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  • Writer's pictureStronger Roots

Growing Tomatoes

Updated: May 10, 2022


— Start seeds (inside) 4-8 weeks before the last frost

— Soil temps at 60F+ (test with thermometer or finger test - if your finger is uncomfortable after 30 seconds of being immersed in soil, it’s too cold)

— When nighttime temperatures remain above 50

— As long as the number of days to maturity is smaller than the days until the expected first frost date, you can still plant your tomatoes.

— TRANSPLANT when plants are 6-8in tall and have 4-6 true leaves

❗️Plant won't fruit until night temps are above 55F

❗️Blossom drop will occur in the spring if daytime temperatures are warm but night temps drop below 55 F. (13 C.)

❗️Summer when temperatures soar over 90F with nights over 76F = immature fruit or loss of flowers.

— As long as the number of days to maturity is smaller than the days until the expected first frost date, you can still plant your tomatoes.

— TRANSPLANT when plants are 6-8in tall and have 4-6 true leaves


— 70-80F for FAT germination

— In COOLER climates, bury tomato plant on its side (reduces roots being in cooler soil thus inhibting maxmium production)

— Bury up to first set of leaves to encourgae root growth (adventitious roots) all along stem for sturdy foundation

— In a space where tomatoes or members of the family have NOT grown in the past couple years

— *Mulch after ground warms up to retain moisture for tomatoes

— SPACING 2-3 ft apart

— IN CONTAINERS - determinate varieties


— Sun: AT LEAST 6hrs (8-10 optimal) --Thrive in late spring and summer temperatures

— Plant deep to establish a good foundation for root system

— (After 3foot growth) remove the leaves from the bottom foot of the stem. ❗️These are the oldest leaves, and usually the first leaves to develop fungus problem; dont receive

much light or airflow; close to the ground and can get infected with soil pathogens

— Pinch suckers in crotch area of stems to maintain growth❗️Potential branches- but most need to have the branch above the sucker removed before the sucker is triggered by the plant to grow

— Prune early morning on a dry day. This will allow for the wounds to heal cleanly and reduce the chances of the plant being infected by disease.

— Water deeply/regularly while fruits develop. Irregular watering leads to blossom end rot (a calcium deficiency)/cracking and splitting of fruit

❗️DO NOT water from above (potentially invites pest and disease)

— After the fruit begins to ripen, ease up on the watering. Lessening the water will coax the plant into concentrating its sugars, for better flavor

❗️Apply baking soda in dirt to lower soil acidity giving tomatoes a more sweet taste vs tart

— Pinching off the tips of the main stems in early summer will encourage indeterminate tomatoes to start putting energy into flowering.

— Fertilize every two weeks when fruit starts to set up until harvest

❗️Too much Nitrogen will bring about plenty of foliage but less of ANY fruits

— The two substances that help a tomato turn red, LYCOPENE and CAROTENE, can only be produced between 50-85F Temperatures any cooler or any warmer than 85F will stop your

tomatoes from making these two important chemicals.

— Once the green fruit becomes mature, it starts to produce a gas called ETHYLENE, which starts the ripening process

❗️PRUNING - mindful of cutting back too much - leaves responsible for photosynthesis which helps with producing sugars that give tomatoes their flavor


(Short, Mid-Season, Late Season)


(Avg 55/less than 70 Days) : sungold, early girl, glacier, black prince, orange roma, bloody butcher, juliet, black cherry


(Avg 70-80 Days) : green zebra, beefsteak, betterboy, atkinson, big beef, celebrity, glory, goliath, husky red


(Avg 80 -110 Days) : brandywine, sunray, bradley, royal ace, Jubille, Dutchman

🔶DETERMINATE VS INDETERMINATE ( These terms refer to the growth habit of the tomato plants. They essentially mean bush or vining, respectively.)

DETERMINATE- Are varieties that grow to a fixed mature size and ripen all their fruit in a short period (usually about two weeks).

Once this first flush of fruit has ripened, the plant will begin to diminish in vigor and will set little to no new fruit.

- making sure to use stakes/tomato cages because of the weight the plant will have to support when the fruits set

- Maturity height: 4-5ft

- practical for juices, sauces, canning

- fewer seeds more meat?

(Betterbush, Celebrity, Bush Goliath

INDETERMINATE - Are vining plants that continue to extend in length throughout the growing season. This is why you will sometimes

see them referred to as "vining" tomatoes.

- most heirlooms, cherries, dwarf varieties

- set and ripen fruit until FROST

- steady supply vs "all at once"

- pinch "suckers" to maintain plant growth

- set fruit later in season; spend time growing tall first

- never pinch out a sucker directly below a blossom as this causes uneven growth in the plant and will reduce your harvest.

- need large steaks or cages for support because of size

- Maturity height: 6-10ft+

(Beefsteak, Big Boy, Brandywine, Sungold, Sweet Million,


— Harvest tomatoes when you see just a blush of color on the bottom of the green fruit. If you wrap them in paper or store them in a paper bag, they’ll ripen on their own.(from ethylene); ripening off the vine prevents spliting and bruising

— The ethylene increases the carotenoids (red and yellow colors) and decreases the chlorophyll (green color).

— Tomatoes will ripen indoors at 55-70F A cooler temperature will slow it down, warmer will speed it up

— You can also harvest tomato fruit when it is ripe; ripe fruit will sink in water

— Remove any remaining flowers so the plant’s energy goes towards the fruit already on the plant and not into development of more tomatoes

— You harvest green tomatoes to avoid forst

🔷 AFTER (saving seeds, canning, etc.)

— If you harvest hybrid tomato seeds, be aware that they are developed varieties, which won’t grow true from seed the following year

— Cut open the tomato and squeeze the pulp onto a container. The pulp needs to dry and then you can separate out the seeds.

•Another method is to rinse off the pulp in a colander or screen.

•Another method of saving seeds from tomatoes requires the pulp to be put in a glass jar filled with water. Let it soak for five days. Skim off the foamy fermented pulp

and the seeds will be at the bottom of the jar.

— The most important part of the process of harvesting tomato seeds is the drying. If the seeds aren’t properly dried, they will mold.

•Spread the seed out on paper towels to absorb any moisture in a warm dry location.

— Seeds need to be stored where it is dark to prevent stimulating their photo-receptors, which tell them when it is time to germinate. They may lose vigor or fail to

sprout if they are exposed to light.


**TRICHOMES: (they help a tomato plant to resist cold, drought, ultraviolet light, and insect or animals pests)

--glandular trichomes = produce metabolites that help to protect the plant

--non glandular trichomes = physical barrier against stressors

- secrete essential oils responsible for the scent of the plant(glandular)

- helps repel pest with the scent, texture, taste and toxins to some pest(glandular)

- appear as white, long "hair" like strands or tiny "bubbles" (perched on even tinier trichomes)

- leaves, fruits, and stems are covered in them (forming barriers to bacterial, fungal. and viral infections - also trapping water and reducing evaporation

**ADVENTITIOUS ROOTS:(root initials, tomato stem primordial)-

- can be caused by stress-- often a hormone (Auxin) blockage in the vascular system --- often a water related problem ---- plant compensates by trying to develop

more roots ---abnormal amount can be from the effects of herbicides which mimic auxin

- particularly heirloom varieties produce small growths with short, fleshy, bristles

-When root initials make contact with the soil, they will develop into full-blown roots, strengthening the plant’s root system.

- determined by cultivar, weather conditions, and culture.

- planting tomatoes deep to utilize the roto intials

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