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Growing Tomatoes in Your Garden3/19/2013


 

Growing Tomatoes in Your Garden

 

Growing tomatoes in your garden may be a time honored family tradition or the start of a new tradition for future generations.  Harvesting a firm, warm, red, sweet tomato as a result of your own labor is a reward that everyone must experience at least once.   To some, planting a garden is just second nature, to the rest of us, it is something that we research, experiment with and hopefully end with the bragging rights.  As with anything worth trying, preparation is always the key.

 

Ground Preparation

 

·         Pick a sunny location after all danger of frost as passed (approx. Mid April)

 

·         Purchase established plants – this will allow you to pick fruit earlier and longer.

 

·         Turn the soil over and add organic materials such as compost or peat moss.

 

·         Incorporate Tomato-tone into the top 4 inches of the soil.

 

How to Plant

 

·         When planting established plants, plant deeply in the soil – exposing only one third of the plant and its foliage above the soil. 

 

Staking

 

Most gardeners prefer to stake their tomatoes to conserve space and avoid fruit rotting on the ground.

 

·         Wooden Stakes:  Choose sturdy 7 – 8 foot stakes at least 2 inches square.  Tie plants to the stake with soft twine, or strips of cloth (old pantyhose works great) to avoid damaging the stems.

 

·         Wire Tomato cages – firmly placed in the ground, allow the plant to grow inside the cage, avoiding the need for ties.

 

Feeding

 

Use an organic food such as Tomato-tone by Espoma providing a complex blend of natural ingredients enhanced with Bio-tone beneficial microbes.  If using Tomato-tone there is no need to supplement other foods because an over abundance of Nitrogen will encourage the plant to over produce foliage at the expense of fruit.

 

·         Mix three tablespoons in the soil prior to planting.

 

·         Feed your tomatoes twice each month with three tablespoons of Tomato- tone or other fertilizer recommended for tomatoes – however do not apply both.

 

 

 

Watering

 

Tomatoes cannot produce good, abundant fruit in dry conditions.  Water 2 to 3 times each week to ensure that your plants are not forced to endure drought conditions.  There are different methods of watering that are successful for tomatoes, all methods call for watering deep – meaning watering at the root level.  Avoid getting the leaves wet, as damp leaves can leave the plant susceptible to disease

 

·         Watering Wand – direct the water to the base of the plant trying to avoid getting the leaves wet.  Water each plant for 1 to 6 minutes depending on the soil composition.

 

·         Soaker Hose – Using a soaker hose will assure a thorough watering and will avoid getting the leaves damp. 

 

·         2 Liter Soda Bottle.  Use an old 2-liter soft drink bottle with a lid as a watering device.  Use an scissors to cut the bottom off.  Drill 2 or 3 holes in the bottle lid using a 3/32” drill bit.  Bury the bottle upside down at about a 45 degree angle, 4 to six inches from the stem of the tomato plant (one per plant), leaving about one or two inches of bottle sticking above the soil.  Fill the bottle with water, the water will slowly trickle out of the bottle watering the plant at the root level. 

 

Common Problems

 

·         Blossom End Rot is sometimes seen in plants that have been grown in dry condition.  This disease can also be caused by a minor nutrient deficiency.  Water and feed your plants regularly.

 

·         Cracking occurs when the plant is watered after a prolonged dry spell.  Keep plants well watered to prevent this.