Its Tomato Time!!!
Its time to get those tomatoes in the ground!!! You don’t want to wait too long… Tomatoes will only produce fruit when the highs our below 95 degrees. The plant will continue to grow through our hot summers and then start bearing fruit again in the fall. But if you want tomatoes this spring you better get planting.
Most Central Texas Gardeners begin planting the second week of March. You have to cover them 2 – 5 times due to flukey chilly days, but planting early will guaranty productive plants all through the season. Give them a leg up, and they’ll give you as much fruit as you can stand!
- Bury your transplants deep or long: clip the seed leaves and leaves up to 1/3 of the height of the stem. Dig a deep hole or a long trench and lay the plant up to it’s new root line. By burying a long section of the plant, new roots will come out where those leaves where, giving your plant a robust root system ready to support a robust, heavily fruited plant.
- Plant in 8-10″ raised beds. Be sure to prepare the soil with 6-8″ of compost mixed in as deep as possible.
- Choose verities with shorter days to harvest.
- Cover or bring potted tomatoes in during temps below 40. You can use upturned buckets or pots, freeze cloth, a cold frame, or old sheets. Be sure to provide air flow.
- Make sure your tomatoes are getting atleast 6 hours of full sun. Sun causes the leaves to produce carbs and carbs mean more fruit and larger tastier fruit.
- Prune the ‘suckers.’ Most of the fruit bearing branches come from across the stem from larger, sun catching leaves. Try to prune your plant occasionally to keep more of the fruiting branches, and fewer of the useless ones. The fruit will need some shade, so don’t hack the plant back too hard.
- Add mulch in mid-April. Mulch moderates the soil temperature and reduces evaporation. It also prevents crusting, improves rain water infiltration into the soil, and prevents disease. Mulching too early causes the soil to not get warm enough and will stunt your growth.
- Provide consistent moisture. When the soil is dry for too long and then gets a good soaking it causes the fruit to split.
- Fertilize several times through the season. We recommend adding calcium to each hole with 2TBS of fish or cottonseed meal. We also like to use a basic 8-2-4 type fertililzer a week or so after planting, fish emulsion and seaweed bi-weekly and at planting, and a flower/fruit promoting fertilizer (Buds and Blooms or Flower Power) as soon as fruits appear. You can also get fruit set sprays to spray on the flowers that help to promote growth. Always choose organic fertilizers.
- Suck nasty leaf footed bugs off with a vacuum or tap into a cup of soapy water.
- Be prepared to support ‘em well. Those little tomato cages just won’t cut it. Invest in some heavy duty bamboo or some of our custom tomato cages.
Enjoy the fruits of your labor! Now, get out in that garden – it’s just too pretty to stay inside!