Local garden center experts help green thumbs grow glorious tomatoes.
Spring is for planting veggies for bountiful harvests! The experts at Pike Nurseries share tips and tricks to grow the tastiest tomatoes in town. Whether growing cherry, heirloom or slicing varieties, the pros at Pike Nurseries are prepared to help green thumbs of all skill levels grow delicious and nutritious tomatoes for salads, sandwiches and more!
Properly Prep Spaces When selecting a space for tomato plants, be sure to choose an area with plenty of natural, direct sunlight, preferably for at least six to eight hours per day. For gardens lacking a full-sun area, try planting tomatoes in pots so they can be easily moved to bright spaces. Be sure to use a large pot, as tomatoes have a vigorous root system and grow quickly.
Choose Tomatoes When selecting tomato varieties, it’s important to understand the two types: determinate or indeterminate. All blossoms and fruit develop at the same time on determinate plants, leading to a short but abundant harvest. This is popular with gardeners who enjoy canning tomatoes or preparing sauce. Indeterminate plants grow and produce fruit along the vine throughout the growing season. In this case, the harvest will last several months and provide fresh fruit for sandwiches, salads and more. Favorite varieties include:
- Better Boy: Noted for its superior flavor, these bright red fruits yield a large number of tomatoes for slicing. Indeterminate.
- Brandywine: The beefsteak-shaped fruits are rosy pink in color and loaded with a superb, old-fashioned tomato taste. The heirloom standard grows quickly and ripens gradually until frost. Indeterminate.
- Cherokee Purple: This heirloom’s vigorous vines grow dusky pink fruits with a deep red interior and rich flavor. Ranked high in taste tests, Cherokee Purple adds a sweet taste to any meal. Indeterminate.
- Early Girl: An all-around popular hybrid, the Early Girl is best used to jump-start early harvests that continue to produce throughout the season. These fresh fruits can be planted again in the late summer to produce a bountiful fall crop. Indeterminate.
- Super Sweet 100: Clusters of sweet-tasting cherry tomatoes are perfect for tossing in salads and snacking. Known to be highly disease-resistant, these plants will continue to grow all season long! Indeterminate.
- Roma: Prized for its use in cooking, this plant produces egg-shaped fruits with thick walls, few seeds and little juice, ideal for making tomato sauce and paste. Determinate.
- Yellow Pear: Named after its pear shape and bright yellow color, this heirloom tomato flaunts long vines that produce clusters of mild-flavored tiny tomatoes! Indeterminate.
Amend Soil When prepping the area to plant tomatoes, dig a hole that is about twice as big as the tomato pot. Remove the native soil and mix it at a 50/50 ratio with Pike Vegetable and Flower Mix to break up the dense clay soil and allow for better root growth, adding nutrients the veggies will need to produce an abundant harvest. This will improve drainage and balance soil pH for a healthy crop. Be sure to backfill the hole about halfway with the amended soil! When planting in containers, the experts suggest using Pike Potting and Container Soil, which contains wetting agents that help retain moisture in the soil. No matter where the tomatoes are planted, add a handful of starter fertilizer, like Dr. Earth Root Zone, at the bottom of the hole and mix in. The starter fertilizer will prevent transplant shock and help roots begin to establish.
Bury and Stake Stems When planting tomato plants, remove the bottom one or two levels of leaves and bury the plants up to that portion of the stem. New roots will sprout from the base of the stem, anchoring the plant in the dirt and ultimately providing a sturdier plant with more fruit. The experts point out tomatoes are the only plant that should be planted this way. When planting or transplanting tomatoes, start plants out with tomato cages, especially for indeterminate varieties like Brandywine. Tomato cages are easier to insert when plants are young and will help support the tomato plants as they grow and keep fruit off the ground.
Water Wisely The key to tomato success is consistent water. Thoroughly soak tomato beds at the time of planting and always water the soil directly rather than watering the leaves. Keeping the leaves dry will minimize the chance of fungus and disease, ultimately keeping tomatoes healthy and strong throughout the growing season. Water when the soil feels dry one to two inches down. Maintain a consistent watering schedule as irregular watering can cause the fruit to split. Fertilize every six weeks with Dr. Earth's Organic Tomato, Vegetable, and Herb Fertilizer.
Compost and Trim Once plants reach a height of about three feet, remove any brown and fungus-ridden bottom leaves to prevent diseases from taking hold. When little sucker stems sprout from the base of larger stems, pinch them off to result in more fruit; they will just suck the energy away from the more prolific stems. While the first fruit is ripening, gardeners can encourage new growth and continued fruit by spreading compost around the stem and trimming some of the upper leaves. For more information and care tips at Pike Nurseries, please visit pikenursery.com.
Deemed an “essential business” by local and state governments, Pike Nurseries is proud to sell edible plants, along with the tools and supplies needed to cultivate personal gardens. Pike Nurseries recognizes that garden centers are key components within local communities, and the company is committed to ensuring the best selection of sustainable food sources, along with knowledgeable horticultural expertise, while practicing safety first. All stores are following the safety guidelines and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, as well as federal and state officials. For more information and advice, visit Pike Nurseries.
In an effort to keep customers safe, all Pike Nurseries locations are now exclusively offering delivery and curbside pick-up. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Customers can complete an online form or call a local store to order, and a Pike Nurseries employee-owner will return the call to personally consult on the request and finalize the order.
Pike Nursery, Buckhead
4020 Roswell Road
Atlanta, GA 30342
Pike Nurseries, Acworth
3602 Cobb Parkway
Acworth, Georgia 30101
Pike Nurseries, Milton
3155 Bethany Bend
Milton, Georgia 30004
Pike Nurseries, Cumming
6050 Bethelview Road
Cumming, Georgia 30040
Pike Nurseries, East Cobb
2900 Johnson Ferry Road
Marietta, Georgia 30062
Pike Nurseries, Suwanee
1105 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard
Suwanee, Georgia 30024
Pike Nurseries, Toco Hills
2101 LaVista Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30329
Pike Nurseries, Marietta
1875 Roswell Road
Marietta, Georgia 30062
Pike Nurseries, Johns Creek
5795 State Bridge Road
Alpharetta, Georgia 30022
Pike Nurseries, Lindbergh
2410 Camellia Lane NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30324
Pike Nurseries, West Cobb
3431 Barrett Parkway, NW
Marietta, Georgia 30064
Pike Nurseries, Towne Lake
2475 Towne Lake Parkway
Woodstock, Georgia 30189
Please view other Pike Nurseries articles: Online Advice with Kid’s Corner, Stressless, plant more: Pike reveals top benefits of gardening, Tips for planting modern-day victory gardens, Garden-to-Grill tips, Heat-Loving Plants for Summer, Personalized Container Gardens, Healthier Landscape, Hottest Pet-Safe Houseplants,Picking the Perfect Pumpkin, Garden-Themed Learning, and Top essentials for a colorful spring garden.
LIKE THIS ARTICLE: Sandy Springs Dunwoody Macaroni Kid is a free weekly newsletter and website focused on fun family events and information in Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Chamblee, Doraville, Atlanta, and Perimeter. We gather together all kinds of local family events and activities each week and add useful information about classes, family-focused businesses, book and product reviews, recipes, crafts, school and camp guides and more. We proudly serve families in Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Chamblee, Doraville, Atlanta, and Perimeter! Sandy Springs Dunwoody Macaroni Kid is full of useful local information like this PLUS tons of kid-friendly events on our event calendar. Have an event you'd like submitted to our calendar for consideration? Submit an event here. Like what you see here and want to get all the fun delivered to your inbox weekly? Subscribe to our FREE weekly e-newsletter for 411 on the local family fun. You can find Sandy Springs Dunwoody Macaroni Kid on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.