One of the most enjoyable parts of summer for me is to grow a garden full of tomatoes. There is absolutely no comparison between the taste of a home-grown tomato and a store-bought tomato. I plant several different varieties and generally allow for a fairy high attrition rate amongst the plants as they are generally prone to pests, varmits, and disease in my area. Those plants that do make it all the way though provide bountiful harvests that the family and neighbors enjoy all the way through the end of September.
10 Tips for tomatoes:
- Selecting: There are so many types of tomatoes to choose from. I recommend going online to the seed companies like Burpee who offer pictures and growing tips for each variety. Certain tomatoes are better for cooking and canning while others are great for eating right off the vine. Look for disease resistant plants if possible as tomato plants are usually prone to many diseases throughout the growing season
- Starting: look to start indoor growth about 6 weeks prior to planting outside. For outside planting make sure that you look up the last expected frost date in your area.
- Seeding: you can start seeding in small containers of potting soil (I like Miracle grow and use cow pots that allow for direct transfer into the ground as the pots disintegrate over time)
- Spacing: remember the tomato plants will grow tall and fill out. Keep spacing in mind when planting to ensure that the plants will have proper air flow when fully grown. If too close together, disease and pests can easily spread
- Soil PH: Tomatoes like slightly acidic soil: When transplanting into garden, add some compost, peat moss, vinegar, or coffee grounds into the soil around the transplant
- Strings: Tomato plants need support as they grow. I use strings hanging above the plants to secure the vines for support. You can train the main stem around the strings as the plants grow upwards. Cages work as well.
- Self-Pollination: If you have a lack of bees in your area do not fret. One trick is to take an electric toothbrush and turn in on and gently hit the flower on its side. The rotation of the brushes mimic a bee and the pollen gets released
- Spraying: Never spray the tomatoes from above in the hot summer weather. Water (preferably in the early morning) the base if possible and try to avoid splashing the soil onto the lower leaves. Sometimes the soil carries spores that lead to disease taking hold. As the plant grows, clip the lower branches off so that there is ample space between the lowest leaves and the ground (this will also allow for improved air flow). Throwing grass clippings around the base also helps keep the ground around the plant moist and limit weed growth.
- Snipping Suckers: Every tomato plant grows suckers in between the main stem and branches. These divert food and energy away from the main stem so pruning them will allow for bigger tomatoes to be grown. The suckers will eventually grow and produce more fruit but if you want quality over quantity, snip these when they start to appear
- Sacrificing: If you see one of the plants start to be over-run with disease; pull it out and get it away from the other plants. Sometimes it is mentally hard to cull a plant early that you have been nurturing but it is necessary for the health of the other plants to get the diseased plant out as soon as possible
I’m always looking for tip s that other gardeners have with their plants. If you would like to share some success stories please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck.
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