From Plant Life, a blog by Val Easton
Finally, it’s time to plant tomatoes. So many of you have asked me in the past couple of weeks if it’s still too early…..so I checked in with tomato expert Wally Prestbo, a.k.a. Mr. Tomato.
Wally advises it all depends on the soil temperature, which should be above 50 degrees, and preferably over 55 degrees. “I will be planting tomatoes at the Bellevue Demonstration Garden and my house this week,” Wally emailed…” My rule of thumb is to plant about the middle of May”. (For an excellent discussion of last frost dates, along with some tomato suggestions, see the latest edition of Loghouse Plants Garden News).
And what kind to plant? Here are Wally’s words of wisdom: “The number one seller and winner of all taste tests is “Sungold”. Then it depends on what type most people prefer. For cherry tomatoes it would be Sweet Million and Cabernet. Roma would be Viva Italia. Early varieties would be Stupice, Oregon Spring and Glacier. A salad favorite is Juliet. A slicer would be Burpee’s Burger and Big Beef. A favorite of mine is Sweet Tangerine. Container favorites are Tumbler, Patio Princess, Silver Fir Tree and Glacier.”
Being a challenged tomato grower, I couldn’t let Wally go without begging a few tips: “My tips are the obvious,” Wally writes “Put tomatoes in raised beds or containers in the sunniest location available. The soil should drain well and test at PH of 6-6.5. When I plant I use a cup of balanced organic vegetable fertilizer (10-10-10) in and around the hole or trench. I only plant about 6-7” deep unless the plant is tall (one foot+) and then I dig a trench 6” deep and lay the plant on its side and gently bend the top up slightly and stake it. Then I cover all of the stem and root ball. Water thoroughly 2-3 times per week (at the roots) keeping leaves dry.”
And here’s an invitation from Wally for you: “If any of your readers have a chance to visit the Bellevue Demonstration Garden they can see all the different varieties as well as all the ways in which they’re grown. I will have 28 varieties there. I probably won’t cage/trellis or mulch the plants until the 1st week of June.”
And he ends with a word or realism: “The real key to successful tomatoes will be our weather. Last summer was the best growing year since I’ve been at the Demo Garden (14 years).”
Happy Planting, and may the sun bless us with a good tomato summer…