Start Early for a Bumper Crop of Tomatoes
Sam Thompson, SMG 2008
Successfully growing tomatoes in Sandoval county requires considerations and prep work before the seed or plant goes in the ground. We have some tough challenges to work around.
- LOW FERTILITY SOIL
a. Sandy: No organic matter, doesn’t hold water
Solution: water frequently with smaller amount
b. Clay: Holds water, but can hold water away from plants
Solution: Water infrequently but deeply
c. Loam: Equal distribution of sand, silt and clay – Plants LOVE this!
Solutions for low fertility soil: add compost, use cover crops, plant in raised beds or containers
2. HIGH TEMPERATURES
Solutions: Grow smaller tomato varieties, select heat tolerant varieties, start early (be prepared to protect during extreme cold), provide shade for your tomato plants water in the morning and use mulch.
3. PESTS & DISEASES
Solutions: Use resistant varieties. Inspect plants frequently and closely, use floating row cover; use companion plants.
Companion plants for tomatoes:
Onions, carrots, chiles, asparagus, basil, chives, parsley, and garlic
Cosmos, dill, alyssum, buckwheat, Plains Coreopsis and California Bluebell
Tomato varieties that do well here: Celebrity, Better Boy, and Big Beef
Open pollinators or heirloom – on the large side – Paul Robeson, Berkley Pink Tie Dye, Marglobe, Sioux. On the small side – Flamenco, Jaune Flamme, Solar Flare, Principe Borghese, Abu Rawan, San Marzano. Cherry and grape tomato varieties do well.
Purchasing plants: Look for vigorous plants; avoid wilted or stressed plants, avoid discolored or malformed plants. NOTE: Plants that have set fruit early in the season may not be able to support the fruit, (especially of larger varieties).