Hot Weather Tomatoes

brendanhMay 24, 2008

It's hit the point in Central Texas where we're running highs in the mid 90s every day and lows in the mid 70s, so I find myself looking back at the two dozen tomato plants I put in (this is my first year growing tomatoes) and trying to diagnose what worked and what didn't

I'd put in eight Brandwine plants, and thus far one of them has set one tomato. They've grown huge and look healthy, but the blossoms always turn yellow and fall off after blooming.

I also had a half-dozen Roma plans, and those are doing so well that they're actually still setting new tomatoes. They were very slow to grow at first, and are less than two feet tall, but each Roma plant has at least a half dozen tomatoes growing on it, and the largest has 20.

I also had three cherry tomato plants (not sure the variety, just a standard red cherry I picked up at the nursery) and those have 20+ tomatoes each on them, some of which have already ripened and been eaten. They also seem to still be setting even in the heat.

Finally, I had a Marglobe, a Cherokee Purple and a yellow tomato I don't recall the name of. The Marglobe is undersize, but had set four so far. The yellow one has set one. The Cherokee Purple set three early on which are getting close to ripe, but for the last month all blossoms have fallen off after blossoming.

Overall, I'm a bit disappointed because aside from the Romas I'd mostly put in Brandywines, and they just don't seem to want to set. I'm thinking it may be a climate issue. We have a pretty narrow window between when it becomes hot and sunny during the day (and the tomatoes really start growing well) and when the nights never get below 70. (And this year has been especially bad in that respect.)

So while I'm very pleased with my cherry and Roma tomato selections, I'm thinking I need to pick new varieties next year for some large tomatoes. The one Cherokee Purple did well enough I could see putting in a few next year, especially if I start them earlier. (I planted in mid March.)

Any other suggestions on large varieties that set better in warmer weather?

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I am in spring, North of Houston. I always start planting on president day, feb 18th and stagger plant till about middle of March. Look for JD's Early Tex Black, Dona, Celebrity, Goliath,Carmello,Juanne Flamme, Sugar shack, Sugary, Black from Tula, Black Seaman.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 11:32PM
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I've have wonderful luck with Celebrity, BHN 444, and the TX long as ya plant early as ya stated..don't forget about the rutgers...they also do well in our state.
Brandywines..good luck...I maybe get 2 or 3...they don't like our weather..I grow some Brandy Boys with a little more success..
along with others..Homestead, florida 91..

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 11:35PM
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Thanks. I'll note those down to try next year.

Unfortunately, the tomato growing urge took me suddenly and without research this year while I was looking at seeds at Lowes, so I ended up with a lot of Brandywines because the "organic, heirloom variety" sounded cool, and Romas because we buy a lot of those when making pizza and salsa.

The actual plants that I picked up at the nursery later seem to have been a better fit for the climate, but they're out numbered.

I almost ripped out all the Brandywines except the one with the tomato this weekend when I was planting the last of my eggplant seedlings, but the plants themselves look so big and healthy I couldn't bring myself to do it. Not rational perhaps, but oh well...

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 11:42AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Hi brendanh - U of AR, U of FL, and Texas A&M have developed several heat tolerant varieties over the years - bred just for your growing conditions. Some of them are quite good. AR Traveler is one from AR that is an OP heirloom and very good. It is a standard in our garden.

There are many others. To name a few: Solar Fire, Heatwave, Solar Set, Spitfire, Sun Master, Super Sioux (see the name pattern ;) are larger fruit hybrids but several of them get good reviews. Best bet is just to try several and see which best meet your expectations and do well in your garden.

And as others have said - planting as early as possible is a big help too.

Good luck with your garden.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 12:32PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Some in hot climates have good success with Brandywine others don't and it's hard to judge b'c they don't always report when they set plants out or what the conditions are.

Brandywine does have problems setting fruit for many, even where it isn't hot. Next time when the blossoms appear shake the plants a couple of times each day to help facilitatie pollenization.

