rascy

Can tomatoes be grown in Floridas heat?

rascy
12 years ago

Hello

I have never gardened before recently moved to Florida from NY and since have a nice size yard with lots sun wanted to try growing tomatoes.

My plan is to plant them in big pots as soil here has lots of sand and seems loaded with rocks.

Can Tomatoes handle the Florida sun and what Tomatoe is best?

Thanks

Sal

Comments (66)

  • gatormomx2
    12 years ago

    Good Florida soil IS sand ! Everyone needs to get over this idea of trying to make our soil look like northern soils . Plants do just fine in our natural soils . A few ammendments never hurt like mulch and fertilizers .
    You would be amazed at how well things grow IF you choose FLorida friendly varieties that thrive in our sand and weather .
    Plant slowly and do lots of reading , listening , watching and research . Do not leap into planting your yard in one day ! You will be astounded at how much you have learned in a few months just from reading the posts on this forum as well as doing some reading of other links provided .
    Be patient and WELCOME !

    Top Answer
  • rascy
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Thanks. When I first moved here I set up one of the pvc home depot ponds in side of house as that area isnt as brutal hot as backyard. I buried it 2 feet deep just to help hold temps as its cooler at that depth.
    Thats when I realized how bad the "soil" here is its true good Florida soil is sand .
    In my case sand and rocks . I might now go with regular fence behind the bushes instead of cement wall otherwise the bushes will never take as just to hot never thought of that.
    So help me even if its a worm "farm" I will get something to grow in that yard worth "eating" lol.
    Thanks

    Here is a link that might be useful: Little pond

  • bluesky7
    12 years ago

    Hi Sal. I've lived in Florida since toddlerhood, originally from the Bronx, New York. The vegetable growing seasons here are reversed, so you'll want to plant most tomato varieties in late September to early October. One of the main reasons is that the nighttime temperatures and humidity are just too much for the plants from about the middle of May till early September. You'll get severe blossom drop and won't set fruit. I think you can grow the Florida cherry tomato or Everglades tomato during the warmer months, if you can locate the seeds. Also, you might try a variety like Solarset or another very heat tolerant variety, although the taste may not be as fine as with more traditional kinds, such as Big Boy and Better Boy. I've found it was really best to wait till the end of September to plant another reason being there's less chance of a major hurricane as you get further on into fall. Happy gardening! Sheri :)

  • carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b
    12 years ago

    Hi - of course this post caught my eye = )

    FWIW, 1 variety that survived fierce Summer heat & humidity here in coastal St. Petersburg was Matt's Wild cherry. & it DOES act wild - 1 vine covered everything, loaded w/ tiny little tomatoes.

    I haven't grown'em for awhile tho, coz they were a pain to harvest & extremely seedy, so not too great for cooking.Nice for tossed salads tho - good flavour....

  • ladyaustin96
    12 years ago

    I don't know what I am doing then...I have several tomato plants out on west side of house and they are doing fine. They don't get brutal morning sun or even early noon...they do get afternoon sun and other than that I have dressed them with cow poop and organics. They are still looking decent and blooming fruit. I had two salads this week with yellow pears and romas in a rice dish.

    I still have delicious toms on the east side veggie garden which is getting shade cloth put over it after this weekend! I can't even stand outside for 5 min w/o being drenched by humidity!!

    Kim

    Here is a link that might be useful: June 28th 2008 Tomatoes

  • naplesgardener
    12 years ago

    I have Matt's Wild Cherry and Everglades fruiting now but the star has been Black Cherry by far with lots of fruit. It doesn't seem to mind the heat (90) and humidity (80) here.

    I gave a extra seedling of it to my neighbor and theirs is doing even better than mine (4 feet tall and wide), LOTS of fruit and blossoms. They used Miracle Gro and I didn't.

    I don't grow any large size tomatoes in the summer just cherries.

  • rainy230
    12 years ago

    Oh NO I'm still new to this and planted two tomato plants..Well live and learn!! I never grew a tomato from seed is it hard? I think I could sit here all day and read this forum ,so much info !! I love it !!

