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Some like it hot: Nutritious, delicious homegrown tomatoes

6/23/2013, 4:53 p.m. | Updated on 7/3/2013, 6:44 p.m.
Some tomato varieties can ride the heat wave with you, setting fruit even as the temperature rises. Below are some ...
A variety of fresh tomatoes. The Dallas Examiner

Special to The Dallas Examiner

Some tomato varieties can ride the heat wave with you, setting fruit even as the temperature rises. Below are some basic terms, tips, and types and a list of heat-set tomato varieties that like it hot.

Tomatoes are the most popular fruit in home gardens across America. Most gardeners agree nothing tastes better than a homegrown tomato. It’s imperative to understand common tomato terms often seen on tomato plant tags and the basics of growing tomatoes. Now through mid-July you can plant extra tomatoes for later harvests in the fall or up to frost dates if you protect them overnight or harvest them green and ripen them indoors. Tomatoes need the right combination of soil, water and heat.

Tomato plants are classified as either indeterminate or determinate. Indeterminate plants grow all season, continuing to bloom and produce fruit as long as weather conditions are favorable. Determinate plants are the compact bush-type like Better Bush that grow to a certain size, set fruit, and stop bearing fruit all at once. This type of tomato is popular with gardeners who like to can and make sauce.

Tomatoes are designated by the terms early, middle and late, which refer to when the fruit will be ready to harvest. Early season tomatoes are the first to ripen, late season are the last to ripen, and middle season types fall somewhere in between. Planting some of each type is a good strategy for enjoying ripe tomatoes throughout the summer.

The two common types of tomatoes are heirloom, tomatoes that are at least 50 years old and not a hybrid, and hybrid tomatoes that are bred by crossing varieties. Hybrids offer better disease resistance, higher yield and improved traits. If your temperatures are rising then choose a heat-set variety that’s able to fruit in high temperatures compared to many other varieties. Some of those varieties include Arkansas Traveler, Florida 91, Husky Red Cherry or Super Sweet 100.

Now you are ready to plant your tomatoes for the fall harvest.

The steps are as follows:

  1. 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.
  2. Slip Plant from pot if in plastic: Gently remove the plant by slipping the plastic container from the root-ball. Don’t tug on the plant stem; this can sever it from the roots. If the roots are growing out of holes in the bottom of the pot, tear or cut them away and squeeze and twist the pot as necessary to work it from the roots. If your plant is in a biodegradable pot, just tear off the bottom of the pot to make sure that roots are in instant contact with the soil.
  3. Bury Two-thirds of the plant: Set the plant in the hole deeply enough so that two-thirds of it is buried. Roots will sprout all along the buried stem to make a stronger plant. You can pinch off the lower leaves if you prefer, but it is not necessary.
  4. Don’t forget to fertilize: Mix fertilizer into the soil that you will put back into the hole. It is best to fertilize according to recommendations from a soil test, but if you don’t have that, use a timed-release fertilizer, which doesn’t leach ... or use an organic fertilizer at the rate recommended on the label. Bonnie’s Vegetable and Herb Plant Food is a natural fertilizer and the same liquid food that Bonnie uses to grow plants in greenhouses across the country. Tomatoes love it.

Your tomato plant is almost ready to grow – When you’re done, two-thirds of the entire plant will be buried; only the top of the tomato plant remains above ground.

  1. Water Well: Water thoroughly at soil line. This is very important to help settle the soil and start the plant.
  2. Maintain your mulch: Mulch with pine needles, straw, or compost to help keep moisture in the soil and prevent weeds. Mulch should be 2 to 3 inches deep for effective weed control.

Plant tomatoes that work for you and enjoy the fruits of your labor. For more information on heat-set tomato varieties, visit http://bonnieplants.com.