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Not getting veggies until end of summer

Posted by lilpetunia Massachusetts (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 12, 14 at 8:01

Hi all. Last year was the first year we decided to start our seeds under lights. In the past we had started from seed but just kept the tray in a sunny spot and naturally didn't get many viable plants by the time we put them outside. But last year we were very successful and had lots of plants ready to go into the garden. Our problem was that we didn't get any vegetables from some types of plants until August (tomatoes and eggplant especially). Our San marzano tomatoes didn't ripen until September, in fact there were still many green tomatoes on them when we got our first frost. Our various squash and cucumbers gave us veggies earlier, but still not as early as I feel they should have.

So I'm wondering what could be causing this. I planted most of the seeds in Mid March, some were done a little later because my brother killed off a bunch when he was asked to care for them while my parents and I were away, so I replanted a lot. But none of the san marzano tomatoes fell under this category and they were the latest to give us veggies. Is March early enough to start? I never feel like our plants are as large as they should be when they go into the garden, they certainly don't look like ones you'd buy from a nursery, they look much smaller. Is this a timing issue or a care issue? I'm not 100% sure but I think we grew under T12 lights. They were never leggy, just not large.

Could it just be not enough sunlight once in the garden? any other ideas? Our last frost date is in early May but we don't put them in the garden until memorial day weekend usually, perhaps we are putting them in the ground too late?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Not getting veggies until end of summer

I would plant some as soon after the last frost date as you can and then do succession planting. We got a frost after our frost date last year. Veggies need at least a half day of sun. There are early varieties of veggies that take less time to produce. Early Girl tomato is the one I am thinking of. It should tell you on the back of the seed pack the days until harvest. It might not be warm enough there for the plants to produce sooner?


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RE: Not getting veggies until end of summer

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 12, 14 at 16:03

Combination of factors with annual weather being the most likely. Not every year is a good gardening year for any of us thanks to unusual weather patterns. Which is why it is so important to learn to monitor and note your local weather patters.

You don't list your garden zone and Mass. has several ranging from 5b to 7a with very different planting dates. Your proper plant out date could be anywhere from mid-April to late May. See link below.

Variety selection is another contributing factor. You only mention San Marzano but DTM (days to maturity or early, mid, or late season labels) apply to all vegetables. San Marzano is an 80-85 day, late-season variety. You may need to select early and mid-season varieties of things.

lanted most of the seeds in Mid March

Depending on your zone that may or may not be too late. But not everything get started at the same time. Eggplants and peppers require several more weeks to reach transplant size than tomatoes do. Squash works best direct seeded and doesn't tolerate transplanting well unless it is done before the 3rd true leaf develops.

You don't mention anything about nutrients provided either as seedlings or when planted in the garden? Plants require feeding.

Soil quality is yet another factor. So is watering regieme - most over-water and that causes root rot. Sun exposure? 8 hours per day. 6 hours minimum.

Then there is the neglect/damage issue of your young seedlings you mention. One of the worst mistakes we can make is to start a bunch of seeds and then go on vacation or whatever as that is when they are the most vulnerable and require the most care.

See what I mean about lots of contributing factors? :)

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Mass. gardening zones


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RE: Not getting veggies until end of summer

One thing that determines how early you get produce from the garden is the variety you plant. Almost every vegetable has early and late maturing vegetables. Tomatoes for example can be as early as 50 days and as late as 100 days. If you live where their is a short growing season it pays to plant early maturing vegetables.

Another variable is the weather but you can do nothing about that.

However just because your tomatoes don't ripen outside there is no need to lose the entire crop. You can pick them green and ripen them indoors. We do this every year. We remove the large green tomatoes to allow the rest to get bigger and put them in 6 quart baskets in the basement to ripen. We only put them 2 or 3 deep and after a week I check through them every day and sort them into ripening and still green baskets. The odd one rots so it is good to keep an eye on them so you can remove it right away. We have plenty of ripe tomatoes to eat or can with no loss of flavor


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RE: Not getting veggies until end of summer

Lilpetunia, say more about your concerns of not enough sunlight? That was a problem for me last year, I've cut down some trees at the fence line and hope to have a better crop this year.


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RE: Not getting veggies until end of summer

I think I'm in zone 6a (Natick, MA). The reason I started them all at the same time is because I am in college, so plant my seeds when I come home for spring break in mid March. However if I need to start some earlier or later my dad will do it, I just have to get over my fears that he'll do it wrong lol.

As for fertilizer we just use miracle grow every few weeks on the garden. We did wait a little too long this year to start fertilizing if I remember correctly.

It sounds like with the squashes I started too early and so they were stunted when I transplanted them. We don't want to plant directly in the garden, so I'll be using your advice on transplanting before they get 3 sets of leaves.

My parents go on vacation every year in April, I'm away at school during this time, so my brother was left in charge of watering. He didn't. This year we'll probably ask my uncle to do it instead.

Thank you for the information on different varieties, I've never been picky about what variety I buy, so I'll pay more attention to that.

My dad always worries about the amount of sunlight our garden gets, he's always said it isn't enough. Neither of us actually know how many hours of sun it gets though. But he thinks that's our biggest problem. He is planning on having a tree cut down, but he's been planning on that for a couple of years, so we'll see.


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RE: Not getting veggies until end of summer

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 13, 14 at 11:06

Yeah you have some definite handicaps to work around then. Sounds like you are going to have to find a gardening partner to fill in the gaps.

Rather than trying to get all the things into the garden at the same time and before mid-May, why not focus on just a couple of things - like say tomato plants. Then you can direct seed the squash later in May.

Dave


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