By: Amy Grant
It isn’t always easy to grow tomatoes in hot, humid regions. The following article contains information on Solar Fire tomatoes including tips on Solar Fire tomato care.
Solar Fire tomato plants have been developed by the University of Florida to take the heat. These hybridized, determinate plants yield medium sized fruit that is perfect for slicing into salads and on sandwiches. Sweet and full of flavor, they are an excellent tomato variety for the home grower who lives in hot, humid and wet areas.
Not only are Solar Fire tomato plants heat tolerant, but they are crack resistant and resistant to verticillium wilt and fusarium wilt race 1. They can be grown in USDA zones 3-14.
Solar Fire tomatoes can be started planted in the spring or summer and take approximately 72 days to harvest. Dig or till in about 8 inches (20 cm.) of compost prior to planting. Solar Fire tomatoes like a slightly acidic to neutral soil, so if need be, amend alkaline soil with peat moss or add lime to highly acidic soil.
Select a site with full sun exposure. Plant the tomatoes when the soil temperature has warmed to over 50 F. (10 C.), spacing them 3 feet (1 m.) apart. Because this is a determinate variety, provide the plants with a tomato cage or stake them.
Care when growing Solar Fire tomatoes is nominal. As with all tomato plants, be sure to water deeply each week. Mulch around the plants with 2-4 inches (5-10 cm.) of organic mulch to help retain moisture. Be sure to keep the mulch away from the plant stem.
Fertilize Solar Fire with a tomato fertilizer at the time of planting, following the manufacturer’s instructions. When the first blooms appear, side dress with a nitrogen rich fertilizer. Side dress again two weeks after the first tomatoes are harvested and again one month after that.
This article was last updated on
San Antonio Express News
Sunday, January 29, 2005
By David Rodriguez
“Solar Fire” (not Solar Flare) tomato is a recently new released variety for the spring time. Already it is a being called a “wonderful” tomato. You will like it, and hopefully everyone else will too. This is a determinate, round, fresh-market and home-garden tomato. It has large, firm fruit that ripens well. This variety tolerates most fruit disorders and has a better crack tolerance during the heat. It grows to a medium size plant which requires no pruning. Overall, “Solar Fire” is a very good producer, tasty, abundant, heat tolerant, and comes with a strong anti-disease package.
Is it too early to plant this tomato? Will it freeze? Yes, no, maybe. This is the ideal time to visit your local nursery for tomato transplants or visit us next month at the Rodeo. Start individual transplants in 1 gallon nursery pots with composted, enriched soil, lightly dusting the root area with rock phosphate. Water frequently in containers, and feed often with a good water soluble fertilizer. Make sure your tomatoes have plenty of sun. Protect or bring inside if the weather forecasts extreme cold.
If you are more optimistic, follow similar planting recommendations, but support tomatoes with a galvanized mesh cage and protect/cover with an insulating blanket. Mulch with a thick layer of cedar flakes. Make sure that all transplants are planted deep, i.e. up to the first set of leaves. This will help produce advantageous roots on the main stem, thus providing strong girth (supports the heavy fruit). This might be the best tomato that you have ever heard of, bought, planted or tasted. Check it out.
Rodeo Is Almost Here Folks! You are invited to visit the Texas Cooperative Extension and Bexar County Master Gardener exhibits in the Texas Experience pavillion.
Extension Cabin – Come visit the “Glow Germ” area and see with black lights, how well you wash your hands. Food safety and proper hand washing is important to help keep you and your family from spreading bacteria and germs than can make you sick. While at the Cabin, learn about assembling a disaster preparedness resource kit to help you and your family to be ready in case of an emergency. The Bexar County 4-H Program will also offer fun and exciting hands-on activities for children. Come by and visit with current 4-H members about the numerous 4-H projects within the largest community club 4-H program in Texas!
Bexar County Master Gardeners – Visit the Master Gardener area for horticultural expertise, advice, and helpful educational publications. Become inspired to use ideas from the fully-landscaped backyard retreat into your own yard. Pick up a SIP (Seasonal Irrigation Program) kit which helps homeowners conserve water and save money. Purchase the new San Antonio Landscape Care Guide booklet and, on the weekends, the new heat-tolerant Solar Fire F1 tomato plants.
Ask the Expert – A number of experts will be available on weekends in the Master Gardener area to answer your gardening questions. Visit with horticultural and radio celebrities Dr. Jerry Parsons and Dr. Calvin Finch on February 11 (tentative).
Outdoor Classroom – “Nature – It’s Amazing!” will be the theme of the Outdoor Classroom. Parents and educators will be inspired to teach children about nature, the environment, plants, and gardening. Featured gardens will be the “Texas Coast Alphabet Garden,” “Incredible Plants,” “Insects & Arachnids in Our World,” “Desert Garden,” and “Recycle Garden.” Children and adults will enjoy the gardens and interactive displays. Children can make a garden craft and participate in a building-wide Scavenger Hunt with prizes to make learning fun!
SAWS H2O Hero Learning Lab – Saving water-it’s not just for grownups. Kids need to be water savers too. That’s why the H2O Heroes are important in helping San Antonio Water System save water. Through the use of the SAWS H2O Hero theme, SAWS will tell the “Story of Drinking Water” throughout its exhibit within the Texas Experience Pavilion. The goal of the SAWS “Story of Drinking Water” will be to encourage participants to discover the importance of drinking water and all the things that are involved in getting it to your home. SAWS personnel will staff the exhibit on the weekends for interested kids to come by and sign up to become official SAWS H2O Hero members.
AgrAbility – This area will feature adaptive equipment for physically disabled individuals. Included will be a display of adaptive and enabling gardening tools, adaptive farming equipment, and a wheelchair for outdoor use. Both displays will be staffed periodically Monday through Thursday and all day Friday through Sunday, with handouts and a continually-running PowerPoint presentation.
Texas Native Reptiles – Learn about snakes in general and which ones are venomous. The South Texas Herpetology Association is a non-profit organization of reptile and amphibian enthusiasts. They will have an educational display of live Texas native snakes on the first and second weekends, and possibly the third weekend of the show as well.
Schultze House – Operated by Bexar County Master Gardeners, this area will sell gardening tools, educational children’s items, and a variety of home and garden decorations. Visit the Schultze House early for unique gifts for your valentine or rodeo sweetheart. Hours are 4:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday 12:00 noon until 9:00 p.m. on Fridays and Sundays and 10:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. on Saturdays.
Remember, learn and have fun!
Besides choosing heat-tolerant tomatoes to plant, there are some tips that can help you maintain a healthy tomato crop through the hot weather.
Pretty much like us humans, plants tend to get thirsty more often as the temperatures rise. Keep them well watered. Water them regularly, keeping the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
Mulching the soil around the plants with organic material like straw, leaves, or grass clippings helps keep the soil temperatures down. It also reduces evaporation from the soil, which is substantially higher in the heat.
Gardeners in the tropics of subtropics are better off planting their tomato crop in winters. If you live in a hot climate, you can also start the plants indoors well before the last frost and transplant them in the garden after the frost. They will reach maturity before the summer temperatures reach their peak.
Use a shade cloth over the plants to allow beneficial sunlight to reach the plants but block the excessive heat, especially during the hottest hours of the day. Make sure tha plants are protected from the afternoon sun.