Tomatoes! Everyone loves a juicy tomato picked straight from the vine and warmed by the summer sun. There is something different—and incredible—about a garden tomato versus an average grocery store variety. In fact, a garden tomato is so delightful, I might even be guilty of plucking one from the garden and taking a bite as juice dribbles on my chin!
In most of Sonoma County, May is the time to plant warm-weather crops like tomatoes and peppers. Not only do air temperatures warm up, but soil temperatures also reach the number for tomatoes to flourish. In fact, planting too early is the number one mistake that gardeners make.
There is a lot to learn if you plan to be a ‘professional’ tomato farmer, but for average Sonoma County folks, keep it simple and consider these pro tips from Sonoma County master gardener Albert.
PRO TIP: PLANT IT RIGHT!
Albert’s recipe for growing the best tomatoes is to put composted manure into the bottom of the planting hole and add a handful of bone meal and a tablespoon of Epsom salt. This will help prevent blossom-end rot, which strikes early-season tomatoes.
PRO TIP: SELECT THE BEST VARIETIES TO PLANT TO ENJOY TOMATOES ALL SEASON LONG
1, Plant one early-season variety such as Early Girl, Stupice or Oregon Spring. These tomatoes are good for slicing and will mature quickly, within 55 to 65 days after you transplant the seedlings. Plant now and be enjoying a juicy tomato on your burger by the end of June.
2. Plant a mid-season variety that matures in 70 to 80 days. Consider Celebrity, Black Krim, Green Zebra and Lemon Boy.
3. How about a late-season variety for autumn tomatoes? Try Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, Lemon Boy, Ponderosa, San Marzano, Abraham Lincoln, Pink Brandywine, Big Boy or Ace 55. These big beefsteak tomatoes may take up to 80 days to mature but often produce deep into autumn.
4. Are you in a small space and growing tomatoes in pots? Try Red Robin, Yellow Pear, Green Grape or Sweet 100.
FINAL PRO TIP:
“There is no such thing as a black thumb,” Albert says. “Most of these crops want to grow. All you’ve got to do is to be there for them, visit them and see how they’re doing every day.”
Looking for some great recipes for your prolific tomato harvest? Try one of these options.