  • tomncath
    12 years ago

    Well, my second mater from this summer experiment was actually much better tasting that the first one. The Solar Set is clearly setting fruit better than the Solar Fire. I have them double-potted (7gal in 10gal) to keep the soil heat down and as you can see they are up under the canopy of a live oak tree so they are only getting six hours of direct sunlight. I didn't give them any CRF and I have not been the best at hitting them with MG, and I didn't cage them because I really didn't expect them to do as well as they have so far....

  • naplesgardener
    12 years ago

    Tom

    Great looking tomatoes and tomato plants! Who says you can't grow tomatoes in the summer in Florida?
    I have grown Solar Set in the warm fall season with good results also. Can't wait for fall to arrive to start heirloom seeds for cooler season tomatoes.

    Denise

  • tomncath
    12 years ago

    Thanks Denise,

    I just purchased some Sunmaster seeds and I know everyone thinks I'm crazy but I think I'll start some of these seeds mid-July to see how they do in September. Supposedly, they "set best when days are 87 to 96 degrees, and nights are between 73 and 82 degrees."

    Anyone have any experience with this one?

  • tomncath
    12 years ago

    BTW, forgive my manners Sal. Welcome aboard, you've found a wonderful group of folks here that are always willing to share and hope to make your gardening experiences more pleasurable.

    Tom

  • rascy
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Wow those are amazing what is your soil combination and do you water daily ?
    I am planning Miracle grow as someone here suggested with Scotts soil in 20 gallon bins with wooden frames behind them .
    What does everyone think?

    I plan to plant Everglades and cherry as those seem to be the ones that are growing now than see how that works out before trying beefsteak in Fall .

    Thank you

  • treefrog_fl
    12 years ago

    Sal,
    Sounds like a good plan.
    Any decent potting soil that drains pretty well should be
    fine.
    I set my pots on bricks to help with drainage and keep any nematodes out.
    If you've got space in your beds, pots can be set right into the soil too.
    Or you could try the "posthole" method. Dig a narrow hole about 2' deep, line it with wet newspaper, fill with potting mix and some slow release fertilizer, and plant the maters right in.
    Growing in pots in the hot sun does overheat the roots.
    Looks like Tom has that problem covered with double potting.
    And wow, those plants are sure lookin' good!

  • an_ill-mannered_ache
    12 years ago

    tom -- in your double pots, do you have soil in the outside (bottom) pot? i ask because that's what al (talpa) recommends in the container growing forum... i use wicks in mine mostly, but i'm also trying out the double-pot method.

    nice tomatoes! mine from spring are still healthy and setting fruits. i've noticed a few bug problems, but nothing bad enough to make me yank them yet.

  • tomncath
    12 years ago

    Sal - I used MG potting mix this time, NOT the moisture control. I water every other day

    Ill - Just pot-in-pot (air layer). I didn't put anything between them because this was just an experiment to see if it was possible to extend the season but I really didn't have high expectations. Putting them up on the deck didn't seem ideal either but I felt it was necessary to get them up under the shade canopy of the oak tree.

  • an_ill-mannered_ache
    12 years ago

    the second pot's soil acts as a wick, preventing the "dead area" in pots where water accumulates. in the general search (top of page) type 'talpa wick'. a lot of fascinating stuff there. i've started to use double pots for my cuttings -- i can water them with abandon, which is good for them, without worrying about rotting the stems.

  • SusieQsie_Fla
    12 years ago

    Hi Rainy
    I don't think I've said HI yet.....and welcome to our world.
    When I started my tomato seeds, I just stuck 'em in a "flat" of Miracle Grow potting soil, sprayed it gently with water and they seemed to do the rest on their own. Keep the soil moist and when they pop up, give 'em some shady sunshine, and again, keep the soil moist. I move the babies to their own pots when they get several real leaves, VERY carefully taking them out of the flat with an old knife. For flats, I poke holes in the bottom of empty meat trays - they're plastic, about 2" deep and I have a lot of different sizes.

    But it might be a good idea to follow the directions of "real" tomato gardeners on this forum. I just wanted to let you know how easy and fun it is. And I hope you'll take pics to show us how you're doing.

    Sal, I got your address so I will send seeds ASAP. Here's where I have my Everglades tomatoes planted, right next to a concrete block wall (I don't know what I was thinking) but they've been there since winter.

