ISA: Clyde’s Advice On My Rutgers Tomatoes: My Container Vegetable Garden

Clyde Tressler is a contributor to the New York Times Blog ‘The Local’. Read more. His passion is blogging.  On what? For an idea of what he does start here: Visit Clyde’s Photoblog at

In May I posted on the Garden Club annual Mother’s Day sale.  I uploaded pictures of the various plants I purchased for my summer vegetable garden.  I’m immensely proud about how my vegetables are growing.  Getting to this point, however, wasn’t a clear path.

This is my first ever vegetable garden.  Early on I had questions about how to grow my Rutgers tomatoes.  I turned to Clyde Tressler to learn about growing tomatoes in Maplewood.  Clyde is a Maplewood resident and an avid gardener. His first advice to me: Don’t place your garden in a location where paint chips will fall when you or your neighbor complete home renovations. Do this to avoid possible lead contamination.

He gave me simple instructions that I’ve creatively applied. Here’s what Clyde advised:
  • First- Tomatoes love sun!!!  Just like us- so you have to locate the plants in a sunny location or grow them in pots that you place in a sunny location.
  • Second – Plant them in compost or something like miracle grow topsoil. They like to be fertilized a lot. I use Neptune’s Bounty fish emulsion, because you cant harm the plant by overuse. (It smells like Caesar salad dressing.)
  • Third – Tomato plants need a lot of water. You have to water them everyday. Especially when they get fruit on the vines.
  • Fourth – You need to wrap a plastic bird mesh around the plants when you see flowers.  Be careful not to damage the flowers! The mesh should be secured so it is easy to remove to get the fruit, and should have holes big enough for the pollinating insects to get in and out and to do their thing. (In Maplewood you will need to contend with the squirrels, who like to eat them).
  • Finally – If they get any kind of bugs, just spray them with insecticidal soap.

Applying Number 4 was hard.  I couldn’t get the plastic bird mesh.*  Instead I used branches as stakes to hold my tomato stalks up.  The stalks are heavy and tip over ever so often.  Tip number 5 – I clean each of the leaves of my plants as soon as I buy them with a cotton swab dipped in plain old soap and water. It works wonders for my flowering plants as well as my vegetable plants!

Next year I’ll be better prepared!  Thanks Clyde!

Are you interested in learning more about Clyde? Visit his blog

9.12.09 My observations:

  • Each Rutgers Tomato plant yields 5-6 tomatoes.
  • I’ve noticed a trend with regard to when my tomato plants should be watered.  Between noon and 1pm if they haven’t been watered they become wilted.  If it’s a cloudy day and they haven’t been watered by 1pm this isn’t as pronounced.  But if it’s a sunny day they look distressed.  When this happens I water them immediately.  The branches and leaves will rise soon after and the plant will look alive again.
  • I’ve also noticed that after I’ve picked all the tomatoes from a plant the plant produces another set of new tomatoes.  When the first set of 5-6 tomatoes have grown I prune the plant.  Soon after more flowers bloom and a new set of tomatoes are growing.  It’s well into September and my plants are still producing fruit!

* Clyde’s advice for the less adventurous: Cage your tomato plant at the time you plant them.  Stakes are fine.  Just remember to use a soft cloth to tie the vines if you go that route.

© 2010 W. S. Hughes  I Support Agriculture (ISA)


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Dean Norris says:

    I find it interesting that it re-flowers and sets fruit after the initial crop. I am in Arizona and wonder how many times you can count on re-flowering.

    We just got a plant and have it in an area that gets sun until about 1PM.

    We also got a Taxi Determinant and will try it in a 10″ pot.

  2. Hi Dean,

    I find it interesting too.
    The best way I can answer your question is with a visual. I’ll make that my next post. It’ll be short. I’ll include pictures of the plants currently.

    I would recommend you put your tomatoes in direct sunlight. I would move the plants around until you find a spot in your garden/area that gets the most amount of sun. That’s where I would put the plant. Make sure to water it often! Let the water drain through the pot onto the ground. You want to saturate the soil but you don’t want to keep the plant in water (this avoids root rot).

    I googled ‘taxi determinant.’ It’s lovely! I’ve never seen that before. Now you have me curious! I’d love to grow that this summer! Maybe you’ll keep me posted on how your plants grow?

    Here’s my posted response:

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