HOW TO GROW VEGETABLES IN NORTHWEST FLORIDA

Tomatoes to try in your 2014 Florida vegetable garden

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There soon will be a stack of 2014 seed catalogs on my desk growing faster than the weeds in last year’s sweet potato bed. There is never a dull month for home vegetable growers in Florida. When we’re not in the garden, we’re planning our next one.

January is the perfect time to order your seeds, plants and seed potatoes. If you don’t act fast, it’s easy to fall behind. Planting windows open as early as this month in chilly north Florida for several traditional spring-harvested vegetables. Many more vegetables can be planted in February. Look for the links located in the right column of this page for complete planting dates for homegrown vegetables in north, central and south Florida.

It is always fun to try something new and different in the garden. I have found many of my favorite veggie varieties by testing some of the different offerings from the various seed catalogs. In this post, the first of a two-part series, I will share with you four varieties of tomato plants to consider for your garden in 2014. Next month, I will share some winter squash recommendations.

SuperSauce Hybrid Tomato
If you saw last year’s Burpee seed catalog, you probably remember the immense, egg-shaped Roma tomato on its cover — the SuperSauce tomato. Apparently I was not alone in my desire to try the SuperSauce in my garden because the seeds and plants sold out fairly quickly. Called the Roma with aroma, the SuperSauce produces fruit that weighs in at a whopping 22-32 ounces. Better yet, it has classic tomato flavor. Perhaps even approaching that of a Better Boy. While the SuperSauce is a paste tomato, it is plenty tasty for use as a salad or slicing tomato, too. SuperSauce plants are disease resistant. While the plants are indeterminate, they are fairly compact, growing to an average height of only about four feet.

Tasti-Lee Hybrid Tomato
The sweet & tangy Tasti-Lee tomato was bred for Florida commercial tomato farmers desiring to get in the vine-ripened, premium tomato market. The crossbred Tasti-Lee produces a tomato that is rich in both color and flavor, and which stores for several days after ripening. It was bred the old-fashioned way, not by gene splicing. The 6-9 oz. fruits come with a health bonus: They have up to 40 percent more of the healthful antioxidant lycopene than your average tomato. These lovely crimson tomatoes, which are marketed by the Tasti-Lee name, sell out quickly when they become available at supermarkets in the state. Seeds should be widely available for the home garden this year. Determinate.

Heinz Super Roma
The Heinz Super Roma produces meaty, 3-4 oz. Roma fruits with bright crimson flesh that contain lycopene, a healthful antioxidant. The Heinz Super Roma stands up to our high humidity and grows well in large containers. Fruits keep well on the vines and are crack resistant. Heinz Super Roma is resistant to verticillium wilt (V), fusarium wilt (F), nematodes, phytophthora blight, and tomato spotted wilt virus. Determinate.

Amelia Tomato
No matter what other varieties of tomatoes you may put out in your garden this spring, it’s a smart idea to have at least one Florida-proven variety that is resistant to Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV), just in case the others fall prey to this disease. Of the several TSWV varieties I have tried, my preference is Amelia. Amelia consistently produces beautiful, large fruits with decent flavor. Amelia’s are widely available at gardening centers, and seeds can be found at several seed companies on the Web. Determinate.tomato, tomatoes, grap

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