    {{gwi:889466}}

    They are in two different kinds of planters - the one in front is white plastic, so they soil may not cook as much as that black pot on the left. The one in back, out of sight, is made from blocks I painted to match the wall and then filled with potting soil. The 'maters share it with flowers, draceana, and porterweed.

    That's nice of you to offer, but do not under any circumstances pay for these seeds! ! ! The original seeds were sent to me for nothin', so I am spreading the love. "freely you have received, so freely give"

    Susie

  • rascy
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Thank you very much I will do the same send out extra seeds as I get them.

    I noticed you didnt have those "braces" behind the pot for the vines to grow on.
    Imagine not needed with thise mini tomatoes?

    Thanks

  • rascy
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Thanks. I picked up a large bag of Miracle Grow yesterday at Home depot after reading the posts here glad I got it .
    thanks for the info

  • rascy
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    thanks yes I am going to go with the double potting as it seems many here like that method and I might also dig and than add newspaper and soil and plant that way to just to try both methods .

  • tomncath
    12 years ago

    Rascy - I understand your eager to get started but just keep in mind that this is a terrible time to start them...don't set your expectations too high and don't be disappointed if it doesn't work out this time, fall will be here soon enough.

    Ill - I'll definitely be using soil in both pots next time around. Makes perfect sense, wicking to a lower PWT :-)

  • SusieQsie_Fla
    12 years ago

    Sal
    I didn't ever get any tomato cages, so these are just slopping around willy-nilly. But today I found a volunteer that's already setting fruit and it's in a spot that I don't want to see it sprawling all over. So I found three stakes and made a teepee and tied the 5 or 6 stems up.

    Denise, do you stake up your Everglades?

    Well, I'm going to check out Ill-Man's suggestion of double-potting. Sounds like a winner.

    Susie

  • rascy
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    lol yes I am eager to get started as my yard is just grass and bushes on the border.
    Wanted some "life" in it. The grass is starting to get green due to watering and using grass gro product and picked up some large pots and lots soil over the weekend to get started .
    I would like to eat tomatoes and peppers from my yard as those are my favorites even if the size of am amoeba lol but I know it doesnt happen overnight.
    Thanks

  • naplesgardener
    12 years ago

    Susie
    My Everglades have not gotten so big I needed to stake. I'm not that crazy for them as the fruits are so small and other bigger size cherry tomatoes have done as well or better this summer.
    I may change my tune if they continue producing thru July and August and the others poop out.
    Denise

  • mexicostacy
    12 years ago

    Well, I read this set of posts about five hours too late. Like Sal, I'm a recent NY transplant and wanted some tomatoes. I just stuck a couple of tomato plants into planters this afternoon. The good news...I like cherries so that happens to be what I bought. Also, I have a heavily shaded northern exposure on one side of my house. Do they have a chance in the shade?

    Or, could I stick them on the (very wide) windowsill of an unshaded southwestern exposure inside? Am I crazy or could tomatoes work like a houseplant in summer here?

    Stacy

  • tomncath
    12 years ago

    Barbers

    You'll be fighting an uphill battle during the worst part of the year for heat here (late August through September). Even my Solarfire/Solarset maters are now showing signs of heat stress and as determinates they'll be done in another 2-3 weeks....

    Denise

    I just discovered a thief in my garden yesterday! I didn't mention that I'd also grown two Everglades maters across from the ones on the deck. I kept wondering why I'd see a dozen almost ready to pick and the next day they were gone, I thought for sure it was my neighbor because he loves mates too and brings his dog out to her business on that side of the house. I should have put two and two together since I have to pick my maters when they turn orange to keep the mockingbirds from decimating them...came around the side of the house yesterday just in time to see the little bugger fly off with a nice juicy mater in its beak. On the good side I've had no pecking of the bigger maters so if this is the sacrifice I have to make I may just start growing some Everglades or Matts just to keep the mocking birds out of the rest of the maters...it'd be worth it.

  • rascy
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Hi
    The seeds arrived today . Thank you very much. I am going to plant some and hold the others as you suggested just incase these dont take.

    How much soil (Miracle Grow) should I put over the seeds ?

    I ask as heard some seeds dont like to be buried to deep and these will be my first seeds planted ever .

