A great looking tomato is about as mouthwatering as it gets. This is particularly true during the hot summer months when a nice tomato sandwich is on everyone’s mind.Growing these beautiful veggies are fun and really not as tough as some might have you believe. If you like having the tomatoes that everyone begs for, there are some things you need to consider. Like all things that are worthwhile, you need a plan to bring them to fruition.
Here is a simple, yet powerful guide to growing tomatoes and getting the harvest you always dreamed of:
Know your region and your product
One huge mistake people make is planting random types of tomatoes in random areas with no mind whatsoever to regional weather patterns, soil and so on.
Right from the start you need to know the types of tomatoes that you are wanting to grow. Do you want tomatoes for cooking sauces or do you want slicing varieties? Do you want little bitty tomatoes or big beefsteak type tomatoes? Once you know what you are wanting, then you can do the research to find out the types that grow best in your area. Within each type of tomato there are variations that grow better in different parts of the country. Ask your local farmer, produce clerk, gardening store clerk or friends and family about your area. Search the Internet for the types that work best.
Next, you will want to find out the optimal planting period for your tomatoes so that they are not stunted by an unexpected frost. Tomatoes love full sun and the more the better. Make sure you get at least six full hours of sun per day in the area you choose to plant. Many folks start their tomato plants from a seedling and do so indoors until there is no danger of frost. This is a preferred method and works much better in my experience.
Plant your tomatoes
Make sure you give the plants space to breathe. You want to plant them at least three feet apart. This works well if you are putting up stakes but you need to allow for more space if you are not. They will spread out considerably if you don’t stake them.
Plant them in a bed of really good topsoil that will drain properly. Dig down so that the plant’s bottom leaves will be just above the earth when finished and allow for a good base of compost. I like to put about a two to four inch base of compost and then fill in around the plant with topsoil. Some put more and some put less.
If you want to grow your own compost, check out our article here!
Watering and feeding your tomatoes
This is a very simple plant to keep watered. Let the soil dry between waterings water them regularly. You don’t want to drown the plants and you should aim the water at the ground around the base. Most folks water about once a week depending on how hot the weather is. The key is to watch the soil. As the tomatoes begin popping on the vine, you can generally slow down watering a little bit.
As for food, some folks use over the counter growth products. Not me. I love the natural, rich soil that occasionally gets compost for my tomato harvest. The compost works perfectly fine and you will have a steady, reliable growth pattern.
Upkeep and tips
Using cages or stakes are advisable simply because a tomato plant growing closer to the ground is likely to pick up a disease. It will also attract all manner of pests and rodents.
Some folks pick “suckers” but I find that it reduces the yield. I like to let the tomatoes grow without bothering them any more than I need to.
Tie your plants very loosely when you begin staking them. Leave plenty of room for growth and expansion.
Never use metal stakes as they will burn your tomatoes.
Pick the tomatoes as close to ripe as possible. Letting them ripen inside will work but they will not have nearly as much flavor. Pick them when they are ripened for the best flavor.
Thank you DazzlingDailyDeals for the great tips!