Planting your Tomato’s
STOP… Before you spend you egg money on tomato seed or plants. What do you ‘really’ want from your tomato garden? Selecting a Determinate or Indeterminate varieties is a very important decision.
Determinate varieties of tomatoes, also called “bush” tomatoes, are varieties that are bred to grow to a compact height (approx. 4 feet). Then they stop growing, set fruit on the terminal or top bud and ripen all their crop at or near the same time (usually over a 2 week period), then they stop blooming and die.
If you have limited space or you plan to can, dry or freeze your tomato crop for winter use. Then a Determinate variety may be your best choice.
Determinate varieties require a limited amount of caging and/or staking for support, they should NOT be pruned or “suckered” as it severely reduces your tomato crop. Determinate varieties will perform relatively well in large containers (minimum size of 5-6 gallon).
Indeterminate varieties of tomatoes are also called “vine” tomatoes. They will grow and produce fruit until killed by frost and can reach heights of up to 10 feet although 6 feet is considered the norm. They will bloom, set new fruit and ripen fruit throughout the growing season. They require substantial caging and/or staking for support and pruning and removal of suckers is practiced by many but is not mandatory. Because of the need for substantial support and the size of the plants, indeterminate varieties are not usually recommended as container plants.
Tomatoes should be set in the garden when the weather has warmed and the soil temperature is above 60°F. Soil temperatures below 50°F impair tomato growth.
Before planting, remove pots or bands from the transplant root ball. Peat pots can remain. Set the plants slightly deeper than they originally grew so lower leaves are close to the ground. If only leggy plants are available, lay them down in a trench long enough to leave only the top six inches of the plant exposed after covering the stem.
This will allow roots to develop along the buried portion of the stem. If the plant is growing in a peat pot, be sure the pot is covered with soil, as exposed portions of the pot act as a wick, causing the root ball to dry our rapidly.
Make the transplant holes three to four inches deep and two to four feet apart in the row. Space rows at least three feet apart for staked or caged plants. For unsupported plants, leave three to five feet between rows.
During warm weather tomato fruit should be harvested twice a week. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service said “The red color in tomato fruit does not form when temperatures are above 86°F.”
Another temperature related problem is bloom drop tends to be the first problem to emerge – especially following an abrupt temperature rise. This blossom drop and becomes worse as temperatures go above 95 degrees, particularly if accompanied by hot, dry winds. Plants that are excessively lush or over fertilized are most at risk.
Just one more think that I didn’t know about Tomato’s.
Fruits allowed to ripen on the vine may be yellowish orange in extreme summer heat. For this reason, it is advisable to pick tomatoes in the pink stage and allow them to ripen indoors for optimum color development.
About 70°F is ideal to ripen tomatoes.
Light is not necessary to complete this ripening process. After tomatoes are ripened, they may be stored in the refrigerator for about one week at 45 to 50°F.
If fruit is left on the vine to ripen it should be removed from the plant while it is still firm. Allowing the fruit to remain on the vine until full maturity increases the chances of the fruit cracking.
Cracking is more of a problem after rain.
Just before frost in the fall, remove the green tomatoes on the vines, remove the stems, and wipe with a soft cloth.
Wrap each tomato in newspaper or waxed paper. Store in a cool, dark area about 55 to 60°F, and check frequently to remove any decaying or damaged fruit. As the fruits begin to turn pink, remove them and ripen at 70% F.
Fact Sheets that you may find helpful:
BAE-1511, “Trickle Irrigation Systems”
HLA-6004, “Oklahoma Garden Planting Guide”
HLA-6005, “Mulching Vegetable Garden Soils”
HLA-6007, “Improving Garden Soil Fertility”
HLA-6013, “Summer Care of the Home Vegetable Garden”
HLA-6020, “Growing Vegetable Transplants”
EPP-7313, “Home Vegetable Garden Insect Pest Control”
EPP-7640, “Solar Heating (Solarization) of Soil in Garden
Plots for control of Soil-Borne Plant Diseases”
EPP-7625, “Common Diseases of Tomatoes, Part I: Diseases
Caused by Fungi”
EPP-7626, “Common Diseases of Tomatoes, Part II: Diseases
Caused by Bacteria, Viruses, and Nematodes”
EPP-7627, “Common Diseases of Tomatoes, Part III: Diseases
Not Caused by Pathogens
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