    Even if I get a tomatoe size of a pinhead its fine with me and will plan a meal with guest around it as so help me I will be growing things from the yard lol.


    Thanks again

  • naplesgardener
    12 years ago

    Tom
    Funny that you suspected your neighbors of stealing your tomatoes. Good thing you never said anything.
    I also had mockingbird problems when I first started growing tomatoes. They pecked holes and ruined them, so I put netting around the plants. I heard a terrible noise a few days later and found one annoyed bird trapped inside the netting.
    After that I never had a tomato ruined and never continued using netting. They learned fast and told their friends.
    Denise

  • tomncath
    12 years ago

    Too funny Denise. I have wonderful neighbors and encourage them to take what they want. I tell them on both sides to help themselves because we always have more than Cathy and I can eat and when we go away they both water for us. I was building 7 foot cages using field fence and wrapping that with chicken wire, boy was that a pain in the butt and I stopped doing it because I really came to the conclusion it was an eyesore for my neighbors, although nobody ever said anything. I bring this up because I did trap a mocking bird once and played heck getting him out of there, AND they still come back and ruin my fruit if I don't pick it early. I'll be trying the bird netting this year....

    Rascy, some folks direct sow, others use the seedling starter six-pack trays. If you direct sow now the baby seedlings may get clobbered or drown by summer rains...I'll be curious to see what others say regarding this issue. I use peat cubes in starter packs, they're almost fool-proof (oxymoron;-) and bought in bulk only cost $0.13 each. I save my 2 liter soda bottles, cut them in half and drill holes in the bottom for drainage, then pot-up the seedlings in about a month into the soda bottle containers...what I like about the soda containers is that I can observe the soil from the sides so I know when they need water and once I see roots at the sides I know it's time to replant. At that point, when they are 6-8 inches tall they go into their final container.

    Tom

  • rascy
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Thanks for great planting info. I have something like that but it comes in bricks . I get 3 compressed bricks for like $5 add water in a large bucket and it expands to a lot .
    I used it for my box turtles when I lived in NY as they were kept indoors (now outdoors) I also use it for my orchids they love it never thought of planting non orchids with it.

    http://photos.gardenweb.com/garden/galleries/2008/07/shredded_coconutpeatmoss_block.html

    Thanks again

  • tomncath
    12 years ago

    Update, a week later and my maters are looking ratty so I picked everything fairly mature, and obviously we'll be having some fried green maters. Granted I didn't spray with BT and the bugs and heat are definitely taking their toll but I have to state that these matters taste GREAT! I'm so encouraged by these heat tolerant strains that I started six Sunmaster seeds today, planning to set them 9/1 just to see what happens, hopefully they won't drown. I hope everyone have a safe and enjoyable 4th...back to work tomorrow, bummer, I'd rather play in the garden!

  • cindeea
    12 years ago

    How did I miss this Post??

    Welcome to both Sal and Stacy!

    Hey Denise, where did you get your Black Cherry? I tried a few from seed this spring from Tomato Growers Supply. The plants weren't all that impressive and I thought the taste was, well, tasteless. Can you save me some seeds to try for fall? If they are anything like your yellow pear, they will be definite winners.

    Tom you make me jealous! Other than the yellow pear (RIP last week) all my other tomatoes were eaten up and plants done with when the grandkids were here first of June. My d-i-l never used to eat tomatoes, but she had me picking some every day for her sandwiches and salads when she was here. When they went back to Chicago, she had her hubby pick up some plants for them to grow this summer. My tomato pots are resting over summer! lol

  • tomncath
    12 years ago

    Hi Cindee, I have not pulled these plants yet since there's still quite a few intermediate size fruit left but two of the five are looking very ratty and they are all showing some heat stress...guess I'll spray them with BT and make a decision in another week.

    Denise, how's your Black Cherry holding up?

  • floridajane
    12 years ago

    Okay, so I have to know: CAN tomatoes be grown on your window sill indoors?? I would figure that if the window gets sun and you're willing to do a little q-tip pollinating it should work. Any thoughts?

