How to Grow Tomatoes: The Complete Guide

Want to find out the way to grow your own tomatoes? We certainly don’t blame you. Everyone enjoys the taste of a homegrown tomato. The sweetness, the firmness, the juiciness – who wouldn’t choose a home-grown tomato over a store-bought one? Tomatoes also are high in Vitamins A, C, and Lycopene which has cancer-fighting antioxidants.

Homegrown tomatoes are an exquisite addition to the garden, but good tomatoes do take a touch work, tons of water, and tons of sun. Below is information on growing tomatoes, handy gardening tips to urge the simplest tomatoes possible, and knowledge on companion planting to offer tomatoes the simplest environment possible.

GROWING TOMATOES FROM SEED VS. FROM STARTER PLANTS

Many people wish to grow tomatoes from seeds. this is often okay as long as seeds are started long before the gardening season arrives. It’s also an honest idea if planting Heirloom Tomatoes or if the garden supply centers don’t carry a good sort of tomato plants. If, instead, the garden supply centers carry a good variety – the fastest, easiest method to grow a tomato is to get it at the shop.

WHAT sort of TOMATO is that the BEST TYPE TO GROW?

Heirlooms, hybrids, determinate, indeterminate – what does all this mean within the world of tomatoes?

Heirloom tomatoes are tomatoes passed down from generation to generation by saving seeds at the top of every harvest. These seeds are often purchased from online or catalog sources, or a neighbor or relative could also be willing to share their seeds.

Heirloom tomatoes aren’t as productive as hybrid plants, but the variability, color, and taste are unmatched. Heirloom tomatoes are available colors like yellowish pink, yellow, purple, red, orange, and even green. Some are striped et al. grow in unusual shapes. a couple of the more popular Heirloom varieties rated for flavor include Brandywine, Caspian Pink, and Hillbilly.

Heirloom tomatoes even have a bent to supply tomatoes continuously throughout the season.

Hybrid tomatoes are tomato plants that are bred for specific reasons – to be disease resistant, to grow larger tomatoes, etc. Hybrids often produce higher yields of fruit, mature earlier, have a more uniform appearance and a better fruit quality. Hybrid tomatoes are favored over other tomatoes for his or her disease resistance.

All hybrids aren’t alike though. so as to work out the diseases a tomato is immune to, ask the label. The letters on the plant tag will provide information on what diseases the plant will resist. Hybrid (F1) Tomatoes are hybrid plants that are a primary generation cross between several tomatoes.

Determinate tomatoes have a pre-determined growth and are often called bush tomatoes. These normally get around three feet tall and are great for smaller gardens. they’re also easier to stay contained in tomato cages than the more rambling tomato vines. Determinate varieties tend in touch fruit early within the season.

Indeterminate tomatoes don’t stop growing and are more vine-like than the opposite tomatoes. they have a tendency to sprawl over the entire garden and need to be staked once they grow over the highest of the tomato cage. Indeterminate varieties bear fruit later than other varieties.

Semi-determinate tomatoes have combinations of both determinate and indeterminate varieties.

Other sorts of tomatoes include early tomatoes, more likely to line fruit at lower temperatures; cool-summer tomatoes, more likely to prosper within the northern climates; small-fruit tomatoes like grape and cherry tomatoes; and plum tomatoes, with thick meat and a little seed cavity. Roma tomatoes are a well-liked plum tomato.

TOMATO LABEL INFORMATION

V – immune to Verticillium Wilt

F – immune to Fusarium

FF – immune to Fusarium 1 and a couple of 

N – immune to Nematodes

T – immune to mosaic virus

A – immune to Alternaria little potato 

St – immune to Stemphylium which is gray leaf spot

SWV – immune to Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus

GROWING TOMATO PLANTS FROM SEEDS

If growing Heirloom tomatoes, they’re going to most likely need to be grown from seed. only a few garden supply centers stock heirloom tomato plants. many of us who wish to save lots of money and luxuriate in starting plants from seed, also wish to start other tomato plants from seed. so as to try to so, seeds got to be started indoors 5-6 weeks before the last frost.

Plant seeds in two parts soil and one part compost, vermiculite, or perlite. Place seeds in holes 2-3 inches apart. confine a warm, dark place until seedlings sprout. this may form 6-14 days. Light isn’t necessary until plants are often seen.

