Maximizing tomato production in your LHCG plot.

Fellow gardener and tomato savant gives us his tomato growing tips.

Maximizing tomato production in your LHCG plot.

It's tomato season, people! Can you feel it? The energy, excitement and the unknown of what this season will bring. Every year is different: some a bit better and some not so much. But we are here to help.

At our 2024 Annual meeting fellow gardener, Tom Harris, gave a fantastic presentation on Maximizing Spring Tomato Production. If you have been around, you know Tom’s tomatoes stand out. They go in strong and produce unbelievably. Ok, so we are all a little “green” about it, but Tom graciously shared his best practices with us. Thanks, Tom. Our tomatoes thank you!

It’s all about soil temperature, encouraging a large root ball, and protecting young plants.

Here is what you need to know to start your tomatoes off right:

  • Spring tomato production season is short (mid-March to mid-June), so you need to be on top of it.
  • Tomato pollination (fruit set) happens best in moderate temps (between 60-90degrees).
  • Dallas’ average first 100-degree day is July 1.

So…why not just plant early (when transplants first appear in February)?

  • Dallas’ average last freeze date is March 1.
  • Dallas’ average soil temperature approaches 65 degrees mid- to late-March.
  • Tomato plants will sulk with cold/wet feet.
  • Soil temperature 65+ degrees are best for planting into the ground.
It's time for a little babysitting y'all!
Transplants hit the market in February, and we want to get our favorite varieties, but you are telling us to hold off on planting.  So, what do we do now?

Tom suggests getting a jump start on the growing season at home. This will generate a larger root ball and a sturdier foundation for your young plants. It’s time for a little tomato babysitting y’all.

  1. Buy transplant early! (Early as late February!)
  2. Pot up each plant in a one-gallon pot – this will give the young growers plenty of room to establish a nice root ball. You can achieve an 8 times larger root ball with a one-gallon pot than a 4” pot. WOW!
  3. Baby the plants (move them indoors and out again… as weather conditions require).
Now its late March, and it’s time to plant those beautiful young tomato plants. Plant your strong transplant right into your plot in mid- to late-March.
  • Protect your tomato plants from spring winds. Clear plastic bags (Home Depot) work well if you are using a tomato cage, which is highly recommended!
  • Handle transplants by the top of the root ball (not by the stem).
  • Plant tomatoes deep in soil.
  • Fertilize often!
  • Pinch off blooms so your young plant can expend all its energy in getting bigger and stronger.

Thank you - fellow community gardener, Tom Harris, for sharing your expertise with us. Y’all this is what community gardening is all about: learning and sharing experience with fellow gardeners. Just one more reason to love LHCG!

Look at all of those tomatoes!

If you would like to post some helpful tips or share your expertise, please contact the garden!