Tomatoes happen to be one of the most commonly used vegetables (or, more correctly, fruit) worldwide. There are probably very few tables that haven’t seen some dish with tomatoes in it. I don’t know about you, but I like having the confidence in what I put on my table so I have taken to growing them myself. This way I can control whether on not it is organically grown and even control the flavor!! So, if will you take advice from an old veteran, I’ll help you prevent potential problems growing tomatoes that will crop up for the inexperienced grower.
Plan your harvest
For example, it is easy for a beginners to go hog wild and plant too many plants resulting in growing more tomatoes than you can deal with at once. This can be dealt with by staggering the planting of the tomato plants. This way you may pick delicious, fresh tomatoes during the entire summer and into the fall but not be overwhelmed with bushels of fruit!
So it is wise to pre-plan your tomato harvest. This greatly is dependent upon the region that you’re planting as well as the period of the growing season. Tomato farmers really need to hold off planting until the soil temperature in their own location reaches a minimum of fifty five to sixty degrees F. This means maybe April in most North American regions but then you will need to check your local nursery for advice.
The actual outdoor temperature in the daytime also needs to average at least 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit with the nighttime temperature around 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
No matter whether your tomato plants will be purchased or started at home, the earliest tomato ordinarily does not reach maturity before the latter part of July. In most areas you can place your 6 inch starts in ground in late March or April (depending on when your last frost was and how warm the soil is). Full tomato production normally gets going in early August provided that your tomato plants are planted out by the beginning of May.
These are “sun” loving fruit and thus demand warm daily temperatures. At the very least six hours of full sunlight is necessary to aid strong rapid growth and maturing. In case you are hoping to harvest your tomatoes around early fall ahead of the very first frost arrives, make sure you place your tomato plants in the garden in June. Tomato plants will not put up with the frost.
In certain hotter parts of the world, like Mexico and places south, tomatoes may be grown throughout the year. There they are considered perennials.
Planting tomato plants in the spring can provide an abundant, beautiful summer harvest of nearly all tomato types. Folks who would like to enjoy a fall or winter harvest of home grown tomatoes can grow tomato plants in mid to late summer and plan to move them indoors or into a green house as the days get colder. In such more comfortable locations, it’s continues to be feasible to have a minimum of six to eight hours of light per day.
Green thumb tip: Buy older looking nursery stock
Many variety stores like Walmart sell tomato plants but they don’t sell them all and will offer them at a discount. Often these plants are “sad” looking. You might think that the older, “sadder” looking plants are not worth buying. On the contrary, these more mature slightly neglected plants will respond to your care at home.
Take advantage of the sales when they don’t sell out the stock by buying the older withering plants and revive them at home. I take them home and tap them out of the pots as soon as possible to break up the roots which most likely are root bound. I have even taken this and put the whole thing in a bucket of water or diluted compost tea for an hour or so to revive the plant before planting it out. You’d be amazed at how they respond to a little TLC.
With a little care, you can have amazing tomatoes from a cheap, sad little store bought plant.
But if you are planning to cultivate the tomato plants from seed and then transplant them in the future, make sure you place the seed in a seed tray in the house 5 to 6 weeks in advance of when you want to place them in your garden or pots. New plants need to have more than a six leaves or be at least 6 inches tall before going in the soil in the back garden.
Till your garden soil well making sure to add plenty of organic material like composted steer manure or old garden waste. While home raised tomatoes mature in practically any kind of dirt, a light, well-drained fertile soil, full of natural and organic matter, is ideal. The dirt also needs to be somewhat acidic with a pH level of 5.5 to 7.8. If it is too acidic add a little lime ( I even use ground up egg shells).
Conquering the climate: Greenhouses
Many tomato gardeners living in cooler climates use small, convenient green-houses to extend their shorter growing season. Greenhouses also help give you the jump on the early part of the year by giving you a secure place to start seeds. It makes a convenient way to introduce the young plants – called hardening off – to the more demanding outside environment.