Nothing beats having a bacon and tomato sandwich for an afternoon meal. I love the taste of freshly picked beefsteak tomatoes and I, for one, make sure that I plant a few different tomato plants each year. There are many varieties of tomatoes, each with their own unique flavor. Here are some tips for growing tomatoes that will yield you a bountiful crop that you can enjoy in the summer and fall season.
Tips for Growing Tomatoes
There are two ways you can plant tomato plants and that is from seedlings that you have purchased or saved, or from transplants that you have bought. If purchasing transplants, these tomato growing terms may help with any confusion. If you are planting from seedlings, it is important that you start your seedlings indoors 6-8 weeks after the last frost. Plant the seeds in plant trays and cover with approximately ¼ inch of soil. Water the seeds and then set them in a sunny window to help speed up their growth. Tomatoes love the warmth of the sun and do best in a sunny location.
After some time, the tomato seedlings will sprout. It is important that you keep an eye on the condition of the soil. Tomatoes grow better in soil that is moist, but not wet. About three weeks before adding the tomato seedlings or transplants to the soil, you have to till the land. Add in some fertilizer, manure, or even compost. We also add a few egg shells to the bottom of the hole for added calcium.
Tomatoes grow better with a support system, such as a stake or cage. Plant the tomato seedlings about 2 feet apart. Make sure to plant them deep enough that the lower leaves almost touch the ground. Water them well to reduce root shock.
Tomato plants need to be watered frequently. You need to give them at least two inches of water a week. After approximately 5 weeks, add a layer of mulch around the plant. This will help the plant in retaining moisture. A good tip would be to have some porous rocks handy to place near the base of each tomato plant. The rock will absorb some of the moisture in which the plant can draw from, as opposed to it being evaporated into the air.
As for fertilizing your tomatoes, follow the two week rule. This means that two weeks before your first picking and two weeks after, you should replenish the soil with fertilizer to provide the growing plant with vitamins and nutrients.
Pinch off sucker limbs from the tomato plant so that only a few limbs remain. This will help the plant in producing a large yield of tomatoes per plant. Avoid watering the leaves as much as possible. Try to only water near the roots to prevent mildew.
Tomato plants are prone to disease and are often inviting to insects. If perchance you notice that an unripe tomato has fallen from the plant, it can be placed in a brown paper bag to ripen. If you should happen to see cracks in your tomato plants this is caused by a period of rapid growth. Inconsistencies in watering can also be the cause of this development. Make sure that you water your tomato plant regularly in order to prevent this from happening.
Tomatoes should be harvested when they are red in color and firm to the touch. Another tip for gardeners to remember is to never place freshly picked tomatoes in the fridge as they will lose some of their flavor and texture.
One of my favorite ways to use up the green tomatoes is to fry them with onions and garlic. Oh the memories… my mouth is watering. Can’t wait to get some tomato plants into the ground! Are you going to be planting some tomatoes this year, and if so, what species are you planting?