Tomatoes: Timely tips (and terms) for a super-satisfying summer crop

Style Magazine Newswire | 6/1/2018, 11:04 a.m.
Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable in home gardens across America; most gardeners agree nothing tastes better than a homegrown ...

Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable in home gardens across America; most gardeners agree nothing tastes better than a homegrown tomato! It’s important to understand common tomato terms, often seen on tomato plant tags and the basics of growing tomatoes… the more you know the better you’ll grow.

To reap successful rewards you’ll need six to eight hours of sun per day, good quality soil, fertilizer, good drainage, plenty of water and room to grow. If you plant tomatoes each season, it’s best to rotate them to another spot in the garden.

Terms:

* Indeterminate varieties grow throughout the season, bloom and produce fruit as long as the weather allows. You’ll need to add staking for support since they can grow upwards of 5 feet. If you want fresh tomatoes for salads and sandwiches throughout summer, choose an indeterminate variety.

Determinate varieties grow to a certain size, produce fruit and then stop growing. They bear fruit all at once, and most of their fruit matures within a month or two. These tomatoes can be caged, and determinates work well in containers. If you like to can and make sauce, choose a determinate tomato.

* Heirloom tomatoes: Any tomato that’s been around for at least 50 years, and is not a hybrid, is called an “heirloom”. Heirloom examples: Black Prince, Cherokee Purple, and German Queen.

*Hybrid tomatoes: A tomato bred by plant breeders, crossing two existing tomato varieties, is called a “hybrid”. Hybrids can offer better disease resistance, higher yield, and other improved traits. Hybrid examples: Bonnie Original, Big Boy and Tami G.

* Heat Tolerant: Some tomato varieties are good choices for weathering high heat. If a heat wave is likely in your area, choose a heat tolerant tomato variety that will bear fruit in high temperatures, such as Florida 91, Heatmaster, Solar Fire or Super Sweet 100’s.

Selecting tomato varieties can be daunting, especially if you’ve never grown them or are overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices. The tomato experts at Bonnie Plants suggest you start the selection process by considering how you’ll use the tomatoes — in salads, for slicing or for cooking (making sauces). Different types will be more conducive to different uses. A great tool to help you is Bonnie’s Tomato Chooser which will sort through Bonnie’s tomato varieties for you. Just check boxes of the traits you desire and the Tomato Chooser will match your specifications to specific varieties. (There’s a Pepper Chooser too!)

Planting Tomatoes Step-by-Step

Prepare your plot: Loosen the ground to create a welcoming bed for roots to grow. You can add 3 or 4 inches of compost or other organic matter, especially in clay or sandy soils. Then dig a hole that is as deep as the plant is tall because you are going to bury two-thirds of the plant. *Tomatoes are the only variety planted this way.

2. Slip plant from pot: Gently remove the plant by slipping off the container from the root-ball. Don’t tug on the plant stem; this can sever it from the roots. If your plant is in a biodegradable pot, follow label directions; be sure to tear off the bottom half of the bio-pot so plant roots are in direct contact with the soil.