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We Are Serious About Homegrown Tomatoes!

Every year at Raincatcher’s Garden we have had a bumper crop of tomatoes.  Not so last year. Not enough water and too much fertilizer caused the problem. Well, we are not going to duplicate that this year.

Jeff Raska, our horticulture program assistant, has put the “R” back in our Research, Education, and Demo title. We are embarking on tomato trials with the goal of higher and better tomato production. Jeff reminds us that his tomato plants at his home produce 40 pounds of tomatoes per plant. Ok, Jeff! Game on!

Fertilization Comparison Study 2018

Week 1-March 20, 2018

Celebrity Tomatoes


  • Prepare three raised beds and plant two tomato plants in each. Fertilize each bed with a different fertilizer (compost, organic, chemical) following label directions.
  • Each fertilizer is slow release and requires re-application every eight weeks.
  • Each Tuesday, measure the plant heights and weigh and record any tomatoes that are harvested.

    Syann dutifully measuring tomato plants last year. She has agreed to help with our 2018 study.


Bed #9- Compost

Week 1 – 1 Tbsp Epsom salts, 1 cup Miracle-Gro Compost (1-0-0)

Week 2 – Plant tomatoes

Week 8 – 1 cup  Miracle-Gro Compost (1-0-0)

Week 16 – 1 cup Miracle-Gro Compost (1-0-0)

Bed #1- Organic Fertilizer

Week 1 – 1 Tbsp Epsom salts, 1 Tbsp  Blood Meal (12-0-0), 2 Tbsp Dr Earth (4-6-3)

Week 2 – Plant tomatoes

Week 8 – 1 Tbsp Bone Meal (6-9-0), 2 Tbsp Dr Earth (4-6-3)

Week 16 – 1 Tbsp Bone Meal (6-9-0), 2 Tbsp Dr Earth (4-6-3)

Bed  #2- Chemical Fertilizer

Week 1 – 1 Tbsp Epsom salts, 1 Tbsp Vigoro, Tomato & Vegetable (12-10-5)

Week 2 – Plant tomatoes

Week 8 – 1 Tbsp Vigoro,Bold Flowers (15-30-15)

Week 16 – 1 Tbsp Vigoro, Bold Flowers (15-30-15)


Celebrity tomatoes characteristics: All-American Winner Selection, 7 oz, determinate, harvest 70 days. Tom Wilten calls Celebrity the preeminent mid-sized tomato.


Fertlization Comparison study write up by Jim Dempsey.

Picture by Starla Willis

Ann Lamb

Read up on tomatoes by using our search box. We have recipes, growing tips, and advice to produce tons of tomatoes.



Tomatoes and North Texas

In selecting varieties of tomatoes for North Texas, the most important criterion to consider is the one in the trade called, “Early Season”. The less time required for maturation the better, because the extreme heat of our summers for tomatoes is like falling off a cliff.

Tomato varieties can also be described as being either determinate or indeterminate. Determinate varieties have the characteristic of reaching a point during their maturation at which most of the bearing of fruit occurs within a short time.  Indeterminate is just the opposite, where bearing occurs on a more gradual and sustained basis.

Indeterminate varieties that perform best here are mostly the smaller sized varieties. These can bear fairly prolifically even in mid-summer.  My own personal preference is for this class of tomatoes.  They are just the right size for popping into the mouth.  A usual day in my life finds me eating them every morning and about half the time that evening.

Tomato" Yellow Pear" an indeterminate variety

Tomato” Yellow Pear” an indeterminate variety

Larger sized tomatoes that perform best are the mid-sized varieties. The most popular 8- 12 oz. tomato for many years has been the determinant variety, Celebrity.  Its sister, Carnival is good also.  A typical year will find this variety bearing typically most heavily from early June to early July.

The largest fruited varieties require too long to mature, where anything past 65 days is marginal. The large fruited varieties also are susceptible to splitting and sun scald.  These do not appreciably affect the taste but certainly do affect the esthetic qualities of the fruit.

Celebrity Tomato Ripening on the Vine

Celebrity Tomato Ripening on the Vine

Perusing the catalog, “Tomato Growers Supply Company”, there are listed 16 varieties of Early Season varieties, many from which to choose.

Over the years, varieties come and go. Some are described as being highly heat resistant, but I would be wary of accepting that description as being accurate.  I would recommend acquiring a tomato catalog along with using my advice in choosing your selection(s).  Celebrity remains the preeminent mid-sized tomato.

Tom Wilten

Pictures by Starla




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