Second & Third Tomato Harvest

by Elmer Krehbiel, Master Gardener
August 29, 2003

Heat Tolerant Tomato Varieties

The best heat tolerant tomato varieties have started developing ripe fruit during the last two weeks. Some of the fruit have weighed up to eight ounces. The plants were set in the garden during June, which was late for the spring crop and early for a fall crop.

Many gardeners are not familiar with Big Beef and Sunmaster tomato varieties. The Big Beef variety was the 1994 All-American Selection Winner. It is an indeterminate variety that matures in 73 days and has VFFNTA disease resistance. It has impressive yields of 10 to 12 ounce smooth fruit with real old-time flavor. It is considered one of the finest new hybrids for home gardeners.

The Sunmaster variety sets best when the days are 87 to 96 degrees and nights are  between 73 to 82 degrees F. It is a determinate variety that matures in 72 days and has VFFNA disease resistance. It was developed several years ago for home gardeners in the southern states. The 7 to 8 ounce fruit is firm, smooth, delicious, and full of flavor with a good balance of sugar to acid.

The Celebrity variety was the 1984 All-American Selection Winner. It is a determinate, highly productive variety that matures in 70 days, and has VFFNTA disease resistance. The 7 to 8 ounce fruit is firm with exceptional flavor.

Fall Tomatoes

Excellent tomato plants were available locally for the fall crop. Varieties for medium size fruit were: Sunmaster, Heatwave, Carnival, Celebrity, and Better Bush. Those producing cherry size fruit were:

  • Husky Red
  • Sweet 100
  • Patio

I moved my plants to larger pots last weekend. I plan to set several in the garden and the remaining ones in containers.

Tomato plants for summer and fall crops should have their lower leaves pruned off and be set deep in the soil or potting mix. Some gardeners dig the hole extra deep and place crushed corncobs and banana peelings in the bottom of it. Other gardeners may place some balanced fertilizer under each plant.

Plant-starter fertilizer should be applied around warm-season crops that must mature before cold weather. There are several commercial water-soluble fertilizers available. I use the treatment of 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 teaspoons of milk with one cup of water per plant each week. Additional fertilizer should not be applied until the plants have fruit that are one-half mature size. If plants are over fertilized, they will grow too large and bear less fruit. Mulch should be applied around the plants and the soil be kept moist at all times to prevent fruit with cracks out from the stem.

Other Vegetables

If you want to plant some cucumber and squash seeds, select early-maturing varieties. In fact, the early maturing varieties of all vegetable crops are usually more productive in this area. Bush bean seeds should be planted before September 15. Based on production, disease resistance and flavor, Derby variety was an All American Selection Winner.

Cool Season Crops

Cool season vegetable crops to seed later this fall are: beet, carrot, celery, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, radish, and spinach.

Cool season vegetable plants to set are: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and onions.

More on Growing Tomatoes

Dr. Elmer Krehbiel is the former President of Keep Brazos Beautiful. See his column in The Eagle.