by Sam Philips, Lisa Giroday and Maxim Winther | This May was reported to be the driest one on Vancouver’s record books It’s been a warm one, for sure, and we began to transplant tomatoes into the garden in mid-May. If you haven’t planted yet, fear not, as this is the time when we normally get those babies in the ground. If you still need to plant, do it now. We’re going to have a baller tomato season.
Before you proceed, here are a few planting pointers…
Days to Maturity: This is important to consider, as we don’t have the longest summers in the world and tomatoes aren’t exactly native to our climate. That being said, we need to not only start tomatoes inside in March/April, but we also need to choose varieties that produce fruit in shorter periods of time. There are early, mid, and late season tomato varieties – we tend to like sticking to the early and mid-season ones, meaning “days to maturity” are in the 60-70 day range. This way, we can guarantee a bountiful tomato harvest. For sure, throw in a couple of late season varieties if you have the space, but also be sure to grow a cherry tomato, too. We don’t know about you, but we don’t want to wait any longer than we have to for a tomato and basil panzanella salad! Some go-to tomato varieties for us include Green Zebra, Black Zebra, Supersweet 100, Early Cascade, Sungold and Gold Nugget.
Indeterminate vs. determinate varieties: Do you need a cage or a stake to support your tomato? Indeterminate varieties are “vining” varieties – they produce an indeterminate fruit set so will produce until it’s too cold out. They need to be staked or trellised – don’t even think for a second you can throw a tomato cage over these ones. Determinate varieties are “bush” varieties – they barf out a determinate set of fruit and can be caged.
Planting | You can bury the stalk in the ground a little bit, so take off the bottom leaves and plant up to the next set of leaves. The stalk will produce roots and, if you encourage a robust root ball, you’ll have a heartier plant.
Fertilizer | When planting, be sure to mix in an organic granular fertilizer specifically for tomatoes – it will have a higher ratio of the macronutrient phosphorus to help with flower and fruit production.
Companion Planting: Before planting, consider companion planting with your tomatoes. Our favorite combo is planting with basil and nasturtium. Culinary companions and garden companions! Aw…