Tomato Gardening Tips
Tomato Gardening Tips:
If you ask any experienced gardener, they will probably tell you that tomatoes are among the easiest things you can grow in your garden. It’s a myth that you need a greenhouse to start growing your tomatoes – you can do so in any size garden (even in a pot) provided that the seeds are warm and sheltered.
As with any other plant, the first step is to chose what type you want to plant.There are so many different types of tomatoes, the United States Department of Agriculture actually documented about 25,000 varieties! So picking which one to grow can seem like a pretty daunting task, but don’t let it overwhelm you. It is best to choose the type that you enjoy the most: round and juicy, colorful and oddly shaped, or small cherry tomatoes? Then determine which variety grows well in your area. Check out this graphic found on Bonnie Plants that outlines the main differences in varieties.
For some more tomato gardening tips and to help you pick your tomatoes also, check out Bonnie’s “Tomato Chooser” Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one! Trying a few different varieties can yield tomatoes for every occasion!
The next step is to sow your seeds. Make sure you do so after the danger of frost. We started our seeds in small pots that were moved inside at night to avoid getting too chilly. We transplanted them into the garden after some roots had established. If you choose to plant the tomato seeds directly into the soil, they must be sprinkled thinly since most of them will likely germinate. To protect the seeds, cover them with around a quarter inch of high quality compost and water lightly. Find out all the benefits of compost, and how to make your own here. Adding epsom salt to the soil when planting, or spraying a water/salt mixture during growth provides additional benefits for tomato plants. It adds magnesium-sulfate to the soil and aids in root development, photosynthesis, and increases yield.
In general, tomatoes need quite a lot of water and care in order to produce the best fruit – as a rule of thumb, water little and often and feed your tomatoes with a liquid feed (or homemade compost tea) until the first truss forms (groupings where flowers/tomatoes develop). Another useful tip is to plant your tomatoes with basil which is known to improve the flavor of the fruits as they grow.
Some of the plants can grow quite tall (especially indeterminate plants), therefore it may be wise to use a support after they reach a foot or two in height. Tomato cages are usually the standard, and also help to keep the leaves up instead of shading out other plants; but you could even just secure it to a pole or trellis. Implement a support early on in the growing stage, to avoid damaging roots when putting one in later. Tomatoes are ready to be harvested when they are ripe and fully colored. Tomatoes may simply be plucked off the plant when the fruits are ready to eat. If you have harvested some that have yet to reach their peak of freshness, try storing them near bananas to aid the ripening process.