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"Do-Over" Tomatoes: Our Second Chance

blog do-over season garden tomatoes May 27, 2023


In South Louisiana we have actually have two spring seasons.  One we call spring, the other we call  the "do-over."  And in the Wild Child Garden Club, we LOVE the do-over season.  It is a tiny window in between spring and fall that allows us to get a second chance at our spring vegetables.   So, if you completely botch the spring growing season, you get a second chance!. Tomatoes are one vegetable that grow great during the cooler seasons, so they will do so well in the spring and the fall.  That means we want to plant them in our do-over.  I have some ideas!!

Why Tomatoes Slow down In The Summer

Did you know that the reason your tomato plants stop fruiting in July and August is because it's just too hot? When average day time temperatures reach above 90 degrees, pollen begins to lose viability. Non-viable pollen = no tomatoes. The exception to this rule is cherry tomatoes who tend to keep trucking through the heat (one reason why people love the 'Sun Gold' variety).  So what do we do?? We double down on our cherries of course!!

What To Do With Your Spring Tomatoes

One option is to baby your spring tomatoes through the hottest summer months until they start fruiting reliably again. This is what most gardeners do, and what I did for years.  DON'T DO THIS!!  These plants tend to become really stressed over the summer, and you'll find that they will be the first to get diseases. If you keep your tomatoes through the summer, pay attention to the varieties that demonstrate resistance to pest and disease, and add them to your "Will Grow Again" list.  Also pay attention to the ones who don't do well and write them down too.  This is just important as keeping track of the ones you love.  

Another option is to cut the tomatoes back, or top them, as it called in the garden world. Some people cut back by 50%, some people cut back the plants to two-feet tall. This method is better than the "let them go" idea.  Topping tomatoes encourages the fruit that is on the vine to ripen quicker than it typically would.  

The best option I have found is to remove your spring tomatoes once fruiting slows down and plant new tomatoes in July. Yes, this does require space that you would otherwise be giving to your fall vegetables (your do-over tomatoes will produce until frost), unless you grow your do-over tomatoes the wild child way! We plant our do-over cherry tomatoes on trellises and arches because our fall vegetables won't need them, so we can keep on growing them all the way to frost without having to take space away from something else we want to grow.


The Best Way To Get Plants

By the time we start replacing our tomatoes for the do-over season, the nurseries are all sold out of spring options.  Instead they sell "heat tolerant" varieties, which are perfectly fine to grow. But, if you want a second chance at some of your favorite spring cherries, simply pick a sucker from an existing plant and root it in a cup of water.  Then when it comes times to plant, you have your favorite variety ready to go.  While you can root any tomato from a sucker, we only recommend growing cherry tomatoes in the fall to save space.


Struggling With Your Curren Tomatoes??

Our class The Tomato Grower's Playbook will help you solve some of the most common tomato troubles.  You can get the course HERE and make sure you sign up for my FREE Summer Gardening Masterclass to learn more about the do-over season.



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