Best Way to Grow Tomatoes
Tomatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow, but there are still environmental factors you will need to plan for and take into consideration during the spring and summer growing season. Growing a full and healthy set of tomatoes is best accomplished by considering issues of sun exposure, watering, and soil health. By planting intelligently, a grower may avoid common tomato pitfalls like a lack of fruit growth, and tomatoes that never ripen. Learning how to grow tomatoes starts can be a very gratifying experience when done properly.Read on to find out the best practices.
Choosing the Best Location
Before heading into the backyard to plant some seeds or seedlings, it's important to determine the best spot for optimal tomato growth. Tomato plants like full sun and they always should get several hours of sun a day. Little sun means little tomatoes or even non producing plants. The soil in which the plants sit shouldn't be too soggy, so considerations of yard slope and drainage are critical. If there's very little room for tomato plants and not a lot of choice for location, building a raised bed is a good solution for reducing soggy tomato problems.
Preparing the Soil
Before planting tomatoes, it's important to till about 5 or 6 inches of soil, and to mix compost into the area. Tomatoes enjoy very fertile soil and will respond well to organic matter mixed into the beds. One of the mistakes that new tomato growers often make is watering the plants too much and not giving the soil enough attention. The soil must be fed to produce big and plentiful fruit from tomato plants.
Tomato Plant Choice
New gardeners will find that there is more than one type of tomato suited for growing. Usually referred to as "hybrids" or "heirlooms," different types of tomatoes offer different benefits. While an heirloom tomato has a long history of tasty tomato production, hybrid tomato plants will usually offer more fruit each season. One of the additional advantages granted by a hybrid is that those plants are usually much more resistant to disease. Certain types of hybrids have even been grown to be resistant to a specific type of disease, which may be helpful for a person with a garden in a disease-prone area.
Seeds or Seedlings
For picky gardeners or anyone who wants a particularly specific type of tomato, the easiest way to accomplish this goal is to consider growing tomatoes from seeds. Deciding how to grow tomatoes from seed does take longer, and sometimes growing the seeds inside prior to planting is necessary, but this method does allow great variety in tomato type. If learning how to grow tomatoes from seed isn't on the menu, an alternate strategy is to choose planting seedlings, which don't require weeks of work to sprout before the spring. When purchasing a seedling, it's vital that the plant doesn't have any visible signs of infestation or disease. Every leaf should be examined closely for signs of pests.
Best Watering Practices
A tomato plant should be watered at its base, and much like an African violet, it's best not to get the leaves wet. This means it's probably not a good idea to set the sprinkler to water the plants and forget about them for a half an hour. Unless temperatures reach over 100 degrees during the day, the plants may be watered every 2 or 3 days.
When to Pick
Tomatoes are ripe when they are a solid color and are firm to the touch. It's best to keep a daily eye on the plants and harvest a few tomatoes whenever they ripen. Once picked, the tomatoes should never be stored in the refrigerator. Keep tomatoes on the counters to retain their flavor. It's also a good idea to familiarize one's self with the terms of "indeterminate," "determinate," and "semi-determinate." A determinate tomato plant stops growing at a certain point in the season, an indeterminate tomato plant continues to grow throughout, and semi-determinate means a plant could exhibit characteristics of either. Learning how to grow tomatoes that provide big fruit and enjoyment for the gardening process isn't too difficult as long as thought is put into the place where the plants will grow, and healthy watering and fertilization techniques are utilized.