Tomato planting time

By Gregg Eyestone

It is almost time to plant our warm-season vegetables such as tomatoes and beans. The soil temperature should be a constant 70 degrees for growth. Seeds and transplants will take off and the need for covering is minimal. Vegetables are the only plants that we need to rush their maturity.

I will be giving a free program on growing warm-season vegetables on Tuesday, April 24. It will begin at 7 p.m. in Pottorf Hall in CiCo Park. Topics to be included are growing tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers, sweet potatoes and other warm season vegetables. Soil fertility and watering along with some pest issues will be covered.

My tomatoes are growing nicely under the florescent lights I have in the basement. Soon I will need to transplant the ones I will grow in containers to be put on the deck.

Some tomatoes get leaf blight diseases during humid times of the year. A good strategy to reduce the disease pressure is to have good spacing among plants. Fewer plants may equal more harvestable fruit without having to spray for leaf diseases. I’m fortunate to have lots of space and I space mine three to four feet apart. Eighteen inches is the minimum apart in rows with 3 feet between rows. Caging, staking and pruning will improve air flow through the plants.

The canning or freezing type of tomatoes may have less leaf disease pressure. Mine do very well which are spaced adequately apart. Cherry types seem to be more resistant than slicing types. Indeterminate tomatoes appear to manage as they continue to get taller where there is more air movement.

Let’s hope for a good summer gardening season. Last year, it was too hot for too long for many of our warm-season crops. It is currently averaging out with a cool start to this year’s season.

You can find out more information on this and other horticulture topics by going to the Riley County, K-State Research and Extension website at

Gregg may be contacted by calling 785-537-6350 or stopping by 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan or e-mail:

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