Stop dreaming and get those tomatoes planted

Tomatoes are the single most planted food crop in Clayton Valley containers and gardens.

Plant lovers covet the tomato, basing their entire green thumb success on the production of this juicy, sweet fruit.

What you want to do with your tomatoes should help determine what varieties to install.

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

San Marzano 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. Plants grow 36 inches tall and wide, and fruit should begin to ripen after 75 days.

Stop dreaming and get those tomatoes plantedCelebrity 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. You can expect large yields from this plant. Ripening begins 70-95 days after flower has set.

Early Girl is a sought-after selection because it’s tasty and gives huge crops of 4-6 ounce tomatoes. They ripen 55-65 days after flower sets and are some of the earliest tomatoes you’ll enjoy.

For tomato lovers interested in heirloom varieties, consider Cherokee Purple. It has been rewarding and productive.

The bi-color, purplish red fruit is sweet and fleshy. Brandywine tomatoes are a good producer that ripen 90 days after flower. Sun Gold tomatoes are another sought-after selection. The sweet flavor makes them desirable in salads or enjoyed right off the plant. Black Cherry is a cherry tomato with dark purple, almost black skin. They have a high yield and are sweet and fun.

Plant tomatoes 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 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 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, change the fertilizing product to one with a larger second number than first, i.e.
3-20-20 or 2-10-10.

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