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How to Grow Tomatoes

Malillumination is recognized by some as a syndrome affecting humans who spend their days indoors, exposed only to artificial illumination. The malilluminated are said to be depressed, have weakened immune systems and have low levels of certain hormones.

In horticulture, malillumination is the PRIMARY cause of failure when growing tomatoes. If your landscape lacks a site with 8 to 10 hours of direct sunlight per day, you cannot grow great tomatoes.

In San Antonio and surrounding areas, we grow two crops of tomatoes, spring and fall.  Spring tomato transplants are bought on St. Valentine's Day and fall tomato transplants are bought mid- to late-July.


To be added later.


The heat is intense, the pool beckons, the excuses are plentiful, but timing is essential for success with a fall crop of tomatoes. In the northern suburbs of San Antonio and the adjacent Hill Country, tomato transplants should be planted mid-July. Tomato growers in southern Bexar County should delay planting until late-July.

Because most of the recommended varieties of tomatoes are determinate, meaning they reach a certain size and produce most of their blooms within a short time span, planting too early will yield a crop failure. Blooms will not set fruit if they occur while temperatures are too high.

Planting too late will deny your plants enough time to mature their fruits. You will be harvesting many small, green tomatoes while a frigid north wind blows and the first freeze is imminent. Your family will hate you after the fifth consecutive day of being forced to eat fried green tomatoes with green tomato relish.

1.  If Blossom End Rot (not actually a fungal disease) has been a problem in the site, add gypsum every other year and a material which adds to the soil's water-holding capacity. We recommend 'Earth Sponge'. The crystals/gels are not to be used because they are consumed by soil microbes and must be replaced often.

2.  Buy high-quality transplants in 6-packs, grown in weed-free and pathogen-free soil-less media. Additionally buy one 2-year, slow-release fertilizer tablet for each plant (2 per plant if you grow them in containers) and some 20-20-20 soluble fertilizer.

3.  Incorporate 3-inches of well-decayed compost into the upper 6- to 8-inches of soil.

4.  Dig a 4- to 6-inch-deep hole with a trowel. Place one 2-year, slow-release fertilizer tablet in the bottom. Remove only the bottom of the peat-pot and adjust depth so tomato stem is buried to a point half-way between the paired seed-leaves and the first true leaf. If a so-called "Certified" or "Master Certified" nurseryman is unable to show you where that is, bury the top of the peat-pot by 3-inches.

5.  Place the next plant 3-feet away along the row. In the home garden, the rows can be 3- to 4-feet apart. Place a 4- to 6-foot-tall cage around each plant.

6.  For the first 3 to 4 weeks, water often with one-quarter-strength, 20-20-20 soluble fertilizer, since it takes tomato roots a few weeks to begin drawing nutrients from the 2-year tablets.

7.  DO NOT allow the transplants to wilt!

8.  If growing in containers, instructions will be added later to this page.

The botanical images on this site were produced by The Photon Hunt.

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Copyright at Common Law by Manuel Flores