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Author Topic: Winter Tomato Crop in Florida  (Read 6685 times)
jmmcnea
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« on: November 04, 2008, 04:11:27 PM »

I live in Tampa, Zone 9. I planted a Celebrity and a Grape tomato on August 15th. The grape tomato is at least 9' high and the Celebrity isn't too far behind it. I have three staking sections connected together to keep them from falling.

Anyway, I have lots of grape tomatoes and tons of blossoms. The Celebrity plant is producing much more slowly. The Celebrity has two tomatoes that are about 3" in diameter and I have another five or six that just broke through.

Regardless, they are maturing very slowly. The best I can do for them is about three to four hours of sunlight per day. Is that what is causing very slow maturity?

John
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mjb8743
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Posts: 6850


Zone 7, South NJ, Garden State


« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2008, 04:45:31 PM »

Hi John, welcome

In my experience, cherry (or grape) tomatoes usually are way ahead of the rest in maturing. I can always count on them to come in and ease my frustration while waiting for the laggards. I've never grown Celebrity tomatoes, but most varieties have a maturity date averaging 75 days from transplanting. In your case, that would be around Nov 1. I would say your Celebrities are pretty much right on time. That 3" size seems to be about right for a slicing tomato.

The shorter sun exposure shouldn't affect the growth too much (they'll get leggy if there's a real reduction in sunlight), but it definitely will reduce the developing sugars, resulting in a less sweet, almost sour flavor. Tomatoes need at least 6 hours of sun, and 8-10 hours is the ideal.

I hope this helps.... By the way, please put your location and zone, if known, in your profile. That way, it will show up in all your future posts... it helps when diagnosing problems, answering questions and we won't have to keep asking you where you are. Click on PROFILE at top of this page, then under MODIFY PROFILE, click on FORUM PROFILE INFORMATION then enter your text in PERSONAL TEXT.

Mickie
« Last Edit: November 04, 2008, 04:49:04 PM by mjb8743 » Logged

111 EBs and growing... so how come there are never enough boxes??
gardendoc
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Ocean Springs, MS Zone 9a


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« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2008, 06:39:48 PM »

John,

It is most likely a response to the shortening day length and decreasing temps, and not so much how many hours of sunlight the plants are receiving.  Decreasing day length and temperatures in the fall are powerful environmental cues.  Your Celebrity tomatoes are confused.  One one hand they are in the reproductive stage of growth and the other trying to slow down in response to the season. 

I say enjoy the fact that you are still getting FRESH tomatoes while others are worrying getting the snow equipment out and smile.  You gotta love living in the deep south.

gardendoc
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A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have. Gerald Ford

Be the fountain, not the drain
divenuts
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Posts: 19

Dunedin, FL Zone 9


« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2008, 09:09:48 PM »

John, I am a newbie to Earthbox - my first time.  I am located in Dunedin, Fl and have 9 Celebrity tomatoes growing (various sizes - largest about a silver dollar planted 9/24/08) from 2 plants with several more flowers.  I also planted 2 German Johnson heirloom tomato plants (same day) that have 4 tomatoes with a few more flowers in progress.  My 3rd Earthbox contains 1 eggplant and 2 bell pepper plants.  I encountered an Aphid problem  that I hopefully eliminated - (although I admittedly went ballistic in trying to eradicate- Mickie I enjoyed reading your posts about newbies who go crazy at the first sign of problems- yep that was me) and 1 bell pepper plant is doing well with several peppers and flowers while the other has 1 large pepper.  I'm getting impatient with the eggplant since I don't know what to expect given the number of tomatoes and peppers that have started growing, I think I have 4 eggplants but they are much slower than the tomatoes.   After following the posts on the forum I feel very fortunate living in Florida (with all of our bug problems) to have tomatoes, pepper and eggplant growing at this time of the year.  If anyone has any tips for going forward with our gardening in the fall, I will gladly listen.
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Kamisha100
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Posts: 252


Orlando, Florida Zone 9B


« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2008, 09:39:25 PM »

I grew a celebrity this past summer.  It does take quite some time to mature even in the heat of summertime.  The other things you mentioned probaly have a slowing affect on it as well.  The upside is when they get here they are very good tasting tomatoes.
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John
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Zone 5


« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2008, 08:47:40 AM »

gardendoc,
Very good conclusion.  I couldn't have put it better myself.  We at Earthbox are glad to have people like you as members.
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Pennsylvania Certified Horticulturist (PCH)
cushman350
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« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2008, 10:24:19 AM »

Quote
It is most likely a response to the shortening day length and decreasing temps, and not so much how many hours of sunlight the plants are receiving.  Decreasing day length and temperatures in the fall are powerful environmental cues.  Your Celebrity tomatoes are confused.  One one hand they are in the reproductive stage of growth and the other trying to slow down in response to the season. 

