CC flickr photo courtesy of little blue hen
Early Girl tomatoes are an extremely popular variety that is one of the most common supermarket and backyard garden varieties in the U.S. This indeterminate variety grows to about the size of a tennis ball and has the look and shape of what most people would equate with a “standard” tomato. The Early Girl is fast-growing, prolific in fruit production, and easy to grow.
This variety earned its popularity when researchers at the Center of Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California Santa Cruz found that this tomato is particularly well-suited to “dryland farming.” This method involves low watering methods that force deep rooting, producing slightly smaller tomatoes with a higher flavor concentration. This makes the Early Girl a highly popular local tomato at San Francisco-area restaurants and farmer’s markets.
- Best Soil for Growing Early Girl Tomatoes
- Proper Care of Early Girl Tomatoes
- When to Harvest Early Girls
- Early Girl Tomato Pests and Diseases
- How to Prepare Early Girl Tomatoes
- Tips for Growing Early Girl Tomatoes
- Want to learn more about growing early girl tomatoes?
- Early Girl Tomato Care – Learn How To Grow Early Girl Tomatoes
- Early Girl Tomato Facts
- How to Grow Early Girl Tomatoes
- Early Girl Tomato Care
- How Big Do Early Girl Tomatoes Get?
- Are Early Girl Tomatoes Hard To Grow?
- Early Girl Tomato
- Before you leave …
- A new short-season tomato is born
- What gardeners think about Early Girl Tomato
Best Soil for Growing Early Girl Tomatoes
Early Girls will do well in cultivated, nutritious soil. Slightly acidic is best, but not important – they will thrive in 6.5-7.5 pH. Rich soil is important to this variety as its fast growth comes at the cost of high nutritive use. The speed at which these plants grow will often mean that fertilization does not happen during their production span.
Proper Care of Early Girl Tomatoes
The Early Girl is relatively maintenance-free once established. Pinch off early shoots to encourage upward growth and be sure to use sturdy stakes or hoops as these plants get quite large (up to 9 feet) with limbs heavy with fruit. Pick and pickle or discard tomatoes that are crowded too close together on the vine to encourage larger fruit and faster production.
Watering on the ground rather than from the air will keep rot at a minimum and will help with root growth. Early Girls are resistant to most common tomato diseases and pests, so they are well-suited to organic methods of growing — despite the variety’s patent being owned by Monsanto.
When to Harvest Early Girls
Fruit will come to maturity in about 50 days. They will turn bright red. Most growers pick them slightly before total ripeness as these tomatoes can become soft and lose their table appeal fairly quickly. A gardener who is not observant may miss the prime picking time for these fast-growers, as they can go from green to red in just a day or so.
Early Girl Tomato Pests and Diseases
Few natural enemies affect the Early Girl, which was bred for its fast production and disease resistance. By the time most pests are active in the garden, the Early Girl has already finished its season.
How to Prepare Early Girl Tomatoes
Early Girls are good for just about everything dish tomatoes can be used in. From salads to salsa, they do it all. They are somewhat softer and less crisp than many longer-growing varieties, however, so most people do not find that they pickle, bake, or fry very well.
Tips for Growing Early Girl Tomatoes
The primary thing to do is have excellent soil. This will encourage faster growth and high productivity. Outside of this, Early Girls are very low-maintenance tomatoes. They grow well in (large) buckets, in the ground, and in raised beds. They are a favored kitchen garden and porch-side tomato because of their size and productivity.
Want to learn more about growing early girl tomatoes?
Check out these resources:
NC State University – Commercial Production of Tomatoes
University of Illinois – Tomatoes
Early Girl Tomato Care – Learn How To Grow Early Girl Tomatoes
With a name like ‘Early Girl,’ this tomato is destined for popularity. Who doesn’t want round, red, deeply-flavored garden tomatoes early in the season? If you are thinking of growing an Early Girl tomato crop, you’ll want the skinny on exactly how easy these popular veggies are to grow. Read on for Early Girl tomato facts and tips on how to grow Early Girl tomatoes.
Early Girl Tomato Facts
Early Girl tomatoes have it all: a classic round shape about tennis-ball size, speedy growth and compatibility with low-watering methods. Moreover, Early Girl tomato care is easy, and you can grow them almost anywhere, including containers.
If you were putting together a book for children identifying fruit and veggies, you might well use a photo of an Early Girl to represent tomatoes. Early Girl tomato facts describe the fruit as round and red –
the classic tomato.
But this is not the feature that shot it to the top of the popularity charts. It happened after University of California researchers determined that this tomato is especially suited to “dryland farming,” a growing method using less water but producing a higher flavor concentration.
