The weather has been so completely unpredictable! The temps are supposed to soar into the upper 70’s everyday next week, but its way too early! The cool season veggies in the garden are not liking the warm weather at all. The lettuce and peas are fine but I think we can kiss the sweet turnips and juicy beets goodbye. Of course, the weather is so weird now-a-days that the temps could be back down into the 30’s next month. Agh! Climate change I reckon!
The warm temperatures make us eager to transplant tomatoes. These tiny seedlings were planted on February 24th and are already three inches tall! I think they are getting eager themsleves!
The Atkinson tomato was bred in the mid 1960’s specifically for southern gardeners by Auburn University to withstand hot, humid, drought-y summers. The plants are Fusarium wilt, root nematode, and powdery mildew resistant (supposedly).
We purchased one Atkinson tomato plant from Walmart last year to grow as a specimen, it was a BONNIE plant and grew in a 4″ peat pot. We removed the peat then transplanted the specimen into an area away from our regular garden where onions had been grown the year before. After it reached one foot tall, we surrounded the plant with a galvanized 14 gauge cage that was 48″ in height and 27″ in diameter then secured the cage with three 12″ long metal tent stakes. It was later proven that this support system does not work for such a vigorous plant. Sturdier cages are needed.
The plant grew sturdy with thick vines and never displayed signs of stress. We observed that it was quick to bear fruit (about 70 days) and that it continued to bear fruit until mid-November, which is late even for here. So, this particular plant produced fruit for five months (mid-June through mid-November). Seriously.
The specimen withstood considerable abuse. Dogs ‘marked’ it and pulled off the fruit, a tornado laid the entire thing flat on the ground, and no special care was given to it except an occasional watering. Other than cutting away the lower stems to prevent the plant from lying directly on the soil, this plant was left to grow completely on its own ~ no mulch, no fertilizers, no nothing. It displayed great resilience. White aphids appeared early in the season but never caused the plant to display stress. The only other insects seen on the plant were bees. There were no signs of disease or environment stress.
The Atkinson is an indeterminate tomato variety that, with regular pruning, might grow vines 14-21 feet long. However, we did not prune so the vines grew in thickly and only reached a height of 5-6 feet, which we liked. The fruit produced was medium to large red globular and meaty. The taste was sweet, lightly acidic.
We feel that the Atkinson Tomato will prove itself to be a fantastic market tomato and we would definitely recommend it to any southern grower wanting a dependable, easy to grow, tasty slicing tomato. It preserves well, too, and makes delicious vegetable soup.