Some tomato-growing tips from the experts

Watering: soil should be wet one inch down.

Fertilizing: If you choose to fertilize, it should be done before the tomato bears fruit. Once fruit begins to grow, watering and fertilizer should be decreased so the fruit can develop and retain flavor.

Mulch: Charles Wilber's aerobic mulch recipe:

Three-inch layer of dry hay. Water hay until damp but not wet. Add two inches of cow manure. On top of this place one-quarter inch of good garden soil and sprinkle with hardwood ashes. One "secret" ingredient is Kudzu, an invasive wild vine found in the South.

Soil: The soil should have a pH of around 5.5 to 7.5, says Maryanne Comly, horticulture-products specialist at Burpee Inc. A slightly acidic soil that is well-drained and rich in humus is the best.

Sun: Plants should get six hours of sun a day. But if you live in a hot region, plants should be shaded in the afternoon.

Popular varieties:

Better Boy Giant Belgium

Brandywine Italian Sweet

First Prize Beefsteak

For tomatoes all summer: Early Girl bears fruit 52 days from transplant, this is considered an early season variety.

Midseason: Celebrity; Better Boy

Late season: Beefsteak

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