Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show: Tomato care
I grew ‘Fresh Salsa’ in 2009 and really liked them for their meatiness. They were great for slicing on sandwiches, drying, roasting and salsa. I ordered this from Burpee.
Yesterday I gave you some great ideas for new tomato varieties to try. They may not all be at your local nursery, but can be ordered. There are a number of reputable companies online. Burpee and Gurney’s are two I buy from. But there are plenty of other places. I left you with links. I have not purchased plants from those places, however, I’ve not heard anything bad about them. Almost all companies want you to be satisfied so if you have an issue, be sure to contact them. Likely they will resolve it quickly.
You can start tomatoes from seed now till about mid April. Starting with seeds allows you a much wider selection of plants at a much cheaper price. I don’t have a space in my home now for starting seeds, so I don’t do it. (Yes, I miss that, but I plan on finding room next year)
Tomato care when you start with plants!
Start with your foundation – the soil. You want it fluffy, that means add compost and/or a mix of compost and soil. And add the good stuff. It should smell earthy NOT sour.
Normally, tomatoes are planted around Memorial Day (zone 4). By that time the soil has warmed up as well as the temperature. If it’s a cool Spring, you can still plant but the tomatoes won’t do anything. They like it hot, same as peppers and melons.
Check out Dig In Minnesota with me and Tom McKusick’s Tomato Tips – he’s the Publisher of Northern Gardener and a tomato guru! It’s quick and well worth the watch. This guy grows about 50 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. What’s up with fishheads?
The University of Minnesota Extension has an article on Growing tomatoes, peppers and eggplant in Minnesota.
- Give them room – most tomatoes are indeterminate and will just keep growing. They need a good 2 feet around them and staking. Some tomatoes even more, if you have the room.
- Tomatoes prefer 8 hours of direct sunlight.
- Plant tomatoes deep – they grow roots from any point of their stem
- Mulch with straw or other organic material to hold in moisture and help prevent weeds.
- Pinch the little suckers, those side shoots. This will help with air circulation.
- General rule of thumb is an inch of water a week, but if it’s really hot, give them more. You want to keep them watered evenly but not to sit in water. This is one of the reasons you add organic matter to your soil.
- Harvest as often as you can to keep the fruit from rotting.
The above photo is ‘Black Krim’. This heirloom grew like crazy!