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Old 07-08-2009, 08:46 PM
 
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Gardening experts, SnappyBob, any advice?

I can never seem to get tomatoes to grow here. I know this summer is bad, but I had the same problem last year. I had picked a nice sunny spot for my garden, but perhaps it's too sunny? How much shade can tomatoes handle in a typical San Antonio summer? I thought they needed a fair amount of sun, but perhaps that's not so true here.... My squash and eggplant has done fairly well. Peppers too.

And, when can I plant for fall? Instead of the inground space I have now, I'm going to set up a few raised beds in other locations that get mainly morning sun and more afternoon shade and would like to get the most of our extended growing season. Ideally, once I get this gardening thing down, I'd like to be able to produce a lot more vegetables, but I haven't seemed to figure out how to garden here . And what I do get the birds attack....I thought I solved that problem with a fence + netting, but the dang little sparrows can fly through the fence holes. And the grackles are attacking my figs.
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Old 07-08-2009, 08:58 PM
 
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My husband's the gardener...but I'll do my best. Our tomatoes did okay this year, but we've had to pull the plants because of the heat. They were just pitiful. Ours are in a raised bed that is probably 60/40 or 70/30 sun/shade. Its on the west side of our yard, so it gets morning sun but starts getting shade around 4:00. We do pretty well with peppers, and in the early spring we had some nice red lettuce and green lettuce and spinach. Our herb garden is doing well still, but it gets a lot of shade.

He's planning on planting fall tomatoes in late August, but it will probably also depend on the weather and how long its going to be this hot.
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Old 07-08-2009, 09:03 PM
 
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Thanks. This area probably doesn't get shade until after 7....well, and a little first thing in the morning. I've got a spot on the north east corner I'm considering for the raised bed. It gets morning sun, then sort of filtered afternoon sun, and shaded by late afternoon.

The herbs have been so-so, but they're in a different location with more afternoon shade (by about 4 or so, and some are under a roof so it's less direct). They actually did great when I was away and someone else was watering, despite the 2 weeks of heat wave, but they've been looking kind of wilted since I got back a week ago....I need to find out what he did differently. Actually, most are ok, just the basil is looking sad.
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Old 07-08-2009, 09:28 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
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My tomatoes get shade maybe 50% of the time, and they turned out great his year.
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Old 07-09-2009, 08:01 AM
 
Location: San Antonio
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Chaka, I usually put my fall tomatoes in the ground about the middle of July so that they are blooming around the first part of September when, hopefully, it has started to cool off. If all goes well you should have tomatoes ripening well before the first freeze. Having said that, south Texas weather is a bit fickle and that makes fall gardening a little tricky. On top of that, just talking yourself into getting out in the full summer heat to put in fall tomatoes can be a hard thing to do but if it all works out you will be very proud to have home grown tomatoes on your Thanksgiving table. This year I am thinking of potting up some fall plants maybe next weekend (I'm out of town this weekend) so that I can move them in and out of this extreme sun and heat until things settle down a bit, then put them in the ground as soon as possible. I might still try to erect some sort of shade mechanism if things turn too hot again after they are in the ground.
All of the text books will tell you to plant your tomatoes in full sun but with 100+ temps everyday and no regular rainfall for years I think you have to read between the lines. My tomatoes get about 6-8 hours sun and this year the ones that got the most sun burned up early. My season started late and ended early. I am still picking a few each day but it's getting fewer and fewer.
When you build your raised beds be sure to use the proper soil mix for raised beds. Don't make the mistake of just filling with dirt or top soil. It will set up like cement and won't drain properly. Gardenville makes a pretty good raised bed mix. Raised beds will need more water than in ground beds as long as they are draining well. Don't go crazy with the fertilizer especially nitrogen in the beginning or your plant will spend all of their energy making leaves and not making blooms. A good tomato fertilizer will have a higher middle number for more phosphorus.
Are you planting Heirlooms or hybrid tomatoes? The heirlooms that I had the best luck with this year were Black Krim, Roma and Cherokee Yellow. I don't know how these will do in the fall or if they will be available at nurseries. I plant to just buy whatever heirlooms I can find as it is probably too late to start from seeds.
The good news is you can garden all year in SA. For the fall and winter I try to grow tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, green beans, onions and carrots. Growing your own veggies can be very rewarding in many ways. Good luck and let me know if there is any way I can help. Except with the weeding. Oh, speaking of weeding, I don't do much of that in my own garden much anymore. One word: Mulch, Mulch, Mulch.