How to Grow Early Girl Tomatoes
Growing an Early Girl tomato crop is easy as long as you plant the crop in organically rich soil. If your soil is poor, cultivate it, mixing in organic compost generously. Ideally, the soil should be slightly acidic.
With excellent soil, you’ll get fast tomato growth as well as high productivity and easy Early Girl tomato care. You can start growing an Early Girl tomato plant in large containers, in raised beds or right in the soil.
So exactly how to grow Early Girl tomatoes? Plant the seeds in full sun or, if you are planting seedlings, plant them deep, covering more than half of the stems. The tomatoes will be ready to harvest in about 50 days.
Early Girl Tomato Care
Early Girl tomato care is easy. You need to keep the soil moist, watering on the ground, not in the air, to prevent rot.
Vines grow to 6 feet tall. You’ll need sturdy supports, either tomato stakes or cages, to hold them because each can produce heavy yields.
You won’t have to do much to combat pests. According to Early Girl facts, these plants are resistant to most common tomato diseases and pests. Moreover, if you plant in spring, they are grown and harvested before the significant pests arrive.
If you are planning on growing fast-maturing Early Girl tomatoes in your garden this year, you might be wondering how big the plants and fruit will get. That way, you can plan the number of plants and the amount of space you will need for your crop of Early Girl tomatoes.
So, how big do Early Girl tomatoes get? Vining Early Girl tomato plants will grow to a height of 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters) tall and 52 inches wide, and produce fruit that weighs 6 to 8 ounces (170 to 227 grams). The bush variety of Early Girl tomato plants will grow to a height of only 3 feet, with a width of 3 feet and similar fruit size as the vining variety.
Of course, the quality of your fruit (if you get any at all!) depends on the care that you give your tomato plants. Let’s take a closer look at Early Girl tomatoes, including size, growing conditions, and time to maturity.
How Big Do Early Girl Tomatoes Get?
The fruit of an Early Girl tomato plant will grow to a size of 6 to 8 ounces. The Early Girl variety is considered a “slicer” tomato, making it perfect for snacks or salads.
“Slicer” tomatoes are perfect for cutting up and putting into salads, or just for snacking.
For more information, check out this information on Early Girl tomatoes from the Bonnie plants website.
There are two options for Early Girl tomatoes: vining (indeterminate) and bush (determinate).
A vining Early Girl tomato plant will grow to a height of 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters) tall. The height of indeterminate tomato varieties makes it essential to support them with stakes or trellises.
For more information, check out my article on supporting tomato plants and my article on trellises.
On the other hand, a bush Early Girl tomato plant will grow to a height of only 3 feet tall, with a width of 3 feet. These plants are ideal for growing in containers on patios, and can be supported by tomato cages.
For more information, check out my article on tomato cages.
You can also check out this information on bush Early Girl tomato plants from the Bonnie plants website.
Are Early Girl Tomatoes Determinate or Indeterminate?
There are both indeterminate (vining) and determinate (bush) varieties of Early Girl tomatoes. Depending on where and how you want to grow, you can choose either one.
Early Girl tomatoes come in both vining (indeterminate) and bush (determinate) varieties.
Vining Early Girl tomatoes are indeterminate, meaning that their maximum height is not predetermined by their genetics. They will continue to grow taller throughout the season until something kills them, such as a frost or a lack of water and nutrients.
Compare this to determinate tomato varieties, such as bush Early Girl tomatoes, which achieve a certain predetermined height and then stop growing.
If you are looking to grow tomatoes in a container indoors, vining Early Girl and other indeterminate varieties will grow too tall for your purposes. A bush Early Girl tomato plant would work well in a container, and could grow indoors if pruned properly (more on this later).
How Long Does It Take Early Girl Tomatoes To Ripen?
After transplanting into your garden, an Early Girl tomato plant will take between 50 and 54 days to ripen. If you start an Early Girl tomato from seed, it will take about 25 days longer to see mature, ripe fruit on the vine (for a total of 75 to 79 days from seed to ripe fruit).
Growing Early Girl tomatoes from transplants takes only 50 to 54 days. Add 25 days if growing from seed!
Early Girl tomatoes are extremely prolific. The indeterminate variety will keep producing throughout the season. As a result, you can end up with dozens upon dozens of tomatoes per plant in a growing season!
For more information, check out my article on when tomatoes produce fruit.
Since Early Girl tomatoes are a hybrid variety, it is not always feasible to save the seeds and plant them the following year. Unlike heirloom tomato varieties, hybrid tomato varieties will not always “grow true to type”.
This means that the seeds will not always grow into plants that are similar to the parent plant. The seeds from hybrid plants may not look anything like the parent plant, and may end up being sterile, unable to produce any fruit.
