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Cannot grow tomatoes

by Norma Harvey
(Ojai, CA)

Q. I have planted tomatoes for the last four years but they bear little fruit and what they do produce does not ripen. This year, I had the soil removed and replaced it with new soil and soil amendment. Still no luck. I put in fourteen plants thinking I had solved the problem. They were planted in full sun. HELP!

A. There are a couple of reasons your plants may not be producing.

  • Water. In your location (southern CA) -- or any location, for that matter -- it's especially important that tomato plants receive adequate water. Water moves nutrients into tomato plants. When tomatoes emerge and are about the size of a quarter, resume your routine of watering tomatoes 1-to-3 inches a week. Once fruit is set it’s very important to keep your watering pattern consistent. Monitor how much rain your tomatoes get with a rain gaugeicon. Check soil moisture with a soil moisture meter.
  • Timing. Are you planting your tomatoes at the right time for your region? Be sure to allow enough time for fruit to ripen before the weather gets too hot. (Find out if it's too hot for tomatoes.) In southern California, many gardeners plant two seasons of tomatoes -- one in early spring, the other so that fruit ripens in the fall.
  • Nutrients. Even with new topsoil and soil amendments, keep in mind that tomatoes are very heavy feeders. Apply tomato fertilizer once fruit has formed. Some gardeners look for their first tomatoes to be golf ball size as a signal to begin the season’s systematic feeding program. Make sure to use a balanced fertilizer that has the nutrient content that tomatoes need - one specified for tomatoes like Espoma Tomato Tone or Miracle Gro Tomatoes. Fertilize tomatoes about every 3-4 weeks until frost.
  • Variety. Check with local nurseries and even your regional extension office to find out which tomato varieties flourish in your area. Try those types.

Good luck and happy gardening!
Your friends at Tomato Dirt

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Sep 02, 2015
Miracle grow.
by: Darlene Johnson

I use miracle grow, in large containers. I also add 1/2 to 1 cup used coffee grinds, and used tea bags, ripped opened, and a tsp-2 tsp of Epsom salt a week to the base of the pants. Mine have been doing really well, until my plants were infested with Aphids and white flies this past week. If this happens use dial soap, and diatomaceous, not the kind for a pool. Remember too check your local growing seasons, if you plant too late it could become too cold, or it could be too humid and hot. Always water about the time the sunsets, a little before or after is ok, other wise you pretty much fry your plants. I water mine daily, unless we get a bunch of rain, then I wait a day or two to resume watering. Good luck and I hope this helps!

Jun 26, 2015
Help Please!!
by: Jenifer Haning

I would like to know more about the soil in which tomatoes can grow easily. That is exactly what I need to know right now. I just can’t grow them. I am actually trying to grow a outlook not responding rooftop garden. Any help will be appreciated.

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