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Soil & Temperature Requirements for Tomatoes

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Environmental Growth Requirements for Tomatoes

Temperature

    Air Temperature:

    • Minimum air temperature: if planted out when it's too cold outside for the, tomatoes will be less productive.
      • 50 degrees F (BBGS)
      • 45 degrees F (REOG)
      • 54 degrees F (GGC) (2-4 weeks after frost)
    • warmth needed for good production (REOG)
    • to fruit well, tomatoes need the temperature to be between 70 and 75 degrees F (REOG)
    • Temperatures over 95 degrees kill the pollen and prevent floweres from setting fruit (Matchstick). Production will start up again when temperatures drop. (G101)
    • considered a tender crop: plant out 1 week after last frost

    Soil Temperature:

      • at least 65 degrees F (BBGS)
      • at least 50 degrees F (REOG)
      • at least 55 degrees F, even at night (GGC)

Humidity

Since tomatoes are from tropical & semi-tropical climates, areas with dry seasons commonly experience issues like powdery mildew and lack of production due to lack of pollination.

Day Length: 

  • tomatoes need between 6 and 10 hours of sunlight daily (NCG)
  • 8 hours of sunlight per day (GGC)

Light Requirements

  • Full sun
  • good light needed for good production (REOG)
  • The site should be in full sun; if using growing bags, a south-facing wall is ideal.(GV)

Site

  • tomatoes like a site that is warm, sheltered, and gets full sun
  • Can be grown under cover (green house) in large beds
  • containers (see below)
  • bales of hay. 

Growing Tomatoes in Containers

Tomatoes do well in containers because their roots are fairly shallow. Trailing bush tomato varieties are exceptionally pretty. A number of bush tomato variteies have small, cherry-sized fruits and the plants are natural trailers. They are ideal contenders for hanging baskets, although they are notoriously hungry & thirsty. Line the basket with mock moss: made from wool, coir, or other recycled materials (as traditional sphagnum moss is no longer considered to be eco-friendly) in order to retain soil or potting mix, and water and fertilize regularly. This may mean watering twice a day in hot weather. If you let the basket dry out completely, it's hard to get it to hold water again. Tomatoes are also well-suited for windowboxes.(GV)

Tumbling Tom Cherry Tomatoes, available in red and yellow, are a great variety for hanging baskets because of their compact, trailing growth habit.

Bush cultivars can even be grown in hanging baskets. (REOG)

Soil Requirements

  • well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 
    • BBGS: 6.5
    • REOG: 5.5 - 7.0
    • GGC: 6.0 - 7.0
    • GV: 5.5+
  • rich & fertile soil because they are heavy feeders
  • fertile soil rich in organic matter (REOG)
  • high magnesium
    • Lime is a good addition if you need for magnesium, if your soil pH is too low. (BBGS)
  • tomatoes do well following a cover crop of winter rye - green manure (REOG)
  • Recommended soil amendments (REOG):
    • option 1: medium-fertility soil improver
    • option 2: low-fertility soil improver + general organic fertilizer
  • Work fertilizer into soil before planting (NCG)
  • When tomatoes are as big as plums, fertilize every 4 weeks (NCG)
  • Not particularly fussy about the soil, as long as it's rich & fertile. Dig in well-rotted compost or manure to a depth of at least 12" before planting or apply general high-phosphorous fertilizer or pellets of poultry manure. Lime acidic soils only if the pH is below 5.5. (GV)

Crop Growth Duration

  • Tomatoes occupy the ground for the majority of the growing season (BBGS)
  • Seed to harvest takes 7-12 weeks (REOG)

Sources

 
Footnote BBGS GGC GV NCG REOG  
Title Big Book of Gardening Skills Great Garden Companions Grow Vegetables Northern California Gardening Rodale Illustrated Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening  
Author Andrea Chesman & Louise Lloyd Sally Jean Cunningham Alan Buckingham Katherine Grace Anna Kruger  
Buy It  
Copywright 1993 2000 2008 2005 2005  
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 April 2011 18:02  

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