Growing tomatoes in this SW desert - Knowledgebase Question

St. George, UT
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Question by singingheart
July 21, 2007
How are you suppose to grow tomatoes in the SW desert?

Answer from NGA
July 21, 2007
Timing is everything! Growing a garden in the desert is difficult. With a little know-how and some diligence, it is possible to have a flourishing desert garden, though. Try your hand at growing tomatoes and be rewarded with a bountiful mid-summer harvest.

Here are a few pointers:
Purchase healthy starts from a nursery. Start with seeds only if you are a well seasoned gardener.

Plant tomatoes by the end of March. Plant earlier if you are experiencing a warm winter. Plant again in August for a fall crop.

Choose a spot with some shade. Constant exposure to the summer sun will result in burns and viruses.

Work garden soil and humus into the garden plot. Go easy on nitrogen fertilizers.
Dig a hole just larger than the root ball of the tomato plant. Break off the bottom branches, and place the plant in the hole. Cover the root ball up to the next set of branches.

Water the plant heavily with a phosphorus rich starting formula. Water the plant heavily every other day, and fertilize weekly throughout the summer.

Spray blossoms with a setting spray to keep them from falling off during cold nights. Treat the tomato plants with an organic pesticide before pests occur.

The key to producing tomatoes in the desert is constant caring.

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