It’s hot, we know. But now is the time to plant your fall tomatoes using transplants in one-gallon containers. Use the recommended varieties such as HM 8849, HM 1823, BHN 968, Ruby Crush, Tycoon, 444, Red Deuce, Celebrity, Valley Cat, Phoenix, and Roma.

> Pick up the starter plants now. In August it’s too late to start from seed.

> You’ll need to select a location with at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.

> Dig a hole in the middle of your tomato bed that is at least a few inches deeper than the depth of the pot and place the transplant deep with only the topmost leaves aboveground.

> Apply a layer of bark mulch across the soil surface.

> Provide the right structural support. Plant with heavier fruit sometimes need a stake to stand tall, but many bushier varieties will be fine on their own.

> Prune off the “suckers.” With these little shoots gone the plant will direct its energy towards developing sturdier stems and producing fruit faster.

New transplants may be heat sensitive. If your newly planted tomatoes are looking a bit haggard, try providing them with a little shade and watering them early every morning with cold water until they’re looking fresh and healthy again.

Written by Marc Hess