The Big Boy F-1 hybrid tomato, developed by Dr. Ovid Shifriss, has been a garden favorite since its public debut through W. Atlee Burpee & Company in 1949. Producing large fruits with smooth, bright red skin, Big Boy plants are indeterminate and yet bush-like in form. The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension notes that the exact lineage of this hybrid, still in production, is a trade secret. Big Boy tomatoes mature within 78 days of planting and continue to produce until the first frost of the season.
Begin growing Big Boy hybrid seeds indoors at least six to eight weeks before the last predicted frost for your area.
Fill each peat pot at least three quarters full with lightly moistened seed-starter potting mix.
Place three or four seeds in each pot, at a depth of 1/4 to 1/2 an inch, and cover with a thin layer of potting mix.
Place peat pots on a tray and place the tray in an area that receives at least six hours of full sunlight per day.
Remove all but the healthiest seedling from each pot, once each plant develops at least two sets of true leaves.
Place plants outdoors for several hours each day, in a partially shady location to prepare them for outdoor planting. This process, known as hardening off, allows plants to become acclimated to outdoor temperatures without putting them into shock.
Work organic compost into the soil at the chosen outdoor location. Soil should not be worked until it is fairly dry, to prevent clumping.
Transplant Ferry Morse Big Boy plants after seven to 10 days of hardening off. Make certain that soil is at least 60 degrees F before transplanting.
Create a shallow trench in the planting site, then lay each plant on its side and cover it with soil to the first set of leaves. Plants can remain in their peat pots, as these degrade and add nutrients to the soil.
Apply mulch at a depth of 2 to 3 inches, around the base of each plant. Mulch helps prevent weeds and keep soil moist around the plant.
Center and insert tomato cages over tomato plants. Gently push down on the cage until each prong is inserted in the soil, up to the first ring. Install cages immediately after transplant to avoid damaging roots after they have become established later in the season.
Water tomatoes every day during the first week. During the growing season, 1 inch of water is sufficient to retain moisture. Water around the base of the plant, rather than over the foliage, to aid in disease prevention and to ensure that the root system is properly hydrated.
Apply fertilizer around the base of the plant every two to three weeks. Follow manufacturer's directions with regards to dosage, making sure not to get fertilizer on foliage and stems, which can cause burns.