Growing your own juicy tomatoes can be a very rewarding experience. Not only will you be able to pick fresh fruits anytime you like from the garden, but you will also have the satisfaction knowing that your tomatoes are clean and safe from harmful chemicals.
Tomatoes are among the most popular fruits to grow and eat since they are simple to care for and very nutritious. A single tomato is an excellent source of Vitamin C, calcium, iron, potassium, folic acid and it even holds traces of Vitamin A and K. Having your own crop is a great way to have delicious fruits that are filled with great nutrients every single day of the season.
In order to get the most out of the tomato plants and have an abundant supply of tomatoes all season long, it’s important to follow a few simple tips that all experienced gardeners know.
Tomato plants require fertile organic soil that has very good drainage. Since the plants are very sensitive to frost, it’s a good idea to prepare the ground just after the last frost of the season.
Before planting seeds or seedlings, make sure to mix in good organic matter and cover the ground with a dark plastic sheet at least one week prior. This will increase the ground temperature and moisture, which is ideal for early growth and a good way to prevent disease.
When planting seeds or transferring seedlings to the garden, make sure there is adequate spacing for optimum growth and development. If you are planning to cover the plants with a cage, each plant should be spaced approximately 14 inches apart. For free growing plants, there should be a minimum spacing of 25 inches between plants.
Tomatoes love the sun and should get at least 5-8 hours of it a day. When choosing the best place for tomatoes to grow, plant them in the sunniest area of the garden or facing the sunniest window of your home. If the plants do not get enough sunlight, the leaves will look withered and yellow. Also, the plants will not produce healthy edible fruits.
If you are planning to grow the plants indoors under grow lights, make sure to keep them lit approximately 12 hours a day with the plants close to the light source.
Water tomato plants regularly. If they are growing in a hot climate, make sure to water them deeply to ensure enough moisture in the soil for those hot days in the sun. Slightly cooler climates can water the plants every other day. It’s important to keep the soil moisture even without leaving the plants soggy or too dry since it will greatly affect the size and taste of the tomatoes.
When watering tomato plants, make sure to water close to the base without splashing soil back up to the plant since this is the most common method of spreading disease from the organisms and parasites on the surface of the soil.
To grow healthy and strong tomato plants, they require regular movement in the wind or a fan, if grown indoors. The wind helps the stems grow thick and strong to help keep the large developing fruits off the ground. Plant the tomatoes in a fairly free space in the garden where the wind will catch them. For indoor plants, place a fan in front of the plants for approximately 3 to 4 hours every day.
When the tomato plants are over two feet tall, prune the bottom leaves that are closest to the soil. This will help prevent fungus from forming on the leaves and spreading to the rest of the plant.
Another pruning technique many gardeners debate about is whether or not to prune the “suckers” when fruits are maturing. The suckers are the new leaves that spring up between the forks of two stems. Many gardeners prune the suckers to help the maturing fruit to grow larger and faster while other gardeners choose to leave the suckers alone, so they can grow even more fruits.
No matter which type of tomato you choose to grow for the season, follow these handy tips and enjoy a season filled with healthy and nutritious delights.
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