Early July gets me in the mood to plant fall tomatoes. Texas A&M’s Vegetable Garden Planting Guide advises gardeners to get their fall tomato transplants in the ground between July 7 and August 7. (Larger transplants in 1 gal. pots or larger can be planted as late as Sept.1.)
I prefer to plant determinate, heat-set tomatoes for fall. Varieties such as Bob Cat, Celebrity, and BHN 444 can crop in under 80 days, making them perfect for fall planting. Celebrity, an all-time backyard favorite, acts as a semi-indeterminate, producing longer if frosts come later than average.
July is also the perfect time to plant cherry type tomatoes – which have no problem setting fruit in the heat. My favorites are Sweet 100, Juliet and Sun Gold. Rarely do they make it to the kitchen!
For your fall tomato garden, choose a sunny location with good drainage, and be sure to shovel in lots of compost and slow release organic fertilizer.
At Urban Farm they mix up a fertilizer of bat guano, mycorrhizae, humic acid, crab shell, worm castings, kelp, soy meal, and composted poultry litter, making it a great choice for gardeners. Adding dolomite lime (calcium and magnesium) also helps to prevent blossom end rot, a common tomato fruit malady.
Keeping your newly transplanted seedlings watered is a must. Moist but not soggy is the ideal. I like planting in trenches or craters. This helps to direct water down to the root zone instead of running off and away from the plant.
Providing the newly transplanted seedlings a bit of afternoon shade for the first two weeks can really help them to establish a strong root system. I place some frost guard cloth on the west side of the plants, suspended with bamboo stakes to give some temporary shade. ‘Works great, and is easy to do.
A weekly spray of seaweed and fish emulsion can also give the plants a boost. Both are known to help with stress from the summer heat.
If you have never grown fall tomatoes before, why not give it a try? Happy Gardening Everyone!
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