Fall Tomatoes – Part 2

Fall Tomatoes – Part 2 by Byron Chitwood, Master Gardener.

  • You can still make a fall crop of tomatoes in your garden.
  • For best results, they should be planted in July.
  • Depending on variety, they take 60 to 90 days to produce.
  • Start garden plants from transplants that you purchase through your favorite nursery if available.
  • Start indoors with seeds or cuttings from some of your favorite spring tomatoes.
  • After planting in the garden, protect them from direct sun by shading with shingles or cardboard.
  • Keep the ground moist around the growing plants.
  • Mulch heavily with chopped leaves, shredded newspaper or pine straw.
  • After the plants have begun to grow, fertilize with a 3-1-2 ratio slow release nitrogen and water the fertilizer into the soil.  Do not over fertilize.  Use a spoon full of fertilizer per plant.  Fertilize every four weeks during the growing season.
  • Pick the tomatoes when they first start ripening.  Otherwise, the birds will beat you to the fruits.
  • Set partially ripe tomatoes on a rack or in a shallow box and they will ripen in a few days.
  • Pick all green tomatoes on the day before the first forecast killing frost.
  • If you want to take a chance, cover or somehow protect plants from the frost.  After the first killing frost, there are usually 2 or three more weeks of frost free growing weather.
  • As mentioned before, store the green tomatoes inside the house and they will continue to ripen through Thanksgiving or  even Christmas.
  • For a longer producing season, try planting some tomatoes in large pots or even a wheelbarrow.  Move them into a protected place such as a closed garage or small greenhouse before frost.  Then move them outdoors in the full sun during daytime.

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