Once plants appear, move them to a bright, cool location – confirm it doesn’t get less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the dark though. this may keep plants from growing tall and spindly and can allow the roots to develop.

When plants have 1-2 leaves, they will be transplanted into larger pots, burying them a touch deeper than they were grown before. About fortnight before transplanting outside set them to call at the shade during the day and convey them inside in the dark to slowly acclimate them to the outside.

Once plants are hardened off and therefore the evening temperature is consistently above 55 degrees Fahrenheit plants are often planted into the prepared garden soil.

PURCHASING AND PLANTING STARTER TOMATO PLANTS

If purchasing plants from a garden supply center, there are a couple of things to seem for to insure healthy plants; dark green leaves, sturdy stems, no signs of pest (like chew marks or holes within the leaves). If plants have yellowed or brown leaves or speckling on the leaves, this is often not an honest choice.

It’s also knowing leave plants that have flowers – they’re stressed if they’re flowering so quickly. It’s hard to show away a plant that’s bound to have a tomato during a few days – but it’s not always the simplest choice for the garden.

Plant seedlings within the ground in any case danger of frost have passed and therefore the nights are within the ’50s. Most gardeners suggest planting tomatoes by laying the roots and therefore the bottom of the stem during a trench about 4 inches deep (removing about the topmost leaves) and burying the stem alongside the roots within the ground.

This vertical burial will enable roots to grow right along the buried stem, produce a sturdier foundation, and provides the plant a far better chance to soak up water and other nutrients from the soil. With the basis system closer to the surface of the soil, the plant also will have more heat, which can enable it to supply earlier tomatoes.

Of course, in really hot areas this might also backfire. If planting late in summer, it’d be an honest idea to plant the roots a touch deeper in order that they don’t get too hot and burn.

Place plants about 2 to 4 feet apart in rows approximately three feet apart. Tomato plants need air circulation, so don’t crowd them. Plants are often planted in rows and watered between the rows, otherwise, you can plant them in rows, then dig a trench completely around the tomato.

This way each tomato will get water on all sides of the basic system.

GROWING TOMATO PLANTS INDOORS

Tomato plants also can be grown indoors during a pot with drainage holes within the bottom, but they’re going to need a really sunny location. A south window or artificial light will provide the sunshine necessary to enable tomatoes to grow and bloom. Fill the container with two parts soil and one part compost or vermiculite before planting.

POPULAR TOMATO VARIETIES

Celebrity, Big Boy and Better Boy are documented popular tomato plants. for top heat areas, Heatwave may be a good selection. a well-liked Hybrid tomato is Beefsteak – one among the giants in tomatoes. And plum tomatoes, grape, and cherry tomatoes are always popular for indoor gardens and for those that wish to serve them in salads.

Roma is that the hottest of the plum tomatoes. Smaller fruited tomatoes are Tiny Tim, Patio, and little Fry.

HOW TO GROW TOMATO PLANTS

Tomatoes like a minimum of eight hours of full sun each day. If they don’t get enough sun, the plants will grow spindly and produce little or no blooms. When choosing a garden spot, confirm the world gets a minimum of eight hours or more of the sun during the day. additionally, the world must be a well-drained area that doesn’t hold pools of water when it rains.

Many tomato diseases are the result of poor drainage. If the sole area within the yard for a garden isn’t well-drained, it’s an honest idea to plant during a raised bed instead.

In order to offer tomatoes a fertile soil to grow in, compost or organic matter (horse manure works great) is often tilled into the soil. a couple of weeks before planting, cover the garden area with about three to four inches of compost or organic matter, then till this into the highest five to 6 inches of soil.

This will also hack any clods and make the soil easier for the roots to penetrate.

At the time of planting, it’s an honest time to place tomato cages over the plants or to ready the trellis or other devices to support the tomato plants. differently to grow tomatoes is by having stakes at each end of the garden and stringing rope from one stake to the opposite.

Since tomatoes are vines, they’re going to enjoy climbing along the ropes. It’s important to see on the plants daily and train them to grow along the ropes though. it’s going to even be necessary to lightly tie them to the ropes with gardening tape or a soft ribbon. Ties should be loose so plants won’t be cut once they begin to grow larger. Soft cloth or green florist tape is often wont to tie plants in order that they won’t be harmed.