If they do produce fruit, it may have poor flavor or quality. For more information, check out my article on heirloom seeds and my article on hybrid seeds.
What Do Early Girl Tomatoes Look Like?
The fruit of an Early Girl tomato plant is bright red and juicy. The fruit is medium-sized, about as big as a tennis ball (2 to 4 inches in diameter) and weighing 6 to 8 ounces (170 to 227 grams).
Early Girl tomatoes have are bright red when ripe and come in a medium size, weighing in at about 6 to 8 ounces. Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Earlygirl.jpg
Early Girl is a slicer tomato variety, meaning that the fruits are the perfect size to slice up for snacks and salads.
A vining (indeterminate) early girl tomato plant is tall, and will usually require a stake or trellis for support. A bush (determinate) early girl tomato plant is short but wide, taking up more ground space but easier to harvest from.
For more information, check out this information on Early Girl tomatoes from the Burpee website.
Are Early Girl Tomatoes Hard To Grow?
Early Girl tomatoes are not too difficult to grow, since they have been bred for disease resistance and fast growth. They do require full sun, so a shady location will not work for Early Girl tomatoes.
Early Girl tomatoes need full sunlight, so don’t plant them near a house, shed, garage, or treeline!
Also, the fruit matures in 50 to 54 days, which is on the low end as far as time to maturity for tomato plants. This makes it easier to get a good harvest of Early Girl tomatoes.
Remember that every day on the vine is another chance for diseases, such as blight, to infect your tomato plants. So, a fast time to maturity means that your plants are not exposed to these problems as long as other tomato varieties.
For more information, check out my article on tomato blight.
Of course, there are other factors to consider when deciding whether to grow Early Girl tomato plants. The quality of care that you give your tomato plants will help to determine how much fruit you get each year. Some of the most important factors are temperature, watering, fertilizing, and pruning.
Temperature For Early Girl Tomatoes
Early fall frosts or late spring frosts can spell death for your Early Girl tomato plants. The threat is increased if you live in an area with a short growing season.
Early Girl tomato plants can tolerate temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius). However, if temperatures drop to 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) or lower, your Early Girl tomato plants may die.
Watch out for cold nights, and protect your Early Girl tomatoes with a row cover if necessary.
For more information, check out this article on Early Girl tomatoes from Wikipedia.
There are some ways to protect your plants from frost, including the use of row covers. For more information, check out my article on protecting your tomato plants from cold and frost.
On the other extreme, your tomato plants may stop producing fruit if daytime temperatures are over 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius). In addition, the hot, sticky days of summer can prevent proper pollination due to excessive humidity.
Unfortunately, there is not much you can do about high temperatures or humidity levels. Just be sure to insulate your tomato plants by putting a layer of mulch or compost over the topsoil around them.
If you encounter problems with pollination, check out my article on how to pollinate tomato plants by hand.
Watering For Early Girl Tomatoes
Avoid letting the soil stay dry for too long, since uneven watering can lead to blossom end rot in tomatoes. If you find that you have a problem with dry soil, check out my article on how to treat dry soil.
On the other hand, over watering your Early Girl tomato plants (or any plants for that matter) can lead to root rot and eventual death. The best way to decide when to water is to feel the soil with your fingers.
If the soil feels dry 2 or 3 inches below the surface, then go ahead and water. For more information, check out my article on over watering your plants.
Make sure not to over water or under water your Early Girl tomato plants!
Try to water early in the morning, rather than at night, to allow water to soak into the soil. Avoid getting the leaves wet to prevent rot, mold, and diseases.
Fertilizing For Early Girl Tomatoes
Before you plant tomato seeds or transplants in your garden, add some compost to your soil. It will provide organic material and nutrients for your plants as they grow. The best part is that you can make compost yourself from ordinary yard and kitchen waste!
Compost is a great way to add organic material and nutrients to your soil.
For more information, check out my article on how to make your own compost.
It may be necessary to use fertilizers as a supplement to compost, in order to provide extra nutrients if your soil is lacking. The best way to tell if you need fertilizer is with a soil test.
For more information, check out my article on soil testing.
The soil pH should be between 6.2 and 6.8 – a soil test will also indicate the pH of your soil.
Finally, remember that it is possible to harm or kill your tomato plants by over fertilizing them. For example, too much nitrogen can prevent your tomato plant from producing any fruit.
For more information, check out my article on over fertilizing and my article on low-nitrogen fertilizers.
You can also check out this article on Early Girl tomatoes from the Cooperative Extension website.
