Although tomatoes are a variety of plant with roots in central America, gardeners in the south, especially parts of the gulf coast where summer temperatures may soar over 105 degrees, face several challenges when growing tomatoes. Tomato plants may show signs of heat stress that include rolling leaves and pollen that becomes sterile. The solution to these issues is to maintain cultural practices that keep tomatoes cooler and select tomato varieties that are adapted to the heat.
Have your soil tested to determine the soil structure, pH and nutrient content. The results of this test will help you determine which amendments to add to improve your soil's structure and help plants to thrive as well as avoiding diseases such as blossom end rot. The USDA maintains soil testing laboratories in conjunction with the state college's community and continuing education program. By contacting your local county extension office, you can find information on how to collect a soil sample and where to send it to.
Purchase soil amendments based on the test in step 1. Common soil amendments include gypsum to break up heavy clay soils and organic materials such as compost, peat moss and well-rotted manure to improve soil structure and nutrient content. Additionally, you can balance the pH of soil by adding lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower the pH. Tomatoes can also benefit from an application of a balanced (8-8-8) fertilizer.
Break up your soil to a depth of nine inches with a rototiller. Spread your amendments over the top of the soil in a four inch layer. Turn the amendments into the soil with the rototiller.
Select tomato plants that are heat-tolerant. Tomato varieties such as solar fire, heat wave, sun master and sure fire will continue to pollinate and produce tomatoes in warm temperatures.
Remove all leaves from the tomato plant except for the top leaf cluster. Dig a planting pocket for your tomato that is deep enough to bury the plant up to its top leaf cluster. Place the plant in the hole and cover it with soil. Plants should be spaced two feet apart in rows that are up to four feet apart.
Place a stake into the ground near the tomato and tie the tomato plant to the stake to support the plant as it grows.
Check the soil daily once the temperatures climb above 80 degrees and water your soil whenever your tomatoes need water. The soil should remain as damp as a wrung-out sponge.