Howdy Gardeners, don’t get caught unprepared for tomato season! It may seem early to think about it, but now’s the time to get prepared. If you want to start tomatoes by seed, plant your seeds this month to get transplants by March.
Deciding on Tomatoes
The hardest thing about growing tomatoes is picking which ones to grow. Why grow a regular store variety when you can grow something ultra-cool like Brandywine, Paul Robeson, or Green Striped Zebra? Local specialty nurseries will have seeds for heirloom and other specialty varieties that the big box stores usually won’t have. Starting in February, they will also have transplants to put directly in the garden.
Here are few varieties you may want to try to spice up your garden this year.
|Brandywine||An heirloom that produces big beautiful deep pink fruit. Brandywine is known to have one of the best flavors of all tomatoes.|
|Paul Robeson||Another heirloom that makes dark, brownish fruits with dark green shoulders. They are weighty coming in at more than ½ pound each with a great flavor. They are named after the famous actor/opera singer.|
|San Marzano||This tomato has become extremely popular in the canning market recently. Its thick flesh makes it great for sauces and pastes. It has the Roma tomato shape with a similar texture.|
|Matt’s Wild Cherry||This fun tomato is one of my favorites! They are only about ½ inch in diameter making them one of the smallest varieties. Although small, this little guy is loaded with super sweet flavor. It makes a great snacking tomato which you can eat almost like grapes. The other good thing about it is that it is a prolific seeder often spreading new plants throughout the garden for years.|
|Yellow Pear||This fun tiny tomato is a beautiful golden yellow. I usually eat them right in garden, but they are great in salads.|
|Green Zebra||These little gems are fun to grow because of their beautiful coloring. At maturity they are medium green with gold streaks. They have a bit of a tart flavor that many people love. Additionally, they have a long growing season.|
Get busy searching for fun varieties to try this spring. Many seed companies will have transplants to order now, too. Find what you like, and we will discuss planting them outside in February. For now, if you want to plant seeds follow these steps.
- Plant seeds ¼ inch deep in seed starting trays with a good quality potting soil.
- Moisten the soil.
- Place them in a warm location in the house that’s 70-80 degrees until they germinate. Some people put them on top of the refrigerator because it can get warmer than the rest of the house. Keep the soil moist during the germination process.
- Once they germinate, move them to a sunny window facing south or under grow lights.
- When plants reach about 6 inches high, harden them off by moving them outside in sheltered sun for a couple of hours a day. Gradually increase the time until they are sitting outside for 6-8 hours a day.
- After we are out of danger of freeze, plant them in the garden.
Stay tuned for my next post on how to plant tomatoes for best results and get a live class at the Texas Home & Garden Spring Show in Houston February 9 & 10, 2019. See you there!
About the Author
On the Grow is a garden coaching service launched by Janice Brown to teach people how to be successful gardeners in the sometimes difficult, Gulf Coast climate. On the Grow provides garden education for the home gardener, children in outdoor classrooms, neighbors in community gardens, and employees in workplace gardens. Whether you want a new idea for a girls’ night out, a new way to engage children in nature, or want to implement a fresh wellness program in your company, On the Grow is here for you. Your coach will take you step by step teaching you the basics, while presenting you with a fresh perspective by helping you experience the healing benefits of gardening. Our mission at On the Grow is to help everyone experience the joy of a garden and build a greater connection to Mother Earth. Connect with One The Grow on Facebook and Twitter!