Is your dad a big fan of steak? Does he like them juicy, and a bit red in the middle? Well this is the perfect time of year to plant some steaks for dad—Beefsteak Tomatoes that! If your dad has a green thumb, or simply just loves his tomatoes, a tomato plant might be a fantastic Father's Day gift.
Container or Garden?
Containers offer the convenience and flexibility to transfer if necessary and is a good option for the new gardener. This route can also be advantageous in extreme weather conditions or for those who do not have the space for an in-ground garden. One thing to keep in mind when choosing a container for a tomato plant, however, is the final size of the plant.
When transplanting a tomato plant to a container, choose one with good drainage. Holes in the bottom are a big help, and adding broken pottery or rocks in the bottom will also greatly improve drainage. Use a potting soil with lots of organic matter; not only will it help the plant grow big and strong but it will also impact the flavor, quality and size of the tomatoes. If using a peat moss potting mix, consider adding compost or cow manure to increase the plant's nutrition.
In the Garden
If part of the gift is in the planting, prepare the soil for the healthiest plants. Much like a container garden, ground soil needs a high organic content. Cow manure or compost can lend a hand here. Also, choose the sunniest spot in the yard; tomato plants will be happiest in high levels of light.
Choosing a Variety
There are essentially three styles of tomatoes, although there are hundreds of known varieties. Choose the one Dad will enjoy the most!
Sauce Tomatoes - These tomatoes are more meaty, and have less juice. They are great in sauces, salsas and more. The Roma tomato or San Marzano are favorites.
Slicing Tomatoes - These are the perfect tomato for the B.L.T., sliced into wedges and added to a favorite salad, or is the perfect topping to that freshly grilled burger. Examples include New Girl, Green Zebra, Valencia, Brandywine, Yellow Brandywine, and the famous Beefsteak.
Cherry/Grape - These tomatoes have a vibrant sweet flavor and can simply be popped in the mouth to enjoy. They are also a great accompaniment in salads and so much more. Examples include: Matt’s Wild, Sungold and cherry tomatoes.
Print out this section for Dad to assist in a successful gardening season!
Tomatoes will thrive in as much sun as they can get. A full day of sun is a tomatoes’ best friend. They will grow in partial sun conditions, but won’t develop as quickly and the fruit may be smaller.
Tomatoes are renowned for their ability to pull nutrients from the soil. It gives them their unique flavor and taste. Compost, cow manure, and other fertilizers will definitely help tomatoes develop into the best they can be. It is also a good idea to choose a fertilizer with a high calcium content. A common problem with tomatoes is end rot, where the end turns black and rotten. This often results from low calcium levels in the soil.
Tomatoes should be watered deeply. That means giving them lots of water all at once and let them go a while in between watering. The ideal time of day to water is in the morning. Routinely watering in the evening keeps moisture on the plant and can encourage rot and draw insects.
Once tomatoes reach a height of approximately 2-3 feet, trim the lowest leaves. These leaves are the most susceptible to disease and receive the least amount of light. Removing these leaves can improve the overall health of the plant by lowering its risk to diseases and rot.
Even if Dad is not a garden enthusiast, one or two plants will deliver many juicy vegetables later in the summer, and who knows, after experiencing his first harvest, he may just get the gardening bug!