Tomatoes. They are one of our favorite harvests to enjoy, but they do take some work to produce. You can’t plant too early; you can’t plant too late. They’re hungry and thirsty plants, but when you take a bite out of a fresh, homegrown tomato, most of think they are worth all the fuss.
While you can’t PLANT tomatoes too early, you CAN and SHOULD buy tomatoes early if you can keep them in a brightly lit protected area. Bump up tomatoes to a larger container where they can develop strong roots while being shielded from the cold temperatures. They’ll be stronger, more developed plants by the time it is appropriate to plant them outside in the garden. See exact instructions at our BBPP blog. Last year, my most successful tomato plant was the Black Krim I purchased in late January (I was shocked too).
I mention the Black Krim specifically because in general, larger sized tomatoes are somewhat more difficult to grow here in San Antonio. They take longer to fruit, and sometimes you find that by the time they are about to start flowering, the heat rolls in and shuts the flower and fruiting process down before it even really gets started. Frustrating. Small to medium sized tomatoes just do better here. But… if you really want to bite into that big tomato, it’s all the more reason to get started early. While your tomato transplants are growing, you can get busy on prepping your soil.
My goal for this blog is to make sure you aren’t late to the tomato party. We are just getting started bringing in our tomato selections, but if you’ve shopped at Rainbow Gardens for any matter of seasons, you know tomato planting season comes fast and furious and then it’s done. You might still find tomato plants available after the recommended planting date (March 15th, dependent on weather), but good luck getting anything out of them. Buying early, growing them while protecting them, can offer you 2- 4 weeks MORE productivity. Now that’s a jumpstart. Here’s a link to our BBPP video showing you how to do it.
The remainder of this blog is a shout out to Robert “Skip” Richter and his latest blog in Texas Gardener magazine, “10 Commandments of Tomato Success”. You can find the link to the article at the end of the blog. I highly recommend reading it for an expanded version of the following (try not to laugh while reading the following; bet you can’t).
Robert “Skip” Richter’s 10 Commandments of Tomato Success:
- “Select ye a site with full exposure to the sun.”
- “Prepareth the soil well before thou planteth thy crop.”
- “Thou shalt select only tomatoes designed for your location.”
- “Thou shalt not plant a plant too early, nor shalt thou plant it too late, but on it’s appointed day shalt thou plant it.”
- “Faithfully feed the growing crops under thy care.”
- “Provide life-sustaining water to the growing crops under they care.”
- “Consider how forests and meadows cover their soil and diligently do likewise.”
- “Supporteth they plants’ heavy-laden vines.”
- “Pruneth they plants as a good tomato vinedresser.”
- “Thou shalt keep diligent watch for plagues of disease and pestilence”
~ The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy