Are you looking forward to using organic tomatoes that you planted yourself? Do you wonder when the best time to plant tomatoes in Georgia is? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’re at the right place. The best time to plant tomato seedlings in Georgia is between mid-march and early May.
If you are planning to grow tomatoes from seeds, then you need to start our seeds indoors as early as February. Knowing the best variety of tomatoes to plant outside in Georgia and the right time to plant them can get tricky. We have come to your rescue, and in this post, we discuss the best season to plant tomatoes, take you through the planting and growing process all the way to harvesting. Read on to get equipped with all the information and knowledge that you need.
Best tomato variety to plant in Georgia
Heirloom plants are amazing since you don’t need a large garden to plant them. All you need is a container plus the right conditions, and you have the juiciest tomatoes growing in your backyard. There are two popular heirloom tomato varieties: determinate and indeterminate.
These do better in containers since they are compact and grow only to a maximum of 4ft tall. You only need to stack this breed of tomatoes when fruits start growing to support their weight. Determinate varieties produce fruits quite fast, and in less than three weeks, you’ll be ready to harvest. The only downside of this variety is that once you harvest, production goes down and they only produce a few fruits. The best determinate tomato varieties to grow in Georgia are San Marzano, Roma, and Mar globe.
Indeterminate varieties grow best in cages or when stacked and they can produce fruits all seasons round. For these varieties, ensure you provide the right support to enjoy clusters of juicy fruits with every harvest. Most tomato varieties that we grow in our backyards are indeterminate including dwarf, cherry, brandy wine and sun gold.
Requirements for growing tomatoes
For tomatoes to produce healthy and juicy fruits, you need to take care of them properly. Ensure you plant them in soil that’s rich in organic matter and is well-drained. You also need to apply fertilizer every month to boost nutrient absorption and water your tomatoes. Let’s look at these requirements in detail.
Just like any other plant, tomatoes do well in healthy and well-draining soil that is rich in humus or other organic matter. The soil should have a Ph range of between 6.0- 6.8 for optimum growth. You could consider having your soil tested for nutrients and Ph and correct any imbalance before planting.
Tomatoes need regular watering since they love moisture, experts advise watering your tomatoes at least twice a week. The best procedure for watering your tomatoes is using a soaker hose or through drip irrigation. When watering tomatoes, try to avoid wetting the leaves as it may result in rotting and diseases. If you opt for drip irrigation, ensure your pipes go beneath the mulch layer for it to maintain moisture.
Tomatoes need sunlight to grow and produce fruit. When planting your tomatoes either in a container or in your backyard, ensure there’s sufficient light. Tomatoes convert sunlight to energy that’s necessary for growing healthier fruits
Mulching is the process of applying material such as straw or pebbles to the surface of the soil. These materials help in retention of moisture, regulating growth of weeds and also improves soil composition. For tomatoes, it is advisable to apply a mulch of up to 3 inches.
Adding fertilizer to your soil ensure optimum growth of your tomatoes. Seaweed extract and fish emulsion are great options for tomatoes. You should apply fertilizer at least twice a month to replenish nutrients that might have been washed out by frequent watering.
Tomato stems require support for them to bear the weight of the fruits. Stakes and cages are great options to offer support to your plant.
Step by step process of growing tomatoes
In this section, we walk with you through your tomato planting and maintenance journey until its time to harvest. These are the key steps to follow when planting tomatoes.
- Identify where you want to plant your tomatoes and confirm if you have healthy and well-draining soil. If you intend to use a container, choose a wide container that will give the plant ample space to blossom. Your container should also have some holes at the base to aid in drainage. Ensure that the space you choose to plant your tomatoes has access to sunlight.
- Choose the right seedling variety and decide whether you want to start from seeds or you want ready seedlings. If you intend to start from seeds, we advise starting early and placing the plant indoors where there’s access to sunlight. You can then transplant them in your garden or large container after frost passes. The best time to plant your seedling outdoors is between mid-March and early May.
- When planting your seedlings, space them up to 20 inches apart to give each plant room and also to prevent diseases. You can mulch your plant at this point using organic matter such as straw.
- Once your plant is up, you need to water at least twice a week. Ensure soil is soaked up, and when rolled on your hands, it can form a ball without collapsing. Drip irrigation can be used when you have a lot of tomatoes in your garden. Ensure your drip goes under the mulch layer to help maintain the moisture. When tomato fruits are developing, ensure you water regularly to prevent calcium deficiency which causes splitting. After tomatoes ripen, you can reduce watering but ensure the plants don’t look withered at any time.
- Remove bottom leaves that are at the foot of the stem when your plant is more than 2 feet tall. These leaves are prone to fungal diseases and soil-borne pathogens and remove them helps to minimize such issues.
- Prune suckers grow at the joint of two branches since they consume energy yet they won’t produce fruits. You can let the rest of the leaves be since they help in photosynthesis, but if you feel they prevent fruits from adequate sunlight, you can reduce some.
- Apply fertilizer at least once a month to keep your tomatoes healthy and rich in nutrients.
- In north Georgia, tomatoes are susceptible to blight which is a dark fungal growth. To get rid of blight, use a fungicide such as copper and keep your garden free from any organic debris.
- When your fruits start ripening, it is time to harvest. You can harvest tomatoes when still green or wait for them to ripen completely. For unripe tomatoes, store them in a room that’s well ventilated and has a temperature of 21 degrees Celsius. For ripe fruits, you can refrigerate them and keep using them even for months.
Some fun facts about tomatoes
- Tomatoes are fruits and not vegetables
- Tomatoes are the worlds most demanded fruits. Over 60 million tons of tomatoes are produced annually
- In Spain, there’s an annual tomato festival where people throw tomatoes at each other for fun
- Tomato juice is the state drink in Ohio
- Tomatoes gain weight even after harvest as they ripen
Growing your own tomatoes is exciting and also economical. If you love gardening, then you will enjoy summer that’s full of tomato vibes. Growing tomatoes in your garden doesn’t have to be complicated; you only need passion and the right conditions. If you leave in northern Georgia, you can enjoy two seasons of tomato planting, the second being in July.
When planting tomatoes, ensure you choose the best organic soil that is well-draining. Choosing a sunny spot is also key in ensuring that your plants blossom. Ensure you water and fertilize tomatoes regularly for healthy and sweet harvest. Organically grown tomatoes are tastier compared to commercially grown tomatoes. You can consider consulting an expert to have your soil pH, and nutrient level checked. We hope that this information helps and inspires you to start your tomato farm. Ensure you apply the tips we have shared for a bountiful harvest.