Hi all! I'm new to Florida, and wondering about growing a Fall crop of tomatoes. When should I start my seeds indoors if I want a good Fall crop? I'm hoping to try about 20 Rutgers plants for canning. Thoughts??
Where are you? Florida is a big state and the date depends on your location.
as a noobie i'm all ears
Tina is right, there are THREE planting zones in Florida with significantly different times to either set plants or sow seed, it definitely depends on where you live....
i have about 600sq ft indoors to start plants (warehouse with /ac ..no heat)
any tips on when to start for the fall planting in zone 10a
and tips what grows good here in 10a
thanks tom for that link...:)
I'm in the Daytona area, so I'm thinking I'm in 9B, right? ...Thanks so much for your help!!
Cllick on the link above that Tom provided for you and review the planting dates for Central Florida. You'll want to start seeds 4 weeks or so before the planting date. So for a Labor day planting date, start your tomato seeds around August first. Good Luck!
So glad you posted this question!
So if you start seeds indoors what should you do about lighting? Is it ok to start tray near a window, Or should I invest in one of those adjustable light kits for seed starting. I am a bit concerned about the heat the light will put off.
I'm in DeLand west of Daytona and I started Fall tomato seeds yesterday. As for where to start seeds, this time of the year I do it outside in my screened pool enclosure. I use soil less coir for the starting medium, keep it damp with frequent watering and with heat from the sun seeds sprout in only a few days. When I pot the seedlings up, I keep them in the same location. My seedlings are on a table with wheels that I can wheel back under the porch overhang to protect them from rain.
Here is a link that might be useful: the FAQ page from the seed forum is a great resource
This info is strictly for INDETERMINATE plants:
Regardless of grow lights or window light you need to determine WHEN your NIGHT temperatures will drop below 73F, that's the magic number for tomato blooms to set fruit here in Florida. Start your seeds 10 weeks before that and plan 6 weeks of seedling growth and 4 weeks of set growth so that your plants will start to set fruit at the 2 foot level.
This link is for St. Pete, find it for your area and look at the months of August-October to determine when you hit that magic night low of 73F, for me it's October 3rd, then count backwards....
Of course, this doesn't take into consideration hurricanes, so always start extra seeds two weeks after your initial starts just in case, better late than never ;-)
The night temperatures in Inverness are already/still less than 73. My tomatoes are still setting fruit. So what to do, Tom? I'm thinking that I should go ahead and start my tomatoes and just snip the flowers until the plants get big enough.
Wow, Tom, way more scientific than I've ever gotten on that issue!
But test my logic on this: I usually try to start my tomatoes in mid-August, which is really 12 weeks before the average lows get low enough for tomatoes to set fruit down here. But, we've had unusually hot Novembers that meant nothing started fruiting until December. And we've had unusually mild Octobers when tomatoes would set fruit. Sometimes it would get hot again and they'd stop for awhile, but the fruit that set seemed to be fine. Just like this year I figured my tomatoes were done by late April, but we had a few cool nights in May and I got an extended season. I hadn't thought of it in that scientific way that you do, but my logic is that I want to take advantage of any possibility of tomatoes setting fruit, so I start them earlier than ideal and leave them after I think they're probably done, just in case. (and for the cardinals)
I also usually up-pot seedlings at least once, and sometimes twice if October is still too brutal to set them out.
Is there a problem with my logic? If they get more growing time and start producing late on bigger plants, am I losing something? Taste maybe? Or, more likely, do I risk more bugs by giving the natural world more time to find my plants?
Larry, as long as your existing plants look good and are producing keep them going and start new seedlings for the fall. My sister in Lecanto is able to grow cherries all summer long since like you it's so much cooler there in the evening. Hopefully BR and Lou will be along soon to give you their experience since they are so close to you.
Susie, I looked at the Miami forecast and the estimated date for lows of 73F is 10/18, that would put your seed starting date at 8/9. Of course, like you said this is all a guestimate but is based on averages so you know how that goes....I've had hot-spells stall fruit-set too, and I do pot up at three weeks and stop the grow lights, taking them outside on the east side of the house where they get morning sun and afternoon shade for the next three weeks before they get set in the garden. I really want them setting fruit as low on the vine as possible but like we've discussed here, sometimes it's just too early due to excessive heat, and that's when the bugs become a problem. I will keep the plants longer now that I know the cardinals work them; I see them back there regularly but didn't know why :-(
Interesting Tom. Most interesting? When I went to your first link and then plugged in Miami instead of St. Pete, I got average lows getting down below 74 in mid-November.
Whatever you did got a different calendar. Not sure why that is.
Actually, at least for my little yard, I think early to mid-November is more likely. It's often still really hot here in October. My unscientific evidence for this: most years, I still swim in the unheated pool until the end of October. There was one year when it was too cold. That was the year when my tomatoes set fruit earlier than I expected and I was glad they were in the ground by late September.