Also, you might try Red Brandywine ( watch your source on this one) as well as OTV Brandywine ( stable natural cross of Yellow Brandywine X ????) b'c both of those have done better in the south than Brandywine for many folks. I know they aren't Brandywine, but both are excellent tasting.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 1:58PM
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sort of on topic...I refuse to buy Corporate plants too at the Big Box ( you mentioned Lowes). Cheff Jeff and Bonnies have taken over down the Houston area, as well as Calloways up more near Hill Country. Refuse to but these. I like to support my local growers in Conroe, Liverpool and the nurseries that use local growers like the Guenthers. So I only buy at local, one location nurseries. another reason is like what happened yesterday: As I was checking out at my fav place in Houston, ( APIT) I was able to speak directly with the tomato grower. He plants hundreds/thousands of seeds in his own greenhouse. I buy from him. So there I was yesterday able to tell him real time what is doing good, what is not and tell him some requests for next year.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 2:34PM
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Large varieties for hot weather (above 100 degrees):

Mexico, Giant Belgium, Stump of the World, Marianna's Peace, Big Beef, Brandy Boy, Boondocks

Medium varieties: Stupice, Jetsetter, Arkansas Traveler, Burgundy Traveler, Manalucie, Moskvich, Orange Russian 117 (altough these can grow to beefsteak size), Peron, Jubilee, Heidi


just about all cherry/grape tomatoes.

And FYI I have found that it does help with fruit set if you shade them in the hottest part of the day, and hose them down with cool water when the humidity is low.

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 4:15PM
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tomatonut(9a FL)

I live in Florida and planted Thai Pink Egg, I believe the seeds were brought back from a fishing trip to Thailand by the guy that runs/owns Baker Creek Heirloom seeds. These tomatoes worked great in the heat...based on that I have been on the lookout for anything else they grow in Thailand.

I think they sell those seeds at Baker Creek--I'm all out or I would be happy to send some.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 5:28PM
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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

Well it ain't over this year...there's always the fall so order some seeds and get ready to start some again. I'll be yanking up the determinates in August and starting over. I plant two plantings in North Texas cause I just love trying tomatoes.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 6:16PM
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I have never had any luck with Brandywine here. Although I'm trying two different strains and a little different growing methods this year. We have lots of hot dry winds. It is already in the 90's and our last frost was 2 weeks ago. We can have several days with the highs in the100's and the lows in the upper 70's to low 80's. So far I've found a few op's that seem to do well and will set in the heat. And have a few standby hybrids. Goliath hybrid, Heartland hybrid, Old Fashioned Goliath, Porterhouse hybrid, Brandyboy hybrid, Bonnies Original hybrid (8-12 oz), Chapman , Kellog's Breakfast, Texas Star( a great bicolor), Adelia (8-12 oz), Caspian Pink , Florida Pink, Coustralee, Vintage Wine Striped(6-10 oz) and Mr Bruno are all ones which have produced well for me. These are medium to large for me. I'm trying 40 plus new varieties this year so should have some new ones come fall. I didn't include the great tasting ones with modest to average production. Just the ones with above average production. Many of these you may have to start seeds for. Hope you find some you like that will do well for you. JD

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 6:32PM
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I have yet to have a healthy tomato plant here in Gainsvile FL in July. The heat and humidity don't do the toms any favors. I think Carla in Sac might be right about the shade during the mid day. I have yet to come up with a spot to try it out, but the Florida sun here is way too hot. The humidity is also said to hinder pollination. One of the reasons I have yet to grow in the shade is because that is where all my best grass is. Which is another thing that is supposed to like full sun.

I just checked out a book from our public library. "Florida Greenhouse Vegetable Production Handbook Volume 3" It's from 1991 by IFAS and the University of Florida.

A quote...
"Full sunlight on a clear summer day is about 10,000 foot candles. Photosynthesis will not be affected by variations in light intensity above 3000-5000 foot candles. In the summer, on clear days, growers can shade the houses 30%-40% without sacrificing growth since the reduced sunlight is still above the light saturation point for photosynthesis. Shading is actually beneficial since it lowers the temperature in the plant canopy by reducing the amount of radiant energy reaching the plant."
That was from from page 1.

