans this week, some of the weeds are as tall as the corn, and the corn is about a foot tall.

Even though we put the tom’s out later than usual, hopefully we’ll get a better crop than last year, when we lost a lot to rain/blight/disease/deer. We’ll see. Hope we have enough to give away to our neighbors and relatives.

BTW, we are growing a Watermelon Beefsteak tom. It looks like it’s going to be a good plant, it has those big potato leaves on it, like a Brandywine.


#15

No tomato problems but tons of cherries, juneberries, mulberries!


#16

I paid over $1 per seed for some varieties from Johnny’s seeds last year. I’m not even sure if I even planted those. :blush:


#17

I always enjoy your posts. I also frequently make the mistake of thinking that since we are both in Kentucky (well, I am about 1/2 mile from the TN/KY border) we have the same weather. I can’t believe you had a frost on May 16! Our last from this year was more than a month before that…although usually we do get frost through the first week of May.
Good guess about Baker Creek…I do get a lot of seeds from them, and that is where I get a LOT of my “trial” watermelons every year. They are not a good value seller- in fact they are way too high. But they have a great selection, sell in small quantities, and I usually have seeds in hand within 2-3 days of placing my order. But they were out of the new Black Beauty. tomato, as were most vendors I checked. That tomato was just released 2 years ago I think and only a few vendors list it so far. I got mine from a place called Trade WInd Fruits and honestly at $1 per seed I knew I was being ripped off but was just dying to try them this year. I’ve never bought from that company before.
I have heard good things about Ohio Heirloom, so I need to try them.

Now, about watermelons. Watermelons are the one thing I actually consider myself an experienced grower since I’ve grown them for more than 20 years, dozens of varieties, many techniques, and so on. This year my trial watermelons are:
Congo
Klondike
Peacock
Royal Golden (2ed trial)
Mississippi Cobb Gem
Wilcon’s Sweet
Sandgeria

I said I have 4 that I always grow and that is true, but over the years that has really gone to 6. These are the watermelons that I’ve grown many many times and year in and year out find them to be the best overall watermelons you can grow. They rank highest on taste and general health and toughness of the plants- meaning they taste great and are pretty easy to grow. By all means, if you were only going to grow a few watermelons, these are the ones I would recommend.

  1. Orangeglo - This is my all time favorite watermelon and my personal favorite, hands down. It is certainly the sweetest, but the taste is also just a little bit different from other watermelons. Nothing dramatic, and hard to explain, but just a little more “fruity” and not just purely sweet (though its the sweetest). If you check most university brix tests, this one is almost always listed as the sweetest one they tested.
    There are a couple (minor) negatives which I must disclose. First and obviously, it is a yellow watermelon. Most Americans grew up knowing and eating nothing but Red watermelons- they are the epitome of summertime and American. Many, not most, people will just never warm up to and accept yellow watermelon the way they do red. If they were blinfolded they’d always pick this as the best, but since friends and family eat in large part with their eyes, yellow watermelons are often considered a gimmick or experiment or etc. A lot people just feel a good watermelon must be red. The other negative with this one is that a fair number of them will develop hollow spots in the middle, especially when they get dead ripe. Its not all that common but does happen in a fair number . It doesn’t really effect the taste but its just a little disappointing to open one of these and find a big hollow spot where you were hoping to find the sweetest, best meat- in the heart. But its not common enough to keep me from rating this my favorite watermelon. Many people here say Desert King, also a yellow, is their favorite but I haven’t tried it yet (Baker was out this year).

  2. Charleston Gray - You mentioned that your Bro in law may try them this year. I bet he will be happy. They tend to be among my first ripe watermelons, the vines are quite productive, and they are a very good tasting melon. They are among my standards for all these reasons. The only down side is that it is fairly common for them to get a soft-spot on the end of the melon as they grow and then they will start to rot from that end back toward the stem. Also, Charleston Gray tend to be a little more variable than my other standards, meaning sometimes they just aren’t all that sweet, even when grown in same garden at same time and same weather. But over all, these are just really good watermelons. They are long, non-striped. I like long melons but that is just me, I think maybe most people like round melons.

  3. Jubilee - One of the most popular watermelons, and for good reason. Its the most famous of the long, stripped melons and can get quite large (30 pounds and even more isn’t unusual, and 20-25 pounds is very common)/ I find these to be one of the most dependable watermelons, almost always turning out the same sweet, great tasting flesh. Just an all around great watermelon

  4. Crimson Sweet: Probably the single most popular watermelon in American and maybe the world, and for good reason. These are wonderful, sweet watermelons that taste great, are fairly easy to grow, and fun to eat. They are the classic round, stripped watermelon you see in the grocery store. Size can vary considerably but most of mine average around 18-20 pounds. Being round they fit in the fridge better than the longer ones.The slight downside is they can be quite seedy and the seeds are a little harder to remove than they are with long melons, but its not a big deal to me. These also have thick rinds which lets them ship well without cracking- which is proably one of the reasons they are so popular commercially.

