Here are some tomato plant updates for the week (as well as tomato seed updates). Sorry I haven’t been around much this week — I’ve been busy with my tomatoes (not to mention with my other veggies).
I mentioned in my first tomato update post that I had three SuperSweet 100 plants, and I was going to run an experiment with them. One I kept inside in a south-facing window. Another I took outside to a protected area with strong indirect sunlight (as well as a couple hours of direct sun). The third I went and planted in its final container outside. Three weeks later, how did they fare?
It’s been rather cool here lately, so the plant I kept inside in a south-facing window is by far the tallest and has the most leaves. However, it’s verging on leggy. I’m keeping it inside for the time being, seeing as the forecast is for temps in the upper 30’s next week — if I sent it outside now, I’m afraid it would have a severe setback.
The one I planted in its final container in the garden is the next most developed; it has medium-sized new growth — not as much as the one I left inside, but it’s stockier — not leggy at all. It has a nice, dark green color.
The third that I left outside in a protected location is the smallest. I decided to go ahead and plant it in its final container out in the garden area, so it could get some more growth. Dark green leaves, though, so that’s good.
All my started to grow quite well by about the 10th, when I potted them up twice since then. I was thinking I had the red version of Brandywine, but they all ended up potato leaf style, so I either have red Brandywine with potato leaves or pink Brandywine. Hmmm. I’ll have to wait and see the color of the fruit.
These are for the Great Tomato Experiment, and they are doing very nicely. I transferred them to the next size container, and am keeping them inside for now, given that lower temperatures are forecast during the week. All my Pineapple seeds germinated nicely, so I have four plants to choose from — the three strongest will take part in the experiment.
I originally said that one of my White Bush seedlings had been going for the sky. Well, it had, then a short while later it looked like it was going to keel over. So I brought it inside and hoped for the best. It hasn’t been until the last few days that it’s started looking healthy — now it’s growing fine again.
The Rest of the Tomato Plants
I have Juliet, Tomatoberry, Big Rainbow, Kellogg’s Breakfastall repotted up. I brought one Kellogg’s Breakfast inside, and everything else I left outside. Yellow Cherry is also outside, but I’m not sure how it will fare. I probably should bring it inside.
New Tomato Seeds Germinated
I tried for some of my legacy seeds, and so far, Green Grape and Loxahatchee are the only two up. I had also planted newer seeds for Tumbling Tom, and they both came up. For the legacy seeds, still waiting on Black Krim.
Loxahatchee is a strain I am developing. I originally saved the seed from an unknown globe-shaped tomato that tasted wonderful, and hoped that the resulting plant would also have great-tasting tomatoes. I didn’t know if the tomato was hybrid or open pollinated, so I wasn’t sure what I’d get. At any rate, I’ve selected plants for three generations whose tomatoes tasted the best.
Whoops! For some reason I was down to just 6 seeds — not sure where the rest ran off to. So I carefully planted 3 of the seeds. Two have germinated so far, and hopefully the third as well.
For these, I want to do two things. First is still select the largest of the great-tasting red globes — that will be two of the plants. The third plant I want to use as the female cross with another tomato variety. Not sure which I want to use for the male parent of the cross. I’m debating using Pineapple, Kellogg’s Breakfast or maybe Druzba. I’ll have to see how this generation fares, first.
Finally, I planted two new varieties yesterday — the heirloom tomato and the hybrid Fabulous. (If you plan on planting seeds and need some guidance, check out the germinating tomato seeds post.)
With Tomatoes and Flowers
Almost forgot, I have tomatoes on Patio, Celebrity and Husky Red (a cherry-type). I have more blossoms on all these, plus also with Mr. Stripey (Tigerella) and Park’s Whopper. It’s been a cooler winter than normal, so everything is growing slower than usual; I should have already had at least some almost-ripe tomatoes by now. I’ve still got a ways to wait, though.
If you live in the (really) Deep South, it’s time to plant seeds soon for a Spring crop. If you live in the frigid North, it’s time to buy those seeds for starting in just a few short months.
Yep, it’s time to think tomatoes!
Planting a Tomato Garden in the South
If you live in the really southern part of the US (like I do in S Florida), you can plant your seeds soon (even right now) or even find tomato plants at your local garden center. I planted a bunch of seeds yesterday, in preparation of a Spring crop of ripe tomatoes. But since it still can get chilly and I can even have a touch of frost where I live, I plant my tomatoes in containers. This way, if frost is in the forecast, I can move the plants into the garage for the night.
Right now I have three tomato plants of three different varieties in 5-gallon pots, one having blossoms. Seeing as it’s Winter, I have them in a spot where they can get full sunlight from about 11 am to 4 pm. I also have six more tomato seed varieties that I planted yesterday. Right now, my well-grown plants are:
- A determinate red medium-sized tomato (the one with flowers) called Patio – photo above.
- An indeterminate bicolor tomato called Mr. Stripey.
- An indeterminate really big red beefsteak tomato called Park’s Whopper.
So, if you live in the Deep South, it’s time to start your tomato seeds indoors between now and the end of January (depending on how far north on the Deep South you live). The seedlings can then be transplanted outside as soon as all danger of frost is past. You can find tomato seeds in local garden centers as well as online. I have to admit, online is my favorite way to get seeds.
A special note to anyone like me who lives in Florida; as you well know, our summers are hot & humid and the sunshine very strong. Summer in Florida really isn’t the best time of year to grow tomatoes. I’ll cover more about tomato-growing in the summer in Florida in a different post.
USDA Plant Hardiness Zones
No matter where you live, know what plant hardiness zone you live in. Here’s a link to where you can put in your zip code, and you’ll get your zone.
Like I said, local climate plays into this. You can live in the Mid South, but if you are gardening at altitude (like around the Smokey Mountains), your zone will be colder than if you were growing in a more coastal environment.
Tomato Gardens in the North
Time to get those seeds! Since you won’t be planting them right away, you have a little time to peruse your tomato variety options a bit more. You probably don’t have seeds available in garden centers yet, but you can browse and order them online.
So what seeds do you buy? It really depends on your climate, and how long and warm your summers. For example, in the Pacific Northwest, I’d choose a tomato that sets fruit early. The cooler Summer climate means it will take longer than average to grow those tomatoes until they are ripe on the vine, which is why you need an early-producing tomato. Some varieties you could try include Early Girl, Matina, Stupice, Early Wonder.
If you live in a climate with a pretty warm and sunny late Spring and Summer, you can grow both early and mid-season varieties. You can try a later-season beefsteak if you can grow your tomatoes in a greenhouse or indoors under grow lights and have good-sized plants ready to go outside as soon as the last frost is past. Some mid-season tomatoes varieties to think about include Better Boy, Big Beef, Eva Purple Ball, Sioux.
So those are some ideas for your tomato garden. It’s time to either plant seeds or buy seeds, so you can have luscious, vine ripe tomatoes as soon as possible!