In San Antonio, weather rules when and how tomatoes grow. These frost-sensitive fruits need to be well protected from cold snaps both in early spring and again in late fall. The ideal growing temperature for tomatoes is when the soil has warmed above 50 and the air is consistently 65-85 degrees. You can see why we need to get a jump start when growing tomatoes in our relatively short spring and fall seasons. Rainbow Gardens brings our tomatoes in early for both growing seasons. To help you make the best choices, we’ve compiled a list of things to look for when choosing your tomatoes. We hope you made it to our tomato seminar last weekend, but if not, you can see some growing tips here and also access our calendar of events,so you don’t miss out on anything else.
7 Tips for Choosing the Right Tomatoes for San Antonio
-Get a jump on tomato season by starting tomatoes indoors. Here they can be protected from the elements, while growing strong for planting in the garden when the temperature is perfect. (Start seeds inside in January, and then every few weeks bump up transplants to a larger container, eventually going from a 4” pot to a 1 gallon pot.) Starting seeds inside early is especially important if trying to grow larger variety tomatoes.
-Choose early-setting tomatoes. Look for: Early Girl, Stupice, Valley Girl, Sun Gold, etc… These types of tomatoes are known to set fruit in around 55-65 days. (Weather permitting, of course.)
-Try one of the Rodeo Tomatoes. The rodeo tomato for 2020 is “Red Snapper”, 2019 was Harris Moran 8849, or “HM 8849”. Every year Texas A&M AgriLife chooses a new tomato to be the official tomato of the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo. These tomatoes are chosen based on flavor, productivity, disease resistance, and adaptation to our state’s growing conditions. Look for: Celebrity, Red Deuce, Tycoon, Valley Cat and more.
-Choose tomatoes bred for the heat. Look for: Solar Fire, Sunmaster, Sun Gold, Sun Leaper, Sun Chaser, etc… Get the picture? A lot of these heat tolerant varieties have the word “sun” in their name for a reason. They’ve been bred to handle the higher temperatures and still be able to put out fruit.
-Choose small to medium-fruiting tomatoes. Look for: Celebrity, Juliet, Large Red Cherry, Sweet Chelsea, Sweet 100’s, and Grape Tomatoes. Smaller tomato varieties set fruit better the heat and also take less time to produce and reach maturity. Large-fruiting tomato varieties won’t set fruit once temperatures are above 90 degrees on a regular basis. And since they take longer to get to the fruiting stage, you really have to plant early and gamble on the weather to grow these.
-Choose Tomatoes that have multiple disease resistance, especially V,F (soil-borne diseases) and N (root nematodes), which commonly attack tomatoes in Texas. Choosing tomato plants with resistance to disease gives you a leg up from the start. Check out the informational blue signs at our nurseries for the disease resistant codes on the tomatoes we carry.
Pests bothering your precious tomatoes? Take a look at the link for the top pests we battle with tomatoes and how to prevent and treat them. Check our calendar for annual spring seminars about growing tomatoes!
~The Happy Gardener