Garden Talk

with Rebecca Jordi

Q: When do I plant tomatoes?

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Colorful tomatoes

Colorful tomatoes

A:  We recommend planting tomatoes from February through April for summer production and July through August for fall production.  You will need to protect any young, tender plants from frost.  If you want large fruit consider planting Celebrity, Heat Wave II, Better Boy, Beefmaster, BHN444-Southern Star*, Amelia*, BHN 640*, or Tasti-Lee™. Those cultivars with an * means they are resistant to TSWV (Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus) – a very common disease in tomatoes. For small fruit consider Sweet 100, Juliet, Red Grape, Sun Gold, Sugar Snack, or Sweet Baby Girl. Cherry tomatoes are heat resistant and will often continue to produce fruit throughout the summer and early fall.   If you would like to use the seeds from year to year consider planting one of the heirloom varieties such as Green Zebra, Cherokee Purple, Eva Purple Ball, Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, or Delicious.  Staking/supporting and mulching are beneficial. Flowers self-pollinate. Blossom drop is usually due to too high or too low temperatures and/or excessive nitrogen fertilization. We recommend using a complete fertilizer such as 6-6-6 or 8-8-8. Be sure to have your garden soil tested by the University of Florida once every 2-3 years. Serious problems include blossom-end rot, wilts, whitefly, and leafminers.

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