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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my first year gardening and I have a problem with my tomatoes. I have planted earlygirls, romas, and cherry tomatoes. None of them are setting. The plants themselves look great, they are huge, which makes me think I have too much nitrogen / fertilized too much. I did apply a treatment of miracle grow about a month ago because they were not growing. Since then they have taken off (vine wise), but no setting. Additionally, last year I tilled in a few yards of horse manure.

Some other info: They get full sun from 5am to 10pm right now. Our weather here has been very cool this season. Last few days have been close to 50 in the morning. I am suspect about the weather, but my family members close to me are producing with no problems.

So, any of you "more experienced" gardens have any suggestions, or I am done for this year with tomatoes? I will most certainly stop the Miracle Grow, but do you think trying to leech out the soil a bit with some intense watering will help?
 

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I would not try to drown out the N2, all you'll do is drown the plants. Could be too much N2, hard to say. If it is too much N2 once its gone the plants will start fruiting. Did the plants make blossoms? Maybe there is a pollenator (ie. bees) problem in your area. You did not plant seeds from grocery store tomatos did you? They are most likely hybrids and would not produce. Best bet is to call your county extension service and ask the master gardener.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I would not try to drown out the N2, all you'll do is drown the plants. Could be too much N2, hard to say. If it is too much N2 once its gone the plants will start fruiting. Did the plants make blossoms? Maybe there is a pollenator (ie. bees) problem in your area. You did not plant seeds from grocery store tomatos did you? They are most likely hybrids and would not produce. Best bet is to call your county extension service and ask the master gardener.

The tomatoes are from a variety of sources, but I bought them all as seedlings. Two of the plants are the same ones my MIL has and hers are producing like crazy.

The plants made blossoms, a bunch actually, but they never turn into anything. I did see a few honey bees they other day flying around the tomatoes. My squash and beans are producing and I assume they need to be pollinated too.

Good advise on the extension office, I will call them on Monday when they open.

Anyone else have some ideas?

Another thing I thought of: I have been watering the tomatoes with a sprinkler and my wife's grandpa says tomatoes don't like that. Today I am going to make a soaker system to water them from below and see if that helps to..
 

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If they made blossoms it should not be an N2 issue. I don't think using a sprinkler would hurt, they get rained on don't they. On the other hand far be it from me to think I know more than an old timer. Learned that lesson a few times already. If your squash are doing well then it should not be a pollenator issue (beans self polinate). Call the master gardener before you go dropping money on drip or soaker irragation. May be something simple.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
If they made blossoms it should not be an N2 issue. I don't think using a sprinkler would hurt, they get rained on don't they. On the other hand far be it from me to think I know more than an old timer. Learned that lesson a few times already. If your squash are doing well then it should not be a pollenator issue (beans self polinate). Call the master gardener before you go dropping money on drip or soaker irragation. May be something simple.
For what it worth, my wife's grandpa says they don't like the cold from a sprinkler system, whereas with rain I suppose the water is closer to ambient. At least that is the only difference I can think of. I think you are right, I'll hold off on the soaker system till Monday.
 

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Exactly what are the blossoms doing? If you could tell me that, I could probably tell you what is wrong. If they are turning brown and falling off it could be a pH or calcium problem. Have you ever had your soil tested? And I don't mean a test bought at Lowes, I mean a test performed by a lab. There are many things going on in the soil that we just don't think about. I can look over any test reports you may have and recommend corrections.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Exactly what are the blossoms doing? If you could tell me that, I could probably tell you what is wrong. If they are turning brown and falling off it could be a pH or calcium problem. Have you ever had your soil tested? And I don't mean a test bought at Lowes, I mean a test performed by a lab. There are many things going on in the soil that we just don't think about. I can look over any test reports you may have and recommend corrections.
MontyJ,
From what I can tell,The plant makes a little blossom and a few days later it opens up to make a small yellow flower. Then the bees fly around them so they look like they are getting pollinated. Finally they just fall off. I have seen a few yellow opened up blossoms laying on the tomatoes leaves below them. There are a ton of blossoms, but they just don't stay on the plant. I haven't had my soil tested, but I can generally describe what I have done to it.

Our soil is generally sand, so three years ago I hauled in about 8" of compost and covered the lawn. This was before I had a garden so it too received the compost (mostly leaves and grass I suspect). Then last fall, I dumped in a layer (3"+) of half fresh half composted horse manure and till it in. I let this sit until spring, where it was tilled in again with a bigger tractor with a pto tiller (got really fluffy). The soil is generally pretty black and not sandy.

Our temps here have been pretty cool. Highs in the upper 70s lows in the mid 60s. Last week I know it got into the 50s at night. I also read low and high temperatures can cause no setting so maybe that is the issue too...
 

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Just to add my two cents....... we've watered with well water for years,and it is C O L D. Never had a problem. It MIGHT be a weather related problem if you're getting blossoms dropping. Either too cold at night, or too hot can do that. Below 60 F or above 75 F .
 

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I would buy some blossom set. It is a spray. Had some problems because of low temps and too much shade.
 

