What tomatoes will you grow in 2018?


Well I know of 4 kinds of fluorescent lights, and performance varies very much between them. Saying fluorescent is like saying light bulb, it tells us little of what you’re using. Better LED’s exist now, but very expensive. So here again unless you know brand, spectrum, etc, it’s not telling us much.
It’s also how you use them. A shop light at one foot is not going to be anything like a shop light at 1 inch.


Some bulbs may be better than others, but I’ve been starting my own plants of all kinds for a very long time and I can get beautiful plants going with the cheapest fluorescent bulbs and fixtures on the market. I just used a lot of them, banking 4 shop lights right next to each other and keeping them just inches from my plants. I did that for many years. I have a fancy LED now, and it’s easier. But I don’t think my plants are any better. Use what you’ve got, it all works!


Spot on Drew and Mike. Floros used properly grow some beautiful plants.


Last summer late blight wiped out all my beautiful tomatoes while we were on vacation. I had about 7 varieties. Most everyone else in the area had the same problem. This is a first for me to lose all varieties. Does anyone have any stellar tomato to recommend in that regard? I received a TotallyTomatoes catalog the other day with a few hybrids listed with a long list of initials after the name. One lists being highly late blight resistant. Was it just caused by a fluke in the weather, or will it plague my garden from now one? Should I try this super duper hybrid? (Mountain Magic Hybrid VFF EB LB) My favorite is Sungold, followed by Brandywine.


Where can one get that Suddeth Strain of Brandywine? Sounds delicious!


Baker Creek is selling them now for $2.25 a pack, which is about 25 seeds. I know because I just got my big BK catalog in the mail a few days ago.

What time of the year was it? Sometimes it happens late in the season, and there’s not much you can do about it. Especially if it’s been warm and humid or rainy.

I don’t know if it overwinters in a garden or not. I suppose one way to avoid it is to plant in another location next year, if possible.


Tomato Growers Supply Company – 30 seeds for $2.95.


It hit everywhere last year. Tim’s Black Ruffles was resistant, but got it all the same. Yet it got it late enough to produce a couple waves of tomatoes beforehand. It’s a good tomato, not a great one.
As far as Brandywine I myself tried the Cowlicks strain from reports I have read. I will eventually compare to Sudduth.


That site that Richard posted has Brandywine OTV, which is supposed to be more productive than other BW’s. Have you tried growing it? I’m considering trying it next year IF it gives me more fruit than the usual stingy BW’s.

BW are such beautiful, big plants, but their low production lost them a spot in my gardens.


Do you feed them? If not, try adding a teaspoon of Sul-Po-Mag to the mulch around each one – after the big rains but prior to planting out the starts.


I just picked up some Brandywine seeds at a Big Box store. Thanks for the sources, all.


What? That doesn’t make sense. What am I missing?

At plant out, I put a couple Tbsp of Tomato Tone and Epsom salts in the hole, add some dirt, and then plant the starts. At flowering, I add some more TT around the base of the plants.

Don’t you mean Sul-Po-Mag? What does that do to plants?


Yes :joy:

It adds to the non-existent Magnesium and insufficient Potash in Tomato Tone.


I already said I add Epsom salt to the mix. But, that may not be enough Mg.

I will have to admit that last spring was the first time I added amendments to my plots after getting my soil tests back. The years before that, I had no idea what the pH and P, K, CA, Mg and Zn levels were. So that might have been why my plants underperformed.

The plot I planted my tom’s in this year had high to very high levels of P, K and Zn, and decent levels of Ca and Mg. The plants did great there. Unfortunately, the concentration of DEER levels were too excessive. Very unhealthy element for tomatoes. :slight_smile: Peppers seem to be immune to this malady.

I just submitted new soil samples today to see how much the plots have changed. If I have to add lime, it will need to added now so it’ll break down in time for next year’s plantings.


Berkeley Tie Dye. Gives you the East Texas beefsteak taste here in the Rocky Mountain foothills. Recommend for cool weather areas.


Were Brandywine(s) there?


I spent the last 20 years learning what makes tomato seedlings grow best. Ideal growth under indoor conditions comes from getting as close as possible to full sunlight conditions. It is impossible to get light that intense with lights 2 feet above the seedlings. Bulbs made specifically for indoor growing are best but are not necessary to produce good seedlings. Plants absorb light between the red and blue spectrum reflecting almost everything else. Tomato seedlings particularly benefit from red spectrum for early growth. Broad spectrum bulbs waste more of their output when used as grow lights. So long as they are used for no more than 8 weeks on seedlings, the difference in performance of ordinary fluorescent bulbs is not appreciably different than when using 6500K bulbs. There is however a measurable difference when using bulbs developed specifically for plants. Warning that there are hundreds of documents on the net incorrectly interpreting which frequencies are used in photosynthesis! Do due diligence to find out what recent research has shown.

What is the actual output of fluorescent lights and how does it compare to full direct sunlight? Direct sunlight runs about 2000 mols. Fluorescent lights measured 2 inches from the bulb do not exceed 400 mols. This is not a major issue. It turns out that tomato and pepper seedlings are incapable of using more than about 400 mols. There is a qualified exception that some very expensive high output bulbs can put out significantly more light. Very few people will pay for such expensive bulbs or the ballasts required to drive them. If in doubt, get a light meter from a camera store or from Amazon and verify this to your satisfaction. Remember that only a portion of the output can actually be used by a plant.

I grow about 30,000 tomato and pepper seedlings each year. My starter stand is 6 tiers high with 6 bulbs on each tier and capacity for 24 trays of seed. I typically plant about 1500 seed in each tray. When the seedlings are between 1 and 3 inches tall, I pot them up into individual cells in trays with 48 cells per tray and move them to the greenhouse.

Here is a a tip for growing tomatoes and peppers under lights. This is for plants in individual pots or cups. Often a few seedlings grow significantly faster than others. If the lights are kept 2 inches above the tallest seedlings, the shorter plants won’t get enough light and will fall even further behind. Put the short plants on a box or book or block of wood to raise them up closer to the lights. This will help them catch up to the taller seedlings.

The objective is to have large healthy seedlings properly hardened off to set out when the weather permits.


No, not this year. But, last year I grew the black, pink and yellow varieties, along with 30 other varieties. The pink and yellow were potato leaf, the black was reg leafed. The black had more fruit than the other two.

Compared to other tomatoes of similar fruit size, the BW were consistently less productive. The pink and yellow plants were very big, but gave me maybe 10 fruits. The black gave me a few more but got hit with disease sooner, and I didn’t even get to taste one.


That’s why the large scale tomato growers here use 6500K bulbs. Many of them were my customers prior to my retirement.


According to Wien’s displacement law, radiation from a 6500 K light source has the maximum at the wavelength of 446 nm, which is practically blue (RGB = 0, 47, 255). The effective temperature of the sun is 5778 K, and the corresponding wavelength for the maximum of radiation is 502 nm, which is practically green (RGB = 0, 255, 123). Growing lights do not mimic the sun, they try to maximize the light in red and blue ends of the spectrum (both are absorbed by chlorophyll in the leaves) or only the blue part of the spectrum (6500 K bulbs).