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How to Grow Tomatoes in North Florida

By Jennifer Loucks ; Updated September 21, 2017
Tomatoes are popular in North Florida.
Tomato image by Christian Stoltze from Fotolia.com

Tomatoes are popular plants grown in home vegetable gardens in North Florida, as the weather provides the opportunity for two growing seasons each year. Plant the tomato seedlings in March for a harvest before the hot summer months and again in September for a harvest before the risk of frost. Many tomato varieties grow well in North Florida. Choose a variety that is Fusarium wilt and Verticillium wilt resistant to prevent fruit loss to disease.

Select a planting area that has direct sunlight and well-draining soil.

Test the soil pH, as tomatoes grow best in a pH of 6.2 to 6.5. Work ground rock sulfur into the soil to lower the pH or limestone to raise it. Follow the recommendations of the soil test for the proper amendments and amounts.

Water the planting area with a deep soaking. Let the soil rest two weeks before planting tomatoes.

Till 1 lb. of composted manure into the planting area for every 1 square foot of planting space. Work the compost to a depth of 10 inches.

Dig planting holes that are 3 to 5 inches inches deeper than the container the tomato came in. Remove the tomato from its container, gently loosen the roots and set it in the hole so that the first set of leaves is just above ground level. Space the plants 18 to 24 inches apart.

Fertilize the tomatoes after planting with a 6-8-6 water-soluble fertilizer. Follow the label instructions for dosage details. Pour the fertilizer around the base of the tomato plants, making sure it does not touch the foliage or stem.

Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of dry grass clippings around the tomato plants to limit weed growth that competes with soil moisture and nutrients. Black or red plastic mulch sheeting also works well for tomatoes.

Set a tomato cage over each plant to assist with structure support and keep fruit off the ground. Train the branches over the cage as the plant grows.

Provide supplemental water to the tomato plants when the weekly rainfall amounts are less than 1 inch. Apply water at ground level to prevent damage to the plant and the introduction of fungal diseases.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Soil pH test
  • Ground rock sulfur
  • Limestone
  • Composted manure
  • Tiller
  • Shovel
  • Tomato seedlings
  • 6-8-6 fertilizer
  • Mulch
  • Tomato cage

Tip

  • Tomato plants grow best in a soil kept evenly moist with deep water soakings to promote deep root growth.

About the Author

 

Jennifer Loucks has been writing since 1998. She previously worked as a technical writer for a software development company, creating software documentation, help documents and training curriculum. She now writes hobby-based articles on cooking, gardening, sewing and running. Loucks also trains for full marathons, half-marathons and shorter distance running. She holds a Bachelor of Science in animal science and business from University of Wisconsin-River Falls.