Re: [tomato] Advice on starting my nxt crop of Tomatoes

Doreen Howard (
Wed, 2 Jun 1999 11:56:49 -0500

Having lived south of Houston in zone 9b for 8 years, I feel qualified to
comment on Richard Dillon's questions.

Yes, your current tomatoes are goners!  The heat precludes any more set, and
disease will preclude any plant carryover.  Pull up all plants after you
harvest the last fruit.  Destroy the plants (don't compost them, because
you'll carry disease back into your soil) and clean up the ground of any
plant litter.

You can direct seed tomatoes in a starting bed or into flats set in an area
that receives morning sun only.  They like hot soil in which to germinate.
The biggest problem you'll have with second crop tomatoes (or fall tomatoes
as they are referred to in the Houston area) is disease.  The second problem
will be rampant insect infestations.  So institute a preventative program of
a weekly spray with a fungicide and pesticide.  I'm organic and always used
neem seed oil for the spray, and it worked great.  You can find it in stores
under the name Fruit, Nut and Vegetable Defense, by Green Light.  I'm not
trying to discourage you, but you need to be prepared for lower yields and
poorer quality in this second crop.  If the weather is perfect (which is
hardly ever), you will have great tomatoes.

Set out transplants during the first week of August.  Shade them for a week
to acclimate them to the intense sun.  Counting back, you should be starting
your seeds at the end of June.  It will take about 5 weeks to produce a
hearty transplant.

The goal of fall tomatoes is to keep the plants healthy enough so that they
make it into October and start setting fruit.  Then, you can harvest fresh
tomatoes for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Some years, when there were no
freezes, I was still picking in January.  About then, you need to yank the
plants and clear the ground for spring planting, which takes place on March
Doreen Howard
Zone 5b--Central Illinois