In many parts of the country gardeners’ plant hot-set tomato varieties in the spring, that term means that the tomatoes continue to produce fruits as the mercury rises. Then, in the fall, they plant other varieties that tolerate the cooler nights that autumn is famous for. But in Central Texas, where my garden is located, I recommend that you continue to plant hot-set tomatoes for the Fall season too. Determinate varieties such as Bob Cat, Celebrity, and BHN 444 can produce crops in under 80 days, making them perfect for fall planting. Other fall favorites are Surefire and Sunpride but fun varieties such as Sun Master, Amelia, Solarfire, and Top Gun also do well for us. Fall is also the perfect time to plant cherry type tomatoes which have no problem setting fruit in any temperatures. My favorites are Sweet 100, Juliet and Sun Gold.
No matter the variety chosen, get out and get those transplants in the ground now! If your spring garden was successful, the same location should work well in the fall. While there is some disease prevention value in crop rotation, it is more important in the fall garden that the plants receive full sun (at least six-to-eight hours) than a new location.
Important to the fall garden are both sunshine and drainage so once your new transplants are in the ground, mulch them to a depth of about two inches. I recommend using native cedar or hardwood mulches because they spread easily and decompose at a moderate rate. The decomposing is slow enough to protect the tomatoes tender roots but fast enough that they can be incorporated into the garden soil after the fall tomato season. Tomatoes are not drought tolerant plants; they need an ample supply of supplemental irrigation. Using mulch and drip irrigation is the most efficient way to do it. So, mulch, mulch, mulch!
Green tomatoes are wonderful. You can use them for fried green tomatoes, chowchow, green tomato soup or salsa. However, the green tomato fruits that are half of the mature size and larger may be stored for ripening. They should not be washed or wrapped or placed in a refrigerator. The storage area temperature should be about 70 degrees and not getting any sunlight. Place them in a single layer in boxes or on shelves so you can inspect them each week. It can take several weeks for them to ripen. When their green color changes to the expected ripe color, take them to your kitchen and use them right away.