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Gardening Tip: Tomatoes in the Garden

Miniature tomatoes can be grown in pots in small spaces.

Gardener Question:

I have never been able to get any tomatoes from my plants. Every June, I put them out and they grow leaves for a while, before they just seem to dry up and die. What should I do to get some tomatoes to eat next year?

Master Gardener Answer:

  • The good news is that you are few weeks past the second planting date for tomatoes. If you hurry and buy some healthy plants to put in the ground right away, your luck should change. However, the season only lasts for 60 days, so you must keep give them water whenever necessary, and feed them small doses of veggie food often. Also be sure to check for pests.
  • The other good news is that these planting dates are good for a few other crops too, such as peppers, beans, lima beans, cucumbers, and eggplant. In addition, these crops (including the tomatoes) have two seasons every year here in Central Florida. They can also be started in late February to early March, or after the last frost.

Gardener Question:

But what is the reason for these particular dates, instead of the summer months?

Master Gardener Answer:

Unfortunately, it gets too hot for a tomato plant to set fruit in the summer. So, the plant grows lots of leaves, and the second obstacle is the high population of bugs during the summer. In addition, the humidity is also high, making the plants vulnerable to fungal diseases as well.  Night temperatures will determine how long into the cool season they will be able to fruit. In any case, around November 1 is a good time to begin your winter crops, such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, and celery. Growing these in the warmer seasons can cause bolting, which means that the edible parts never develop to be large enough to eat before blooming.

For more information about Vegetable Gardening you can contact us epabon5@ufl.edu and we will be happy to send you our Vegetable Gardening Calendar and Publication.

Sandy Switek, Master Gardener & Eva Pabon, Master Gardener Coordinator

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