A lot of people look forward to fresh, juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes in the summertime. The warm climate of North Carolina suits many tomato varieties quite well, but the high humidity can lead to disease, wilt, fungal infection and nematodes. Gardeners in North Carolina should seek out disease-resistant tomato varieties. Tomatoes need rich, fertile soil. Soil that is heavy in clay or sand should be amended with compost, composted manure or peat moss. Use a layer of mulch, such as dried leaves or shredded bark around your tomato plants to keep down weeds.
The disease resistance and huge bumper crops of Better Boy tomatoes make them among the most popular tomatoes in Southern gardens. Better Boy tomatoes are bred to be resistant to verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt and root-knot nematodes. The fruit is round, firm and very large--weighing up to 1 lb. They're perfect for sandwiches and salads, and the plants will produce all summer long. Better Boy tomatoes are vigorous and rugged, and should be trained up a stake, cage or trellis.
Celebrity tomatoes are disease resistant and produce a large cluster of beautiful red tomatoes in the early or mid-season. The fruit is about the size of your fist and has a rich, classic tomato flavor. Celebrity tomatoes are best when used fresh, although they can also be cooked down for sauce.
Italian tomatoes known as Romas have dense flesh with few seeds, making them ideal for preserving into sauce, paste, ketchup and more. Roma tomatoes are a determinate variety, which means that they produce their entire crop all at once. The best flavor of Roma tomatoes comes from cooking them down, and they are not normally eaten fresh, although some new hybrids are sweeter and juicier than older classic Roma type tomatoes. The plum-shaped fruit is about 2 to 3 inches long.
Super Sweet 100
This early-season cherry tomato produces large clusters of fruit. Super Sweet 100 tomatoes are tiny, about the size of a gum ball, but they are packed with flavor that is sugary and slightly acidic. The plants are vigorous and reliable in North Carolina gardens. Tomatoes with smaller fruit, such as Super Sweet 100, are good for growing in containers.
The dirty-looking, brownish-purple fruit of Cherokee Purple tomatoes probably won't win any beauty contests, but what they lacks in aesthetics they make up for in taste. This heirloom variety from the 19th century is one of the sweetest tomatoes you will ever taste. The flesh is soft and very juicy, and Cherokee Purple tomatoes are best used fresh in salads or sandwiches. They can be made into sauce, although you will have to increase cooking time to reduce the moisture content. The fruit is about the size of a tennis ball.
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