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Gardening With Gutner: It’s Tomato Time!

By Mark Saidnawey, Pemberton Farms
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Tomatoes

BOSTON (CBS) – Memorial Day is finally upon us and that means it’s time to plant your tomatoes and other tender vegetables.

If you head out and visit your local garden center, I am sure they will have a complete selection of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, squash, melons, corn and more.  If you waited until now, you probably made the right call as we all know it has been a wet and cool spring so far.

I planted my veggies two weeks ago and I think they’ve barely grown since planting as there has been no sun and heat to help them grow.

Which type of tomato should I grow?

Along with the standard hybrid varieties of tomatoes like Big Boy, Jet Star, Early Girl, Supersonic, Beef Master and countless others Heirloom varieties continue to grow in popularity.

Varieties like Brandywine, Green Zebra, Mr. Stripey and others continue to gain in popularity and tomato growers are loving them.

There is, however, one variety that trumps them all in both popularity and, as I believe, flavor!

That is the elusive Sun Gold tomato!

Often difficult to locate at your local nursery, this one is worth calling around to see who has it in stock!

Sun Gold is an orange cherry tomato that packs quite a punch with a juicy sweet flavor and an abundance of fruit throughout the summer and even into early fall.

If you can find it, buy it. You won’t be disappointed.

A viewer asked, ” What is the difference between determinant and indeterminant tomatoes”?

Here’s my answer:

The most simple explanation of the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes is that determinate tomatoes grow to a maximum height of 3-to-4 feet and tend to bear their crop all at once, while indeterminate tomatoes bear fruit over the course of a season.

Indeterminate varieties tend to grow longer vines (sometimes up to 6 feet) and will require more support in terms of staking or caging over the course of a season.

Determinate varieties often (but not always) tend to be more compact and manageable.

So how do you decide what’s best for your garden? 

If you have a large garden, and would like heavy crops of tomatoes at certain points in the season, you might want to plan for several determinate varieties.

You would look for two basic pieces of information in the plant catalog or on the plant label when making this decision.

Look for the word “determinate” or the abbreviation “DET” so you know what you’re dealing with.

Next, look for the number of days at which the plant will set fruit.

To get several nice harvests, try to combine determinate varieties that bear early, mid, and late season crops. If you are into canning, saucing, or drying your tomatoes, this is probably the best way to go.

If you want tomatoes for the course of the season for snacking and adding to salads and sandwiches, it is best to go with indeterminate varieties.

Several types of indeterminate tomatoes are very prolific, and a plant or two will more than suffice to meet your needs.

Many favorite heirloom tomatoes are indeterminate varieties.

When shopping for your tomato plants, you will be looking for “indeterminate” on the label, or the abbreviation “IND” (or, less commonly, “INDET”).

If you want to grow in containers, you’ll probably want to stick with a few different determinate varieties. They are more well-behaved and better suited to container culture.

You can certainly grow indeterminate tomatoes in containers, but be prepared to be vigilant about staking or caging, as well as pruning the suckers to maintain compact growth.

Three tips on growing tomatoes:

1. Proper Spacing

If you have the space, give them 3 feet between each other. If you do not, then still try and space them out as much as possible and be sure to keep an eye on potential problems like fungus, which is caused by poor air circulation.

2. Proper Staking

Be sure to use a solid pole or a tomato cage to support your tomatoes. Once they reach above 3 feet, they will surely begin to fall if not supported with a strong stake.

3. Proper Feeding

You can’t just plant and forget!

Espoma brand makes great organic fertilizers for all your plants and especially tomatoes. Look for Tomato-Tone at your local garden center.

Well that’s it.  Time to plant your veggies.  Best of luck and let’s all hope for the sun and warmth they we so dearly need.

If you have any questions you can email me at Mark@Pembertonfarms.com

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