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I am planning to serve homemade tomato soup for a large dinner party on Sept 24, 2011 (42 days from this posting).

This dinner is really important to me; so important, that I decided to plant my own tomato garden (those gas treated supermarket tomatoes just don't compare to the real thing, ya know?). This will be my very first gardening experience, so I'm looking for any useful information at this point.

So, to continue the story, this weekend I found a source for 4 large Big Boy tomato plants. The season is almost over and the people at the nursery looked at me like I was crazy as I walked off the lot with $130 worth of tomato plants, soil, pots, and feed.

Here are some picks of one of the plants:

Tomatoes

The plants stand about 3 feet tall and look reasonably healthy. They're planted in 14in ceramic pots (around 4 gal).

Now here's the real question: Based on these images, will my tomatoes be ready in time for my all-important dinner party? Is there anything besides a healthy dose of sunlight, regular watering/feeding that I can do to speed things along.

Update:

Here's a pic of the tomatoes a day before the dinner party. The plants are still going strong (thanks to you all, no doubt) and I foresee many more tomatoes in the next few weeks.

enter image description here

  • 2
    day before the party... how do the tomatoes look? – bstpierre Sep 23 '11 at 17:55
  • 3
    Those look awesome. Congrats! – bstpierre Sep 27 '11 at 23:52
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From the look of the pictures I think that the plants will be ready on time for the dinner. In the meantime I would recommend the following care for them. I water once a day at least. Never let them stress for water. Nine out of ten days they are watered with a half solution of Peters or some other water soluble fertilizer rated for tomatoes and vegetable gardens. On the tenth day water them very thoroughly with plain water. Stop all fertilization a week to ten days before harvest. This helps to leach out any salts or nitrates that can build up in the soil and harm the plants. By being observant you should be able to minimize any damage. When you need to get rid of pests always try the method that will do the least harm to the environment and helpful garden critters. Start with mild soaps and work your way up if you must. I hope that this helps. Keep them in a sunny spot. Good luck

  • Thanks for the info about the water soluble fertilizer and stopping all fertilization before harvest. I will give the a try. – Derek Hunziker Aug 14 '11 at 16:21
8

Like Gardening Directions, I think your tomatoes will be ready in time for the dinner, if you follow the advice given, but it is worth stressing the importance of correct watering which is absolutely critical, if they are to remain healthy and develop normally.

If you allow the compost to dry out, or over-water, the fruit could develop Blossom End Rot, a disorder caused by a calcium deficiency - see this answer and Blossom End Rot in Tomatoes: Causes and Prevention. If the ambient temperature is very high, and your plants are in a peat-based compost which dries out very quickly, it may be necessary to water them every day; on the other hand, water thoroughly - see here - but try to avoid watering over-frequently - keep the compost slightly damp to the touch between waterings, never wet. If there are no major fluctuations in moisture level, your tomatoes are unlikely to develop BER and should do well.

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