What’s Growing On: Tomatoes grow best in the spring according to Master Gardeners

Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 6:03 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Tomatoes are the Alachua County Plant of the Month for March.

There are more than 15,000 varieties of tomatoes grown worldwide, and the United States is the second highest producer of the fruit.

Tomato plants are very easy for first-time gardeners.

It takes about 90 to 110 days for a plant to reach maturity depending on the variety.

“We start the seeds off in January or late February, but we put them in the ground, in this part of the world, as soon as we can after the last frost date. Which is usually about mid March,” explained Colin Burrows, a Master Gardener for Alachua County.

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He has grown tomatoes in many different ways — from the traditional way in soil, to hanging baskets.

Even though tomatoes are generally simple, keeping up with the health of the plant is a must according to Burrows.

“The soil needs to be able to hold moisture. As they grow, they need more and more water, about two inches a week in some cases where they’re fully mature. They will need fertilizing, they are heavy feeders and we have to scout regularly for diseases,” said Burrows.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the Sunshine State is a top producer of tomatoes next to California, but most of them are harvested in the springtime before temperatures get too hot.

In the last 22 years, the world production of tomatoes has increased more than 54% according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

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