Thursday, January 08, 2015

Plant your tomato seeds!

It's that time already in Central Florida! The aim is to have seedlings large enough to transplant by March 1... I'm usually late, and it all works out OK. These aren't really my A-List of tomatoes, but, really, they'll work. I've written this many times in many ways, but here are my priorities for tomatoes:
1) Have a good mix of cherry, small, medium and a few large. The large tomatoes are really for bragging rights... It's HARD to grow large tomatoes in our climate! And they don't really merit the effort. But it's very easy to grow smaller ones. Juliet is an all-around best tomato for Florida--it has remarkable resistance to skin split and to piercing insects. Plus, it's multifunctional--it's a small-bodied Italian Roman type, so you can make a great sauce with it, and you can eat them out of hand. 
2) Pick early- and mid-season. 
3) Hybrids. Yeah, I know, no romance. But in exchange, you get tomatoes! Forget about your olde-tymey tomatoes... they were great a hundred years ago!
4) Pick the tomatoes with the most letters after them! (The letters indicate disease and pest resistance.)
5) Only indeterminates. Do NOT bother with determinates. Trust me. 
6) Worry less about spacing when you plant them, more about SUPPORT. Look through this blog for my ideas on trellising. Ultimately, the best, cheapest, most adaptable trellis is made with a mix of electrical conduit, rebar for sidewalks, and LOTS OF ZIPTIES. figure that each plant will weigh in excess of 35 pounds when fully bearing. Multiply that times the number of plants, and then add zome more zipties!
7) Plan to pick them earlier than you'd think: I like to pick my fruit when the bottom of the tomato is fully colored. Then, I let them ripen on the counter. Better flavor, better texture.
8) I always end up buying a few plants from the nursery. They're never very good, but the temptation is irresistible. 


I really like Tomande, a constant in my garden. It looks and tastes like an old-fashioned tomato, but is an excellent hybrid. 



12 comments:

Anna said...

I subscribe to a lot of blogs written by gardeners up north like where I live. I had always pictured that with the right tomatoes, growing big, juicy, long season tomatoes (like many of the ones I can't grow but wish I could!) would do well in Florida. But reading your post here, your considerations sound much like my own when I choose tomato types. I have one "heirloom" that I grow each year from seed I save, as it's a family favorite. I don't even know what it is- but it's a large bicolor slicer, seems to be resistant to many diseases that others succumb to. Last year I tried some hybrids from Burpee with terrible results, but I fell for the "large, short season" hype and didn't get anything with proven disease resistance. Honestly, until two years ago I've never really had to deal with a lot of disease here. It was more of a thing where I wanted to get as many tomatoes as I could in my short season but now- same as you- short season, disease resistance is what I need first and foremost. I mean, any fresh tomato is better than anything from the grocery store, even if it's not top-tier in flavor (whatever that means).

Good luck with your tomatoes this season! I'll be starting mine in Feb (I'm an early starter) to go out in May. :)

Michael said...

thanks, Anna! I think a lot of people get lost in the mystique of tomatoes, but your attitude is exactly right: give me lots of red, ripe tomatoes from the garden when i need them. anything else is just a distraction.

Daniel Cole said...

Thank you for the information about when to plant certain things. I have never known when to plant what so I have kind of just guessed and sometimes been successful, but most of the time I haven't been successful. I am so glad that I came across this information and I can't wait to start my garden this upcoming spring. I hope that I will be able to remember all this awesome information. http://www.feeneys.com/GardenCenter_MAIN.shtml

Valerie said...

It's crazy that it's time to plant tomato seeds again. It seems like I just finished planting them last year. Thanks for sharing your helpful advice. I really need to remember to give my tomato plants more support instead of spacing between them. Hopefully, this will be a good year for tomato plants!

M. Halyard said...

I'm trying Marglobe, Mortgage Lifter, Bella Rosa, and Lemon Boy this year for tomatoes. Just saw your post and hope they are as disease resistant as your varieties. Also trying worm composting this year and compost tea for the first time this season. Hope it makes a difference! Good luck to you...

Olive Lynch said...

Hi. I'm in the processing of moving to Central Florida. Found your blog researching gardening in this area.

Love it! Thanks

badnellly said...

Hi There! Is there any way to get in touch with you? I was searching for a contact us button but I'm guessing there isn't one...

Reese said...

Nice article! I really loves gardening. I recently went through this site that offers cool gardening tools. www.ezimate.com

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Geeta said...

I have started cherry tomato gardening at my native place. It's a great experience & blog like yours are helping me into this. Now I am planning all vegetable seeds online gardening soon.

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