Another quote...
"Pollination is achieved by vibrating the flower cluster for a seecond or two with some sort of electric vibrator." A little later in the paragraph, "Vibrating is not effective on cloudy days because the humidity prevents pollen dehiscence even with vibration." page 38

And one more..
"Tomatoes perform best if the day temperatures do not rise above 85 degrees F. This temperature is impossible to maintain in the fall and spring without some type of shading." Page 44.
My point is this, in addition to finding heat resistant varieties, it might be of benifit to think outside the "full sun" box when chosing a location. The varieties you want to grow might do OK with some modifications to conventional wisdom. I am considering starting some new plants just to try some of this out. I'm such a nerd! :)

Good luck


    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 11:30PM
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fliptx(Houston 9)

What does well and what doesn't seems to vary year by year... Last year I had excellent results with Arkansas Traveler, and this year it's just so-so. Last year I had so-so results with Marglobe, but this year there are lots of tomatoes. Two years ago I planted a single Brandywine and had about 20 pounds of fruit from it.

I've been told Eva Purple Ball does well when it's warmer, and so far I have a lot of little toms on it. We'll see if it keeps going.

I've been thinking about giving Sunmaster a try.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 11:46PM
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tomatonut(9a FL)

Vance--I am located in Gainesville and I have had some luck with the smaller fruits (esp. Juliet, Thai Pink egg, and Yellow Pear) in the summer months. While I haven't found a good big tomato for the heat of the summer (my Arkansas Travelers don't like me very much)I can usually get tomatoes throughout the summer.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 9:31AM
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I was just introduced to a variety that is
doing well in our Valley. It is called "Shady Lady".

Provides very nice canopy.

We have regular 105+ days here in the
upper Sacramento Valley and this variety
is supposed to be heat tolerant also.

Anyone have past experience with it?

I am happy so far

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 12:08PM
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I too have had problems because of the heat. This is my second growing year and I thought I would be successful at getting significant fruit set before the heat began, but I have not been pleased. I'm learning though.

First, I think it's crucial to take advantage of the month or so of prime growing time to get plants established and blooming. I can't start as early as you since I'm more North, but the heat comes just as soon.
I think I failed this year because my transplants were not big and healthy enough when I planted them. My plants pretty much sat there for three weeks to a month. Looking back on it, I may have overfertilized the planting holes.
I did have success with my Rutgers and large red cherry plants with about 20 or 30 tomatoes on each of these plants. I have a variety of other plants, with only a couple tomatoes some of the plants.
I think I am going to try more early and mid-season varieties in the future. This Fall I am trying Eva Purple Ball, Stupice, Black Cherry and Rutgers.
I am going to keep some of my current plants alive through the summer and see if they set fruit in the Fall.
I'll keep trying.


    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 11:45AM
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nip-n-tat(8 centex)

I had amazing luck with the Ceylons last year. The heat and humidity is almost unbearable this year already! This year in the nursery I sold the "sun" varieties; sunmaster, sunfire, spitfire, solarset, BHN 640... along with heirlooms. I also put them in my own garden and the "sun" variety have taken off! Mexico, jetsetter, healthkick and Margherita are loaded! I used the "Earl Hole Method" and modified it to organic, and the plants are just huge and loaded with blooms! But the REAL test is in the taste...

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 12:23PM
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So what is the theory on growing during the hot summer months. Is it advised to keep planting new plants so they mature a little later than the ones already planted? I have celebrities, Big Boy, Goliath, and early girl. Will they produce until frost or will i just get one good batch. The celebrities have about 15-20 fruits on each one, the goliath's have 4-5 each, the big boy and early girl have only 1. I'd like to do something to be sure I have fresh tomatoes until late fall. suggestions?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 4:32PM
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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

Personally I'm for replanting. Most of the time the plants look horrible by August and probably have major spider mite problems from all the heat and drought. If you start over you can keep the young plants out of the major heat by potting up/moving them around and then put them in the ground in mid to late August. I have been caught with lots of "just turning" tomatoes by a freeze but if you pick them they will ripen.

