Homegrown tomatoes: They’re a right of passage for any budding gardener. While they might be the most popular garden vegetable (tomatoes are technically a fruit), they are also one of the most challenging to grow here in Texas. Hot temperatures take a toll on tomatoes, even though they’re tropical plants.
Timing is everything: 4″ tomato transplants should go out into the garden late-February through March for early summer harvest. Of course, exactly where you live will determine your cut-off time for planting.
If you’re in Dallas proper, it’s best to get 4″ in the ground before the end of March. Mid-March is the optimal planting time. If you’re further north, say in the McKinney area, you may have one or two additional weeks for planting. Larger containers of tomatoes can be planted in April. Missing these target dates typically results in big tomato plants, with no tomatoes on them. So don’t wait, plant now!
Follow these tips for growing great tomatoes:
-Plant tomatoes in a full sun location. A minimum of 6 hours a day of direct sunlight is required.
-Tomatoes require consistent moisture; so make sure you place them in a spot that is easy to water.
–Raised beds or containers work best for tomatoes because they require good drainage, soil aeration and lots of organic matter.
-Work in an organic fertilizer into the soil when you’re prepping the area. Use products like our organic NHG Herb & Veggie food, meal, or cottonseed meal. 1 or 2 lbs per 100 sq. ft. At planting time, apply a root stimulator such as liquid seaweed and also add Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate).
-When planting transplants, be sure to place them deeper in the soil than where they were growing in the pot. Bury a couple of inches of the main stem under the soil. The plant will produce additional roots from the stem that help support the plant.
–Cage your tomatoes to provide necessary support.
-Apply an additional fertilization (liquid or granular) when the first fruits have developed about a quarter of their mature size. Then, reapply every two weeks thereafter.
–Avoid getting water on the foliage and water in the morning to avoid persistent fungal diseases such as Early Blight.
There are many, many, varieties of tomatoes to choose from. Remember that determinate types are more compact and fruit en masse at once; while indeterminate types are vining and can continue fruiting as long as temperatures are not too hot.
Check out our Tomato Project List and visit soon to ask our garden advisors your tomato growing questions and see varieties available now.