Pruning For Early Girl Tomatoes
Many gardeners choose to prune off the suckers, or side shoots, of tomato plants as they grow. The result is fewer, but larger, fruits on the vine.
Pruning away the lower leaves and branches of the tomato plant can also help to prevent the spread of disease in your garden. When you remove the lower leaves and branches, there is less chance of dirt splashing up onto leaves due to rain or watering.
Vining Early Girl tomato plants are already large, and tend to produce more fruit than other tomato varieties. For this reason, you may want to prune carefully. This will avoid branches that are overloaded with fruit, which can lead to breakage.
Bush Early Girl tomato plants that are grown indoors will need to be pruned carefully to keep them within the confines of their containers.
For more information, check out this article on pruning tomatoes from the University of New Hampshire Extension.
By now, you have a much better idea of how big Early Girl tomatoes get, in terms of both the fruit on the vine and the plant itself. You also know a bit more about the care that is necessary to ensure a healthy crop of Early Girl tomatoes in this year’s garden.
I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone else who can use the information. If you have any questions or advice about Early Girl tomatoes, please leave a comment below.
If you want to grow your best tomatoes every year, check out my article on the common mistakes to avoid when growing tomatoes.
Early Girl Tomato
Early Girl Tomato
Before you leave …
Get your free copy of “10 Must-Know Tomato Growing Tips.” This 20-page guide is filled with tips you need to know to have a successful tomato crop, whether you’re a beginning or experienced gardener.
, a medium-sized globe, has been a wildly popular hybrid tomato variety on the market for more than 35 years.
But it took a fight to get her into American gardens.
It was horticulturist Joe Howland who led the charge to find and develop a short-season tomato that had flavor – and was able to withstand large temperature shifts.
In the 1970s, Howland served as chairman of Pan American Seed Company and on the board of directors for PetoSeed Company, the world’s largest supplier of tomato seed for agriculture. His passionate request for PetoSeed to breed a short-season tomato was squelched. PetoSeed, argued others in the company, didn’t do business with home gardeners. So a short-season tomato wouldn’t be cost-effective.
Still, Howland believed that a tasty, reliable short-season tomato would become gardener’s gold to the company fortunate to develop and distribute it.
A new short-season tomato is born
He was proved correct. In 1974, Howland learned about a short-season tomato developed in France that not only was packed with flavor, but was attractive and able to tolerate temperatures as low as 40 degrees. A deal was made between W. Atlee Burpee Company and PetoSeed for exclusive rights to sell seed for the new tomato. Burpee featured the tomato (which Howland nicknamed “Early Girl” to complement Burpee’s successful “Better Boy” variety) on the cover of its 1975 spring catalog. Sales soared.
American breeders made modifications to the original tomato, which continues to be one of the most popular varieties for the home garden. In a Sunset Magazine reader poll, Early Girl was voted favorite tomato in both 1993 and 1997.
What gardeners think about Early Girl Tomato
is valued because it is an early-ripening slicing tomato packed with flavor (not usually a strength with early-season varieties) – but also for its dependability.
“If you’re usually averse to F1 hybrids,” says one gardener, “but would like to maybe have just ONE reliable early hybrid as a backup in case your OP varieties don’t do well, then this is the early hybrid to get.”
These days, Early Girl Tomato is developing a cult following among those who favor dry-farmed tomatoes – a technique in which the gardener holds back watering the plant after transplanting to force roots deeper and produce a more concentrated flavor in the fruit. Dry-farmed Early Girls are gaining enormous popularity in California, particularly in the San Francisco Bay area. Their flavor has been placed on par or even surpassing the most-respected heirloom tomatoes.
Early Girl’s disease resistance and adaptability mean it performs well in almost every kind of climate. Its little sister, Bush Early Girl, has even greater disease resistance and produces fruit that ripen 4-5 days earlier – all on a compact, dwarf plant that flourishes in containers.
As an extra bonus, Early Girl tomatoes are considered to be especially high in vitamins A and C.
Buy Early Girl seeds.
Buy Bush Early Girl seeds or plants.
Buy Bush Early Girl organic plants.
Origin: West Virginia, USA
Days to maturity: 57-59 days
Season: Early season
Foliage/habit: medium cover, regular-leaf foliage, grows in clusters of 2 or 3
Fruit color: bright red
Fruit shape/size: globe, slightly flattened, 5-6 ounces
Disease resistance: V (Verticillium Wilt), FF (Fusarium Wilt, races 1 and 2)
Taste: flavorful, meaty, lots of aroma
Other strains: Bush Early Girl: same desirable qualities in its bigger sister, but in a compact habit that works great on the patio or in containers. Plus Bush Early Girl’s disease resistance is even stronger: VFFNT. Determinate.
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