Tomatoes Until Frost – Here Is How

My tomato plants in various stages of growth

I want tomatoes this fall as well as this summer. There is a simple trick to making this happen, sequence planting in the garden. All of us rush out and plant tomatoes as soon as the danger of frost has pasted, but actually that is early. Until the soil temperature warms, tomatoes don’t do much growing. So if you plant some now, you will have tomatoes around the fourth of July in our area. Go ahead and plant now, but also plant some the first of May, June, and July. By sequencing the planting of the transplants, I have had loads of success with a nice supply of tomatoes until the first frost. Then I harvest the green ones and put them in a cool place with good air circulation, and often times we have tomatoes from the garden in our Thanksgiving salad. Granted they are small but still very tasty. When planting tomatoes, remember to plant them very deep. This is especially true in June and July. By deep I mean leaving only one set of fully formed leaves above the soil. Pinch off all leaves below those and plant deep. This will encourage a strong root system, and that will help them tolerate our summer heat better than shallow planted ones. By the way, I like to mulch my plants to help keep the soil moisture even. So if you are growing plants from seeds, it is not too late to start more now. And if you are buying transplants, don’t buy all you need now, but space out your purchases to increase your summer supply longer.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

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