How to Plant and Grow Tomatoes
Plant and Grow Tomatoes: When it comes to growing your own fruits and vegetables, tomatoes give you the most for your money. Tomato plants are inexpensive, produce kilos of produce and fit in even the smallest backyards or balconies. That being said, you have to grow them under certain conditions to get perfect ready-to-eat tomatoes, like those that are firm but juicy and sweet but tangy.
In fact, tomato plants can be quite finicky (read: difficult) to grow. No matter which variety you choose – beef steak, heirloom, cherry, etc. – put your green thumb to work by giving your plants the right amount of strong, direct sunlight (at least six to eight hours of sunshine a day) and frequent watering. While tomatoes bloom during the summer months – May to October, to be exact – extreme heat can interfere with their growth process, so be sure to choose heat-tolerant varieties and exercise patience. when the weather warms up.
For even more pointers, Follow this handy guide on growing tomatoes to get the most out of your plants this season.
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Choose the right variety
From giant steaks to tiny cherries, tomatoes come in many shapes, sizes and colors. While some of them boil down to the climate (ask your local garden center or a cooperative extension service for advice) and your personal preferences, there is one key difference every gardener should know: determined tomatoes and indeterminate.
Determined (or bush) tomatoes tend to bear fruit over a period of two weeks, then stop, making them ideal for canning. They’re also more compact, which means they’re a smart choice for container gardens.
Undetermined tomatoes grow longer vines and produce more flavorful fruit throughout the season. The most common varieties fall into this category, including inheritances.
If you’re using your own seeds, plant them 1/4 inch deep and 1 inch apart in flats in a warm, sunny room. Once the plants have developed their second set of leaves (the first true leaves), transplant them into plastic cups, burying the stems deeper than before. This encourages a strong root system. If you are buying transplants from a nursery, you will also want to allow them to develop a strong root system before planting.
Wait until the temperature is constantly warm before putting the plants in the ground. When choosing a spot in your garden, look for a bed in full sun. Dig larger holes than you think you will need at least 2 feet apart, placing the plants so that the lowest set of leaves rests at ground level. Some gardeners will bury almost the entire plant because new roots will sprout on the stems and give more fruit. Then fill the holes with a mixture of compost and soil.
Cover the bed with a layer of mulch, straw or cut grass to prevent weeds from growing.
Water and fertilize often
Soak your bed with 1 inch of water once a week, a little more often at the height of summer. Make sure to pour the water directly on the ground, not on the leaves.
Adding compost when the first fruit ripens will encourage new growth. A diluted fish emulsion fertilizer can also help, but be careful not to overfeed. Over time, too much nitrogen will make your plants lush, but not very fruitful.
Support your tomato plants by attaching the stems to stakes or cages. Leaving the vines on the ground makes them more susceptible to pests or diseases.
You will want stakes 5 to 7 feet long inserted about 7 inches into the ground. If you cannot find cages large enough or strong enough, you can make them yourself using welded wire mesh from the hardware store. Just make sure you can run your hand through the squares!
Prune tomato plants regularly
To increase fruit production, you should regularly prune your tomato plants. Start by removing all suckers – small shoots emerging from the stems at the base of each leaf – as soon as possible. This helps the plants stay upright, improve air circulation and produce better fruit. While caged tomatoes can develop one or two suckers, staked tomatoes do best as a single stem. Try to cut (or even pinch with your fingers) the visible suction cups every few days.
Harvest (and enjoy!) Your tomatoes