It's as much a gamble as planting early but it's the one I go with. You could always leave a couple of spring plants and see how it goes. Your area might work better for that.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 6:12PM
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I'm new to tomato gardening, so this is probably a stupid question. What color are tomato blossoms supposed to be? I'm getting yellow blossoms but I haven't seen any fruit (on a bunch of different tomato varieties). I'm in southern AZ and I'm wondering if I started too late. I started my seeds indoors on Feb 29, started moving things outside early-mid April. It's been close to 100 several days already, lows at night in the 60s.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 10:30PM
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Thanks for all the great feedback, folks. I'm noting down all the varieties that have worked for people in the heat and adding them to my wishlist over at Reimer Seeds -- which I discovered after I had plants in the ground, as I started to google my way to knowing something about tomatoes.

Question from the people suggesting fall planting: When temperature-wise does it work best to put in a second round if you're going to try for a fall crop? Everyone talks about needing to get things ripe and taken in before the first frost, but down here in the Austin area the ground never freezes and even if we see some frost on the roof, it's generally not cold enough to freeze puddles or anything.

Would I plant seedlings in September (still pretty hot around here) and harvest in December or what? Does it matter if it's still really hot when the seedlings go in, or is it just the tomato setting that doesn't go well in high heat? And how much frost can a tomato stand?

Alternatively, I'd thought about putting in some of the stuff that simply won't grow during the rest of the year here (like cabbages and potatoes) and growing those through the winter. I guess there's still plenty of time to decide.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 11:19PM
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Let me share a not so secret technique. I get half a dozen to a dozen brandywines set on the three Sudduth selections I put out.
I start crazy early. I planted these with backups ready to replace them. Last frost date is March 15 for me. I plated mine out on February 29th and took measures to ensure their survival during marginally cool weather.

Later when the plants were blooming I would vibrate the cages. Just tap the cage with thepalm of the hand to get it vibrating.. I could see the pollen shaking in the air when I did this.

1> Get the plants established and blooming ASAP.

  1. Help them set fruit by vibration etc especially with compound flowers that Brandywine has.. Once day time temps are over 85 consistantly, fruit set is over for Brandywine. Other varieties will continue and not require such heroic efforts. Depends on if the variety is worth the effort to the grower.
    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 1:36AM
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suze9(z8b Bastrop Co., TX)

I'm in the same general area as you are (Austin/Bastrop), and the first week of March is a good target planting date, most of the time (subject to long-term weather forecast). Even a few days earlier if you can and are willing to protect the plants for those occasional late close calls we get. Once you get into mid-March (or later) territory, it can sometimes be a bit late. One thing I've learned to do is stagger my plantings a bit as yummykaz also mentions doing. I may put some in as early as mid-Feb, and some as late as the third wk of March or so.

Really, you could even have a few plants out in containers catching the sun and growing as soon as the second wk of Feb, just protect them or put them in the garage or whereever when temps get below 40 or so at night.

But my main/target plantout date for the bulk of my plants is Mar 5-7. Those further south can go a week or two earlier, most yrs.

Some plant a week later, some a week or so earlier, but what most folks in our area that get good fruitset have in common is that they plant out large (8-12", or larger) healthy transplants. What were the size of your transplants when you set them out in the garden?

I've found it also helps to periodically shake your plants to help them pollinate. Brandywine is one var in particular that shaking can really help with re pollination.