I am always happy to share my garden experience from a local point of view but for some really good general gardening discussions here are a couple of good forums where I also hang out. There are really knowledgeable folks there.

The GardenWeb Forums - GardenWeb
Tomatoville® Gardening Forums Index
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Old 07-09-2009, 08:48 AM
 
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Thanks SnappyBob! great info.

I am a little concerned about the extra water for the raised beds, but given the clay I have, I need to put a whole 'nother layer of soil in anyway. For the inground area I had tilled with compost, but I still don't like the ground, it feels all compacted now. I was just gardening in Switzerland a couple of weeks ago (on the slopes of a mountain, looking out towards Mt Blanc!) and was in heaven with that soil! Lucious black soil.

I had planned to go up close to 2 ft, putting in about 1 ft of filler dirt (as I already have a huge pile) then a layer of raised bed soil + compost. Gardenforums folks recommended against that though. So just about 1 ft is good?

My soil is clay, not limestone but there is a lot of rock and assorted pieces of asphalt (I'm not sure if one area was a a type of driveway or if someone just dumped a bunch of asphalt in the yard at some point....). So I've just given up on putting plants directly in the ground now. Plus I want the area to look a bit neater with gravel paths in between the beds.

I had both hybrid and heirloom tomatoes - I was trying out diffeerent kinds. Had the same problem with both - lots of leaves, no fruit, then heat wave and they turned brown.
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Old 07-09-2009, 09:18 AM
 
Location: San Antonio
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I had planned to go up close to 2 ft, putting in about 1 ft of filler dirt (as I already have a huge pile) then a layer of raised bed soil + compost. Gardenforums folks recommended against that though. So just about 1 ft is good?

The garden forum people probably didn't like the idea of the layer of filler dirt for drainage reasons. If you want to use up this pile of dirt that you have you could mix it with other stuff like compost and washed sand with maybe some peat moss. You might even be able to get by with just mixing this dirt with coarse mulch for a filler layer on the bottom. Run that idea through the forum first to see if anyone has issues with that. Anytime you build new beds it may take a season or two for them to get up to optimal performance. Consider it a breakin period. It sounds like raised beds are the way to go in your area though.

I had both hybrid and heirloom tomatoes - I was trying out diffeerent kinds. Had the same problem with both - lots of leaves, no fruit, then heat wave and they turned brown.

Sounds like too much nitrogen. Save the extra nitrogen for when you have tomatoes about as big as a ping pong ball. Heirlooms are somewhat hard to grow at times but well worth the effort in taste. Since I started growing heirlooms I find it hard to get too excited about common hybrids anymore. They just don't seem to have any taste.
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Old 07-09-2009, 10:58 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnappyBob View Post
The garden forum people probably didn't like the idea of the layer of filler dirt for drainage reasons. If you want to use up this pile of dirt that you have you could mix it with other stuff like compost and washed sand with maybe some peat moss. You might even be able to get by with just mixing this dirt with coarse mulch for a filler layer on the bottom. Run that idea through the forum first to see if anyone has issues with that. Anytime you build new beds it may take a season or two for them to get up to optimal performance. Consider it a breakin period. It sounds like raised beds are the way to go in your area though.


I'm not actually trying to get rid of it. I have enough areas around my yard to fill in, so it'd be put to use if I don't use it for the beds. That is a good idea to mix it though. Also good to know it takes awhile to get adjusted. I'll remember that as I get through the first few plantings.


Quote:
Originally Posted by SnappyBob View Post
I had both hybrid and heirloom tomatoes - I was trying out diffeerent kinds. Had the same problem with both - lots of leaves, no fruit, then heat wave and they turned brown.

Sounds like too much nitrogen. Save the extra nitrogen for when you have tomatoes about as big as a ping pong ball. Heirlooms are somewhat hard to grow at times but well worth the effort in taste. Since I started growing heirlooms I find it hard to get too excited about common hybrids anymore. They just don't seem to have any taste.

Hmmm. Well, I didn't add any fertilizer at all. So it's either what was already in the compost or what was in the soil.
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Old 07-09-2009, 11:04 AM
 
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I'm still working on grass
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Old 07-09-2009, 11:13 AM
 
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Not meaning to hijack your thread - are there classes here for adults? I would love to start a vegetable garden but have no clue how.

My husband is no help since he is ill.

Any ideas?
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