Bradley tomatoes were developed by the University of Arkansas in 1961 and have been a favorite with gardeners ever since. The plant is bushy and compact, with short stems that usually produce 6- to 10-ounce fruit. The dark pink, succulent and firm tomatoes on each plant ripen at the same time, making harvesting easy as gardeners complete the task in one sweep. These high production plants tolerate summer heat and wilt, and the tomatoes are eaten raw, sliced, frozen or canned.
Select Bradley tomato seedlings that are equally tall and wide from your local garden center or farmers market. Avoid thin spindly plants that will not produce sufficient tomatoes.
Select a planting site that receives plenty of sunlight, up to seven hours every day, and has well drained soil. Make sure it is away from high trees or buildings that block sunlight, and close to a water source so they receive plenty of water.
Loosen the planting site up to 5 inches deep to aerate it, and add a layer of peat moss, compost, leaf mold or well-rotted manure to amend it. Bradley tomato plants grow in a variety of soils, but amending existing soil ensures the plants produce healthy fruit with optimum flavor. Mix the amendment well with the existing soil.
Fertilize the soil when adding soil amendments with a fertilizer that has little amounts of nitrogen, plenty of phosphorous and medium to high amounts of potassium, such as a 6-24-24, or 8-32-16.
Dig a hole in the prepared site as wide as the root ball of a transplant but slightly deeper. Plant the transplant into the hole along with the bottom three to four leaves. Roots sprout along the buried section of the stem to develop a vigorous and healthy root system. Space transplants 24 to 36 inches apart, and keep rows up to 5 feet apart.
Water the transplants daily. Bradley tomatoes require plenty of water, so a deep thorough watering will suffice. Add mulch around the plants to retain moisture and keep the roots cool.
Insert a 5-foot long wooden stake into the ground, 4 inches from each transplant. Tie the transplant to the stake with soft cord. Staking is essential for tomato plants because it improves fruit quality, protects them from insects and makes it easier to harvest.
Things You Will Need
- Peat moss or compost
- 6-24-24 fertilizer
- Garden hose
- 6-foot long stake
- Soft cord
- When purchasing seedlings, keep in mind that two to three tomato plants generally produce enough tomatoes to feed a family of four.
- Plant the Bradley tomato seedlings once the danger of frost has passed and the temperature outside is 60 degrees Fahrenheit, as they are susceptible to frost damage.
- Cover the tomato plants with an inverted bucket or cardboard box during high winds or heavy rains.
- Bradley tomatoes mature 75 to 80 days after planting.
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