Basics of Growing Tomatoes

Want some good news? In Florida, with the exception of times of frost and extreme summer heat, tomatoes can pretty much be grown year-round! You can plant tomatoes in August and September for a fall harvest and January to March for spring fruit. Just keep in mind that tomato plants produce the most fruit at 75-85 degrees. Oh, and here’s another bit of good news…you can root your late spring cuttings for a new fall crop!

So, let’s get ready to plant. First you want to choose a sunny spot. No sun – no fruit! Tomatoes need six to eight hours of sun per day. Then, you want to break up your soil with a rototiller about 12 inches deep. Florida soil is sandy, so it is best to mix in some organic material like manure or peat moss. Plant your tomatoes two feet apart. 

Here are some helpful hints. If you are planting plants, remember that transplants larger than four or five inches will bear less fruit. It is also good to know that tomato stems can grow roots if they are buried. So, if your plants are leggy, you can pinch off the leaves off of the lower branches and bury two-thirds of the plant. 

Now it’s time to take care. Water your tomato plants in the morning so that they have enough moisture to take them through the day. Mulching or placing stones around your tomato plants can help prevent evaporation and keep weeds at bay. If you expect frost, cover your tomato plants. It’s also good to feed your tomato plants every two weeks. Tomatoes are acid loving plants, so Miracle-Gro Miracid is a tasty treat. 

You can also grow your tomatoes in containers. Just choose a container with drainage holes. Use loose, well-draining soil. Potting mix is ideal. Cherry tomatoes grow well in pots. Specifically, the Sweet 100 variety is exceptionally prolific and resistance to disease. Taller tomato plant varieties – like Beefmaster and Beefsteak – just need to be staked. 

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