Home Tomato growing tips
Growing tomatoes is often the impetus for starting a vegetable garden and every tomato lover dreams of growing the ultimate tomato. Firm, but juicy. Sweet, but tangy. Aromatic and blemish free. Perfection.
he trick to growing great tasting tomatoes is to choose the best varieties, start the plants off right, and control problems before they happen:
1. Don’t Crowd the Seedlings
be sure to give the seedlings plenty of room to branch out. Crowded conditions inhibit their growth, which stresses them and leads to disease later on. You should transplant tomato seedlings into their own individual 4-inch pots shortly after they get their first set of true leaves. Here are some detailed tips for growing tomatoes from seed.
2. Lots of Light
Tomato seedlings need strong, direct light. Days are short during winter, so even placing them near a very sunny window may not provide them with sufficient natural light. Unless you are growing them in a greenhouse, your best option is to use some type of artificial plant lighting, for 14 – 18 hours every day.
3. Preheat the Soil in Your Garden
Tomatoes love heat. They won’t really start to grow until both the soil and air temperatures remain warm. You can speed things up in the soil by covering the planting area with black or red plastic a couple of weeks before you intend to plant. Those extra degrees of soil warmth will translate into earlier tomatoes.
4. Remove the Bottom Leaves of Tall Tomato Plants
Once your tomato plants reach about 3 ft. tall, remove the leaves from the bottom 1 ft. of stem. These are the oldest leaves and they are usually the first leaves to develop fungus problems. As the plants fill out, the bottom leaves get the least amount of sun and air flow. And being close to the ground, soil born pathogens can easily splash up onto them. Removing them helps prevent fungal diseases from taking hold.
5. Pinch and Prune Tomato Plants for More Tomatoes
Pinch and remove suckers that develop in the crotch joint of two branches. They won’t bear fruit and will take energy away from the rest of the plant.
However, go easy on pruning the rest of the plant. You can thin out a few leaves to allow the sun to reach the ripening fruit, but it’s the leaves that are photosynthesizing and creating the sugars that give flavor to your tomatoes. Fewer leaves will mean less sweet tomatoes.
6. Water the Tomato Plants Regularly
Water deeply and regularly while the fruits are developing. Irregular watering – missing a week and trying to make up for it – leads to blossom end rot and cracking. The rule of thumb is to ensure your plants get at least 1 inch of water per week, but during hot, dry spells, they may need more. If your plants start to look wilted for most of the day, give them a drink.
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