Even though we are getting towards the end of the 2008 growing season in the area of the country that I live in, I wanted to share some tomato tips information. If you are like one of the over 35 million gardeners that will plant tomatoes, you can choose from big beefsteak or a small cherry tomato.
Tomato Tips #1:
The easiest and fastest way to grow a tomato crop is to start with transplants. Only start with seeds if you have an area that you can grow the plant indoors until it is sturdy enough to plant outdoors. If you decide to start with seeds, plant the seeds in pots that are filled with soil, peat moss and vermiculite up to 6 to 8 weeks prior to the last spring frost in your area. Once the seedlings have sprouted two sets of leaves, you will need to transplant them into a bigger pot.
Tomato Tips #2:
Seedlings will need lots of heat and light, so you’ll want to place them in a sunny window or under an artificial light. If you are placing your seeds under an artificial light, position the lights approximately 4 to 6 inches above the seedlings to encourage a stouter stem. If you have started growing your seedling indoors, before you plant them permanently outside, set them outside for a couple of hours every day. Plant them permanently outside once the temperature stays above 55 degrees.
Tomato Tips #3:
Make sure to support your tomatoes with stakes, cages or trellises. Tomatoes can be grown until the first frost kills them. If you are limited on space for your garden, choose the Roma or another bush variety tomato for containers or small areas.
Tomato Tips #4:
Tomatoes grow best in soil that has a pH level between 5.8 and 7. Test your soil. If you have a clay or sandy type soil, mix in some compost. Don’t overdo the use of nitrogen fertilizers because that will only produce more leaves, not more fruit.
Tomato Tips #5:
You need to make sure that your tomatoes get at least an inch of water per week. Watering early in the morning will decrease disease and leaf burn. Establish a consistent watering schedule for your plants and then stick with it.
Tomato Tips #6:
Mulch your plants to keep them moist. Mulching will also help protect low-growing tomatoes from being damaged from resting on the ground and prevent soil from splashing on them during watering. Soil splashing on your plants can cause disease. Mulching also keeps the soil cool and controls weeds. You can use leaves, hay or herbicide-free grass clippings to mulch your plants. Once these materials break down, they will add organic matter to the soil.
Tomato Tips #7:
If you have suckers on your plants, remove them. Suckers dilute the flow of energy. Your plants will try to grow more fruit and mature all the fruit if there are a lot of suckers. Removing them will give you fewer but earlier fruit. Just be careful not to remove to many leaves because they are producing the energy needed to make delicious tomatoes.