Tomato advice from the experts

btbarbara(7b/8a)July 21, 2011

I've been reading everything I can find about growing tomatoes and reading all the posts on here all summer and planning for next year but I just can't wait. I decided to give it a try this fall. If I screw it up, at least maybe I'll learn something that will help me in the spring. I'm in middle GA so our first frost date is 10/30 I think...if it happens. It's not unusual for it to still be 80+ in October here and people who really baby their tomatoes can sometimes grow them all the way to Thanksgiving! (With my luck, I'll plant tomatoes now and we'll get a frost in August or this point anything to cool things off would be welcome!)

The thing is, I'm in information overload right now. I'd like some "regular" slicing tomatoes for sandwiches and whatever but also some sauce/paste tomatoes to make some homemade sauces for canning. Something that can handle the 90+ heat right now but also won't mind a freak cold snap in a couple of months. I assume it needs to be something that matures pretty fast. Since I'm a total newbie, it would be nice if it was pretty forgiving and not too finicky but I realize that's asking a lot. Space and sunlight is not a problem, but it does need to grow in a container and I need to figure out the optimal size container (I have a couple of empty 18-gal tubs, a couple of 31-gal tubs and various sizes of smaller pots.)

The garden centers around here are practically giving away the little tiny seedlings right now but they're also selling bigger plants that are already covered in fruit. The little guys would be cheaper but not sure if they'll have time to get where they need to be to set fruit before the weather gets too unpredictable.

So I'm looking at all the different varieties and maps and calendars and I'm just completely overwhelmed so I decided to ask the experts. Any recommendations for varieties that might suit my situation? I get paid this weekend so hope to hit the nursery on Monday. Thank you!

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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I'm not an expert, and I live in southwest Ohio so my conditions are different, but I've had pretty good luck growing tomatoes in containers for almost 20 years. My advice would be to try Early Girls, preferably the bush ones, which are determinate, although the regular indeterminte ones would do. They're disease resistant and can produce a lot of tomatoes in two to three months. I would choose short, compact plants that aren't root bound and haven't produced fruit yet. Although they're juicier than paste tomatoes, I've used them as slicers as well as sauce tomatoes. (Many paste tomatoes have a tendency to develop BER if you don't give them even watering.)

I would plant one per 18 gallons or two per 31 gallon container. Withe the bush type, you might be able to get away with two in 18 gallons or three in 31 gallons. I found them pretty forgiving and fairly good tasting. If you succeed, you might try something more adventurous next year.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 9:31PM
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Thanks so much! I definitely remember seeing Early Girl seedlings so that sounds great. I've learned SOOOO much from my summer garden this year that I figured it would be good to go ahead and give the tomatoes a trial run so I can get all my mistakes out of the way and know what I'm doing in the spring. There's a very fine line between ambitious and foolish! :)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 10:22PM
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