Lawn & Garden Advice for Northwest Florida

Tomato-growing seminar

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If you’ve experienced difficulties in growing tomatoes in Florida, you’re not alone. If you plan to grow tomatoes this year, you may want to attend one of three seminars titled “How to Grow Tomatoes in Florida” offered by the University of Florida Extension Service.

We are offering three seminars: one in Okaloosa County and two in Walton County. The first seminar will be on Friday, April 6 from 9 a.m.-noon at the Okaloosa County Extension Office, 5479 Old Bethel Road in Crestview. The second seminar will be on Friday, April 6 from 2:30-4 p.m. at the Walton County Extension Office, 732 N 9th St., DeFuniak Springs. The third seminar will be on Friday, April 13 from 10-11:30 a.m. at the Walton County Coastal Branch Extension Office, 70 Logan Lane, Santa Rosa Beach.

Correct variety selection is a key factor in successfully growing tomatoes in Florida.

One reason home gardeners have a difficult time growing tomatoes in Florida is because of incorrect variety selection. Most popular tomato varieties lack resistance to tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) and bacterial wilt. These two diseases wreak havoc in home as well as commercial plantings.

Plant breeders develop varieties that have some resistance to these diseases. We encourage home gardeners to look for and request varieties that commercial farmers have had success with in recent years. We can recommend varieties to look for but there are not many of them in the home market, yet. Homeowners may have to buy the seed and start the transplants themselves.

At this year’s tomato seminars, we’ll share the basics of how to grow tomatoes in Florida’s challenging environment. We’ll also cover tomato pest control options, including non-chemical choices of combating the scores of tomato insect and disease problems.

We hope to have some tomato plants which are resistant to TSWV for participants to take home and try.

To preregister for the Crestview seminar, please call the Okaloosa County Extension Office at (850) 689-5850 by March 30. To preregister for the DeFuniak Springs or the Santa Rosa Beach seminar, please call the Walton County Extension Office in DeFuniak Springs at (850) 892-8172 by March 30. There is a $5 cost to attend each of the seminars. Space is limited. You must call to reserve a seat.

Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent, Okaloosa County, March 7, 2012
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