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Grow & Care - Tomato

Fast Facts

Light Requirements Full Sun
Temperature Adaptations Very Tender - plant about two weeks after the expected date of last frost.
Acidity (pH) Tolerance 6.8 to 5.5 pH
Salinity (Ec) Tolerance 2.5
How Pollinated Wind (self pollinated)
Growth Habits Short lived perennial growth

Additional Information

Fertilizer Requirements

Nitrogen fertilizer should be added to the soil when planting. Over-fertilization causes excess foliage and delays fruit ripening. Put 3 to 4 tablespoons of fertilizer (16, 16, 8) into a hole about 2 to 3 inches deeper than the plant root and about 4 inches to the side of the tomato plant when transplanting. No other fertilization is generally needed. Phosphorous may encourage flowering, but is seldom necessary for a good crop.

Water Utilization

Water frequently for a week or two after transplanting, gradually diminishing frequency and increasing depth of penetration. After that, thoroughly soak soil about once a week. Tomato plants should not be sprinkled late in the day. Cover the soil around the plants with a plastic or organic mulch to maintain uniform moisture levels. Water deeply to encourage deep root growth. Established plants require about 1" of water per week.

Plant Development and Care

Two types of tomato plant growth, determinate and indeterminate, provide harvest options. Indeterminate plants grow, blossom, and produce tomatoes throughout the growing season until they are killed by frost. The continuous growth produces many main stems, all of which can produce fruit.

Indeterminate plants may be pruned, removing extra shoots or suckers that come out of the "U" between the main stem and the branches producing larger, but fewer fruits. If not pruned, the plant will produce more, smaller fruits.

Support the plant and keep tomatoes off the garden soil to keep fruit clean and dicourage many soil-borne insects from eating it.

Determinate tomato plants are less rangy than indeterminate plants and will produce a more compact plant. They grow to a set height and produce a set number of fruits. Plants blossom, fruit and ripen in a relatively short period of time. This can be ideal for those who wish to bottle or preserve the fresh harvest.

Semi-determinate plants do not grow as large as an indeterminate plant, but they produce fruit over a longer period of time. These plants adapt well to cages and no pruning is required.

Fruit set is determined by temperature and fertilizer. Excess nitrogen fertilizer delays fruit set and ripening.

Most tomatoes will set less fruit when night time temperatures drop below 60 F. Daytime temperatures that reach above 95 F before 10 a.m. will abort blossoms. Hot, dry winds intensify these problems.

Germination Time (Days)

43 days at 50 F
14 days at 59 F
8 days at 68 F
6 days at 77 F to 90 F
9 days at 95 F or higher

Seed Germination and Temperature Range

70 F to 75 F

Common Fertilizer Deficiencies




Seeds can be planted directly in the garden 10 to 14 days before the last frost and will bear fruit just a little later than transplants.

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