Oh, the tomatoes we’ll grow – from Early Girls to Sun Gold

Early Girl is an extremely popular variety. They ripen fast and yield huge crops, putting tomatoes in your salad early in the season.

Garden Girl Nicole HackettCLAYTON, CA — It’s tomato time. Tomatoes are the single most planted food crop in our Clayton Valley gardens and containers.

Gardeners covet the tomato. They base their entire green thumb veggie growing success on the production of this juicy, sweet fruit.

Many folks know what tomato selection they are seeking, while those new to gardening have many questions. When advising people on what to types of tomatoes to install, we ask a lot of questions. Are you looking for the heavy, fleshy varieties? Are you interested in juicy ones for sandwiches? Do you make sauces, or like to pick them and eat straight from the plant?

The Champion tomatoes are an excellent choice for Clayton Valley tomato growers who don’t have lots of room. Champions only grow 20-30 inches tall, and they produce 3-4 inch fruit after just 70 days. They are easy and fantastic.

San Marzano Roma style tomatoes are for those who love to make tomato sauces. They have meaty flesh, fewer seeds and thinner skin than other selections. They are pear shaped and bright red when ripe. The plants grow 36 inches tall and wide, and fruit should begin to ripen after 75 days.

Blossom end rot

All Roma style tomatoes are susceptible to blossom end rot. If you plan on installing Roma type tomatoes, work agricultural lime into the soil prior to planting. The lime will increase the calcium and magnesium in the soil, which will curb the blackening at the bottoms of your tomatoes.

Celebrity is a bigger tomato, maturing to about 7 ounces per fruit. Celebrity tomatoes are sweet with an average amount of seeds and lots of juice. This tomato is good for the sandwich lover. Expect large yields from this plant. Ripening begins 70-95 days after the flower set.

Early Girl is the most popular selection of tomato. It’s early ripening, successful and very tasty. Early Girl gives huge crops of 4-6-ounce tomatoes. They only take 55-65 days after flower sets to ripen, making them some of the earliest tomatoes you’ll enjoy.

For those tomato lovers interested in heirloom varieties, Cherokee Purple has been rewarding and productive. The bi-color, purplish-red fruit is sweet and fleshy. Brandywine tomatoes are also a good producer that ripens 90 days after flower. Sun Gold tomatoes are another sought after selection. The sweet flavor makes them desirable in salads and enjoyed right off the plant. Kentucky Beefsteak is an excellent, productive, large orange tomato.

Strong roots

Plant tomato plants into well-amended, rich, replenished soil. When installing, remove many of the bottom leaves and plant 3-4 inches of the tomato stem below the soil line. Remove the blossoms on your new installs and remove the next set as well. You want your plants to focus on strong roots at first.

Once installed, work a granular, organic tomato/veggie fertilizer into the soil and a little dolomite lime to help prevent blossom end rot. Feed with a water-soluble fertilizer bi-weekly for growth. Use a product with a larger first number than the middle number, 15-6-3 for example.

When you let the tomato flower, it is time to change your fertilizing product to one that’s label has a larger second number than first, i.e., 3-20-20, or 2-10-10.

Nicole is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio, Gifts and Garden. You can contact her with ­questions or comments by email at

Nicole Hackett
Nicole Hackett

Nicole is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio, Gifts and Garden. You can contact her with ­questions or comments by email at gardengirl94517@yahoo.com