Summer Set Tomato Care – How To Grow Summer Set Tomatoes In The Garden

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Tomato lovers who grow their own are always in search of the plants that produce perfect fruits. Try growing Summer Set tomatoes and enjoy fist sized, juicy fruit into the end of the growing season.

Summer Set Tomato Info

Tomato plants often abort flowers when temperatures are too high. To prevent this problem, selecting a breed that is resistant to heat is recommended. The Summer Set variety is both heat and humidity resistant. These are two of the harshest conditions in which to grow tomatoes, often resulting in flower loss and cracking on any tomatoes that do form. Here are some tips on how to grow Summer Set tomatoes and finally reap a bumper crop of fruit.

In areas with daytime temperatures over 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 C.) and 72 F. or higher (22 C.) at night, fruit can fail to form on tomato plants. Summer Set heat resistance can include those temperatures and still perform beautifully. This breed and others are known as “heat-set” or “hot-set” tomatoes.

With climate change, growing Summer Set tomatoes may be useful even in northern climates where summer temperatures have begun to get hotter. Summer Set is best as a fresh tomato in sandwiches and salads. It has a firm, juicy texture and sweet ripe flavor. The plants are known as semi-determinate but will require staking.

How to Grow Summer Set Tomatoes

Start seeds indoors in flats 6 weeks before the last frost date. Wait until plants have two sets of true leaves before planting outdoors.

Select a sunny location and amend soil with organic material, loosening it deeply to accommodate roots. Harden off transplants for a week before putting in the ground. Plant deeply, even up to the bottom couple of leaves to allow for a nice root mass and where temperatures are cooler, allowing the plant to establish more quickly.

Keep plants consistently moist and stake as needed. Mulch with organic or plastic sheeting to keep moisture in soil, prevent weeds and keep soil cool.

Summer Set Tomato Care

Feed plants with a formula made for tomatoes that is high in phosphorus once blooming initiates. This will promote flowers and fruit.

Water under the leaves at the root zone for deeper penetration and to prevent wet leaves and fungal issues. Use a homemade, safe fungicide of 4 teaspoons (20 ml.) baking soda, 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) mild dish soap and 1 gallon (3.79 liters) of water. Spray on leaves and stems during an overcast period.

Watch for tomato hornworms and aphids. Hand pick hornworms and destroy them. Combat smaller insects with horticultural oil sprays.

Harvest Summer Set when fruit is firm but brightly colored. Store in a cool location but not the refrigerator which causes flavor to break down.

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How to Successfully Plant and Grow Tomatoes

Growing tomatoes doesn't have to be difficult, but it can be challenging for beginning gardeners. Here are step-by-step tips to help you plant, grow, prune, water, and fertilize your tomato plants to ultimately produce juicy tomatoes that everyone will want on their plate.

Along with the Fourth of July and the arrival of fireflies, slicing into summer’s first tomato is one of the season’s most anticipated events. And though grocery stores and farmers markets sell lots of new varieties, it's just hard to beat a vine-ripened tomato from your own yard. Thanks to flavor-forward heirlooms and hybrids in new shapes and colors, our passion for homegrown tomatoes keeps growing.

Fertilization encourages plants to grow, but too much fertilizer will produce leafy plants without much fruit. When the temperature is high, you’ll have more plant than the roots can support. Excessive growth makes tomato plants weak and more vulnerable to damage from insects and diseases.

Tomato plants need an inch or two of water a week, and a deep soaking is better than a little water every day. Regular watering helps prevent tomatoes from developing cracks. Too much water will suffocate plants’ roots. The best way to tell if your plants need water is to poke your finger into the soil.

Tomato plants fall into one of two categories: determinate or indeterminate. Determinate tomatoes are known for being shorter growers, which makes them ideal for container gardening. These plants also produce most of their fruit in a shorter time period. Indeterminate varieties are long and steady growers – in fact, they will grow until the plant is killed off by either a disease or the weather. These tomato plants can grow up to 8-10 feet tall!

There are also heirloom tomato varieties. Heirloom tomatoes are varieties that are open-pollinated, which means that they rely on insects to do the pollination dirty work. Heirloom tomatoes include some fan favorites, such as the Cherokee Purple and the Pink Brandywine.

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Talledegas claim to fame is that it resists Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus. other than that it is is not even the best among TSWV varieties.


I hate to rain on your parade, but this is a question that doesn't appear to have a particularly satisfactory answer. In my area, I have come to the conclusion that the best I can do is get my crop in the ground as early as possible, without planting them into cold ground. AND to give them the very best possible growing conditions: plenty of organic soil amendments like manure dug in deeply, plenty of space between the plants, plenty of water, timely additions of fertilizer, and MULCH to keep the soil as cool and moist for as long as possible. I grew 17 varieties this year. The best tasting and most productive ones did pretty well the same, regardless of the hype. The early ones were not all that early. The so-called heat tolerants were not that much different. In early July, I took cuttings from my favorites and rooted them in 4 inch pots. I set them in the ground this week in an area that gets some shade in the afternoon. I am HOPING to have a fall crop, but that will depend on the amount of rain we get, and just how hot it gets. If the temps stay below 93 or so, I am hopeful I'll get some. If not, well, there will be collards and kale to plant in their spot later. Since I do live in a hot climate, I will give you my list just FYI. I will rate them #1: very productive (for an heirloom) and tasty. #2: So tasty that I forgive them for not being as productive. #3: Either not productive or not tasty enough for me to want to grow them again.

Big Beef: one of 2 hybrids I grew. Not as tasty as the heirlooms, but better than Big Boy, Better Boy, etc. I will grow it again. It was more productive than the heirlooms.

Black Krim: #1
Aunt Ruby's German Green #2
Brandywine: #2
Tropic: #1 New to me this year. Can't see that it's any better in the heat than others, but it's a winner nevertheless.
Amish Paste: #3
Matina: #3
OSU Blue: #3
Mortgage LIfter: #3
Green Zebra:#1 (very thin skinned, so damages and rots easily. but YUM and productive)
Sungold: #1 My other hybrid. I would grow this above all others.
Black Cherry: #1
Juliet #3
San Marzano: #3
Tommy Toes: #1
Isis Candy: #1
Evergreen: #3


Agree with Donna - there is no satisfactory answer when fresh eating taste is your focus.

Just think about what happens to the fruit in the high heat. It cooks in the skin. If you think it feels warm when you pick it, cut into and put a piece on your tongue or better yet, stick a thermometer in one of your ripe tomatoes.

What do you think happens to the brix, the sugars in that tomato that are so tied to flavor, when contained in that hot liquid inside the fruit for several days?

Yet one more reason why tomatoes should always be picked at first blush, at breaker stage, and brought inside to finish ripening, not left on the vine.

Prolonged high heat, record setting heat, and tomato flavor just can't co-exist. So during periods of high heat we have to be content to just get tomatoes period. :) Use them for canning or cooking where other things will provide the flavor and wait for the weather to break.

Watch the video: Summer Tomatoes in Texas - It Aint Worth It

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