The Edmond Sun

Local News

April 17, 2014

Warmth needed to grow tomatoes

OKLA. CITY — The time for those growing tomatoes in their garden is when the soil temperature is above 60°F and fear of frost has past. We are generally safe from frosts after April 5.  However, frosts have occurred as late as May 1 in the Oklahoma City area. If you planted your tomatoes on or before April 5 last year you would have covered them several times as there were several late frosts. If you plant early, be ready to cover your plants during nighttime frosts.

Select a site that will get full sunlight and will be accessible to easy watering. Tomatoes grow well in many types of soil but prefer deep, fertile, well-drained soil. If this type of soil cannot be supplied, raised beds are recommended. Your OSU County Extension office has information on how to collect, prepare, and send a soil sample.  

It is good to practice crop rotation. By rotating crops a gardener can increase soil nutrients and decrease the chance of pest build-up. Small area gardeners may want to let an area lie out for a year or rotate different vegetables from row to row.

SELECTING TRANSPLANTS

In Oklahoma tomatoes are grown from transplants. You can start your own undergrow lights or buy from reputable nurseries and suppliers. Planting tomatoes from seed is not recommended because of the length of growing season.  

Growers will choose between determinate and indeterminate varieties. Determinate indicates bush-type varieties. They are best in keeping the plants within the boundaries of the bed. Indeterminate continue to vine and require more staking. It is good to stake or cage your tomatoes.  

Fruit will need to be kept off the soil to avoid rot. Methods of supporting and training tomato plants vary greatly. Wire cages can be purchased from garden centers. Poultry wire can be formed into supports around plants. The most widely used method is staking. The size of the stakes, spacing and frequency of strings to be used can be planned to fit your needs.

One may want to consider selecting varieties resistant to Fusarium wilt and nematodes since these are problems in all areas of Oklahoma. Some varieties that have proven satisfactory for Oklahoma are: Better Boy, Big Beef, Bigset, Carmello, Carnival, Celebrity, Summer Flavor 5000. If just beginning, Celebrity has been recommended. If you try several varieties, put markers by your plants to see which ones do best.

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    July 25, 2014

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