Sour Tomatoes

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Kween Ann, Apr 1, 2010.

  1. Kween Ann

    Kween Ann Member

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    For the last four years my tomatoes taste sour and very little flavor.
    The soil test shows it is neutral.
    We put lots of compost in it, and the tomatoes look good and seem happy but taste terrible.
    What can I do to fix this problem this year?
     
  2. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Rising Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years of Activity

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    That seems odd. What type of tomatoes do you grow?
     
  3. Kween Ann

    Kween Ann Member

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    Over the last few years, I have used about 20 different varieties of tomatoes, heirlooms, cherry, beefsteak, early, etc. and they all taste sour. If I put fertilizer on my garden the tomatoes just grow and flower and I only get green golfball tomatoes.
     
  4. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Rising Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years of Activity

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    And you surely have enough heat to ripen them well in VA, and even green they should be flavorful, although sour. Can't think of another obvious reason. I am not really a tomato grower. They are hard to ripen in this cool climate.
     
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years of Activity

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    Are these being grown from saved seeds?
     
  6. Kween Ann

    Kween Ann Member

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    They are not from saved seeds.
    I am thinking it is the soil. I do not know how reliable this little soil kit is but it indicates I am low in potash and nitrogen and high in phosphorous and a ph of about 7.5.
    So could that cause the problem?
     
  7. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Renowned Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years of Activity

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    When was the last time you had a tomato that tasted good?

    I doubt that it's likely, but maybe the tomatoes are fine and you have [WIKI]dysgeusia[/WIKI]?

    Do others taste the tomatoes and agree that they are sour?
     
  8. Kween Ann

    Kween Ann Member

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    They have tasted sour for the last four years, and yes everyone else that tastes them agrees that they do not tastes like they used to.

    I grew two tomatoes in pots in different soil and they tasted better.
    I really thought this was going to be a simple question.
     
  9. Pasquale

    Pasquale Active Member

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    Have you done any thing in the last four years that might have change the soil composition? What kind of compost are you using? Were the foliage too green (dark green) and took too long to ripen?
     
  10. Kween Ann

    Kween Ann Member

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    The leaves were normal, but the plants grow lush and it does take a long time to ripen.
    My compost is leaves, grass clippings and kitchen scraps.
    I have been using a fiber with plastic mulch to keep out weeds, and keep in moisture, since the garden is a distance from the house and hard to get the hose out there.
     
  11. HollyHok

    HollyHok Member

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    The idea PH for tomatoes is said to be 5.5-7.5.
    I would like to suggest companion planting for tomatoes to improve flavor.
    I have read that Oregano is one plant that may help but also Onions, Carrots, Asparagus, Broccoli, Cucumber, Head Lettuce, Pepper, Celery, Mint (although can be invasive), Chives, Parsley and more..

    Planting Sweet Basil with Tomatoes can improve flavor and growth but also help repel flies and mosquitoes.
    Borage is said to improve flavor and growth as well, while deterring tomato worm.

    Planting Beans with tomatoes can encourage them to grow better and produce more as well.

    The key to awesome tomatoes is in the soil.
    Tomatoes do best in heavily composted soil. Also amend soil with a generous amount of sphagnum to help aeration that will also allow for better nutrient intake and deter certain pests.
    My brother uses a compost compiled of vegetation from the kitchen as well as chicken manure.
    His tomatoes are the most tastiest that I have ever had. Amazing.

    Also rotating your crop can have a huge impact.

    This link lends to some useful Tomato Growing information as well:
    http://www.canadiangardening.com/ga...rdening/the-best-home-grown-tomatoes/a/1363/2
     
  12. Kween Ann

    Kween Ann Member

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    Thank you for the suggestions, they are good ones! Unfortunately for me is that I do a lot of those things already. I grow them in the row with sweet basil. With asparagus and peppers and parsley nearby. My soil appears to be in great condition, from years of compost and horse manure. But I will try to find some chicken manure.
    Also the ph is near 7.5, so maybe I should lower it somehow?
    What is the best way to do that?
     