Recommended vars for good fruitset in the heat? Nothing is guaranteed dependable every single year here, but in general, just about any cherry or smaller fruited type. I really do feel that timing of planting (occasionally taking chances) and having large transplants is the most important factor. Having said that, here are some general recommendations:

Arkansas Traveler
Break O'Day
Big Beef
Gregori's Altai
Brandy Boy (tends to do/set better here than Brandywine)
Black Cherry
Tasmanian Blushing Yellow (may be hard to find)
Jet Star
Aunt Ginny's Purple
Cherokee Purple
Indian Stripe (similar to CP)
Green Giant
Gary O'Sena
Jaune Flammee
Sweet Quartz F1
Lime Green Salad
Sarnowski Polish Plum
Mountain Princess

just a few off the top of my head...

Fall crop is not what I would consider the main one here, but you should be able to manage a decent one most yrs. It seems to go from hot (little fruitset) to cold just like that. I always try a few larger fruited and/or later ones, but more often than not, the cherry types and early to mid sesson ones yield the best results. Again, results may vary a bit for those a little further south than us.

I start seeds for fall crop around the second or third wk of June and plant out around Aug 1. You can also take and root cuttings from your existing plants if they are in good shape and not too diseased.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 2:53AM
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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

In the fall stick with indeterminates. Up here in DFW, you start seeds July 1 and plant in the garden no later than Aug.20. Any frost will hurt tomato plants. It may or may not hurt the tomatoes. In Austin I would imagine the planting dates are two weeks different. If you grow indterminates, it doesn't matter if you miss a few blooms getting pollenated......they keep blooming. Personally I make more tomatoes in the fall as well as more peppers so I'd give it a try. You never know which may fit your personal style better.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 8:06AM
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katib_gardener: Tomato blossoms are yellow. I'm not sure why you're not getting fruit set yet, unless it has to do with the varieties you've got. I, too, live in Southern Arizona (Sahuarita, to be exact), and am pretty happy with mine so far: I've got a Roma in a self-watering pot, and a Sweet 100 and some yellow variety I can't remember the name of off my head in the garden, and all of them have many fruit  a couple of which are on the cusp of turning red (or yellow as the case may be). Hmmm ... I did purchase my plants, and they were already fairly large when I put them in the ground on April 6th, so it may be that mine are older than yours and that may be why I've got fruit now and you don't (yet).

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 4:30PM
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azmactech: Thanks for your help! I'm in SE Tucson, so we are close. I was worried it was already too hot. I saw my first tomato on one of my Early Girls tonight. It's one of my smaller plants, I went crazy and planted around 100 seedlings. I still have over 50 tomato plants after giving some away and a couple of died. I hope I have as good of luck as you have!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 9:57PM
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I have had pretty bad luck with fall crops. So I don't even bother. I also have not been pleased with anything starting with "sun" or "solar" anything! I planted around Feb 18th and all my tomatoes are ripening super fast right now with all this heat. PLEASE bring June July 07 back!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 10:53PM
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OK, so I think I made some first timer mistakes this time, I started seeds Feb 29 and started moving stuff outside here in early-mid April. I just started seeing my very first tomatoes yesterday. I also didn't do a good job of picking heat resistent varieties and it's been well above 90 for several weeks here. So I'm trying to figure out if I can plant a crop for fall. We get monsoons here starting in mid-July through early Aug, so I'm thinking I want to shoot for a target date of moving stuff outside sometime in Aug. We rarely get frost, the ground doesn't freeze here. Are there any varieties that will tolerate the August heat in Tucson AZ and produce fruit before it gets too "cold". Not sure what too cold is, Oct. gets lows in mid 50s, highs in 80s; Nov. lows mid-40s, highs mid-70s.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 9:06PM
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I also live in Arizona..up in the NW Phoenix area.. Back in LATE March I planted a few Early girls and one determinate Patio variety in some 5 gallon buckets from home depot and in glazed pots. We have enjoyed a few tomatoes so far. Maybe close to 7 of the Early girls. On the determinate plant I have about 20 tomatoes, and I picked the first ripe on of the plant today. I am going to try and see if the Early girls will produce through the fall, they still have blooms and some tomatoes on them, so we will see. I would like to get a cherry tomato plant and start that in the middle of September since the weather is mild till the end of November.If anyone has idea's on what types are good let me know, I am a new gardener too!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 10:50PM
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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

Ok here's how you have to work the's kinda hard to think backwards when thinking about temps but if you learn how to you can get better harvest in the fall.

