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Your Guide to Coastal Gardening

By Bridget Buffa


   Gardening in Texas is Tough! Gardening in our region has its challenges: floods, droughts, scorching temperatures, hard freezes, poor drainage… But we are fortunate to have the Galveston County Master Gardeners to guide us. The Galveston County Master Gardeners will give a presentation ~ Texas Tuff Plants on February 23rd at 10:30 a.m. at Moore Memorial Library.

   Master Gardener Marie Leal’s presentation will cover plants that grow well in our Gulf Coast area. Discussion topics will include how to choose healthy, hearty plants for your landscape as well as planting and caring for them.

   Don’t you just love fresh tomatoes from the garden?  It might seem early to be talking about tomatoes, but if you visit any local nursery you will see they already have their plants in.  I’m going to start early this year – I always tend to wait too long to plant. Then I see my neighbor’s plants (twice as big as mine), and jealously sets in. I also have to look at how much sun they are getting.  As I observed my garden last year, I saw that they were not getting enough sun.

   Without enough sun, a tomato plant can’t produce fruit. You may be wondering how much sun do tomato plants need and does my garden get enough sun for tomatoes? These are important questions to answer before you begin planting.  

Tomatoes need a minimum of six hours to produce fruit, but eight or more hours of sun will produce the best results in terms of how many tomatoes you get. The reason that light is so important is that tomato plants convert sunlight into energy. Tomato plants need energy to make their fruit. Therefore, the more sunshine they get, the more energy they have and the more fruit they can produce. They need as much as you can give them.

   Remember you have to be diligent and observant to see what’s going on in your garden.

   There are so many varieties, but here are a few to get you started and some of my favorites.

Cherry Tomatoes (definitely one of my top 5 picks)

Everybody loves these bite sized snacks. Make sure to grow some along the border of the garden, so you and your kids can simply walk up and nibble.

Super Sweet 100 Tomato – Amazingly high yields of super-sweet one-inch fruit. Vitamin C content is higher than any other tomato.

Grape Tomato – Small and bite-sized, these tasty morsels have gone from unknown to “the rage” in just a few years.

Early Season Tomatoes

This type of tomato ripens the earliest in the season. Gardeners cherish early season varieties. The first tomato of the season is always a long-anticipated thrill.

Early Girl – By far the most popular tomato in this category. It produces tasty slicing tomatoes in as little as 52-55 days.

Beefsteak Tomatoes

These are the monster of the home tomato garden. These big, fat, juicy tomatoes are among the tastiest you’ll find. They also take the longest to grow. However, all will agree that they are worth the wait.

   For tomato growers, one of the first two terms we learn is “determinate” and “indeterminate” vines, or plants.

   Determinate plants have a maximum height that the plant will grow. Some growers prefer determinate varieties, due to small gardens and confined space limitations, the desire not to fence or stake plants.

   Indeterminate varieties are more common and more popular. The vines do not stop growing at any defined length or height. These varieties will require staking, caging, or fencing, to help support the vine as it grows and produces fruit.

 Here’s a tip~ Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes too!

As always, I welcome your comments or suggestions for future columns.  Contact me @



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