HOW TO WATER TOMATOES

Tomatoes sort of a lot of water – but they don’t want to possess their roots sitting in water. a good amount of watering is vital for the plant to try to well. an excessive amount of water can cause diseases like flower drop, fruit-splitting, or blossom-end rot. Not enough water can cause wilting. And uneven watering pot causes cat-facing; lines, cracks, and openings within the fruit.

So what proportion of water is enough? Tomatoes need regular water, but they don’t like soggy soil. Soil should be kept evenly moist. In climates where the temperatures rise to 100 degrees or more during the day, this might mean watering a day. In cooler areas, watering every two to 3 days may suffice. Water slowly and deeply.

Another thing that helps control the watering and keeps the soil from drying out completely between watering is mulching. Mulch helps the soil retain water in dry climates and helps to stay the soil warm in cooler climates.

Mulching with three to four inches of compost, straw, or hay will keep plants from heat stress and keep the roots from drying out. this may also help prevent weeds from growing around the base of the plants.

Never water the leaves of the tomato. Always keep water pointed toward the bottom of the plant, far away from the leaves, and check out to stay the leaves dry. When leaves become wet, tomato plants are more likely to suffer from diseases. Never use a sprinkler or overhead watering device on tomato plants.

FERTILIZER FOR TOMATOES

Tomato plants are often fertilized once they start to flower. In organic gardens, manure may be a good fertilizer that will help tomatoes grow. Just confirm to place the manure a minimum of two to 3 inches out from the bottom of the plant and water it into the bottom thoroughly. Any closer could cause the manure to burn the plant base.

If fertilizing tomatoes, confirm the fertilizer isn’t high in nitrogen. an excessive amount of nitrogen will keep plants from blooming, or they’re going to drop their blooms. It’s better to use a fertilizer formulated specially for tomatoes or one that’s low in nitrogen.

HOW TO PRUNE TOMATOES

Especially in indeterminate varieties that tend to sprawl and canopy half the garden, pruning is usually recommended. Pruned plants will have fewer but larger fruit. To prune tomato plants, clip the side shoots that grow where the leaf meets the stem. Plants shouldn’t be pruned once they placed on fruits.

Many gardeners believe pulling off the primary flowers and allowing the plant to make roots and foliage. Plants aren’t allowed to make fruit until they’re a minimum of a foot tall.

COMMON TOMATO DISEASES AND PESTS

Cat-facing – Irregular shapes and features appearing at the highest of the tomatoes. this is often caused by temperature shifts and may often be prevented by not planting too early within the season or by planting varieties immune to cat-facing.

Blossom-End Rot – Tomatoes turn black at the top of the tomato and appear to rot from rock bottom up. this is often caused by inconsistent moisture and a calcium deficiency within the soil. It is often brought on by drought, uneven soil moisture, or excess nitrogen and high salt levels. Adding calcium to the soil will prevent the matter from occurring.

Sunscald – Fruit will have sunburned looking spots. this is often caused when there’s a spike within the temperature. Normally the whole fruit rots before it ripens.

Split Skin/Cracking – Any time plants experience accelerated growth; once they get an excessive amount of moisture after a dry spell or if the fruit has been left on the bush too long, the skin will crack or split, exposing the soft fleshy insides of the tomato.

Flowers, No Fruit – Often blooms fall off. this will be caused by changes within the weather or not enough water.

Thick, Tough Skin – Some fruits naturally have tougher skin than others. Dry, weather, and inconsistent water also will produce thicker-skinned tomatoes.

Tomato Hornworm – That ugly, fat caterpillar with the long spike on his head. They blend in among the foliage, are often difficult to identify, and that they will chew the foliage and ruin the tomatoes.

Blight – Early Blight is caused by a fungus that always survives on older vines and may be found within the soil. blight is usually seen in wet weather.

Wilt – Fusarium and Verticillium fungi cause wilt and may kill plants. wilt turns branches yellow. Verticillium appears as yellowing between the main veins on the leaves. Southern Bacterial Wilt will kill a plant suddenly. Leaves will wilt while the plant remains green and healthy. If plants are planted within the same soil where the disease has occurred within the past, plants will nearly always contract the disease.

Root Knot Nematodes – Microscopic eelworms within the soil harm the roots of plants, causing them to die.

PREVENTING TOMATO DISEASES

Many diseases are often prevented by solarizing the soil. this will be done at the top of the season – or the year before if you’re planning a replacement garden site. within the hottest a part of the summer, prepare the garden area, and moisten the bottom lightly.

