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Perennial Tomatoes - Volunteers needed!

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Rod Franklin View Drop Down
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    Posted: 21 April 2011 at 12:00
When I lived in upstate New York many years ago, a co-worker of mine had a long neglected and overgrown garden. In this garden were a few weed choked and bushy cherry/plum tomato plants. These things were tasty! When asked, I was told these plants were there when they bought the house about 20 years prior and they never really did anything to encourage or discourage them. Mostly, the kids would just eat off them, and whatever other critters were around. Those plants are probably still growing there, without any input from anyone.

Well, much water has gone under the bridge since then, and now I want to have a tomato plant in my yard that just seeds itself and makes great tomatoes year after year. I live in zone 6a. It can't be much different than where I lived in New York.

Think I can find seeds for such a thing on the internet? No Way!

I've got some small peppers from the Philippines called Siling Labuyo (wild pepper) that I can trade. The seeds might sprout. They're pretty hot too. These peppers just grow wild in the Phillipines and the folks there eat the peppers and the leaves too.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 April 2011 at 12:56
Well, I've never heard of a letter-identified "sub-zone" but we do live in zone 6. I can get you most any kind of tomatoe seeds you want, but for the "volunteering" type and self propagating, the heirlooms are the best kind that almost guarantee this happening. Heirlooms are hardy, old time varieties that have the genetic strength to carry on.
 
The hybrids tend to be "finicky" and unless they fall into a wonderfully composted garden with great sunlight and water, they often will not grow the next year. Heirlooms are not like that at all....I get volunteers along my lawn's fenceline from the tomatoes the squirrels carry off to munch on.
 
Check out this link for the heirlooms I've been growing successfully for 3 years, Cherokee purples. Beautiful juicy and rich tomatoes that send out tons of volunteers.
 
This year Mrs Rivet is planting some "black cherry tomatoes" which apparently are a cherry sized version of the standard Cherokee Purple. Here's the link where she got the seeds from, and where you can find tons of good heirlooms. We buy our seeds from here every year and they are very high quality.
 
The company is Baker Creek Seed Company. The website is at www.rareseeds.com
 
You may want to get on their annual catalogue mailing list. It's free, and a beautifully huge, glossy magazine filled with hundreds of pictures and seeds. It's really a treat.
 
Hope all this helps you out!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 April 2011 at 20:26
Thanks Rivet, I signed up for the Baker seed company 2012 catalog.... I think. I checked out the cherokee purple link too. They look good to me! I would be real happy to have those just growing wild in my yard!
 
I've never heard of sub-zones either, but I got the info from USDA website from info called
"The 2003 US National Arboretum "Web Version" of the 1990 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map."

5b, 6a, somewhere in there anyways.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 April 2011 at 12:49
Glad to hear you got signed up for the catalogue, Rod~ you're going to be impressed. It's still early to plant seedlings in Zone 6, so if you want I'll be glad to trade a packet of cherokee purples or other heirloom tomato seeds for some of your Phillippine pepper ones.
 
Also, thanks for sharing that title. I googled it and looked at that USDA map, looks like we are zone 6a too. I like it since it further narrows down the regions and areas of the state.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 April 2011 at 15:57
Alrighty then! PM sent...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Melissa Mead Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 April 2011 at 17:09
6A? I thought Upstate NY was Zone 5.

Anyway, you might like Sweet 100s. I grew them last year. They were great, and I think they're available online.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 April 2011 at 19:07
Good deal, and thanks!  Lots of good planting available in zone 6, just make sure you don't put the seedlings in before May 15. If you stick to that rule, you wil be guaranteed viable juicy plants all summer....it is up to you to protect against the critters who love your veggies too!
 
I always try to plant enough to make up for the "critter loss" but these fat little things keep eating more and more every year~ Oh well...I just roll with the flow with that.They need to eat too, I suppose, and as long as I get something out of the garden, well then I'm okay with sharing.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 April 2011 at 19:33
Melissa, I left upstate New York in the early '90's, I guess that wasn't clear in my original post. That's OK.

I am a very lazy gardener, and instead of a green thumb, I may have what could be called a brown thumb. That's why I'm looking for things that take care of themselves, because it's likely I won't. I won't ever really have a formal garden, and if whatever is out there growing can't take what Ma Nature hands out in my back yard, well, then it's just gonna die...

