Monday, May 11, 2009

Need advice for rogue tomato plants

Last time we planted I didn't have the pleasure of consuming one lousy tomato, despite having an entire row of tomato plants. If you've been with me long enough you'll remember that I had some "minor" (okay major) watering issues, which led to every single tomato cracking open on the stem. After the season was over I got rid of every plant in the garden and Farmer B tilled the garden so that we could replant.

I was out in the garden over the weekend and discovered the oddest thing. There are strange little weeds growing all over the garden that look a lot like tomato plants. I inspected them closer. I rubbed the leaves. They smelled like tomato plants. They even have little yellow flowers on them. I have rogue maters all over the garden!!


Is life continuing with complete disregard for my black thumb??? Did last season's plants want to live so badly that they hid out in my soil just waiting for the perfect time to sprout again? If this works out we WILL get to eat some of the tomatoes from our first tomato plants - even if it is one season later!

We counted about 10 little rogue tomatoes today. Some are in good spots and will probably continue to grow just fine, but some are in horrible spots, like right under other plants, namely our Jack Be Little Pumpkins.


What should I do? Is there a safe way to dig up these plants and move them? If there is, how do I dig up ones that are right up against another plant? I know that hard core gardeners would probably say to just dig them all up and chuck 'em in the compost heap. But you know that I want to save anything that has a zest for life in my garden. Purposely killing something that's growing in my garden goes against my gardening creed.


Does anyone have any advice for me? And if you're kind enough to give advice, please remember that I'll need specifics if I'm going to pull this off. I've never dug up a plant in the garden and moved it, so this will be a first for me. Anything dug up in my garden ends up in the compost bin, so I am completely new to this endeavor. I want to save these tomatoes though so I'm asking for help if anyone's willing to give it.

14 comments:

Scott Hildenbrand said...

Why not just leave them where they are and see how they go.

I've got tons growing out of the side of the compost bin.. Looking forward to seeing what kind they end up being.

Considering what they're growing near, shouldn't be an issue having them grow side by side.

Kate and Crew said...

Hi Scott - I plan on leaving the ones that are in a "growable" spot in the garden, but some are growing right up against other plants, namely some pumpkins and one potato plant. I know that a couple of my tomato plants are well over 5-feet tall so I can't imagine that anything good can come from leaving the ones growing under/up against other plants. I am not worried about asthetics, but I want to give both plants the best chances of survival and I think moving a few of the rogue 'maters would help in the overall chances of all the plants surviving (and I need ALL the help I can get).

Engineeredgarden said...

Kate - moving them would be a little risky, so i'd leave them be. What you're going to find out, is that these volunteer tomato plants will be much more resiliant than store bought transplants. Give them the nutrients they need, and they should do well for ya.

Dani said...

How close are they growing to the pupmkins main stems?

Erin said...

I would just leave them where they are if it won't impede anything else. Obviously the conditions were good enough there for them to sprout! I have already moved no less than 200 rogue tomatoes from my yard, even the front yard to my surprise! That's when it dawned on me "duh" - I composted all the rotten tomatoes and plants last year so everywhere I spread the compost there are tomatoes! It' just nature's way of taking care of you to make sure you get some this year! good luck

Worknprogress said...

Oh, this same thing happened to me last year, and i have got to tell ya, i would keep some but not all. We kept "all" and we had big tomater problems--like to many tomato plants and not enough stakes...too many tomatoes that you didn't want to see another (and neither did your neighbours.) :o)

Be selective tho...and remember, chickens (adults one anyway) like tomato leaves! :o)

Dani said...

Disregard my comment from earlier. I'm a dope. ;0 I just came back and read your post again without the seven your old and Hubs, and the normal get everyone started for the day chaos.
I'm feelin' like Froggy, from the froggy books, when he goofs up and he's more red in the face than green.

I would get rid of any that are up against another plant. The others look like they're still small enough to atleast try your hand at transplanting them. Just be gentle diggin around them and try to keep the roots together when you move them.:)

kimchi said...

My neighbor is a seasoned gardener and she says tomato plants are pretty resilient when it comes to transplanting. I would wait for a cloudy day and a large spade and dig 'em up. Then transplant them to another location and trench them. You will probably have really nice, vigorous plants and it doesn't hurt to grow some extra tomatoes for your chickens (I'm all for free chicken food). If they don't do well - at least you didn't lose any money!

Marguerite said...

Tomatoes can put up with a lot of abuse. Dig them up with a good sized root ball and set them where you want them, but plant them a bit deeper. Make sure you add some crushed eggshells to the planting hole; they will prevent blossom end rot. Water well after you relocate them. If it is very hot, you might consider doing this in the evening and maybe even rigging up a bit of shade for them for a couple of days.

My grandmother once accidently broke one of her tomato plants in half. She stuck the broken part in the ground and it rooted and became a whole new tomato plant.

scooterwench said...

I agree on letting the volunter plants try, but not near your new plants.

scooterwench said...

I vote to give the volunteers a fighting chance, unless they are a threat to your new plants!

Cheryl said...

Last year I had a lot of volunteers too. Whenever I saw them, I'd pot them in large cups, grow them for a while and then FreeCycle them.

If you dig them up, they'll recouperate after a while. Firm the soil over them in the new pot and water really well. Keep them out of direct sun for a few days afer you transplant them.

Anonymous said...

i used a bulb digging tool. got good roots @ they transplanted fine.

Heather said...

I call them Grace and Favor Tomatoes, and I transplant them every year. Mine are mostly cherry toms and the fruit is usually half the size of the seedlings I buy or grow from certified seed. If they grow a decent type of tomato I will deliberately save seeds from them. I have so many this year that I had to dig an extra garden plot just for them. Ihave some just now reaching 8 inches high and I will pot those and grow them inside over the winter for fresh winter tomatoes or early transplants for next Spring.

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