Burnett: Hot weather could push up tomato time

The heat is coming on and it looks like the tomato crops will be a little earlier than normal this year. I have a few that are ready to turn red any day now.

Several callers on our radio show commented they already have some cherry tomatoes ready to eat.

I have always wondered why the DTM or days to maturity do not coincide with reality.

For instance, some of the later varieties such as Beefsteak indicate a DTM of 96 days from transplanting out. If that is the case, then it would be early September before there was a ripe tomato with a May 24 planting time.

There are so many variables as to when we get our first ripe tomato. Size and condition of the transplant, soil conditions, nutrients and of course weather all factor in to how quickly a plant will produce its first ripe tomato.

I know one thing is for certain—planting out tomatoes before the ground and night temperatures reach a certain point provides no advantage over transplanting at the correct time.

Tomatoes, and for that matter, peppers and egg plant, require heat. Planting out too early can shock the plant so it takes even longer to mature than later plantings.

The DTM range from very early 55 days to very late 90 days. You will find most varieties however are in the 60- to 80-day range and from my experience the difference between all of them is quite blurred.

I plant several varieties each year and most come on at close to the same time. At the end of the season it always makes me sad to see the dozens of green tomatoes still on the vines with no hope of maturing.

Last year, I picked most of them before pulling out the plants and we had great success just letting them ripen on the kitchen counter.

Another method is to pull out the entire plant and hang it up roots and all in a cool room.

It’s amazing how the tomatoes will ripen nicely much faster than just picking them and letting them sit.

Now all this tomato talk has made me hungry so I think I will slice up one of those local hot house tomatoes and make a sandwich. Mmmmm!


A great event coming up on July 13 is the Fintry Summer Fair.

I will MC the event, which will be open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., with artists, artisans and others exhibiting their work, products and produce.

Three vendors will provide a range of food to purchase for lunch, with traditional hotdogs and hamburgers, French sweet and savory crepes and spicy Caribbean chicken on the menu.

This is your chance to discover the beauty of Fintry and a significant piece of Okanagan History.

All proceeds will go to support Friends of Fintry, who have done a marvellous job preserving this beautiful place.

Don Burnett is a long-time garden expert in Kelowna. Tune in to the Don Burnett Garden Show on AM 1150 radio every Saturday morning.


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