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10 Tips For Growing Tomatoes
Growing your own tomatoes can be both fun and healthy. Maintaining organic plants by using only organic fertilizers and pesticides will result in better health for you and your entire family. Once you grow your own tomatoes and see the difference in what you get from your own garden versus the grocery store, you’ll never go back. Here are 10 important tips when growing your own tomatoes from seed.
- Do not pile up the seeds When growing tomato plants from seed, you want to leave plenty of room for the plants to branch out. For many plants placed too close, it prevents their growth. After the seeds have sprouted and the first true leaves appear, transplant each plant into 4-inch pots. You will do this in about two weeks.
- Tomatoes love light If you grow your plants indoors, you should use grow lights. The plants will need 12 to 14 hours of light per day. Place the grow lights about 2 to 3 inches from the plants. Tomatoes love light, so you’ll want to plant them in the sunniest part of your garden.
- A cool breeze is nice Tomatoes like to sway in the breeze. When growing them indoors, it’s a good idea to turn on the fan twice a day for 10 to 15 minutes. This helps promote strong stems.
- Tomatoes love heatWhen you are about to plant your seedlings in the garden, warm soil is the best method. You can place black plastic or weed block over the area before planting. This will warm the ground. You should do this 1 or 2 weeks before planting. This warm soil will promote earlier production.
Plant them deep
When planting tomatoes, plant them deep. Plant them up to the first leaves. Tomato plants will root right out of the stem and this will provide a good root system for your plants. You can also dig a small trench and lay the plant on its side. Don’t worry, the plant will grow towards the sun and come out straight. I like to use tomato cages to support my plants after they grow. It’s a good idea to put the cages in the ground first so that you don’t break a healthy stem.
- Mulch is good Putting mulch around plants is good because it prevents soil-borne diseases from splashing up the stems. Mulch also holds water and helps conserve water. Since tomatoes like warm soil mulch can also cause the soil to feel cooler, using black rubber mulch works better for heat loving plants like tomatoes. Since I only grow organic tomatoes, I use no mulch or only organic materials for my mulch.
- Remove the lower leaves After the plants have grown to about 3 inches tall, remove all leaves from the stem to within about 1 inch of the soil. This will prevent fungus from developing at the base of your plants. Spraying your plants weekly with compost tea also appears to be effective in protecting against fungal diseases.
- Pruning/pinching produces more tomatoes Pinch and remove shoots that develop at the crotch junction of two branches. A junction is where a branch joins a stem or two branches separate. It will not bear fruit and will take energy from the rest of the plant. But slowly prune the rest of the plant. You can thin out the leaves to allow the sun to reach the ripening fruit, but it is the leaves that photosynthesize and make the sugars that give your tomatoes their flavor. So take it easy with those pruning shears.
- Timely watering Tomatoes like regular watering. You never want the plants to start wilting before you water them. Timely watering is mandatory. Water the plants abundantly and regularly, especially while the plants are developing. If you miss watering, don’t over water to make up for it. This will cause root rot and eventually kill your plants. As the fruit begins to ripen, reducing watering will cause the sugars to concentrate and produce a sweeter tomato. However, do not cut too much or the plant will drop its flowers and fruit.
- List them on Set Tomatoes There are two varieties of tomatoes, determinate and indeterminate. Determinant tomatoes are varieties that grow to a fixed ripe size and ripen all the fruit in a short period, usually about 2 weeks. After this first burst of fruit matures, the plant will begin to weaken in strength and will not produce new fruit. Determinate tomato varieties are often called “bush” tomatoes, because they do not continue to grow in size throughout the growing season. They are generally smaller than indeterminate tomatoes, and most grow to a compact 4-5 feet. Pruning and removal of shoots of determinant tomatoes is not recommended. Despite their compact size, staking or trellising is still recommended, as the concentrated fruit set can add significantly to the weight of the branches. Many paste or Roma tomatoes are determinate varieties. Some others bred to be determined include: Celebrity, Mar-globe and Rutgers. Growing tomatoes of a determined variety makes sense when you want a large quantity of tomatoes at once, for example for tomato sauce. Indeterminate tomatoes are actually vines that continue to grow in length throughout the growing season. Also called “vining” tomatoes, indeterminate tomato varieties will also continue to ripen fruit until destroyed by frost. Tomato growers rarely allow tomato plants to actually grow. Indeterminate tomato plants will require substantial supports or cages to support what can become a large (6-10′) heavy plant. However, tomato plants can easily be grown as hanging vines. This eliminates the need for support, keeps the fruit above the ground and allows the plant to grow in an open manner, allowing sunlight to reach the entire plant. Most tomato varieties are indeterminate, including most heirlooms and most cherry varieties. Other indeterminate tomatoes include: ‘Beefsteak’, ‘Big Boy’ and ‘Brandy-wine’. Early varieties such as ‘Celebrity’ and ‘Early Girl’ are also indeterminate. However, because they tend to mature earlier and die before the end of the season, they are sometimes called semi-determinate. All Heirloom tomatoes are indeterminate varieties, and the plants get so big and heavy that they can break the stakes holding them up. You can get indeterminate tomatoes to set fruit earlier by pinching off the tops of the main stems in early summer.
In conclusion: Growing your own tomatoes is simple and healthy. Get an early start in the season, follow these 10 easy steps and enjoy the best tasting tomatoes you’ve ever had.
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