which variety of tomato is least likey to fail?

coengMarch 21, 2013

Last year my eight determinate tomato plants (from my local garden center) grew nicely and produced a decent number of fruit but due to the location of an elm tree in my back yard they did not receive optimal sunlight.

Some of the fruit ripened, others I had to pick and ripen on my window sill, some started splitting in the process of ripening (don't know why) but a good amount of tomatoes (the ones with later mature dates) just stayed green throughout August even though they were healthy in size and appearance.

I am having some branches trimmed off the elm next week that are directly over my garden limiting my morning sunlight. I'm hoping this will give me some edge this season.

I also want to increase my odds of a better crop this year by planning my selections a little better. Are there varieties of tomatoes that only require a portion of the sunlight to ripen that others require? I am willing to learn to grow from seed if I have to.

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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

coeng, do you have any idea how many hours of direct sunlight the area will receive? I used to grow tomatoes just a foot from the east (brick) wall of a 2-story house. So those tomatoes had sun from the NE IL summer sunrise until noon. They did well, even though they received nowhere near the amount of direct sun tomatoes are supposed to require.

There's also something called "bright shade." I have some experience with that (daylilies flowering where they shouldn't have), but I don't know how "bright shade" is defined. A few years back, there was a regular poster here whose Minnesota property was mostly dappled shade -- and with neighbors' trees he couldn't trim. He knew how much sunlight each square foot of that yard received, tucked his tomato plants into the sunniest spaces -- without regard for the landscaping -- and as I remember, had a fairly good harvest.

Tomatoes crack for different reasons. Some varieties (usually with thinner skin) are prone to certain patterns of cracking. So there are varieties you wouldn't want to buy. But if you dislike thick skin, your tomatoes will probably have more cracking.

Are you starting from seed this year, or will you buy seedlings again? Which varieties did you grow last year, and which varieties are your options this year?

When soil moisture is inconsistent, nearly all varieties are much more likely to crack. So to limit this type of cracking, keep soil moisture as consistent as possible. Mulching heavily helps (and also helps prevent disease-causing microorganisms from splashing onto the leaves). [You can use almost anything for mulch, including shredded office paper, newspapers, or straw.]

When there is suddenly a great increase in soil moisture, fruit tend to "burst." So when there's a forecast of a good rain, pick all the fruit which have begun to show yellow (the "breakers" stage), and ripen them inside. This will not affect their taste. Oh -- and sun isn't necessary to ripen them indoors.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 7:49PM
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I wonder if the early girl or shady lady varieties might work (or any other patio or early season varieties)?

I'd also be more apt to try smaller tomatoes (no beefsteaks) or some that are marketed for containers?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 12:42PM
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