Friday, June 26, 2009

Tomato Time in Texas

If you planted tomatoes in your spring vegetable garden in Texas, you probably have been enjoying the fruits of your labor for a while now. However, if you didn’t get any in the ground, it’s not too late to enjoy fresh, homegrown tomatoes from your garden this year.

Between now and the Fourth of July is prime tomato transplant planting time in North Texas for a fall harvest of tasty tomatoes. Just as with spring plantings, and possibly even more important in our summer heat, you should pinch off the lowest set of leaves on your transplants and set the plants deep in the ground, almost up to the next set of leaves. The tomato plant will grow roots along the buried stem. You will have to be attentive to the watering needs of your new transplants, but if you are, you will be amply rewarded.

I have had good success with Celebrity tomato setting fruit even during the heat, but you will get even better fruit set as the weather cools a bit. If your plants are flowering but there is not much wind, you can assist pollination and fruit set by thumping the blossoms. Another good vegetable choice for planting now is eggplant. Last year my Japanese eggplant set a bumper crop of fruits during the heat of the summer. Just remember to mulch to keep the root zone cooler and keep sufficient water on your new transplants. (I use old hay to mulch my veggie garden.)

Whether your tomatoes are home grown or store bought, you want to maximize their storage potential. I discovered an interesting tip for storing tomatoes in a recent America’s Test Kitchen’s “Notes from the Test Kitchen” e-mail. You can read about their tests and results. It’s amazing how something so simple can make such a big difference.

May the tomato fairy be good to you.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for that wonderful information on tomatoes. I am afraid that ours would fry down here in south texas though. We are having 100+ weather and 130 or so heat index. Nothing much is surviving down here right now.