‘Tis the season (for tomatoes)
Due to Florida’s warmer climate, the best time to plant tomatoes is around January – April, though north Floridians may want to wait until February in case of some later frosts.
If you want to start your tomatoes before the last frost, you can also start seeds indoors for four to six weeks before moving them outside.
Cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, beefsteak, roma, bonnie best – there are a wealth of tomato varieties out there, so how will you choose?
Here are some factors to consider:
- What part of the state do you live in?
- Do you want large, medium, or small fruits?
- How do you want to grow them – in a cage, in a bucket?
- Are you an experienced gardener?
- How resistant is the species against pests?
Determinate or Indeterminate?
Tomatoes are categorized as either determinate or indeterminate, and which type you have can affect their care:
- Develops fruit all at once
- Compact, bush-like growth
- Reaches a height of four to five feet
- Usually don’t require a trellis, but may need stakes
- Lower maintenance
- Popular varieties include: Cherry, Roma, and San Marzano
- Develops fruit gradually
- Viney growth
- Vines have no set length
- Requires a trellis
- Requires more pruning
- Popular varieties include: Beefsteak, Sungold, and Sweet Million
A Bucket of Tomatoes
One of the most accessible ways to grow tomatoes is by using a simple 5-gallon bucket! To get started:
- Drill six, evenly spaced half-inch drainage holes at the bottom of the bucket
- Place the bucket in an area that receives 6-8 hours of full sun a day
- Fill 3/4 with an equal mix of potting soil, and peat moss, perlite, or sand to help with drainage
- Plant a seedling
- Water until water runs freely through the bottom
- Apply fertilizer every 10-14 days
- Water when the soil feels dry 1 inch below the surface, water more frequently during hot dry spells
Too Many Tomatoes
If you end up with too big of a harvest, remember that you can:
- Can tomatoes
- Dry tomatoes
- Cook and freeze tomato sauce
- Share with friends and family
Info from UF IFAS, The Spruce, Farmer’s Almanac, Gardening Tips, and Florida Yards.