    Jane

  • naplesgardener
    12 years ago

    cindee
    of course you can have Black Cherry seeds (this offer is open to others also please email me). The first year I planted it (in Naples) I was not impressed with the taste either. I don't know what the difference is this year--Englewood soil? Or the fact that they PRODUCE in the heat and others don't.
    Dr. Carolyn Male, the tomato goddess, says that tomato flavor will improve sometimes in succeeding years but I am in a different place so I dunno.

    Tom
    Black Cherry plants are holding up with many new fruits showing even in this heat altho some are showing hints of TYLCV which is standard for my garden. BC has outproduced all other types this summer although I am also happy with one ivory cherry called Dr. Carolyn,seeds sent to me by a GW'er. It has been very productive with large size cherries. I will be saving some seeds of it also. I like colorful salads :-) If I weren't so lazy I'd take photos and show the color and size--about 50% larger than BC.

    Denise

  • cindeea
    12 years ago

    Thanks Denise.
    Hey, who was it that wanted to do a tomato seed swap this fall? I still want in. I have to gather up seeds and take an inventory. Maybe we should start a new post when we are ready.

    Re: the Campari tomatoes I get from publix. These are grown in Canada, so I am still willing to try them, but doubtful. I'll let everyone know what seeds I have available for the fall to trade. p.s. how long are tomato seeds good for?

  • floridajane
    12 years ago

    bump (still curious about those indoor 'maters) :)

  • solstice98
    12 years ago

    Jane, I think you would need a really large windowsil! Tomato plants get huge. You could certainly start the seeds on the windowsil, but the plants would have to be moved to larger containers and bigger space.

    Kate

  • cindeea
    12 years ago

    Fl Jane, last summer I tried starting some in the house for fall planting. It remained hot and rainless so they were inside a long time. Treefrog reminded me-Tomatoes are NOT houseplants!! I gave them plenty of sun, good draining medium, they just got gangly and ugly. When I finally did move them outside, they all failed and I had to start over! I may try jump starting a few on my pool patio ahead of the others and see what happens. Other than that, I'll just wait for September.

  • floridajane
    12 years ago

    Thanks, Cindeea! I've always wanted to know if it would work. Well, I guess I will have to hold out another month or two to start those 'maters outside. Rats! :)

    Jane

  • sandbar_norm
    11 years ago

    Hello all, We are 1st time growers of anything. I had seen all the tomato plants at Lowes and Home Depot and said "lets grow some". We made a ET SWC 31 gal size and planted July 12th. Now (that I found this fourm) I see that this is a bad time to grow. I do have a lot of shade trees and was trying to keep the plants in the sun. Right now the sun hits them from about 11:30 to 3:00 (hottest time) Do you think I should move them to a all day shaded area? One in a better bill and the other in a big beef. They started out about 10" tall and in about 2-1/2 weeks are about 14" to 18" tall. Thank you for any suggestion to help us grow our 1st crop. My 4 and 6 year old kids help make the container and plant the plants. Every day my son wants to go out and pick some tomato. He ready. Norm

  • watermelon7
    11 years ago

    Of course tomatoes can grow in Florida! We are, actually, a large tomato exporter. Just wait until the optimum time to plant, are you are good to go. There are extreme heat resistant varieties, too.

  • lorettarose
    11 years ago

    hot weather veggies

  • tclynx
    11 years ago

    I've found that Aquaponics seems to extend the growing season for tomatoes a bit as does adding some shade for the hottest part of the day during the hottest part of the season.

    Even so, when the night time temps don't get cool enough, the plants probably won't set fruit but if they are indeterminate, they can just keep growing until the nights cool off and allow them to start setting fruit again. Be prepared for monster plants though and don't be scared to prune hard though that might make for some not so attractive plants.

    If you want to know about good summer crops for around here, sweet potatoes are good so log as you can provide enough water to them (leaves and vine tips are a handy edible summer green too.) Okra does well in the high heat as do many southerns peas and beans, yardlong beans seem to like the heat (peas and beans can also improve the soil by fixing nitrogen.) I'm trying out Strawberry spinach this summer as well as New Zeland Spinach since I don't like the taste of Malabar spinach though it is an attractive plant. Basil can grow on through the summer if you keep cutting it. Some melons can also do well in the extreme heat at least for a while though when the rains come you might need to watch for splitting.

    for some light shade mixed through the garden it might be worth planting some moringa or papaya among the garden space though these plants can be killed back to the ground by frost so might not be as useful long term in zone 9 and cooler.