Cover with a sturdy plastic tarp. Leave tarp in situ for a minimum of three to four weeks. this will even be done before readying the garden since most of the grass and weeds are going to be killed while under the tarp.

By planting disease-resistant plants to start out with, the likelihood is that less likely that plants will contract certain diseases. It’s also important to form sure you don’t plant tomatoes within the same places that other members of the tomato family have grown within the past two years, like peppers, eggplants, or potatoes. they will leave diseases or pests within the soil which will attack the newly planted tomato plants.

COMPANION PLANTING FOR TOMATOES

Whether an individual believes companion planting is simply an old wives’ tale or whether or not they believe it because they’ve actually seen the results, companion planting can often be utilized within the garden to assist control diseases and insects.

Many plants have substances in them that repel or attract garden pests. These same substances often help other plants grow and enhance the flavor of their fruits. Plants that employment well in companion planting with tomatoes are below:

· Amaranth – This helps repel insects.

· Basil – This repels insects and improves growth and flavor. It also repels some insects.

· Borage – This improves growth and flavor. The borage plant attracts bees and wasps though. it’s also said to enhance the disease resistance of tomatoes.

· Bee Balm, Chives, Parsley, and Mint – These improve flavor.

· Carrots – Carrots are friends of the tomato, but the tomatoes will stunt the expansion of carrots – but the flavor will still be great.

· Garlic – This repels red spider mite mites. a sprig of garlic on plants will often control blight.

· Nasturtiums – These are often planted as a barrier that deters many garden pests.

· Hot Peppers – Their roots have a substance that forestalls plant disease and other Fusarium diseases. Teas made up of peppers also can be used as pest control sprays.

· Petunias – They repel the potato worm.

Other friends of the tomato are Asparagus, Carrots, Celery, Geraniums, Onions, Parsley, Sweet Peppers (Bell), Lactuca sativa capitata, and Marigold. Although planting “weeds” within the garden isn’t always an honest idea, below are some that aid within the flavor and growth of tomatoes.

· Urtica dioica – This improves the flavor.

· Thistle – This aids growth.

The plants below aren’t good companions for tomatoes.

· Cabbage et al. within the cabbage family – This stunts the expansion of tomato plants.

· Corn – Corn earworms will eat tomato plants also 

· Dill – Once the dill plant matures, it starts to inhibit tomato growth. It also attracts tomato hornworms.

· Eggplant, Peppers, and Potatoes – These are within the same family because the tomato and are vulnerable to blight, which may be contracted if planted too on the brink of one another. Planting tomatoes near potatoes also will make the potatoes more vulnerable to potato mold.

· Fennel – This inhibits plant growth.

· Walnuts – Since the walnut produces a chemical that inhibits the expansion of tomatoes, it’s not an honest idea to plant tomatoes under walnut trees. Tomatoes also can contract walnut wilt.

Tomatoes also aid within the growth of other plants:

· Roses – Tomatoes protect them from plant disease. Interplanted during a flower bed, these two make great companions.

HARVESTING TOMATOES

Most tomatoes plants won’t set fruit until the temperature is consistently above 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fruit should be harvested when it’s fully ripened, a solid color, and still firm. The longer the fruit is left on the vine, the higher the taste. Cut or gently twist fruit off, ensuring to not damage the vine.

Once harvested, tomatoes shouldn’t enter the refrigerator. The cold can deduct the flavor of the tomatoes, so it’s best to store tomatoes on the kitchen counter or during a warm, dry place. Tomatoes will begin to lose their flavor as soon because the temperature falls below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

If tomatoes are still on the vine when cold temperatures threaten, tomatoes are often harvested early and stored during a warm place far away from the sunshine. NOT ON THE WINDOWSILL! Those on the window sill will only turn red – they won’t have any of the sweet, vine-ripened tomato flavors. people who are allowed to ripen naturally, faraway from the sunshine, will eventually ripen and can have a far better flavor.

SAVING TOMATO SEEDS

Now that the season is over, seeds are often salvaged for next year’s crop. It’s wise to not save fruits from the primary fruits of the season. an honest rule of thumb is to select a minimum of one ripe fruit each day from several different plants. a simple thanks to getting the seeds out is to use a juicer and strain the seeds out of the juice (The juice is often utilized in cooking or to drink).

Wash seeds and spread on a plate or towel to dry. When putting seeds away confirm to place them during a dry location and LABEL them! Enjoy!

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