It’s time to get those fall tomatoes in the ground.
Yes, it’s hot, and, yes, you’ll have to water almost every day. But the plants need the time to develop strong roots, put out foliage and set fruit before the first frost.
You’ll want to plant much as you did in the spring.
One of the best all around producers is Celebrity. It sets medium-sized fruit with a good flavor with fewer pest and disease problems. Other large fruit varieties recommended by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension for our area are Better Boy, Bush Beefsteak and Carnival. Recommended small fruit varieties include Juliet, Red Cherry and Cherry Grande.
Some tomatoes, called indeterminate, may continue to produce. They may look kind of thin and wilted now but give them a chance and they’ll revive and produce until first frost. (If that first frost is late, you could have vine-ripened tomatoes for Thanksgiving!)
Just trim out overgrown suckers, add some compost and leave plants in the ground.
Determinate varieties, such as Bush Early Girl, produce fruit over a few weeks and then are done.
For a fall tomato, pull out plants that are wilting or no longer producing and replant. Work some compost into the soil and then plant as you did in the spring. Remember to plant deep, about a third of the main stem in the ground, to give the plants a hardy base.
Keep the plants well-watered and fertilize every week or so.
The same rules apply whether you are planting in the ground or in a container.
Tomatoes need at least six hours of sunlight to set fruit. But six hours of hot afternoon North Texas sun may be more that they can handle. If you are serious about getting that fall crop, you may want to shade them in the late afternoon. Some gardeners just set up a couple of patio umbrellas that can the easily opened and closed.
Others use shade cloth stretched between poles to give some relief from the blazing sun.
No matter what you plant, the key point is water, water, water.
You don’t want the ground to be soggy, but it shouldn’t dry out. Unevenly watered fruit are likely to crack.
Tomatoes aren’t the only thing you can put in fall garden. Almost anything you grew in your spring garden will flourish if replanted for fall. Some plants, such as okra, really love the late summer heat. It is too early to plant things like lettuce that like cooler weather.
See agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/browse/featured-solutions/gardening-landscaping/fall-vegetable-gardening-guide-for-texas/ for a guide to fall planting times.