So that's my backyard version of farming wisdom. If it's too cold to get in the pool, the tomatoes might be setting fruit because the night-time temperatures are also more important to my pool comfort than the day-time temperatures. My farming grandparents would find my ability to observe my environment via pool temperatures slightly ridiculous and slightly smart. :)
Now if I could just grow my grandmother's peas. They were family peas, lost now. Unlike tomatoes, peas as seeds don't survive more than a year, so if someone fails to plant them one year, they're gone. My father tried to track down my grandmother's peas, knowing they came from a neighbor of his when he was growing up in Plant City. He tracked down the now-retired neighbor kid he had fished with as a child some 60 years earlier. The poor guy called dad back immediately, desperately hoping dad had some of those peas. His family lost them too. Man they were good peas. A shame. And one of the reasons I plant some peas that I don't really have room for and don't harvest enough of to actually make a meal from. Just to keep the variety going, in case someday I have room for enough plants to make a meal. And to make sure I don't lose any family peas.
Could be the Zip Code, being close to the water I'm much warmer than central Pinellas so our bloom set dates will be off by 2-3 weeks....
What pea did you lose? Remember that my grandfather made a living farming year around, from south Georgia in the summer to what was then the edge of the Everglades in the fall and spring until the early 60's....
We don't even know what it was called, or its provenance, beyond being the family pea that my family got from another family in rural Hillsborough County. It was a wonderfully flavorful greenish, grayish pea, probably a crowder, but one that had been developed by generations of family farmers outside of Plant City and was perfect for the growing conditions there. It was given to my grandmother before my father was born, the way a special recipe might be given to an expectant mother, something important and worth holding on to. And she kept it faithfully.
She kept growing them, and canning them, into her 80s. But at that point, my father wasn't gardening at all, and was living in Northern Virginia, and I had left Florida and was living in South America. So there was no one to keep it going. And we lost it. We didn't even realize we had lost it until it was too late. Like I said, dad tracked down one of his childhood friends, a descendant of the family that gave it to my grandmother, and that man, by then retired, was hoping my dad still had it. He lost it too.
So your father farmed back and forth, in Georgia and Florida, following the crop seasons?
Bummer Susie, it would sure be great to know what heirloom that was and I'll bet they are still being grown in this area by someone. I looked at the East Hillsborough Historic Society in Plant City but they don't have a website, can be contacted via Facebook if you're interested but I don't do Facebook....
Yes, my grandfather on my mother's side farmed year around. My mom was one of fifteen, ten boys and five girls, all but two had no interest in the farm as livelihood though....
I fear a lot of heirlooms like that have been lost. No one named that pea and after so many generations being grown in Springhead, it was probably unique to a few families who were scraping by in a scrubby part of the earth.
I'm pretty sure all of the descendants of my greatgrandfather, who homesteaded in Springhead, have left farming. Dad grew up there and went to what were called "strawberry schools" because the children all went to school in the summer so they could be available to pick strawberries in the winter.
He got out as soon as he could, and didn't resume growing his own food until he retired a few years ago.
Did your grandfather farm this side of the Everglades or over there?
Tom, how did you find out the date of the 73 degrees nights. I looked at the site you posted and typed in my town. It only went to August.
Seems we all have too many sad stories of lost seed Susie. My grandfather built a house in Opa Locka and leased property on your side right on the edge of what was then the Everglades, now it's solid housing developments... you and I both know how far in developers have pushed the glades from what they used to be :-(
M, there's lots of scientific literature out there on this but here's the quick and dirty from the FAQ over at the Growing Tomatoes forum.
I couldn't make Tom's link work for my location, but I figured there must be some way to get at the weather data that is collected with our tax money. This site has all sorts of interesting stuff for many locations, and is free. You will have to have some computer skills as it is raw data and you'll have to manage it in a spreadsheet.
Here is a link that might be useful: NOAA - your taxes at work
And how much earlier from that date should we start peppers? ....apparently, I need to open my Tomato Growers catalog.
And how much earlier from that date should we start peppers?
Tomatoes set at 6-8 weeks from seed, peppers set at 10-12 weeks from seed....Both should be potted up at least once and many folks pot them up several times before set.
I live in Satellite Beach on the Banana River. I plant fall crop tomato plants the first week of September. Works great every year!
I start my tomatoes on July 10 here in Central Florida it goes well for me. grow them i containers so you can move them to cover them up. good gardening to all Tommy
I am in lower south Carolina zone 8 and would love to have a tomato for Thanksgiving and another for Christmas. I already have some small heirloom plants growing in pots. How can I get them to produce a tomato per above? I have fluorescent lights and can bring them into our 75 degree home throughout the time. Thanks, John