    Mixing stuff like corn, sunflowers, and other tall stuff into the garden among everything else can help provide some shade and make a small garden more productive than if you simply planted just one type of plant. Mix things up with low growing plants to help cover the ground and keep it cool and moist then some middle level plants and then some tall plants all jumbled together and add some flowers and herbs into the mix and the pests get more confused and the beneficial bugs are attracted and the garden is more productive. Heck, I've still got lettuce surviving in my herb garden and it's been over 93 F here every day for a week!

  • watermelon7
    11 years ago

    If you are still thinking of planting tomato plants, you still probably have SOME time. Make your own upside-down tomato planter or buy one, and simply place your tomato plant at bottom end. Water when needed. I would suggest planting in potting soil instead of your soil from your natural surroundings, as many nematodes can severely hurt tomato plants, and Florida soil has MANY nematodes! Try a heat and/or disease resistant variety. I am growing "Celebrity" tomatoes now in an upside-down pot and they are doing great right now, just about to set off its first blooms! Just keep the bugs away, water regularly, and cool the plant off only if necessarily needed and you should be fine, I would think.

    If you want a near year-round crop of tomatoes, simply cut off a branch of you tomato plant and place it in moist sand. Moist potting soil does not work as well for rooting. You can also root them in water, but you won't necessarily get roots, either.

  • duttonsv1
    5 years ago

    Just signed in and learned so much from all the very useful info...thanks much. Live in Campbell and first time I've tried growing tom in the summer heat(and it is a hot one this year!) Grape toms producing very well and very sweet Black cherry and Black prince have slowed production but plants very healthy in they're containers. Have had much more luck when I started seeds in late sept-can't wait for fall/winter here

  • bea (zone 9a -Jax area)
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Hi Sal. Welcome to FL and the Forum. Yes you can grow veggies here and the timing is different than up north like everyone said. Yes container gardening seems to be the way to go. You'll get the best advice from real life gardeners but also look up the following website for really good info on when and what to plant: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/vh/vh02100.pdf. I agree with the poster(s) who said don't rush into gardening especially July and August. Two more good posts you might want to read here are "tomatoes" and "container tomatoes".

    Do your research first, learn what varieties do best in your area and WHEN so that you'll be more likely to succeed.

    Also be aware that pests and diseases are almost certainly going to be an issue in FL. In my ~40 years of gardening in the north I never had to worry about that but Most of us do here. Without Spinosad, Neem and my old trusty alcohol spray I wouldn't have eggplants or tomatoes.

    Also please post your zone as it helps give you advice for your area. Cheers.

    Bea

  • bea (zone 9a -Jax area)
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Norm, you might try giving some light shade to your tomatoes during the mid day hours for July and August while the day trmps are in the 90s. That can be done with 50% shade cloth (my preference) or with burlap as Jeremy does or you can drag the pots to an area where they will get filtered sun during those hours. But I wouldn't move them to an all shade area. They should get morning and later afternoon sun.

  • betquin63
    5 years ago

    Is there another way to join this forum without going thru Houzz.com? I don't want to be bombarded with ads in my email

  • Mia Miami
    4 years ago

    I grow cherry tomatoes year round in the ground and in planters in Miami. youtube how to propagate tomato seeds and you'll never buy them again. super easy but different than propping other seeds . good luck

  • cf33033
    4 years ago

    Wow! What great information! I moved here from PA 11 years ago, always having a midsized veggie garden there. It took this long to give in to the urge to try it in this heat...but finally am trying some container gardening. I'm having great success with my peppers, however my green onions and turnips look anemic and don't look like they will ever grow into the real thing. I've tried two tomatoe plants so far with little success and ended up pitching them both. Knowing that I CAN grow great tomatos, I bought 2 small Big Boy plants last evening, and fortunately came across this blog and now am much more prepared for possible failure once again due to the season. I've decided to use Miracle Grow soil mixed with sand, in one larger pot, and put it in my front flower garden among some palm trees and hibiscus where they will have protection and afternoon shade. Thanks everyone for all of this great Florida vegetable gardening information!!



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