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All About Tomatoes

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Tomato Variety Chart


Tomatoes are warm-season plants and should be planted at least one week after the average last frost, which is Memorial Day in our area.  Temperature is a most important factor, and tomatoes are particularly sensitive to night-time temperatures.  In early spring when day temperatures are warm but nights fall below 55 degrees F, many varieties will not set fruit.  In summer you can expect blossom drop when days are above 90 degrees, or nights above 76 degrees F.

Soil for tomatoes should be well drained and have a good supply of nutrients, especially phosphorus. To prepare soil, use plenty of organic matter, such as Paydirt or Black Forest Organic Compost. Add Master Nursery Master Start at planting time.

Most gardeners start tomatoes with transplants, which are usually available here at the garden center in April.  To start your own transplants, sow seed 1/2 inch deep in peat pots or other plantable containers 5 to 7 weeks before the outdoor planting date.  The last ten days before planting out, gradually expose the seedling to more sunlight and outdoor temperatures.

Transplants should be stocky, not leggy , and should have 4 to 6 true leaves, young and succulent.  Set transplants deep:the first leaf just above the soil level.  Plant leggy plants with the root ball horizontal.  Roots will form along the buried stem and make subsequent growth better.  If cold or wind are threats, use hot caps or other protection, such as the Wall O'Water.Fertilization

The first fertilizer application will take care of the plant until it blooms.  Feed then and once a month while the fruits are developing, with Master Nursery Bud N' Bloom, Best 16-16-16 or organically with Dr. Earth Organic 5, Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer, and stop when they near mature size.

Tomatoes require uniform moisture after fruit has set: alternate wet and dry spells can bring on stunting and blossom-end rot.  In the early stages, if careful not to overdo it, you can stretch watering intervals to put the plant under a little stress—it's a good way to bring on tomato production. To get more fruit over a longer period allow one sucker to grow from near the base to form a two-stemmed plant, and later remove the rest of the suckers on both stems. Any tomato that can be grown in a vegetable garden can also be grown in a container.


Tomatoes can be grown on upright stakes, trellises, and in wire cages, or on horizontal trellises or ladder-like frames set a foot above ground level.  All will keep fruits from contact with the soil and reduce damage from slugs, cracking, sunscald, and decay.  In wet fall climates the yield of usable tomatoes can nearly be doubled by so protecting the fruit.

Problems & Diseases

Blossom-end rot: Symptoms of this disease appear as a leathery scar or rot on the blossom-end of fruits. It can occur at any stage of development and is usually caused by sudden changes in soil moisture, most serious when fast-growing plants are hit by a hot, dry spell. Lack of calcium is another cause. Mulching with organic material, which reduces fluctuations in soil moisture and temperature, and avoiding planting in poorly drained soil, will help prevent blossom-end rot.

Curled leaves: Leaf curl is more pronounced in some varieties, and you can expect it during hot, dry spells and during and after a long wet period. Heavy pruning also seems to encourage leaf curl.

Failure to set fruit/Blossom drop: It takes about 50 hours for the pollen to germinate and the tube to grow down the pistil to the ovary. At night temperatures below 55 degrees F., germination and tube growth are so slow that blossoms drop off before they can be fertilized. As a rule, most early-maturing varieties set fruit at lower temperatures than the main-season kinds. Fruit set can also be increased by shaking the plant, or vibrating it , to release pollen for pollination. When plants are trained on stakes, hitting the top of the stakes will have the same effect.

Poor fruit color: Temperatures above 86 degrees F. can prevent the normal development of red fruit color and fruits may sunscald. Where high temperatures are the rule, choose varieties with a dense foliage cover.

Tomato Varieties

In checking tomato varieties, note especially those with resistance to soil-borne pests. Their resistance is indicated by the initials "V" for verticillium; "F" for fusarium; and "N" for nematodes. It may be that your soil is not infested with any of these pests, however, if you've had any trouble with tomatoes in the past, favor the resistant varieties.

The number of days shown on charts refers to the time from setting out transplants to the first fruits. It is an average figure only.

The growth habit of the variety is indicated by the words "determinate" or "indeterminate." Determinate varieties are the bush kinds, generally growing to 3 feet or less. Indeterminate are tall-growing and are trained with stakes, trellis or wire cage.

