University of Maryland Extension

2016: Year of the Tomato

2016 is the “Year of Tomatoes” for UME’s Grow It Eat It program! Let’s celebrate this popular crop, so easy to grow in Maryland, by learning about and trying new cultivars and techniques. We have lots of resources to help out beginners and old pros alike.

Got a tomato question or problem? Answers are a click away when you “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts.” You can also contact your local UME office or ask at a Master Gardener plant clinic.  

Add to the fun this summer by sharing photos on our Facebook page of any unusual, cool, or spectacular tomato plants and growing techniques.

Take a class to learn how to preserve the harvest! GIEI Food Preservation and Safety

View our YouTube playlist of Tomato information


Tomato Profile

“Tomato Time” (from HGIC e-newsletter,May, 2014)


Getting started with containers

Cool containers

Recommended Vegetable Cultivars for Maryland Home Gardens- HG 70

Winners at 2015 Tomato Tasting Events:

Kent Co. (submitted by Sabine Harvey, UME, Horticulturist)

  • Best red slicer: Australian Heart and with one vote less: Brandywine
  • Best orange slicer: Golden Jubilee, with a tie for 2nd place: Persimmon and Pineapple
  • Best plum/paste: overwhelming majority for Gilbertie (FYI, that is my personal favorite!)

 Montgomery Co. (submitted by Terri valenti, UME Master Gardener)

  • Prettiest- 1. Carolina Gold (slicer); 2. Yellow Ruffles Pleated (slicer); 3. Striped Roman (plum); 4. Violet Jasper (small); 5. Blush (cherry)
  • Tastiest- 1. Blush (cherry); 2. Sungold (cherry); 3. Mountain Merit (slicer); 4. Vinitza (slicer); 5. Pink Tiger (cherry)
  • Ugliest- 1. Violet Jasper (small); 2. Japanese Black Trifele (pear-shaped slicer); 3. Indigo Apple (small); 4. Yellow Ruffles Pleated (slicer); 5. Cherokee Purple (slicer)


GIEI Blog mastermind and manager Erica Smith selected below some of the many tomato related blog posts since 2009. Search "tomato" on the blog to see them all!

Tomato Patch series, 2011-2013. Everything from starting seeds to canning: UME Master Gardener Bob Nixon (Howard Co.) posted over 40 insightful posts on tomato growing.

2015 Tomato Review 

Hornworms: Don't Fear This Tomato Monster | Tobacco Hornworms and Parasitic Wasps

Grafted tomatoes: Blog Post

Early blight: Early Blight Comes Early

‘Iron Lady’ tomato cultivar: A Look at Iron Lady Tomato

Sunscald: Blog Post

Tomato recipes


Send us your tomato growing problems & questions 24/7- Ask the Experts

From Dr. Gerald Brust, IPM Vegetable Specialist:

  • It’s ok to plant tomatoes in the same spot if that’s your best/only spot. Otherwise, it’s always good to rotate your vegetable crops to different garden locations.
  • Having troubles with wilt diseases that live in the soil, such as Fusarium wilt? Grow your tomato plants in containers in a mixture of compost and soilless potting media, OR try grafted tomato plants- they have resistance to these diseases. Call around because not all garden centers carry them (many mail-order seed companies sell them).
  • If you want early tomatoes purchase early season cultivars (ripen 55-65 days after transplanting) such as ‘Early Girl’ and ‘4th of July.’ Laying down black plastic mulch 2 weeks before planting warms the soil and accelerates growth.
  • Don’t crowd ‘em! Most cultivars need a minimum of 18-in. between plants and 3 to 4-ft. between rows.
  • Be prepared to cover plants with paper bags or light blankets if frost is predicted after plants are in the ground.



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