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If the temp was the issue, his relatives with the same strains should not be setting fruit. The soil sounds awesome.
 

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If the temp was the issue, his relatives with the same strains should not be setting fruit. The soil sounds awesome.
It could still be the weather. Perhaps he gets more or less wind or some other factor has helped the relatives tomatoes set better then his. Mine do not have a very heavy set towards the bottom of the plants, but the later blossoms have set very well.
 

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MontyJ,
From what I can tell,The plant makes a little blossom and a few days later it opens up to make a small yellow flower. Then the bees fly around them so they look like they are getting pollinated. Finally they just fall off. I have seen a few yellow opened up blossoms laying on the tomatoes leaves below them. There are a ton of blossoms, but they just don't stay on the plant. I haven't had my soil tested, but I can generally describe what I have done to it.

This is very interesting. I have been having a similar issue with my tomatoes dropping blooms in the manner you describe. I have to go out of town tomorrow but if I get back in time I will try to get a pic posted. After reading how you have prepped your soil, I doubt the problem is there. I have my soil tested every fall by a professional soil lab so I'm sure I don't have a problem there either.

Look closely at your flower stems. Are they straight from stalk to bloom? Or do they have a "knuckle" in them? My blooms are dropping at the knuckle. I have had other local gardeners complaining of the same thing. I am nearly convinced it is weather related, but am checking with a few others to try to confirm it.
 

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could be a pH or calcium problem.
how do you correct this problem? Lime?

I have some with few blooms and even those just turn just turn brown and fall off. The plants are healthy looking and large. I used some kind of store bought soil by Miracle Grow that you mix in with the garden dirt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Just an update:
I called the extension service and spoke to a master gardener.

They recommended to first water using a soaker hose, 1" of water a week. Second, cut the leaves touching the ground back a bit because they don't produce anything and make watering hard. She didn't think fertiziling too much was the issue. So, I am going to change my water technique and see if things improve. I'll update this thread if things change (better or worse).
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Another update:
I spent tonight tending to these tomatoes. I built a drip irrigation system from some lengths of 1/2 PVC with a bunch of 1/16th holes drilled in them. There is about 60 feet of pipe now running along each row of tomatoes which should keep them watered without getting the leaves wet. I am thinking next year to expand this system to all of the veggies and then expand my irrigation system to turn these on and off automatically..we'll see how motivated I am next spring thou. Anyway.

I decided to prune the bottom 10" or so of leaves and stems of each plant and I am glad I did. Each stem that was touching the ground was shriveled up and dying making the bottom of the plants a mess. I also decided to rip out about 5 of the tomato plants because they were too close together. This should give the healthier ones a better chance to grow and establish a better root system.

Also, turns out, I have tomatoes, little ones. I just couldn't see them because of the density of leaves and stems. There are probably about 20 little romas and at-least one or two early girls. My heirloom I got from my MIL hasn't produced any, but hopefully with the water increase he will be happy.

On a another note, it really amazes me how filled out my garden has become. When I planted the seeds there was a ton of space, but now that everything is getting bigger it is kinda unruly. Next year it is going to be expand at least 2x just to make it easier to work in...Learn something every day.
 

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I got in too late to get a pic, but I should be able to tomorrow. I do have tomatoes, some as big as softballs, but I am still concerned about the blossom drop issue. My Romas are polluted with tomatoes and are showing no signs of drop. It's the main crop canners that are giving me grief. I don't think my problem is as severe as yours, I do have a lot of tomatoes, but even a few blossom drops worries me. If you have lost most of the blossoms, you may want to consider a soil test. Also keep an eye on the fruit that do set. If they develope blossom end rot, you may very well have a pH or calcium problem after all.
 

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how do you correct this problem? Lime?

I have some with few blooms and even those just turn just turn brown and fall off. The plants are healthy looking and large. I used some kind of store bought soil by Miracle Grow that you mix in with the garden dirt.
The only way to tell if lime will help is to have a soil test done. Do not use the kits you can buy at Lowes. They are unreliable. Have it done by either a professional soil testing lab or your local county extension office. If you post the results of your test here, I will be happy to interpret them for you and make recommendations.
 

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Try a little blossom set. worked on mine. or go tomatoless
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I got in too late to get a pic, but I should be able to tomorrow. I do have tomatoes, some as big as softballs, but I am still concerned about the blossom drop issue. My Romas are polluted with tomatoes and are showing no signs of drop. It's the main crop canners that are giving me grief. I don't think my problem is as severe as yours, I do have a lot of tomatoes, but even a few blossom drops worries me. If you have lost most of the blossoms, you may want to consider a soil test. Also keep an eye on the fruit that do set. If they develope blossom end rot, you may very well have a pH or calcium problem after all.
I forgot to mention this in my last post, but when I ripped out the plants the soil was suprisingly dry around the roots. As much as I water, I was expecting it to be moister but it it wasn't it. This gives me an indication that perhaps I need to water more / smarter and maybe this issue will correct itself.

I too planted tomatoes for canning (well sauce really), but so far besides the one or two early girls, I don't have enough to meet that goal. But, this is my first garden so live and learn.
 
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