Tips for Growing Tomatoes

in Tomatoe

Tomatoes can be started from seed, but most gardeners buy small plants and put them in the garden in a warm and sunny spot.  They must have a great deal of full sun to ripen satisfactorily on the vine.  Decide if you want to start tomatoes from seed, indoors, about eight weeks before the last frost warning, or buy small plants to set out in the garden after the chance of frost is past.  

Growing tomatoes from seed requires a packet of whatever type you want.  Small tomatoes are called plum or cherry and used in salad.  Roma tomatoes are medium-sized and oval shaped and often used for sauce.  Round types include Big Boy, Early Girl and Big Beefsteak which vary in size and are used for sandwiches or eaten by themselves.  

Seeds can be started in egg cartons and cleaned out yogurt cups, or small pots and flats.  Pots should be new or cleaned and disinfected with one part bleach and ten parts water.  It is best to use a soilless mix for good water retention and drainage and air space.  This is mostly sphagnum peat moss.  Perlite, a volcanic mineral is commonly used.  Vermiculite, a mica-like substance, is good if it is potting grade level.  Seeds need fourteen to eighteen hours of florescent light per day or very strong window light, which is rare in early spring.  Water as needed, but soilless mix should never be soggy.  

When the seeds have grown into small plants with actual leaves, transplant them into small pots, and then two weeks later into four inch pots.  Do not plant them in the garden outside until after the last frost warning.  Keep the soil moist but not drenched.  The growing tomatoes should be buried deeply when transplanted into the garden with only the top few leaves showing.  If cages are used, plant them fifteen inches apart.  If not, twenty-four to thirty-six inches apart.  Be sure not to dig the cages or stakes into the roots when transplanting.  

When the plants are about three inches tall, remove the bottom one inch of leaves to prevent fungus and contaminants from attacking.  Water the plants deeply and regularly at the base of the plant, not from the top, to prevent mold.  Earthworms and some bugs are needed in the soil to aerate it so don't kill them.  Plant-eating aphids which will be on leaves.  

Suckers, are little branches that grow out of the crotch joint of two branches of a plant and will take away energy from the producing part of the plant.  Pinch them off and more tomatoes will grow from the plant.  Growing tomatoes like to be near other plants like chives, onions, parsley, carrots, garlic and nasturtiums.  They need about eight hours of full sun per day to vine ripen.  Mulching around the bottom of the plants with straw, grass clippings or compost will help them stay moist.  

Growing tomatoes is the most rewarding when you pick that first ripe one and eat it and know that it is healthy and chemical free.


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chickie maxwell has 460 articles online

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Tips for Growing Tomatoes

This article was published on 2012/02/28