Not to be confused with Best Boy, Better Boy, a hybrid tomato plant, is prized by many gardeners given its relatively quick time to maturity (the fruits ripen within 70 and 75 days after transplanting the plants). The fruits have lovely smooth skin and a classic flavor with, what to many is just about the right balance of sugar and acidity.
Better Boy is among the most popular tomatoes in the U.S. and as such it’s also among the all-time best selling tomatoes.
The plants are resistant to Fusarium and Verticillium wilt – two of the most prevalent tomato plant wilting diseases.
Better Boy is an indeterminate plant and for this reason, it’s best to cage it or to stake it with more than a single stake (tepee-style staking will work well with Better Boy tomato plants).
What’s the Best Soil for Better Boy Tomato Plants?
If you’re not intent on growing your Better Boy tomatoes in a greenhouse, you’ll be pleased to know that these plants do well in most soils.
Go for slight acidity to neutral soils with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0.
While Better Boy plants are resistant to Verticillium and Fusarium, rotate your crop annually as you would do with any fruit or vegetable crop to discourage soil-borne diseases from occurring.
How to Care for Better Boy Tomato Plants
Once all danger of frosts has vanished, depending on where you are in the world, you could plant up your Better Boy tomato plants directly into your garden.
Chances are decent that you’ll enjoy your first crop of tomatoes at around the 70- to 75-day mark after planting in the ground or in the greenhouse.
Make sure that you allow lots of space between the plants so they can spread. Allow a minimum of 36 inches (90 cm) between plants. If the conditions are good, Better Boy growth is ‘good’ and they will spread out quite substantially.
To hold your plants in an upright position, use hoops, cage supports, or stakes.
These bamboo canes work pretty well in terms of staking ‘Better Boy’ though if the plants are in an exposed position you’ll likely be better with some kind of caging system.
Velcro ties are ideal for tying your tomato plants in:
Any early buds and shoots simply pinch those out as this will encourage more fruit yield at the expense of more vegetative (leaf) growth).
Around halfway through the growing season, you can start to add fertilizer to your plants. An nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (NPK) ratio of 10-10-10 is good.
If you’re interested to know, nitrogen helps with vegetative growth (leaves and stems) of the plant; phosphorus encourages healthy root growth; potassium encourages healthy, tasty fruit. As such, nitrogen is vital at the seedling stage. As your tomatoes approach maturity, a fertilizer that is higher in phosphorus and potassium is recommended.
While you don’t want to drown your plants will want to water them often. After the fruit appears it’s even more important to water your plants often. This will help the fruit to expand and will stop the potential for blossom end rot.
Harvesting Better Boy Tomatoes
Start harvesting Better Boy tomatoes when the fruits are completely red, firm, and round. That should occur at around 70 days into the growing cycle if growing conditions are good.
By the 80-day mark, most of the tomatoes should be ripe. By 90 days and almost all yield will be complete.
Better Boy Tomato Plants Pests and Diseases
Better Boy tomato plants are, in general, pretty resistant to diseases. If you’re growing outdoors, providing you rotate your crops, likely your tomatoes will avoid succumbing to disease.
Nevertheless, Better Boy tomato plants are susceptible to most garden plant predators.
While you can spray your plants – best to use organic sprays – what’s even better is to encourage beneficial insects to deal with plant predators.
Ladybugs devour insects like mealybug, aphids, thrips, and other harmful insects.
Dragonflies, other than consuming mosquitoes, also target aphids and whitefly.
Birds consume whitefly and aphids.
Spiders love to consume thrips.
Various species of caterpillar can become a nightmare for tomato plants. A prolific consumer of caterpillars is the paper wasp. Paper wasps don’t sting and are entirely harmless to people.
Besides the pest populace and eradicating it as much as you can, it’s best to water your tomato plants at ground level by using a drip or furrow watering system. If you don’t have either of these watering systems available, by all means, use a watering can. Just be careful to avoid splashing the soil below the tomato plants upwards as the soil can be a host for pests and disease.
How to Use Better Boy Tomatoes in the Kitchen
Almost anything you use your other tomatoes for with respect to consuming you can use Better Boy tomatoes for as well.
Better Boy tomatoes have few seeds, they are nicely juicy, and they are crisp too when they are just ripe.
Better Boy tomatoes are ideal for fresh salads, for sandwiches, for salsas, sauces, additions to stews, and more besides.
Unripe Better Boy tomatoes are not quite as bitter as other tomato varieties. Thus, they are good for pickling or frying.
Further Better Boy Growing Tips
Among the secrets to getting the most from your Better Boy tomato crop is to start them off indoors from seed. Allow them six to eight weeks to develop size and stamina and then transplant them, then transplant either to larger containers in your glasshouse or outdoors.
Due to its large size, Better Boy doesn’t make for a good container tomato. Nevertheless, Better Boy tomato plants can be grown in larger-sized tubs – 5-gallon (20-liter) containers are ideal.
To enjoy excellent yield, you need to ensure that your tomato plants enjoy good nutrition. If planting outdoors, make sure your soil is well prepared with organic matter such as compost or peat that is taken from a renewable source.
Add more compost/ peat throughout the growing season at least on one occasion and preferably twice over.