Some facts.....big bushes can have more flowers which makes more tomatoes which require big bushes to supple norishment. Blossoms set best when daytime temps are between 65-85 and night time temp between 55-75. (I think that's the correct numbers) So if you plant indeterminates early and the plants grow then when the temps cooperate you have big plants and lots of blooms. Now the only problem is you have to get those tomatoes big and ripe. Sometimes mother nature brings an early frost and you have a table full of green tomatoes that hopefully will ripen. Personally I never have problems with tomatoes growing in the heat.....the problem is setting. Since heat comes fast here but winter comes slowly if at all, I have a better fall harvest in the fall.

Now someone said they have more rain in the fall. This could cause fungal problems but there is Serenade and mulching and good ventilation goes a long way.

My theory is if you're not gardened out by the end of summer you might as well try it. You never know it could work out and it gives you another opportunity to try more varieties.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 11:35PM
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I guess I just don't see what all the fuss is about, unless what you REALLY want is a particular kind of tomato (i.e. Brandywine)

All the tomatoes I listed in my earlier post don't care about the often-repeated "no blossom set above 85 degrees". I get tomatoes (fruit) all summer long from them, even when it's 110 degrees. However, I don't get Brandywines to set much in July and August, or many other varieites. But they do set in June and September, so I harvest them other times. If you have a small garden, just plant the heat-loving varieties. If you have room for more, plant them all like I do, and you'll have something yummy every month.

HOWEVER, I will add this caveat--I am talking HEAT, not humidity. Since I have no experience growing in hot, humid conditions, I can't say this advice will work there (which relates back to my post months ago about asking everyone to post where they live, because experience/advice in one climate does not necessarily fly in another)

Get yourself some Manalucies and Mexicos, and forget the Early Girls! :)

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 12:07AM
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Thanks Carla. Since I'm new at this, I wasn't sure if my plants would survive the summer and still be able to set fruit once it cools down again. It sounds like that is the case? I've got early girls that I've planted already and they have just started to set fruit. After those have set fruit, are they "done" for the year? If there's no hope for them producing the rest of the year, I'm thinking of replacing them with some of the varieties you listed above.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 9:37AM
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Is it too late to start tomatoes? I am in the Pasadena area of Los Angeles, meaning it will get VERY hot starting in July, and stay that way until through about October. By very hot, I mean 90+ degree temps.

I just bought an Earthbox and was contemplating planting tomatoes in it, but think it might be too late. It will be mild where we are (and by mild I mean upper 70s to mid 80s) until July. Should I wait until fall to plant?

Thanks -- I'm totally new. This is my first year trying to grow tomatoes!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 2:02PM
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You can plant any time, just make sure you keep it watered well and SHADE the transplant until it starts growing again after it's in the ground (like put a little table over it so it gets no direct sun)

And, of course, plant a heat-loving variety. :)

Tomatoes will continue to grow all winter unless you get frost, but in my experience once it hits October/November, the flavor goes really downhill and they get mealy. A little better than supermarket ones, but nowhere near as sweet and rich as summer ones, regardless of the variety.

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 2:13PM
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mflocco(z8b Austin)

I'm in Austin as well. I've got Stupice, Yellow Pear, Red Pear, and Green Zebra plants in the ground. I started them in January from seed, transplanted the first week of March. Sun started moving in the sky and I realized I was only getting about 3 hours on the garden - so I moved my entire garden into the front yard in mid-April. Finally, the plants started to take off, flower, set fruit. Then a couple weeks ago we had 3" hail and it demolished my plants. I persevered and figured it was worth a shot after all I'd gone through to try to get something out of them. Some pics of the carnage:

The plants are coming back but fruit set is spotty with our temps in the upper 90s. I'm still hopeful...

