A website from UGA Cooperative Extension

Lawn and gardening information for Colquitt County from the Extension office..

Springtime is in the air and everybody gets excited about gardening. Tomatoes are a popular vegetable in everybody’s garden. Tomatoes do best in a sunny location that receives at least eight hours of sunlight each day The first thing a gardener should do is get a soil test. It is just a guess unless you soil test. If you need information about soil samples please contact the Colquitt County Extension Office.
Tomatoes require a soil with a pH in the range of 6.2 to 6.8. In the absence of a soil test, apply lime at the rate of 5 pounds per 100 square feet of area. If the pH test comes back normal, but the calcium level is low, apply gypsum at the rate of 1 pound per 100 square feet. At planting, pour about 1 pint of starter solution (2 tablespoons of 5-10-10 or 5-10-5 fertilizer dissolved in 1 gallon of water) around each plant. In the absence of a soil test, incorporate 1.5 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer for 100 square feet of bed before planting. Use a complete fertilizer that contains minor nutrients. After the first tomatoes form on the vine and are about the size of a quarter, side-dress them with 10-10-10 at the rate of 1 pound per 100 square feet of bed. Repeat every three to four weeks until harvest is completed.
One of the biggest challenges in home tomato production is blossom-end rot. To manage this please maintain the soil pH between 6.2 to 6.8 and supply adequate levels of calcium through applications of dolomite limestone or gypsum. When hot conditions arrive please avoid extreme moisture fluctuations by using mulch and deep, timely irrigation once or twice a week. Please avoid over fertilizing plants with high ammoniacal nitrogen fertilizers. Excessive nitrogen can depress the uptake of calcium. Foliar applications of calcium with products such as Blossom End Rot Stop, are only short-term fixes and often work poorly because of poor absorption and movement to the fruit area where it is needed.
Tomatoes need about 1 to 2 inches of water per week depending on the type of soil they are growing in. If rainfall does not provide this quantity, water plants thoroughly once or twice per week. One or two heavy soakings are better than many light sprinklings.
Consider using drip irrigation or soaker hoses around your plants. These methods will help conserve moisture and avoid getting the foliage wet, which can cause disease. Hoses can be laid near each plant above the soil but under the mulch layer.
If you have questions about home tomato production please contact your local county Extension agent. The publication Georgia Home Grown Tomato publication is available at your local county Extension office.

Posted in: