If you want to be picking fresh, ripe tomatoes until Thanksgiving, now is the time to plant your favorite tomato variety in your garden!
The plants will love the warm soil and reward you with quick growth. By the time the plants are mature enough to begin blossoming, the night time temperatures will have dipped below 75 degrees, which will encourage them to begin flowering and setting fruit. And when the fall rains begin, the plants will flourish.
Here are my top ten tips for success when growing tomatoes:
1. Choose plants that have creds. The “degrees” include: VF (resistance to Verticillium and Fusarium Wilt), VFN (resistance to Verticillium and Fusarium Wilt plus Nematode resistance), and T (resistance to Tobacco Mosaic Virus). These are all soil born viruses that reside in the soil.
2. Choose a location that will provide at least six hours of full sun.
3. When planting, handle the transplants by the leaves so that you don’t risk crushing the stem which will cut off the water/nutrient supply and stunt or kill the plant.
4. Space plants at least three feet apart so they have room to grow and have good air circulation.
5. Remove the lower two sets of leaves and plant deeply so that the next set of leaves are just barely above the soil.
6. While it’s possible to grow tomatoes without support, it’s best to provide some type of cage to keep the plants upright and receive the maximum amount of sunlight.
7. Add several cups of compost and a tablespoon of Superphosphate to the planting hole.
8. Mix root stimulator and water according to label directions, and give the plants a healthy drink. Water every day for a week to get the plants off to a good start.
9. As the plants begin to grow, prune the lower leaves of the plant to increase air circulation. I struggle with remembering to remove suckers, but more experienced vegetable gardeners say it’s important.
10. Fertilize the plants every week with a balanced fertilizer that has a slow release Nitrogen source.
Oh and one final tip: Hang red plastic Christmas ornaments on the tomato supports after planting and you’ll foil the bunnies and the birds. After several times of encountering the hard ornaments, they’ll stay away when the real fruits begin to mature.
There’s nothing like a fresh, ripe tomato and so many ways to enjoy them. My favorite: just a little salt and a splash of good olive oil and balsamic vinegar.