The 'long and short' of tomatoes

Bob's favorite in his vegetable garden

When it comes to eating tomatoes, who doesn't love the flavor and convenience of a Beefsteak tomato.... they taste great and one slice of tomato covers an entire sandwich!
But not everyone has enough time or patience to grow a long season tomato. A long season tomato is one that requires 80-days to produce a ripe tomato. In contrast, a short season tomato needs 30-days less. That translates into the difference between having ripe tomatoes in late July versus late August.

This also becomes an important issue if your vegetable garden is situated in a valley. Valleys have later frosts in the spring and earlier frosts in the fall, thereby shortening the tomato-growing season.
As a valley-gardener in the northeastern United States, this has forced me to depend on short season tomatoes for the bulk of my crop. The 'Early Girl' tomato fills that role very well, since it is a 54-day short season tomato, with many other desirable characteristics.
Sure, I still plant a few long season tomatoes, like the all-time favorite of tomato-lovers, the Beefsteak, at 80-days. It's also nice to have a bit of variety in between and grow some meaty Roma tomatoes. My old-time favorite for flavor is still the Rutgers tomato. No wonder I end up with a dozen tomato plants in my valley garden and supply the neighborhood once August arrives!


Bob's Tomato Tips:

  • Look for tomato plants with the most letters behind their name, ones like V, F, N, T. These letters indicate resistance to various problems (Verticillium, Fusarium, Nematodes, Tobacco Mosaic Virus).

  • Tobacco users (especially cigars and snuff) should wash their hands before handling tomato plants to prevent the spread of TMV (tobacco mosaic virus). Believe it or not, dipping one's hands in milk will disable the virus. Got milk?

  • Deer netting works well as a light weight material for preventing deer-browsing on tomatoes.

  • Water tomato plants at their roots to keep foliage dry, and leave a 'saucer' of bermed-up soil around the base of the plant to help hold water in. Keep soil evenly moist through the growing season to help prevent blossom end rot.



Frost damage

Freeze damage to plants

Landscaping on a budget


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