While you might associate juicy tomatoes with the long days of summer, it’s actually hard to grow tomatoes here during the heat of June, July, and August.
Tomatoes are warm weather plants, so they don’t like when the temperatures spike over 95 degrees (and as you’ve probably noticed, that’s like every day around here. We can’t say we like it either!). Your plant might stay alive with some good pruning and shade, but it likely won’t give you the fruit harvest you’re looking for. An overheated tomato plant’s blossoms will dry out instead of opening up, which means the pollen inside is no good and won’t set fruit. Any fruit you do have on the tree might take extra long to ripen.
When you see other gardeners posting their tomato pictures and bragging about how their plants are touching above their arch trellis this time of year, try not to be too envious. Our time has finally come!
August is when we can start preparing for our second warm season of crops in Central Texas. That’s right, folks–we get not one, but two excellent gardening seasons here. (See? No need to be envious.)
When to Plant Tomatoes for Fall Harvest
During the heat of the summer we can start tomato seeds indoors in July to prepare for planting outdoors. Or many local nurseries will sell tomatoes again in August for transplanting.
August is the time to add tomato transplants to your garden or harden off those seedlings you started indoors. The best planting time for Central Texas is from August up to the first week of September to ensure you get maximum yields for fall harvests. If you live outside of Central Texas you will want to give your tomatoes 60-100 days before your first frost of the fall/winter season as tomatoes do not like cold weather.
How to Plant Tomatoes
Give your tomatoes some space in the garden to spread out. Add some organic compost or worm castings to the soil. Bury the bare stalk in soil up to the first stem to encourage the plant to make new roots and become strong enough to support lots of fruit. Use garden trellises to help support your tomato plants as they grow. Prune any leaves that touch the soil to avoid pest issues.
Our Favorite Tomato Varieties
All of the tomatoes below are indeterminate varieties, which means they will vine and continue to set fruit throughout their growing season, rather than all at once. That means instead of one big tomato harvest, you’ll be able to pluck fruit steadily. These guys will need some kind of trellis or support structure to keep the vines off the ground and encourage growth. We prefer varieties that produce smaller fruits so that we can maximize our harvests in the time we’re given.
These guys ripen into a beautiful golden orange color, as the name promises, and will give you tangy fruit throughout the season. Buys seeds here.
Bred to be disease resistant, Juliets produce an abundance of small and sweet grape tomatoes. Buy seeds here.
Super Bush Container Tomato
This is the perfect tomato for small spaces or container gardening. Only reaching 2.5ft -3ft tall and full of flavor. Buy seeds here.
Central Texas Monthly Planting Guide
Take all the guesswork out of your seasonal planting.
We hope you can envision your future of going out to your kitchen garden a couple times a week (once the weather is more pleasant, of course) and plucking perfect, delicious fruit right off the vine. While the trees up north blaze with the red and gold leaves of fall, we’ll get those same fiery colors dripping off our tomato plants all the way to the first frost.
What to do about frost
Speaking of frost, here’s what to do in case our first frost comes a little early this year. First, harvest all the tomatoes growing on your plants, even if they’re green. The green ones will change color and ripen over the next couple of months inside. Then, cover your plants with some frost cloth or (less desirable) old sheets. Remember, you’ll get another chance to grow tomatoes in the spring, thanks to Austin’s warmer climate!
Let us know what questions you have about growing tomatoes here in Central Texas. We love helping you set up your own kitchen gardens and become confident gardeners. If you’re ready to set up your garden for the fall, now is the perfect time. Click here to start growing with us!