I have one bramble choked edge of the yard, the back side of the garage, and one side of a wood deck that MIGHT get enough light to grow stuff. And I got a patch of dirt right out by the road that would probably get 6 hours of daylight, and that's it.
 
I'll probably put in some walking egyptian onions. I don't know if there are any herbs that would just establish themselves were I live now. I do use cilantro and Thai basil and sage and dill. I could learn to use others, especially if they were just growing around by themselves.

I would like to read someone posting here who would write something along the lines of "...out behind my grandmothers house is this small patch of ________. Stuffs been growing wild back there since I can remember... It's great!... I'll send you some..." :)

I do like tomatoes. Sharing is good! I don't mind if the critters like what is growing as long as they leave some for me.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 April 2011 at 14:09
If you've got a patch that's gonna get six hours of good full sun a day, you'll be fine for tomatoes. Cukes, too probably, since they don't like "too much" sun and heat. That patch of dirt you talk about, is it decent soil? (Not too stoney, not too sandy, not "too" anything?)  Doesn't have to be prefect garden stuff, but you may want to dump on a couple 40 LB bags of composted manure and shovel it in. Just sprinkle the two or three sacks over the area and turn over the earth, about a spadeful deep, to mix in the compost, that's all. After that, the rain and the normal sun will spread what you want around. Then when the time comes, plant your seedlings!
 
Not a lot of work - fifteen minutes or so, and composted manure goes for about $1.49 per 40LB bag. Should be about the same up where you are. Just stay away from the "national brands" and get the local stuff.....your local Ace hardware (which is where mine is $1.29 a 40 LB bag) , Wally World, etc, and you'll be fine. It's all the same stuff.
 
Good luck with your planting!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 April 2011 at 17:23
John, thanks, I like surprises!

That patch of dirt out by the road is actually a patch of yard. Notice I didn't say grass. Kinda sandy, kinda grows moss, and harbors more than one mole, but definitely a place I have to mow. If I could convert it to wild edibles I would be OK with that. The neighbors probably wouldn't like it though.

Somebody is sending me some egyptian walking onions and some wild artichoke (cynara cadunculus.) Man! I love that name! Cadunculus. Just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? Maybe I'll change my userID...

I can't imagine a 25'X20' patch of chest high thistles on steroids looking very good out there though.

I think herbs would be more appropriate out there by the road. Something that just grows in a bunch, like small bushes or something.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Melissa Mead Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 April 2011 at 18:41
Thyme, maybe? Mine looks like a little shrub. Very little.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote woodywoodduck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 May 2011 at 11:43
Rod, What Rivet said
Heirlooms will regrow eat year if tomatoes are left to lay on the ground and the seeds start on their own the next spring...
 
There isn't such a thing as Perennial Tomatoes, a Perennial will come back year after year and doesn't need started from a seed, the stems dry up and die off but the roots go dormant and then the next spring they start groing again, no need to start from seed...
 
Thge tomatoe roots do not go dormant and come back the nexty spring, it is the seeds that get left on the ground and start growing on their own when the weather turns warm enough for them to start growing...pretty much any Heirlooms you can get will regrow the next spring if you leave some tomatoes on the vine and they fall off and rot on the ground, the seeds will start on their own the following spring!
 
My Mom has a patch behind her house that grows cherry tomatoes and some that look like Big Boys each year, she just lets a bunch of tomatoes on the vine and they fall off and rot and the next spring she has those same tomatoes growing again!
 
You could try this site and order seeds from them    http://www.tomatogrowers.com/processing.htm
 
My Buddy that owns the Farm I plant on has seeds that he csave each year of a tomatoe that goes back close to the Civil War time, his Grand parents started them and his mom and dad kept them going and now he keeps them going each year...they look pretty much like the Howard German #5029 found on that site but he calls them "Pepper Tomatoes" for that is what his grandparents and mom and dad always called them.......
 
As long as it is an Heirloom and not a Hybred, you can get them to regorw year after year if you let a tomato or 2 on the plant and let them fall to the ground and rot and the seeds lay there all winter long, the seeds will start all on their own when the time comes in the spring, Mother Nature will know when for those seeds to start with no work needed on your part!
 