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 3:36PM
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You go mflocco!

I'm actually up in Round Rock, and our hail was only about 1.5 inches in that storm. As it was starting, I ran outside and moved the picnic table over the tomatoes in order to protect them. So the plants all came through okay.

I'm tempted to start some new seeds with the more heat tolerant varieties that people have mentioned, but I've still got a couple dozen Romas and lots of cherry tomatoes ripening -- and I think my wife is enjoying not having little flats of seeds lying around her kitchen, so I think it may be time to wait for fall for me.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 6:38PM
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mflocco(z8b Austin)

Update on the Central Texas heat's impact on tomatoes (highs in the upper 90s, lows in the mid 70s):

Yellow Pear: Flowering, not setting fruit.
Red Pear: Flowering, not setting fruit.
Stupice: Flowering, not setting fruit.
Green Zebra: Flowering like a mother, not setting fruit.

In other words, I have to decide: Will I leave these plants in, and hope the temps drop at some point so I can set some fruit, or should I rip them out and put in something more heat-friendly like squash or peppers? I've already started new tomato plants from seed for my fall planting in August.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 9:47PM
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The only toms still setting fruit for me are an early girl that gets about 4 hours of sun a day and a sun gold.
This spring was really tough in DFW imho. We went from cool nights in the 50's and days in the 60-70's, with clouds and rain, directly to 90's, 70's with very high humidity. The normal spring window of setting fruit, especially for heirlooms was squeezed hard on both ends. My poor brandywine has one lonely tom on it, though the plant is between six and seven feet tall and healthy as a horse. Even Cherokee Purple set only about 10 per plant, which is well off from last year, dang it. They appear to be through setting as well, barring a shocking turn around in the weather.

Next year, I'll plant even earlier than March 15 and cover the plants at night. I don't expect much improvement though, b/c with the cold ground in Feb, the plants don't grow much. I really think we can't control the elements, just do the best we can with what we're given, which wasn't much this year.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 12:09PM
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mflocco(z8b Austin)

Mine, since they had been damaged by the hail in the pics above, came back just in time to blossom in the 95+ heat here in Austin. Meaning, I've got a total of 4 pieces of fruit, 3 of which are yellow pears. What a bummer. Next year I'm going to do the same - get them in the ground in February, and have a backup set of plants in case it freezes. If it doesn't, I'll give them to a friend in March.

I'm starting to lean towards pulling all the plants without fruit and using that space for something else. I seriously doubt this weather's going to cool off much.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 2:45PM
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kawaii_fruit(9-TX Gulf Coast)

The only toms that are really setting for me are cherries...the celebrities might have 2 tiny toms going among 6 plants, the black russians and mr stripeys aren't really flowering (though they were set out about 2 weeks after the cherries/celebrities), my arkansas travelers aren't growing at all (they seriously are the same size as they were 3 weeks ago--about 6 inches above the soil-- whereas the lemon boy that was planted at the same time has doubled in size to about 2.5 ft tall)
My problem is the cherries aren't coloring. I've had some for almost a month that are still as green as they were to begin with. Supposedly heat plays a part in coloring too. I've been checking, and they're not softening, which can happen, but there's not even a hint of color change.
My fall list includes a lot more cherries and other smallish fruiting varieties. I'm starting the seeds now, and will start a second set in 2 weeks or so, giving me a backup if something happens to the first set (only 1 plant of each variety/set of seeds).

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 11:14AM
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mflocco(z8b Austin)

I'm idiotically stubborn and plan to try the same varieties for fall: Yellow/Red Pear, Green Zebra, and Stupice. Here in Austin our weather is forecast to drop to around 90 mid-week next week -- if so, here's hoping we get some fruit set.

I didn't realize there were issues with coloring with heat, but I'm not surprised. This heat can't possibly be good for anything. My second replant of squash is looking better, but I'm expecting squash vine borers any day now...

