Reap the benefits of your gardening efforts sooner with an early producing tomato variety, like the aptly named Early Girl tomato. This popular type of indeterminate tomato is a very fast grower and produces a harvest of round, tennis ball-sized deep red tomatoes very early in the growing season.
This plant produces a lot of fruit, but it can be softer or less crisp than other tomato varieties. On top of producing fruit early in the year, the Early Girl tomato continues to grow longer than other varieties and is sometimes even planted in the fall to create one last quick harvest before the growing season is gone.
|Botanical Name||Solanum lycopersicum ‘Early Girl’|
|Common Name||Early Girl tomato|
|Plant Type||Annual, Perennial|
|Mature Size||6-9 ft. tall, 3-4 ft. wide|
|Soil Type||Loamy, moist but well-drained|
|Soil pH||Acidic, neutral|
|Bloom Time||Spring, Summer, Fall|
|Hardiness Zones||3-11, USA|
|Toxicity||Toxic to pets|
Early Girl Tomato Care
Raising tomato plants may seem intimidating, but the Early Girl tomato is very easy to care for. It is resistant to most common pests and diseases and has low watering needs. With each crop maturing in around 50 days, these tomatoes produce fruits before many of the troublesome pests that plague tomatoes even arrive.
For healthy tomatoes, be sure to provide a stake or cage to keep flowers and fruits off the ground. Paired with proper pruning, plenty of sunshine, and rich, nutrient-dense soil, the Early Girl tomato plant will reward you with an abundance of juicy fruits.
The Early Girl tomato thrives on lots of sunshine. Place this plant in an area where it can receive full sun for healthy flowering and fruit production.
Rich, nutrient-dense soil is very important for the health and production of the Early Girl tomato plant. Because these tomatoes are such fast growers, they require nutrient-dense soil to support their rapid growth. Adding organic material, such as compost, will ensure that the soil is full of the needed nutrients.
These tomatoes have medium to low watering requirements. They are a great choice for dry-land farming or gardening with a lower amount of water to produce highly flavorful fruit.
When watering, be sure to water near the soil to avoid getting the leaves and stems wet. This will help prevent fungus and rot. Check the soil to gauge when the plant needs to be watered. Water when the soil is slightly moist or dry. Container-grown tomatoes will need more frequent watering than those in the ground.
Temperature and Humidity
Moderate temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal, but the Early Girl tomato can tolerate higher temperatures. Moderate humidity is preferred, as overly moist conditions can cause issues with rot or fungus.
Fertilizing is very important for container-grown tomatoes. Some fertilizers are specifically designed for this type of application and make an ideal choice for supplying all the needed nutrients.
Ground-grown tomatoes may not need fertilizer if you have provided organically rich soil. If they are in need of a boost, try giving fertilizer designed for fruiting plants.
Are Early Girl Tomatoes Toxic?
Tomatoes make a delicious addition to salads and pasta. However, the actual plant is not meant to be eaten and can cause poisoning if eaten in very large amounts. According to the ASCPA, the plant itself is also toxic to pets. The fruit, however, is non-toxic.
Symptoms of Poisoning
Ingesting any part of the Early Girl tomato plant beside its fruit can result in poisoning to both humans and pets. Symptoms include salivation, loss of appetite, severe gastrointestinal upset, weakness, depression, slow heart rate, and dilated pupils.
Pruning Early Girl Tomatoes
Pruning encourages healthy growth, stimulates fruit production, and prevents disease and rot. Trim away the bottom branches 6 to 8 inches up the plant to promote airflow and to prevent disease. Remove suckers to help the plant focus energy on the main branch and its fruit.
Propagating Early Girl Tomatoes
Pruned suckers can be propagated. Here’s how:
- Using sharp snips, cut off a sucker.
- Remove the lower leaves.
- Place the cut end either in a jar of water or a small pot of rich potting soil. Water soil-planted cuttings regularly.
- Keep your cutting in bright, indirect light to allow time to root and to adjust to the sun. As the cutting takes root and becomes accustomed to full sun, you can transplant to the ground or to a container for outside growing.
How to Grow Early Girl Tomatoes from Seed
Growing your tomatoes from seed is easy and will provide an even earlier fruit harvest. Here’s how:
- Start seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost. Cover lightly with soil.
- Keep the soil moist and warm.
- Once seedlings appear, provide plenty of light in a bright windowsill or under grow lights.
- When it is safe to move them outdoors, begin hardening off the plants about a week before planting them in the garden.
- Once the seedlings are hardened off, plant the tomatoes in rich, fertile soil in full sun.
Potting and Repotting Early Girl Tomato Plants
Though this is an indeterminate variety, the Early Girl tomato is known to do quite well in containers. Large pots with a diameter of 18 inches or more will allow enough room for this tomato’s rapid growth. Drainage holes will help prevent too much moisture from collecting in the pot.
Use high-quality, nutrient-rich potting soil and fertilize as needed. Because potted plants need more water than those in the ground, you may need to water these tomatoes daily. Provide a stake, trellis, or cage for the tomatoes to climb on.
Overwintering Early Girl Tomato Plants
Frost kills tomato plants, so in order to overwinter successfully, these plants must be taken indoors in cold climates. It's worth noting that tomatoes can be kept as perennials in warm climates, but they do not produce as much fruit as their first year.
If you would like to overwinter your tomato plants, grow them in pots and take them indoors. Or try overwintering sucker propagations by placing them in a pot and keeping them warm. For the best results, it is usually best to grow tomatoes as annuals.