 
Hybreds will regrow but you will NEVER get what you started out with from the seeds you bought!  It will be a funny looking tomato, pepper or what ever it is you try to start, Heirlooms are what are needed to restart year after year and have exactly what you had the year before!
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 May 2011 at 06:49
Thanks for the clue Woody. Now I understand perennials... Makes my post seem kinda dumb. Well, that's how I learn things!

Seeing as you said Heirlooms will just sprout from seeds left on the ground the year prior, then I'll just plant them in the ground now and let nature take it's course.

John, I got the seeds in the mail! Thanks a bunch! I don't know if I'll get to planting the watermelons, but I'll certainly try to get the little carrots and tomatoes into the ground. They sound good!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote woodywoodduck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 May 2011 at 07:46
Not exactly sure where your at with the Temp Zone you said...what you want to do if you want Tomatoes is go to a store and get the Peat Pellets that you soak in water and start seeds in, get some of them, soak them in warm water till they fill up and then put 2 seeds per peat pod and put them in a warm sunny location like a window sill that will not have a cat or dog knock them over... when they get 2 sets of leaves pinch off the 1 that isn't growing as good as the other, you want the strongest seedling!
 
After they have 2 sets of leaves you can put them out if the danger of Frost is Passed!
 
Then if you want What is known as Volunteers next year, let a few tomatoes on the vine and let them drop off and rot on the ground, you will have plenty of seedlings come up next year..
 
What you want to do right now is insure that you get good seedlings started...dropping them on the ground is pretty much going to be a waste of money and get you upset at what happens....start them NOW, Don't wait and when they get 2 sets of leaves, plant them in your Garden area, place the seedlings down in so that just the top leaves show, put the first leaves up from the root base under ground, you will create a much Stronger plant!
 
Something many do not know, when you buy tomatoe plants at Nurseries, when you go to plant them, they are a good 6 plus inchs high and have a bunch of leaves, the MORE Plant stem you put in the ground the Better root stock you create, if you plant those 6 plus inch plants in the ground that only the top leaves are showing and you cover up many other leaves on the Stem, you just created a root ball that will help to make a much heathier tomatoe plant and will make more tomatoes on it for you!  The Stem that is under the dirt with the leaves on it will grow roots off of that stem along with the roots that are already under the dirt you pulled from the plastic container they came in, the more roots, the healthier the plant and more tomatoes you will get!
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 May 2011 at 12:24
Well, Woody, these requirements are troublesome. I don't have any windowsills, and I have no south facing windows anyway. The cat is unstoppable...

Maybe I can find some clear, heavy mil plastic and rig up some rig of a rig out where I would plant these things. A cold frame of sorts... maybe.

Maybe not.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 May 2011 at 15:27
12'X20" area behind the garage: I spread one 40lb bag of composted manure and one 40lb bag of potting soil out and tilled it in one shovel deep. Soaked it.

I had a dill plant and a sage plant I got at a plant nursery, so I dumped them out of their boxes and put them in the soil with a large, clear plastic cup over each one. We'll see how that goes.

I sprinkled some of the Parisian carrot seeds that I got from Rivet over about a two foot square area.

I had a tray of coconut fiber starter cups with a clear plastic dome hood, so I filled them with potting soil and planted  Thia Basil in 2 cups, Black Moor cherry tomato seeds in 7 cups, Cherokee Purple tomato seeds in 6 cups and 2 yellow bellied Black Diamond watermelon seeds in the last cup.

Watered, a little too well, and they are sitting on the floor in front of the sliding glass door. Drying out a bit, I hope! Best I can do.

I found some thing on the internet about growing watermelons in Northern Michigan (I'm in South Eastern Michigan.)  It said to put a sheet of heavy mil clear plastic over the ground and plant in a small opening in the middle. Apparently this keeps the soil warmer and allows watermelons to actually ripen in this shortened and colder growing season.

That yard area out by the road had a large sort of raised area surrounded by large rocks that was planted with weed choked smattering of various flowers and stuff. I dug all that out, piled up the rocks and moved all the flowers out into the woods out back where they're doing fine, and smoothed it all down nice. I am still debating with myself whether I will plant the watermelon out there by the road. It would be a lot easier to plant grass seeds and just mow it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote woodywoodduck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 May 2011 at 16:54
Rod, if you planted the seeds and over watered the potting soil and fresh planted seeds, FEAR NOT!   all you have to do is Not give them anymore water till the potting soil dries out...after that and they come up, water only when the potting soil looks dry (Not Overly Dry) and just enough to get is somewhat moist (Not Soaked)  and you will be good to go!
 
that idea you have about the plastic and covers over the plants, that is a good idea, it will help keep from the Frost killing your plants if you plant them early!   You can even buy cheap candles and make tents over your plants and burn the candles at night to keep things warm under the plastic tent and you will be surprised and amazed at how warm a candle keeps it under the tents!  Also remember if you do that, make sure the flame of the candle does not contact the plastic tent or you know what will happen if it does!
 
