Growing Tomato Plants

Growing tomato plants is easy and fun, read this article for some suggestions.

Americans love tomatoes, and they can be easily grown, in a large garden or a pot, these wonderful red round, "love apples" are delicious! We have known about tomatoes for at least a century and a half. Discovered by the Spanish in Mexico, and they loved them. Our European descendants were fearful that they were poisonous. Once they tasted them and did not "die," they were accepted. Now there are hundreds of varieties to choose from.

A southern sloped, raised bed dug in the fall, and one that warms in the early spring will work well for growing tomatoes. Use black plastic to cover your bed a few weeks before planting and this will warm the soil in preparation for transplanting. Try to choose tomatoes recommended for your area

Before transplanting the tomatoes, work in at least an inch of compost into the bed. This should be enough nitrogen; too much will cause the plants to put on foliage with little fruit. Side dress with compost and water occasionally with "manure tea " once the plants have produced walnut sized tomatoes.

Season your plants to the outdoors a week or so before planting. Leave them out in the sun for a few hours each day and a bit longer each day. This is called "hardening-off" and helps them survive by toughening them to harsh weather.

When it is time to transplant the plants to the garden, try to choose a cloudy day, this makes it easier for roots to supply water to the leaves. Bury a part of the stem when planting this will force more root growth, which is beneficial. Be sure to water daily until the plants are well rooted.

If you plant while there is a possibility of frost, the plants will need to be protected at night and cold days. Milk jugs are a cheap and adequate protection for your tender plants.

Pruned and un-pruned plants will yield approximately the same amount of harvest. Some like to pinch all of the suckers off early, if this is the case they will need sturdy supports. You will have to train and tie the main stem every week as it continues to grow. On the other hand, unpruned tomatoes are less work. You can surround your unpruned plants by using the kind of reinforcing mesh used in concrete slabs or "chicken wire" to make a tomato "cage." The idea is to keep the foliage off of the ground to prevent disease.

Maintain deep mulch during the very hot months, and keep your plants well watered, and you will most likely have a good fall production.

Tomatoes have such a multitude of uses in cooking, if your crop is yielding more than you can eat you may want to consider "canning" the surplus. Home grown and preserved tomatoes have a flavor that is unsurpassed for flavor, in any dish.

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