How to Get the Best Tomatoes...
Healthy soil, healthy plants: Enrich soil with Espoma's Tomato-tone and compost every week to keep plants supplied with essential nutrients. Helpful tips from Espoma:
- Remove damaged leaves. Remove any fruit that shows dark patches on their bottom. These leathery patches, known as blossom end rot, cannot be reversed.
Water well. During hot weather, tomato plants need deep waterings. Tomatoes are also less likely to crack when the soil is kept slightly moist.
- Cover the soil. Mulch blocks weeds, saves water and protects your fruit. Adding it is a no-brainer! Spread a 2-3" layer of organic mulch around plants, leaving 2" of room around each stem so water can reach the roots.
- Protect plants from the heat. Hot sun can cause sunscald, leaving tomatoes with pale, leathery patches on the fruits that pucker when they should be ripening. Bushy plants with lots of leaves naturally shade fruit from sun, however, plants with less leaves are more vulnerable. Cover plants with lightweight cloth covers through the first few heat waves.
- Remove tomato suckers. These small shoots sprout out from where the stem and the branch of a tomato plant meet. Though harmless, tomato suckers do drain energy away from the main stems.
- Pick tomatoes when you're ready for them. Avoid letting them get soft and mushy. Tomatoes picked at the breaker stage, when they first show signs of changing color, are considered vine-ripened. These tomatoes will continue to ripen off the vine and on your kitchen counter. Plus, tomatoes picked at the breaking stage can still have the same flavor as those that are fully ripened on the vine. Whatever you do, just don't put tomatoes in the fridge to ripen.
TOMATO-MANIA: Best of the best! Look for these tried-and-true' tomato plants at Pasquesi's.
‘Beefmaster’: Large, meaty tomatoes on indeterminate vines… produces until frost. Harvest: 80 days.
‘Beefsteak’: Big and juicy! A favorite tomato for slicing on burgers. Harvest: 70-85 days.
‘Big Boy’: Big slicer, big taste and big producer! Resists cracking. Harvest: 78 days.
‘Celebrity’: Classic, medium- to large-sized tomato that is prized for its flavor. Harvest: 65 days.
‘Champion II’: Same great flavor as the original but improved disease-resistance. Perfect for salads, burgers and sandwiches. Harvest: 65 days.
‘Early Girl’: The first tomato of the season! Use it to jumpstart your harvest. Up to 300 tomatoes per plant before frost. Harvest: 50 days.
‘Juliet Grape’: Bite-sized, sweet grape tomato with an oblong shape. Tolerates heat and produces lots of little tomatoes throughout the season. Harvest: 60 days.
‘LaRoma III’: Meaty, Roma tomato flavor that intensifies through cooking. Use in sauces. Freezes well, too. Harvest: 76 days.
‘Red Grape’: A bright red, one-oz. tomato that is a bit smaller than a cherry tomato. Perfect for salads! Harvest: 60 days.
‘Super Sweet 100’: Sweet as its name! Long-branched, clusters of tomatoes that are high in Vitamin C. Eat these snack-sized gems right off the vine. Great in juicers, too. Harvest: 65 days.