 
The Watermelons, I bought a book a few years back (Where the book is I have not a Clue) when I bought those Giant 100 plus lbs Watermelons seeds to grow and try to get a 100 plus lbsWatermelons....In the book it said that any type of watermelon will Not set fruit if the night time temps are not 60 degrees or above...it said to start the seeds in a paper cup get them growing and when they were falling over the side of the paper cup, cut the bottom off that paper cup ad transfer the sides of the cup with the dirt and watermelon plant still intact into a bigger pot and keep that up each time it starts to fall over the pot, put it in a bigger pot that it is not dangling over the pot...when the night time temps go to 60 degrees, Plant..
 
The book said that if you plant Before the night time temps are 60 degrees or more, all you would have is flowers and small fruit set with basically nothing but Rind on those fruits that did set behind the flowers!
 
Also in the book it went into telling about how Watermelon roots go very deep, they said in the book to mix in a very good amount of manure either horse or cow (If using chicken manure you use just a little or you can burn the plants) Peat and Sand to loosen the soil up and keep it loose and down to atleast 18 inchs and your outcome of growing any kind of watermelon would be far better and you would get larger and better fruits...I've found that what they said in that book held TRUE!
 
now, your carrots...you might end up having to Thin pretty good on those carrots you tossed in after they start growing so you get larger carrots and not just a tiny root and a big head on that tiny root...Something for the Future...
Take a piece of paper,  8x11.5 or what ever the size is print paper for computer printers or news paper or tablet papter...cut strips about 1 inch wide and how ever long you want to make them...get Elmors Wood Glue (The kind made from Geliton/horse hooves, NOT a Chemical based glue, something that is basically safe for kids to use who are known to eat glue) (you could also make a paste from flour and water like you would do to make paper machi animals) and put the glue or flour paste on the strip of paper, take your time and place a carrot seed every 1 inchs (YEAH I KNOW, I KNOW, those seeds and Dang Tiny) but in the end, you come out with big carrots, no need to thin them while they are growing and you can let them grow till you decide to harvest, the glue/paste and paper rot aweay and help to put some fertilizer in the ground for the caoorts, Remember, paper is made from trees, Wood Fiber=s fertilizer when it breaks down!
If your interested in growing LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG Carrots, go to home depot or lowes and get yourself a roll of that plastic tubing that is like a plastic bag/sack(not sure what you folks call them, we call them Bags) that you get at the grocery store, the roll is used to place on the end of a down spout so you can devert the water to someplace other then right there where the down spout stops....cut a piece about 5 foot long, 10 foot long, how ever long you want to make it, tie 1 end off and fill with Dirt, stand it up against a wall where it will not fall over and place either a carrot seed in the opening at the top or a started carrot seed that justs started maybe for 2 weeks...you have to water it thru the summer, but you can gorw 5 foot, 10 foot even 25 foot carrots that way!I saw a special on the History Channel last year about folks who grow world recod produce, the guy who has the record for the longest Carrot does his carrost that way...thing is I think it is a GREAT Idea, for carrots need loose ground to grow in to get long, just like the watermelons nees loose ground for their roots to go deep!
 
Hope this helps, post away, I'll be glad to help youwhere I can help...I been gardening for over 35 years and have played around with just about every type of produce we can grow in P{A and I help out on a Buddy's Farm who grows Produce for himself and to sell to Resturants, So I'm not a newbie when it comes to growing stuff!  Something else many do not know about Tomatoe plants... the more you transfer them from 1 pot to another before going into the garden, the Better they Grow!  I learned that little trick from my Buddy who has the Farm and I help out on...he has a greenhouse where he starts all his plants and he transfers his tomatoes atleast 4 times before they go into the ground out in the field and he was Great Tomatoe plants that get really Thick Stalks and Big Tomatoes on them!
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