  13. HollyHok

    HollyHok Member

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    You are most welcome.
    Congrats on the companion planting.
    I can tell you that we use horse manure and our tomatoes are no were near as tasty as my brothers.
    I think the chicken manure is the key but make sure it is well composted or else it can burn your plants.
    Using manure can effect the PH.
    Amending soil with manures to effect the PH can take quite a bit of time. IE: Months. Although this is the best way to lower the soils PH.
    The best time to apply is in fall or early spring.
    At planting time is too late to make a difference for the plants needs.

    Your PH maybe a bit too high.

    To high of a PH can cause a condition which is called Chlorosis, causing a possible iron deficiency.
    Too high PH can lend the iron to develop insoluble hydrous oxides which then the plant can not intake the necessary iron.

    If your plants are deficient you may see yellowing on the younger leaves first.

    The plants need iron for photosynthesis which is necessary for general plant health.

    Amend your PH by increasing the acidity and decreasing the alkalinity.
    To change the PH immediately, apply aluminum sulfate.
    Applying sulfur to lower your PH will take time for the change to occur because this option uses the soil's bacteria to change the PH.
    These amendments can be picked up at most gardening centers.
    Use any of these options with care so to not drop onto leaves of plants so to avoid burning.
    You can also try using an acidic peat moss.

    I have just come across some more information that may be helpful to you in order to improve the flavor of your tomaotes this year.
    It is naturally adviseable that when our seedlings begin to produce their second set of true leaves, to fertilize with preferrable an organic water soluable fertilizer that is higher in the nitrogen ratio. Apply every two to three weeks.
    This will encourage a healthy vegetagion.
    Once flowers begin to bloom stop the high nitorgen fertilizer and switch to a fertilizer that has a higher Phosphorus and Potassium ratio.
    This is to encourage healthier flowering and fruit set.
    Phosphorus will lend to healthier roots and more blooms.
    Potassium lends to active water movement.
    If plants are lacking Potassium you will find that fruits wil not develop properly, will not be sweet and be an uneven color.

    I would encourage you to research some about tomatoes and fertilizer and find what works best for you as I have seen, read and heard so much and with some information that differs and even conflicts.
    Including the frequency of feeding.

    Perhaps plant several plants and do an experiment and see what workd best.

    Could it maybe not be a lack of Potassium that is the culprit to your tomatoes not being as sweet as you would expect?

    I would also suggest using an organic fertilizer since we eat the tomatoes. I use fish fertilizer by Alaska for the foliage stage. Once the blooms begin I switch to another fish fertilizer by Alaska called More Bloom. Both of which can be picked up from your local Garden Center.

    Always mix as per instructions on container. Feeding may differ than what is set out there as I have heard others doubling up but again, do research to find what works for you.
    I have also read that some prefer using a granular fertilizer. That is entirely up to you.

    Be sure not to get any of the fertilizer mix on the plant as this could cause an adverse effect.
    Always water your tomatoes well at the base rather than so much the surrounding area. Tomatoes love to be carefully but well cared for.

     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2010
  14. Pasquale

    Pasquale Active Member

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    Last year I bough one tomatoes plant from a fine nursery that cost me $6,50. Legend The name sounded so good, the plant was healthy and strong, the description was everything I wanted: Heavy setting in cool climate, disease resistant, early maturity, good flavour. I took the best of care, but at the end I was really disappointed. The plant did not grow well, the tomatoes did mature one week earlier but the tomatoes were small, the taste was like sour grapes. Inedible! My other tomatoes on the same plot were just fine. This is to show that the variety matter.

    As far of your tomatoes been sour I cannot explain the cause, I have been using the same kind of compost for a number of years and the tomatoes are growing good. I dont do the plastic mulching for the opposite reason. Plastic covering make it harder to water properly and also I feel the soil is not getting the proper aeration. Mulching is very important during the hot summer months but again I believe it should be of a different kind: straw, hay, grass clipping will work best. The second problem of lot vegetation with few tomatoes could be too much water or too much nitrogen, too much water and nitrogen stimulate growth but delays maturity. To control the amount of vegetation I leave only two suckers to grow near the base to form a three-stemmed plant, and later removing all the suckers. This method will improve the maturity and the size of your tomatoes, by channelling must nutrient to fruit production instead of foliage.
     

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