By Lisa Lain, Arizona’s garden gal
Whether you crave tomato sandwiches, fresh tomatoes on your salad, or love to make your own homemade tomato sauce, home-grown tomatoes make all your favorite tomato dishes taste their best. Choosing the best tomato for your favorite recipes is made easy with our chart showing the tomato varieties that are best for salads, cooking, and/or slicing.
Tomatoes are an easy crop to grow successfully. Their needs are quite simple: They require full sun, warm soil, and ample water.
Click here for a Tomato Planting Guide or ask for one the next time you visit us here at Watters.
On north-facing slopes or more shaded garden areas soil remains cool enough that fruiting can be delayed. In these areas it’s recommended using tomato varieties developed for short growing seasons. Try using black plastic as a ground cover to trap the sun’s heat and raise the soil’s temperature. Begin planting tomatoes as soon as all danger of frost is past. Mother’s Day usually marks the last possible frost for our region.
Planting – Water the area the day before planting.
- Prepare the planting area by mixing Watters Premium Mulch into the soil.
- At the same time, blend Watters All Purpose Food 7-4-4 into the planting soil.
- For stronger root growth, if the plant is large enough, plant it with the stem buried up to the first set of leaves. Roots will develop along the portion of buried stem and ultimately help produce a more vigorous plant.
- Firmly tap soil to remove any air pockets.
- Water in with Watters Root and Grow for root stimulation and to avoid transplant shock.
Water – Thoroughly water on a set schedule. Soil shouldn’t be kept overly wet or soggy, so good drainage is a must. Watch for soil that becomes compacted and slow to drain. Thoroughly incorporate Watters Premuim Mulch and gypsum for slow-draining soils.
Fertilize – Feed monthly with Watters All Purpose Food.
Care – Watch for the tomato hornworm. At the first sight of this large green caterpillar, spray with organic Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew. This biological compound is safe around pets, wildlife, and people.
Tomato Set Spray – This easy-to-apply solution helps both tomato and pepper plants set more fruit early in the spring season. I find it works best when the plant is spritzed at two week intervals throughout the growing season.
Until next issue, I’ll be helping gardeners with their tomatoes here at Watters Garden Center.
Lisa Watters-Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through her web site at WattersGardenCenter.com or FB.com/WattersGardenCenter .