Summer tomato care requires us to shift our gardening practices. Once temperatures climb above 85˚F - 90˚F in the day and 75˚F in the evening, the tomatoes’ flowers often encounter problems. For example, the fruit might not set due to too-sticky pollen, flower abortion or a lack of pollination. Here are five tips to help your tomatoes stay healthy and productive.
5 Tips for Summer Tomato Care
Choose Right: Start with varieties that thrive in the summer heat. A quality local nursery should carry varieties that are designed to withstand the heat in your gardening zone. The names of some are a great clue to the heat-withstanding capabilities: ‘Phoenix’, ‘Summer Set’ and ‘Solar Fire’ to name a few.
Evaluate Your Sun: Tomatoes require full sun, but if you are in the South or experiencing temperatures topping 90˚F, a little high-noon shade is in order. Morning sun is great and a requirement, but as the day gets hot, make sure your tomatoes have a bit of shade.
Water: Watering is critical and simply cannot be skipped in your summer tomato care strategy. Water deeply and around the base of the plant. The less we can water from above (yes, I know that sounds strange when that’s how rain works!), the better. And remember that timing is everything. Water in the early to mid-morning because that allows the plants to dry out and not enter the evening hours with wet leaves. Wet leaves can lead to disease.
Conserve Water: Mulching around the base of your plants with 3 to 4 inches of organic material will help keep the roots cooler and conserve water.
Keep it Tidy: Watch closely for mildew and disease brought on by heat and humidity. Remove diseased and damaged leaves and fruit. And be sure to keep the area around the plant clear of fallen plant material and encourage air circulation.