Can't wait for homegrown tomatoes? Plant the Early Girl variety. In 50 to 60 days, you'll harvest the fruits of your labor. Early Girl produces 4- to 6-oz. slicing tomatoes, and the crack-tolerant plants have excellent disease resistance to verticillium and fusarium wilts. Early Girls are heavy-bearing, indeterminate plants, so they will need staking for support. While the Early Girl tomatoes may be slightly less flavorful than later varieties, they are ready to pick two or three weeks earlier, according to the Purdue University Cooperative Extension.
Choose a tomato plant that is not wilted or spindly. Check that the leaves are dark green and without any spots or holes. Look for an Early Girl plant that is as wide as is its tall.
If starting seeds indoors, wait until four to six weeks before the final frost date before your area. Plant the seeds in sterilized soil in pots or flats and barely cover with soil. Give the seedlings, which take seven to 10 days to germinate, at least eight hours of sunlight each day, and keep the soil moist.
Select a site that receives at least six hours of full sun each day. Because Early Girls are quick growing, they will use a lot of nutrients quickly. Spread a 6-inch layer of compost and 2 or 3 lbs. of a complete fertilizer (10-10-10) on top of your garden and work them into the top 12 inches of soil.
Move seedlings to individual pots or thin them out when they've reached 2 inches tall. They can be planted outdoors two weeks after the final frost date for your area, if the weather is warm enough (above 45 degrees Fahrenheit at night).
Set your plants as deeply into their holes as possible. Tomatoes will root along them where they come into contact with the soil. Remove all but the top leaves of your Early Girl plant, place into a deep hole and backfill with soil. Tamp down firmly and water. Purdue Extension recommends watering in your transplant with a starter solution of 2 tbsp. of a high-phosphorous fertilizer (5-10-5) per gallon of water.
Place stakes or a tall wire cage around each seedling. Early Girl is an indeterminate tomato, which means it will grow quite tall. It also will sprawl unless adequately supported. Its heavy harvest also calls for extra support.
Remove suckers (side shoots that appear in the space between the stem and the branch) from your Early Girl as it grows. Because it is an indeterminate variety, the suckers will not produce fruit and will take away energy from the rest of the plant.
Things You Will Need
- Sterilized soil
- Seedling flats or pots
- All-purpose fertilizer (10-10-10)
- High-phosphorous fertilizer (5-10-5)
- Stakes or wire cages
- Because Early Girl is a hybrid, its seeds will not produce plants consistent with its parent. Your new plant will have a combination of the good and the bad traits of the tomatoes that were initially crossed. You will not know what the fruit will be like or how the new seedling will perform, according to the University of Minnesota Extension service.