When do I plant?
Due to our short spring and fall growing seasons, when you plant your tomato is very important. During our spring season, you will want to start seeds inside in January, and plant transplants in the middle of March. In our fall season, seeds will need to be started indoors in the beginning of August, and transplants planted in the middle to the end of September.
Where do I plant?
When dealing with our intense heat and sun, it is best to give your tomatoes afternoon shade. If this is not possible, half a day’s shade is necessary. If your yard has no shade, a simple cover made with shade cloth and PVC pipe can be designed.
Tomatoes can be planted in the ground or in pots. If your growing in a pot, be sure the pot is big enough. The smallest pot you would want to use is 14”. The larger the pot, the more room for roots.
Which tomato is best for me?
Tomatoes are labeled as determinate or indeterminate. Determinate tomatoes are typically a smaller bush and only produce one crop to be harvested at one time. Indeterminate tomatoes are usually larger plants with fruit ripening throughout the season. They will also need to be staked, trellised or caged. If you wish to grow in a pot, it is best to pick bush or determinate varieties due to their small size. If you want to make salsa or can your tomatoes, a determinate tomato is also a good choice. If you want tomatoes for salads and sandwiches throughout the season, an indeterminate is better. Most people prefer indeterminate tomatoes.
How do I plant a tomato?
In the ground, you will want to prepare your soil with mulch. Dig down as much as you can (12 to 15 inches is recommended) and mix mulch 50/50 with your native soil. In pots, we always recommend using 100% Black Gold potting soil.
Before planting, use 2 tablespoons of soil sulphur per plant at the bottom of the hole. This reduces the alkalinity of our soil and produces a better tasting tomato.
When planting, pinch off the bottom leaves and plant tomato just below next set of leaves. Be sure not to injure the stem when pinching leaves.
How do I care for a tomato?
Fertilize, fertilize, fertilize! Tomatoes are heavy feeders. Too much fertilizer at one time can kill a plant, but the right amount is necessary in fruit production. A specific tomato fertilizer is always best, but a well balanced food should be fine. Just be sure to follow the directions. Fertilization in pots is especially important, because the roots cannot go elsewhere for nutrients. Feed throughout the season and remember, plants need food just like you and me!
How and when to water is crucial in growing healthy tomatoes. Always water deeply to encourage deep root growth. Roots too close to the surface dehydrate easily. Consistency in soil moisture is also very important. If the soil dries out too much, tomatoes can crack and plants will be stressed. Watering everyday is necessary for tomatoes in pots. For plants in the ground, daily watering is necessary once daytime temperatures are above 85 degrees.
Regularly prune off yellowed and damaged vegetation.
If you get your indeterminate tomato through the summer, cut them back in August, fertilize and get ready for a fall crop.
Do I want a small or large fruit?
Small or cherry tomatoes are more heat tolerant and produce longer into the season. They are also more forgiving. Large tomatoes typically have a shorter season and have a tendency to crack when soil moisture is too low.
Favorite cherry tomatoes: Supersweet 100, Yellow Pear, Husky Cherry and Sunsugar
Favorite large tomatoes: Early Girl, Celebrity and Champion
Why is my fruit rotting?
A common problem with tomatoes is blossom end rot. This can occur due to lack of calcium or inconsistent watering. A calcium deficiency can be corrected with the use of dolomite lime.
Why isn’t my fruit setting?
When flowers are growing, but fruit is not setting, the problem is the flowers aren’t being pollinated. To correct this you can use a cotton swab and swab from flower to flower or you can spray the flowers with Tomato Blossom Set.
Can you help. I live here in Tucson and would like to get a list of heat tolerant vegetables. Thanks Paul