County Extension hosts tomato growing class

Published 4:17 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Chilton County Extension Office held a Growing Tomatoes 101 class at its location in downtown Clanton on April 4.

Phillip Inman and Nelson Wynn with ACES were on hand to demonstrate and discuss a variety of topics concerning tomatoes when growing them “in your backyard.”

There are hundreds of types of tomatoes to choose from, such as Better Boy, Beefsteak, Brandywine and Cherokee Purple.

According to Inman, different tomatoes can be good for different uses once they are grown. Super Italian, orange roma and cherry tomatoes are perfect for salads, while celebrity is the most acidic.

“Most people end up planting the type of tomatoes that their family always grew,” Inman said.

Inman had certain suggestions for the crowd of about 20 people to consider both prior to and in the midst of the planting process.

Because sunlight can play a vital role in a plants life, he suggested that they put a stick in the ground and come out at various times throughout the day to see the direction that the sun is shining.

“That will determine where you plant things,” Inman said. “You have to think things through or else your hard work will not produce the results you’re looking for.”

One problem that most people run into is planting too close to each other.

Inman said that there are two types of growing styles. Plants that are determinate will grow to a limited height and provide limited blooms, while an indeterminate plant is one that grows and produces fruit as long as the growing season remains favorable.

Cattle wire was also introduced as a viable option instead of tomato cages. The vines climb up the wire, which is attached to posts and grow upward as opposed to the common circular growth in the cages.

“After trying this [cattle wire] for a couple of years, you will throw away those cages,” Inman said.

The importance of not planting tomatoes in the same spot each year was also stressed.

Rotating once every three years is the key.

According to Inman, the reason for this is because nematodes will settle into the soil and will still be there the next year.

Other diseases also common in tomatoes are verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt and tobacco mosaic wilt.