Tomatoes (Lycopersicon lycopersicum)
Germination Soil Temp:
Days to Germinate:
Date to sow Indoors:
Date to sow Outdoors
6 - 8
6 - 7 weeks before last frost
After last frost
5.8 - 7.0
15 inches supported bush
17 inches unsupported and determinate
36 inches unsupported and indeterminate
Moderate to Heavy
Moderate N, High P and K
Avoid potato, pepper, eggplant, tomatoes
Tomatoes are members of the nightshade family and are the most popular homegrown vegetable. They come two distinct growth habits: determinate (bush) and indeterminate (vine). Determinate plants typically ripen at the same time while indeterminate plants grow fruit as the vine grows until frost. Some tomatoes are grown for sauces, juice or slicing. Some are grown for color, size and shape. The selections are endless. Choose varieties that have disease resistance and practice crop rotation to avoid soil-borne diseases.
Soil should be well-drained and organically enriched. It is recommended that compost be added to soil and as mulch. Soil for tomatoes needs to be rotated every year to avoid soil borne diseases.
Tomatoes benefit from composted manure or from 3 pounds of 6-12-12 or 5-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square foot that is incorporated into the sol before planting. Over fertilization can cause excessive foliage growth and will reduce fruit production.
Planting transplants should be done May 1 and July 1. Tomatoes need heat to grow. If temperatures are cool and there is too much water, the fruits will be slow to ripen and will lose taste. Plant seeds directly or plant transplants when they have four sets of leaves. Harden off tomato plants at least 2 weeks before plants go into the garden. If under a cold frame, move plants outdoors slowly and increase light daily.
Tomatoes benefit from mulch. Depending on the fruit size, a cage or a stake may help support the plant. Pinch out suckers by pulling out the sprouting bud from the inside node. This keeps the plant from becoming wild looking and supports heavy branches when fruiting. Plants need to be monitored for beetle damage. Use row covers to exclude insect pests. Plants do not need to be pollinated by insects.
Basil, dill, fennel, tansy, cosmos, bush bean, pea, pepper, and eggplant.
There are many varieties of tomatoes that are appropriate for Tennessee. Choose a tomato with the desired use, color or flavor. All of the varieties listed here are disease resistant.
Container/Hanging Basket: Huskey Red, Patio Hybrid and Tiny Tim
Ground or Pot: Beefmaster, Better Boy, Big Boy, Celebrity, Early Girl, Enchantment, Lemon Boy, Mountain Gold Roma, Supersteak, Supersweet, Sweet Cluster, Sweet Million, and Sweet 100
Fruit is ripe when the fruit is firm and the color changes from green to pink to red, or from yellow to gold.
Tomatoes are rich in beta-carotene, lycopene, biotin, niacin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, and vitamins C, K and B6.
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Source: UT Extension, PB1578 - Tennessee Master Gardener Handbook