I say enjoy the fact that you are still getting FRESH tomatoes while others are worrying getting the snow equipment out and smile.  You gotta love living in the deep south.

gardendoc

Length of light/length of darkness/temp while light/temp while dark, all of Mother nature's info for the plants behaviour. Heating cables, grow lights and timers seem a bit much. Trying to fool Mother nature?
That's what makes a lot of us tick. (That blinking right eye that just won't stop Wink) hahah

cushman
« Last Edit: November 05, 2008, 10:26:06 AM by cushman350 » Logged
gardendoc
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Ocean Springs, MS Zone 9a


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« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2008, 12:51:14 PM »

cushman, being a horticulturist by definition means trying to fool Mother Nature to make our plants do what we want, when we want.    Here are my keys, the successful grower:

1) comprehends that decisions based on horticultural science principles can maximize benefits to the producer and consumer, i.e. How to grow plants

2) understands the physiological processes underlying plant development and recognizes the importance of environmental influence upon these practices, i.e. How plants grow

3)  appreciates how horticultural practices affect physiological processes directly or indirectly through modification of the environment, i.e. How to grow plants is fundamentally based on How plants grow


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A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have. Gerald Ford

Be the fountain, not the drain
cushman350
Guest
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2008, 08:58:47 AM »

gardendoc,

I agree with all you've said. It's exciting to control plants for different outcomes. My little rant was just me remembering the late 70s and a book by the name of "Cultivator's Handbook to Marijuana". Compiled and written from government studies on how best to breed out the THC content. The studies' results that raised THC content was used to write the handbook. I think I've said too much already......

cushman                 
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gardendoc
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Ocean Springs, MS Zone 9a


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« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2008, 04:31:52 PM »

ahh the 70's   Cheesy
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A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have. Gerald Ford

Be the fountain, not the drain
jwestfall9
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Posts: 29

Pinellas County, FL Zone 10


« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2008, 09:07:56 AM »

Hi John, I also live in your area, Pinellas Park near St. Petersburg. My two tomato plants get a little more sun than yours and seem to be a little ahead because of the additional light...I'm guessing. I planted a Roma and a Park's Whopper mid September and they are both approaching 6'. The Roma is ahead of the Park's setting some fruit as early as 4 weeks after transplanting. The Park's has several small fruit about 1-2 inches and a slew of newly set fruit about the size of your small finger's nail. All in all, I'd say we are right on target for this time of year. With Thanksgiving being a little less than three weeks away, I am hoping for at least a few Roma's by then. I'd say that we will be enjoying tomatoes, given we don't get any really cold weather, definitely before Christmas.

I also have a pepper plant that looked like it wasn't going to do anything. It sat there for about a month and grew from 6" to maybe 8" during that time (only grew a couple of inches in a month). Well, as Micky pointed out in another post, peppers like to take their time, just be patient. Well, the plant is now approaching 2.5' tall; the time from transplant is about two months. It has many flowers and several peppers about the size of a small Roma tomato.

I was so impressed by the success, to date, of my two boxes that I had to go out a buy a couple more. I planted from seed, one with cold weather veggies, broccoli and cabbage, and the other with some flowers, nasturtiums and snap dragons.

Happing gardening and thanks for your posts.
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jmmcnea
Active Member
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Posts: 13


« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2008, 09:40:39 AM »

All,
I've been away since I first posted so I just got to read the replies this morning. Thanks for the reassurance that things are the way they're supposed to be. I grew up in the northeast and getting used to the reversed growing seasons of Florida is difficult.
Anyway, I came home to one ripe grape tomato. It was delicious.
Yes, I also had a passing thought about a grow light to extend the day for them but I thought that was going a little too far.
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gardendoc
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Ocean Springs, MS Zone 9a


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« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2008, 01:02:58 PM »

The grow lights are OK for seedlings.  When you consider light output a grow light may produce about 300 foot candle (old archaic light measurement) when positioned 12" or closer above the plants.  The sun on the other hand produces greater than 5000 fc on a bright sunny day.  So you are hard pressed to get enough light to your plants so they can run all of their physical processes. 

gardendoc
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A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have. Gerald Ford

Be the fountain, not the drain
divenuts
Active Member
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Posts: 19

Dunedin, FL Zone 9


« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2008, 08:23:33 AM »

John, have your Celebrity tomatoes matured/ripened?  My Celebrities have not started to ripen yet.  I planted them on 9/24 and from what I've read they should mature around 75 days.  You planted your's over a month earlier so I just wanted to follow-up to see if they are on target.  Our weather has been colder than usual at night over the past month, which may also impact rate of maturity. 
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jwestfall9
Jr. Member
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Posts: 29

Pinellas County, FL Zone 10


« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2008, 10:39:40 PM »

I do think our cold weather has affected the ripening of the tomatoes. I have had several Roma's ripen and they were great. The Park's Whopper has one tomato that hsa just started to get its pink blush. Both plants were planted mid September. One thing I have noticed with both plants is a purplish color on the leaves. I read on one of the forum posts that that is caused by poor uptake of phosphorus (I think it was phosphorus). I went to another site and found that the poor uptake is caused by cold soil temperatures. We have had many nights in the forties (even a 39 or two) during the whole month of November...more that we sometimes get all winter. It seems that the weather tries to warm up and here comes another cold front and a couple more colder than normal nights and much cooler days. More like January days. We are supposed to get into the forties again tonight. I am hoping that we will warm up for a few days to get those box potting mix temps up a bit. I am sure glad that I turned the dark side of the mulch cover out.
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