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 9:11PM
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You're planting Yellow AND Red Pear??? Both of them are cute, but both of them are fairly blech! in taste. I would suggest you switch at least one of them out for a yummy grape-type, such as Sugary or Tami-G for reds, or Golden Honey Bunch for yellows.

And as to the heat issue, I also have experienced tomato ripening really slows down in the heat, which seems counter-intuitive, but it does.

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 9:46PM
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mflocco(z8b Austin)


Thanks for the feedback. I'll definitely add a tasty grape variety and drop one of the pears. Since I got no fruit from my spring planting, I had no idea they had lame flavor. I pictured the two of them mixed on a salad, looking pretty and hopefully tasting wonderful. I'm not growing for pictures, though!

Thanks again.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 6:02PM
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tinasarkcom(Somewhere Around 6)

Oh this is SUCH a good thread! Thank you all for posting.

I'm in a hot day cool night area (New Mexico mountains, near ABQ.) and growing veggies for the first time ever. I bought a "HeatWave" plant. It's pretty and growing, and one out of four flowers are now a tomato (the other flowers fell off) :( . I'm doing all this in a raised garden bed. My pH just tested 6.5. Any suggestions on what to add (bone meal?) to lower that pH? I understand that tomatoes like 4.5 pH?

And thanks brendanh for starting this thread.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 9:44PM
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I'm in Austin and I think I'm having pretty good luck this year. It's been a long time since I've tried to grow anything but cherry tomatoes so I really don't know what to expect.

I got interested in heirloom and open pollenated varieties. I'm growing Bradley, Boxcar Willie, Green Zebra and something that I started from the seeds of an heirloom tomatoe I bought at Central Market. This one has a distorted/bi-lobed shape and a dark color. It produces well and tastes good.

I didn't take any notes, so I don't remember when I got them in the ground. It must have been late March. I already had fruit on the plants before the hail storm. The plants and some of the fruits were damaged but recovered quickly.

I'm having to pick the red fruits the day they start to show color - otherwise the leaf footed bugs or the birds ruin them. I'm letting them rippen inside under a dish towel.

Nothings seems to bother the Green Zebras. I guess the color is fooling critters. In fact, they are doing so well I'm thinking about canning some. The color is throwing me off just like it is with the birds and bugs. Canned tomatoes are supposed to be red. I would love to know if anyone has canned green or yellow varieties and if they would do it again?

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 12:26PM
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I live in North Eastern Thailand with daily temperatures of 90-100f, nights 75-85f. I am told here that it is too hot to grow tomatoes, other than the bullets sold here, but being a Brit I take that as a challenge. So I am looking for a suitable variety. In Europe we have a "Beef" or "Beefsteak" Tomato, which is big and juicy, with a typical fruit weighing up to 1lb. Does anyone have any ideas what variety would suit the conditions here and where I can get seeds from, mail order? Thanks

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 11:43PM
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I write from Oklahoma City. Until last year my tomatoes set in the 75-85 degrees of June but last year and this year it has been drought 1st quarter and up in the low 90's by first week of June so last years tomatoes were wiped out and this year looks like a repeat. Some "old vines" say their parents used to cover the tomatoes with burlap when it was too hot, and I have noticed that the beefboys that did set were those that had corn plants accidentally growing right up beside them shading them, so I am covering my beefboys and rutgers with black groundcloth to shade them. We will see how it works even though a lot of rutger blossoms have already dropped. I was encouraged by one article here about shading also.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 1:20PM
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Brit in Taipei, Taiwan.
Purchased some "Cherry Tomato" and "Tomato" (packet info: know-you seed co ( from the flower market. My balcony now has two containers. So hot and humid but they appear to be growing new leaves as the lower ones turn brown. Two green tomato appeared at last..

found one huge caterpilla (birdfood now).

Problem: leaves turning transparant or brown. New leaf growth showing. found some small white bugs, flicked them off, also some leaves with what looks like spiders webs

Anyone else have much experience growning tomatoes in Taipei or North Taiwan, offer any tips?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 2:01AM
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