Though the northeastern United States has a much colder climate than many other regions, it is nonetheless a popular area for growing tomatoes. These fruits are grown in traditional gardens, patio containers, upside-down tomato planters and greenhouses.
Some good cherry varieties to grow in the Northeast include Sweet Million and Supersweet. Roma tomato varieties include San Marzano and Plum Dandy. Some heirloom tomato varieties for slicing or canning include Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter and Striped German. Some varieties that do well in greenhouses include Trust, Geronimo, Big Beef and Cobra.
The northeastern United States falls in USDA hardiness zone 2. This means that the growing season is from May through September. Tomatoes may be planted in early to mid-May and will cease production of fruit in early to mid-September. Gardeners may extend the season somewhat by covering plants at night if temperatures dip below freezing.
Late Blight is a fungal disease common in tomato plants grown in this region. Beginning signs are water-like spots on the leaves. These spots will enlarge and finally have a mold-like growth around them Leaves and stems may wither and die, sometimes as early as 14 days after outbreak. Gardeners should remove infected plants as soon as signs are noticed to avoid the disease spreading to healthy plants.
Many New England tomato growers begin each spring by planting seedlings that have been started indoors six to eight weeks before the growing season. These seedlings will often be planted in black plastic mulch. This mulch aids in water conservation and allows farmers to use less nitrogen fertilizer because leaching or seeping is reduced.
Many farmers in the Northeast grow tomatoes in greenhouses. These greenhouses may be glass- or plastic-covered. Inside the greenhouse, tomatoes may be grown in beds, pots or growing bags. They may also grow on a trellis-like system. The harvest season for greenhouse tomatoes in the Northeast is usually from April through October, although some greenhouses may produce tomatoes year-round.
Tomatoes in the northeastern states will need a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus. A good type of fertilizer would be a 5-10-10 or 5-20-20 type. This should be spread in the planting area two weeks before setting out tomato plants. After flowers have set, 2 to 3 pounds per 100 square feet of garden space should be spread just after the first flowers appear.
Much of the Northeast has loamy soil, which is ideal for tomato plants. This soil should be mixed with a decent amount of organic matter, such as manure or compost. Tomatoes prefer a pH balance of between 6.2 and 6.8. This is a normal pH level in New England, but gardeners may want to have their soil tested with their local extension office.
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