tomatoes

Tomatoes

The taste of homegrown tomatoes right off the vine is truly a small slice of heaven. Read our planting and care instructions to learn how to grow award winning tomatoes!

SOIL: Well-drained soil that is high in organic matter is best. If your soil tends to be heavy or sandy, dig in Sloat Loam Builder.  Sloat Forest Mulch Plus, which contains 15% chicken manure is also a good choice. Incorporate Agricultural Lime it ensure a good supply of calcium. Calcium prevents blossom end rot and helps build strong cell walls.

SUN: Tomatoes require full sun. This is considered no less than 6 hours of direct sun per day.  Plants will be weak and unhealthy with anything less.  In cool areas, planting tomatoes against a sunny wall or fence will help in production and ripening of fruit.  We have listed some of the most reliable cool weather tomatoes at the bottom of the page.  In general, they are varieties that ripen in 85 days or less.

PLANTING: Make the planting hole extra deep.  Plant the young tomatoes deep in the hole so that the first set of leaves is just above the soil level.  Roots will form on the buried stem, creating a larger and stronger root system.  If you use tomato cages, be sure to put them in place before the plants get too large.  Don’t skimp on the size of the cage, tomatoes WILL outgrow smaller cages, eventually falling over and possibly breaking.  A 1” x 1” stake that is 6 feet tall, driven firmly into the ground will also provide adequate support.  Place it one foot from the base of the plant.  Tie the plant onto the stake as it grows.  Use ties that will not cut or chafe the stem of the plant.  Water young plants deeply and frequently, tapering off as fruit develops. Never water tomatoes from above.

FERTILIZER: An All Purpose fertilizer or vegetable food should be applied every 2 weeks, beginning when blossoms first appear.  Maxsea All Purpose or EB Stone Organic Tomato Vegetable Food are good choices.

PRUNING: Pinch off the small leaves which appear in the crotch above a larger stem.  Don’t pinch off too many large leaves or the sun will burn developing fruit.  Pinching back the top of the plant after it reaches the top of your stake or cage encourages more flowering and fruit.

CONTAINERS: Tomatoes can be grown in barrels or tubs very easily.  Plant them in Sloat Organic Potting Soil and fertilize them as you would in the ground.  Choose determinate (bush type) tomatoes that will require little or no staking.  Cherry tomatoes can even be grown in hanging baskets, which makes harvesting a breeze!

MULCHING: You can mulch around the plants after the soil has warmed, to keep moisture from evaporating. Plants will not begin to set fruit until the nighttime temps are regularly above 55 degrees. Using Harvest Guard Protective Cover at night may prevent the blossoms from falling off because of cold night temps (it can also be used for frost protection of citrus and other tender plants in the winter).

WATERING: Your plants should be deep watered 2 to 3 times a week. If the plant is seen wilting in the middle of the day, ignore it. Tomatoes will close their stomas in the heat of the day to prevent water loss by transpiration. They will perk right back up by late afternoon. If the plants look droopy in the morning, they need water.

RIPENING: Tomatoes will fully ripen at least a month and a half after they set. Generally the earliest one can expect edible fruit would be the end of July. Determinate tomatoes (the shorter, bush type) will ripen all at once, with fruit concentrated at the top/tips of the plants. Indeterminate tomatoes can continue to ripen into the fall.  Our staff experimented with Yellow Pear tomatoes grown in a pot one year and had tomatoes still ripening in November at 45th and Cabrillo in San Francisco!

Tomatoes can be stored for a maximum of three days in a dark warm place and should NEVER be refrigerated. Enjoy…These lovely fruits are full of Vitamins A and C and low in calories!

Tomato varieties for cool weather:

Anna Jetsetter Glasnost
Sungold Purple Russian Carmelo
Green Zebra Lemon Boy Aunt Ruby’s German
GreenOregon Spring Yellow Pear Black Krim
Siletz Stupice Jubilee
Glacier Sweet Million Caspian Pink
Early Girl Celebrity Big Beef
San Francisco Fog

All the organic CCOF tomatoes we sell at Sloat are locally grown in Sebastopol, Santa Cruz and St. Helena. The CCOF label means that they are organically grown from seeds that have not been genetically engineered and without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.