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Days to


Ace 55   80 Det Large VF Very good flavor and excellent yields, lower in acid
Ace High Improved * 71 Det Medium VFFNA Well adapted for growing in  Western States, wonderful flavor
Basket Pac   55   Small   Cascading branches, excellent for hanging baskets
Beefmaster * 80 Ind Very large VFN Solid, meaty, outstanding fruit taste
Beefsteak * 90 Ind Large   Huge, delicious, ribbed fruit on vigorous vines
Better Boy * 75 Ind Large VFN One of the best tasting, best producing garden tomatoes
Better Girl * 62 Ind Medium VFN Meaty, crack-resistant fruit, heavy yield
Big Beef * 73 Ind Ex. large VFFNTA Impressive yields of extra-large fruit w/ real old time flavor
Big Boy * 78 Ind Very large   Smooth scarlet fruit w/thick walls and meaty flesh
Big Girl * 78 Ind Large VF Solid red fruits up to 1 lb. with luscious flavor-great for slicing
Black Krim Heirloom 75-90 Ind Large   Dark, brown-red, richly flavored w/hint of saltiness, heavy producer
Boxcar Willie   80 Ind Med   Abundant, smooth red tomatoes delicious flavor
Brandywine Heirloom 80 Ind Large   Exceptional rich, succulent flavor; pink-red fruit w/creamy flesh
Burpee's Delicious   77 Ind Ex-Lg   Almost solid interior, good foliage protection
Caspian Pink Heirloom 80 Ind Med/Lg   Pink beefsteak fruit, sweet yet rich flavor
Celebrity * 70 Det Large VFFNTA Exceptionally flavorful, highly productive, widely adaptable.
Champion * 70 Ind Large VFNT Solid, meaty slices with just the right sweetness, high yields
Cherokee Purple Heirloom 80 Ind Medium   Dusty deep pink with purplish tint and green shoulders; oblate
Early Girl * 62 Ind Small V Proven variety for delicious, early tomatoes; dependable harvest
First Lady * 66 Ind Med VFNT Early variety, smooth, crack-resistant, flavorful
Gardener's Delight * 65 Ind Small   Sm fruited clusters of 6-12 tomatoes-sugar sweet & crack resistant
German Pink Heirloom 78 Ind Large   Pink beefsteak w/excellent, sweet flavor, meaty w/few seeds
Goliath Heirloom 85 Ind Lg/Huge   Solid with few seeds; classic beefsteak shape and flavor
Golden Boy * 75 Ind     Only hybrid in the yellow tomato group
Great White Heirloom 85 Ind Large   White beefsteak tomato w/sweet flavor & lots of juice
Green Grape   70 Det 1 inch   Very short compact plant, a real taste treat
Green Zebra Heirloom Mid-Season Ind Small   Yellowish green with stripes; oblate
Heartland * 68 Ind Med VFN Only 3-4' tall, produce an abundance of meaty 6-8 oz fruit all season
Heat Wave * 68 Det Med VFFA Heat tolerant. Uniformly red, abundantly produced
Jubilee   80 Ind Large   Bright golden-orange, delicious taste & solid smooth substance
La Roma * 62 Det Medium VF One of the very best Italian-type tomatoes for vigor and uniformity
Lemon Boy * 72 Ind Medium VFN Lemon yellow, flavor is mild & sweet yet tangy
Mama Mia * 62 Det Small VFF Pear-shaped fruit, very productive
Mortgage Lifter Heirloom Late Mid-Season Ind Large   Deep pink beef-steaks
Mule Team Heirloom 80 Ind Med/Lg   Red globes with slight ribbing at the stem end, sweetness & zip
Oregon Spring V   58 Det Med/Lg V Cold-tolerant for short season, nearly seedless, juicy and tender
Patio * 70 Det Sm/Med F Dwarf variety, produce large harvests of bright red flavorful tomatoes
Pineapple   85 Ind Large   Bicolored red & yellow, rich, fruity and sweet flavor
Red Cherry Large   70 Ind 1 inch   Abundant clusters of firm, round cherry tomatoes
Red Pear   70 Ind 2 inch   Clusters of pear shaped fruit are scarlet red, tasty in salads
Red Robin   55 Ind 1 inch   Dwarf variety, bears masses of fruit w/mild, sweet flavor
Roma   78 Det 3 inch VF Bright red fruit may be pear or plum shaped, popular for paste sauces and canning
Sausage Heirloom 78 Ind Med   Red paste tomato, very meaty and quite prolific
Super Beefsteak   80 Ind Large VFN Rich, delicious beefsteak, superior disease resistance
Super Fantastic * 70 Ind Large VF Smooth, solid, and meaty w/delicious flavor - well adapted
Sweet 100 * 58 Ind 1 inch   Huge clusters of very sweet fruit w/high vitamin C content
Sweet Cluster * 67 Ind Small VFNT Long cluster of 4oz fruit - sweet and delicious - good shelf life
Tomatillo   75       Round, green tomatillo w/sweet yet tart flavor. Easily grown & prolific
Ultra Boy * 72 Ind Large VFN High yields, good keeping quality, 1 lb. fruit
Ultra Girl   56   Medium VFN Good resistance to cracking
Whopper * 70 Ind Large VFNT Sweet, juicy flavor, high yield
Yellow Pear   78 Ind 1 inch   Pear shaped, clear yellow, delightfully sweet
Yellow Pear Heirloom Mid Season Ind Small   Pear shaped, clear yellow, delightfully sweet
**Determinate plants - vines that make little or no growth once fruit is set. Harvest time is short - the fruit develops at about the same time.
**Indeterminate keeps producing new shoots & blossoms even after fruit set. All stages of development may be on the vine at once.
***Variety names followed by the initials V,F,N,T, and A mean the variety is resistant or tolerant to the most common tomato problems.


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