planting fall tomatoes

pattyokieJuly 23, 2009

I put some broken off tomato branches in water a month or so again, as per y'alls instructions & the jar they are in on my windowsill is full of roots now. I know it is time to plant for fall, but do I pot them into dirt first now or can I just plant them in the ground? Also, do they need to be hardened off like seedlings would? Thanks.

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I always pot them up in dirt first after they form roots and then harden them off. Because it is so hot, I'd harden them off in shade or dappled shade the first couple of days and then gradually expose them to more sunlight. They do need to be hardened off because they haven't been out in direct sun lately.

If you haven't hardened off plants before, it is 1 hour the first day, 2 hours the second, etc. for about a week. Watch them carefully because they are very vulnerable to heat/sunlight at this time of year.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 7:04PM
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Thanks, Dawn. Got it started. Some of my "spring" tomatoes are so far behind I think they are going to be fall tomatoes too. I might not get too many before frost, but once years ago I wrapped in newspapers all the green tomatoes that were left before it froze, put them in a box in my pantry & they ripened a little at a time. We had our last summer tomato on Dec. 16. There is always hope. (and next year)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 11:49PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Patty, You're welcome. Some of my spring tomatoes are going to be fall tomatoes too, barring some sort of massive disaster like hail or deer suddenly deciding they can jump a 7' tall fence after all.

I was looking at the fall seedlings, which have struggled in the heat and are still pretty small, and wondering where I am going to put them. Of course, I'll find room for them, and it is a nice problem to have. Normally, at this point in time the spring tomatoes are just burning up from the heat and I am so ready to yank them out and start over.

Oddly, the backwards weather....with the big heat in June/early July, and the recurring cold fronts in July since then, has given me some pretty wonderful tomato plants for this late in the year. When it was over 100 every day (and with heat index numbers that were unreal)and we were having rain once or twice a week, the plants got Septoria Leaf Spot and a little Early Blight and seemed destined for an early death. However, I removed all the diseased foliage and kept watering the plants. I then fed them with a Bloom Booster fertilizer when a cold front was coming and almost all of them survived the heat and disease, produced a heavy crop of tomatoes, and continue to grow, bloom and set fruit even now.

I thought this year would be almost a total washout in terms of tomato production because the weather was just so wrong at every turn, but I was wrong. They were very late though, compared to most years. On the bright side, that means more tomatoes later in the summer than usual.

So, instead of bemoaning the fact that it "could have been" a great tomato year if only the weather had behaved, I am now arriving at the "too many tomatoes and I am sick of them" stage. NOT sick of eating them, but sick of harvesting, washing, sorting, putting some aside for fresh eating and then dehydrating or freezing the rest. Luckily, production has dropped some and I now am harvesting only every third day, so some of my tomato overload is decreasing. I've only had to dehydrate tomatoes 3 days this week (they piled up when I had the flu last week) and have only cooked tomatoes down into a puree to freeze twice. Today with be the third day of cooking, and I hope my last for a few days.

I'm looking forward to the fall crop.

Some years I store tomatoes the way you do by wrapping them in paper and putting them in the tornado cellar. (I would have had a bigger tornado shelter put in if I had realized what a great root cellar it would be!) Other years, if the plants are simply covered in fruit and the coming frost or freeze is so severe that I know I cannot save them by covering them up, I pull up the plants roots and all, and hang them upside down in the tornado shelter or garage. I do the same thing with pepper plants. I usually can continue to pick ripening tomatoes and peppers from those plants for several more weeks.

This talk of fall tomatoes has me ready for fresh plants and 'new chances' but I'm also already working on my list of varieties to grow next year, while I have this year's performance fresh in my mind. Thank goodness there's always next year to look forward to!


    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 7:42AM
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