The homegrown vegetable of choice for Texas gardeners continues to be tomatoes. These are grown either in a vegetable garden or in containers. There are many seedling varieties available from local nurseries, including favorite varietal recommendations such as Celebrity, Carnival, SunPride, and Tomato 444--a Texas Superstar plant according to Texas A&M University. Plant tomatoes in Texas directly after the last frost to set fruit before the summer heat climbs over 90 degrees.
Select a site that receives at least eight hours of sunlight per day and has good drainage to plant your Texas tomatoes.
Clear the area of plant material and debris. Turn the soil with a shovel or tiller down at least 8 to 10 inches if the area has not been worked before as a vegetable garden. If the area has been used as a vegetable garden, till or breakup the top 2 inches of soil.
Add 2 inches of completely composted material and 1 tbsp. fertilizer for each plant a week to 10 days before planting. Texas clay soils tend to be high in phosphorous and potassium and require only nitrogen fertilizer. The sandy soils in West Texas need a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer. Mix the soil, compost, and fertilizer and add water.
Purchase tomato seedlings. Select a variety labeled "VNF" which provides resistance against common Texas tomato diseases such as verticillium and fusarium wilt and nematodes.
Use a wide trowel to dig a hole 3 inches deep and about 4 inches long. Gently remove the seedling from its container, remove the lower leaves, and lay it in the hole slightly horizontally so that the places on the stem where leaves were removed will be lying underground. Hold the top of the plant upright and fill the hole around the roots and lower stem.
Press the soil firmly around the plant to remove air pockets. Add water to wet the soil thoroughly.
Place support around the tomato. This will hold the plant upright and keep the leaves off the ground to reduce exposure to soil borne diseases.
Add 2 inches of mulch around, but not touching, the plant. The mulch helps retains moisture and lower soil temperatures as the Texas summer heat begins in June and July.