Stop dreaming and plant those tomatoes

Tomatoes are the most-planted food crop in our Clayton Valley containers and gardens, and it’s time to get going.
Gardeners covet the tomato, basing their entire veggie growing success on the production of this juicy, sweet fruit.

Many folks know what tomato type they are seeking, while those new to gardening have many questions. When advising folks on what types of tomatoes to install, we ask a lot of questions. Are you looking for the heavy, fleshy varieties? Are you interested in juicy varieties for sandwiches? Do you make sauces, or like to pick and eat straight from the plant? What you want to do with your tomatoes 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 plant those tomatoes
Champion tomatoes good choice for small gardens. They grown only 20-30” tall and produce in 70 days.

Celebrity is a bigger tomato, maturing to about 7 ounces each. 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 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.

Heirloom varieties

For those interested in heirloom varieties, consider Cherokee Purple for a rewarding and productive tomato. The purplish-red fruit is sweet and fleshy. Brandywine tomatoes are a good producer that ripens 90 days after flower. Sun Gold tomatoes are another sought-after selection. The sweet flavor makes that desirable in salads and 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.

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

Once installed, work a granular, organic tomato fertilizer into the soil plus 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 your fertilizing product to one with 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