  5. Black Diamond - This is a great tasting, easy to grow, large round watermelon. Overall it just has a great, sweet taste and is productive. They also will hold on the vine quite a bit longer than other varieties. Their appearance seems to put some people off, perhaps because for some reason you very rarely see solid, dark green melons in the grocery store. Many people consider these to be heirloom and/or “country melons”, perhaps because they are more common at farmers markets and roadside stands than at Grocery Chains. But I find them to be solid, dependable melons worthy of inclusion on any growers list. You wouldn’t be disappointed.

I answered your question so thoroughly because I’m often asked for my “favorites” list so I thought I’d list them along with an explanation for you and others who might be curious. Of course, there are scores of watermelon varieties and just like peach, plums, and apples, most gardeners have their own favorites and I some may mention them here. Even these 4 of my 5 “standards” might not even be my all-time favorite, best tasting watermelons. But they are near the top, easy to grow, and don’t have tje downside that some that I might even like better may have. For example, I think a good Georgia rattlesnake watermelon can be one of the best. But they are unpredictable, often turn out deformed, and are really hard to tell exactly when to pick. So while a perfect GA Rattlesnake might rate higher to me, its not consistent enough to be on my “standards” list.

I’d love to hear other’s view on watermelons.


#18

Well, I guess if you did plant a $1 seed, you could always save the seeds from the fruit that comes from it. I was wondering what a “black” tomato tastes like.

We’re trying quite a few darker tom’s this year: Paul Robeson, Black Krim, Black Brandywine, Japanese Black Trifele, Cherokee Purple, Purple Russian and Chocolate Cherry. We’re also trying some yellow, pink, orange, white, green, striped and good ole reds, too. My wife prefers the reds for canning, so I tried to include more of those this year. It’s like a big tomato experiment!

After mulching 70 plants Friday, of 30+ varieties, I said, OK, next year, it’s gonna be “just” 30 tom’s total. This year we’ll decide our faves and go with maybe 3 of the best 10 next year. Now, if I can just keep those infernal deer out of my patch! They are my nemesis, can’t say how much damage they’ve caused to my gardens, and some damage to my newly planted fruit trees. Bet I’ve been out ~$200 for fencing to protect my trees.


#19

Well, you need to maybe change your name to thewatermelonman. Thanks for all the info. I think we only have some Crimson Sweet seeds, maybe we’ll plant some down by the corn patch this week.

I still can’t get over the fact you have set out 200+ plants, that has got to use up a lot of land, plus I imagine the water demands must be high, you know, because they’re "water"melons. Or, maybe I’m wrong and they don’t need a lot of water, I don’t know. You could prob make some good $$ selling all those, I imagine WM’s would command a good price in those parts.

OK, guess I’d better call it a day. It’s planting week this week. Gonna sow pole beans, cukes, okra, lettuce, cabbage, etc.


#20

I plant my melons in rows and on “hills”. By far the hardest part is creating those little “hills”. I do it the hard way by using a hoe and sort of raking loose dirt together to form a small round hill. Others use tractors and create long, solid rows of raised dirt.

As for space, I plant my watermelons in tows. I space my plants 6-7 feet spart in the row, and I space my rows about 8-9 feet apart. Some feel this is a little too close together, but over the years I’ve found it to be the perfect spacing. The plants do indeed run into and over each other a bit, but by planting them close they end up completely, 100% covering all the ground the thereby smoothering/shading out much of the weeds. My watermelon patch is 150 feet 125 feet, so I don’t think that is really all that big, really.

I almost never water my melons unless it just an extreme, death causing drought. I only have city water and its expensive to try to water. Everyone assumes watermelons take lots of water. I’m always surprised how well they do in hot, dry weather though. Watermelons are one plant that LOVE hot weather. Love it.

Anyway, I’m sorry that I got so carried away talking about watermelons that I pretty much hijacked your tomato and pepper thread. Its fun talking gardening and watermelons happen to be the only thing I feel like I can talk about 1/2 way intelligently on here since I know so little about growing fruit.
Sounds like you are planting quite a bit of veggie varieties. I applaud that. There is nothing like walking out onto your own land and picking several different veggies that you take back in the house and prepare for dinner. They taste soooo much better than what you’d buy in the store, and it gives you a sense of being self-supporting which is pretty neat too. So good luck with your garden. You really ought to put out some watermelons…few things are more fun for a chile (and adult) than opening and eating a big, sweet, juicy watermelon. And they are much, much easier to grow than people think. Plant some seeds, keep the weeds back for at least the first month, throw a litte fertilizer on them, and you will have fruit to die for! Have fun.