New Celebrity plants replace ones that were done producing and had dried to a crisp. I've left the new blossoms to set fruit. This is opposite to what I recommend for Spring-planted tomatoes, when I urge removing the blossoms in favor of developing extensive root systems. Now, because I know we're up against the cool-weather timeclock, I'm not so concerned about the long-term health of the plant. Instead, I want tomatoes to set as soon as possible so they'll ripen while weather is still warm. I did incorporate a handful of fertilizer into the soil before planting the new plant. Our current mid-70s to mid-80s air temperatures are perfect transplanting weather.
Sungold came back to life with less-than-90-degree temperatures - fruit at the top and blossoms at the bottom begin the "new" season of more blossoms and fruits that should last through the winter or any frost we might get. Even Sungold fruit tastes good during winter, unlike many other varieties that aren't any better than storebought.
Big Rainbow sprouting new growth from the bottom and overhanging the top. Definitely a keeper, especially with new blossoms emerging in the top foliage. Handful of fertilizer watered in will keep it growing happily. Crossbar seen at center right of photo connects all 10 plant cages and poles in that row so they're a single unit to resist Fall's Santa Ana winds especially after plants have been watered deeply.
Pole beans going crazy. Top left are combination of Blue Lake Stringless, Kentucky Wonder and Emerite. Purple Pole are great for beginning cooks since the color turns to green when the beans are done! Top right are Rattlesnake. Bottom left are Spanish Musica (snapped in half since they're about 9 inches long. Bottom right are French Gold. All are yummy.
My wishfulness that I could stretch out harvesting the few remaining green tomatoes on my Celebrity and other plants until new blossoms’ fruits would ripen hasn’t “borne fruit,” so to speak. With the extended intense heat, all four of the Celebrities, one of the Cherokee Purples, and the Stupice dried up completely – literally crispy – so required pulling up.
But blossoms have appeared on the other plants, so we’ll get more fruit in another month and a half on the old Sungold, and in two months on the other larger-fruited varieties. Hopefully.
I’ll have to depend on farmers’ market tomatoes until then. Not a bad thing, but certainly further to travel and plan ahead than my own backyard.
You may want to consider whether to do the same, or move on to cooler-season crops.
Should I replant with new tomato plants?
Only if you answer “yes” to all of these questions:
What varieties should I plant?
Of the few varieties available at your local nurseries (make sure they’re new healthy plants), choose varieties that have maturity dates listed as short as possible. The ones I chose are Sungold (57 days), Supersweet 100 (65 days), Celebrity (67 days), and Better Boy (70 days).
All of these new plants already have a couple of blossoms, which I’ll leave on the plants since I’m more interested in fruit as soon as possible.
This is different from planting tomatoes in the Spring when I remove blossoms until plants are two feet tall and have established excellent root systems that’ll support great growth through the summer.
If you want to extend your harvest from these new plants as long as possible – perhaps even into January if your garden doesn’t get any frost – then be sure to choose at least one cherry-type variety since the small fruits ripen more quickly after setting (perhaps only a month) as opposed to larger-fruited varieties which take increasingly longer the larger they are (perhaps two months in hot weather, and even longer during cool weather).
Keep the old tired plants?
YES - IF there’s more green healthy foliage than dead bottom foliage, especially if you can see many emerging blossoms in the greenery over the next couple of weeks.
Despite the promised mid-90s daytime temperatures over the last two weeks, my garden has gotten up to only the mid-80s, and I can see lots of immature blossom stalks emerging. So I know good things are to come, especially since the forecast is for continuing mid-80s temperatures for at least the next week!
Do give each plant a handful of fertilizer and water it in well now. And another handful in a month, watered in well, to support the new growth and emerging blossoms and maturing fruit once it sets.
NO - IF the plants really look mostly worn out and there isn’t much healthy green topgrowth. Best to pull the plants, incorporate some fertilizer, manure and mulch, and sow or plant something else that’ll thrive in the coming cool weather.
What about the vines hanging over their trellises?
My remaining plants have more than overreached their 8-foot trellises, with the vines now hanging almost halfway back down the outside of the trellises. Since I had stacked two 4-foot trellises on top of each other in two-foot-deep raised beds anchored by a post in one corner, this means that the tops of the trellises are way above where I can reach to harvest any fruit. So the vines draping all the way back down is a boon to my harvesting the fruits that will again be within my reach.
If your vines aren’t as tall, I’d suggest still leaving them to develop however they’d like, since with the cooling weather the growth will slow down, and you want as many new fruits as possible before the plants shut down for the winter. Trimming vines will only lessen this potential yield.
However, be sure to give each plant a handful of fertilizer and water it in well now. And another handful in a month, watered in well, to support the new growth and emerging blossoms and fruit once it sets.
The caveat with all this encouraging more tomatoes in your garden now is the reminder that with the cooler weather, the tomatoes won’t be nearly as yummy as they have been during all this heat. In some cases, you may decide that they’re not even as good as the storebought ones, and consequently a waste of your garden space since you could have used it for something that thrives and is delicious in the cool weather.
Gardening is always one of uncertainty – what the weather will be, how the plants will grow, whether you’ll be satisfied with your choices, and pondering what you could have done instead. So, just remember to PLAY in the garden and consider everything as an experimental point of information for what to do the next time around!