Tips For Growing Tomatoes

Growing tomatoes is easy enough if you know how. These simple directions will bring you a healthy tomato crop all summer long.

Funnily enough, tomatoes were once thought to be extremely poisonous. While a cooked tomato was "˜not recommended', a raw tomato would mean death upon first bite! Thank goodness this rumor died out, but not until the early 1800's. Americans have certainly enjoyed their share of delicate dishes made from this tasty red fruit. Or is it a vegetable?

While very easy to grow, tomatoes do have a few common rules and tips on growing them well and getting the most of your crop. Read these tips to keep in mind when making your plans to plant.

Too Early To Grow

The most common misconception about growing tomatoes is that it's such a sturdy plant; you only need to plant a seed in your garden early spring. The seeds are just as sensitive as other plants. You need to grow your tomatoes from 6 to 8 weeks indoors before transplanting. These plants are quickly outgrown by other plants and could be at a disadvantage next to other large and spindly seedlings.

Grow Tomatoes, Grow

When planting seeds in pots or celled flats, bury the seeds ¼ of an inch deep and make sure you use two seeds per pot. Remove weaker plants with scissors only after the plants have grown their first full leaves.

If you'd like for your plants to produce fruit early, keep your plants heated to at least 65 degrees during the day and only 10 degrees cooler at night. Take care to fertilize with a diluted liquid to the young plants. You should repot as they grow, and always plant them deeper than the previous pot. It will make the plant more stable when you are ready to transplant outdoors.

The Wild Outdoors

You should only transplant your tomatoes when the temperature outside at night has remained constant at 50 degrees. Dig a hole the size of a watermelon to plant your tomatoes in. Don't forget to add mulch, and if you'd like, add some eggshells to the mix. It will add calcium to your tomatoes.



Potential Problems

The biggest problem with growing tomatoes outdoors is keeping the temperature at the right level. Cool weather can stunt plant growth and will delay ripening. This might actually effect the flavor or stop fruiting of the plant altogether. Cover your plants at night if you fear the temperature will ever drop below 50 degrees.

Disease for the tomato plant itself is always a problem. You should not plant your tomatoes in the same area of your garden every year. If you have cleaned your garden out well in the fall, you shouldn't have too much problem with disease.

Wind is another factor, as wind blowing on plants will stunt growth. You could build temporary walls around your tomato plants until they are fully grown.

Make sure you water evenly, as fruit will crack if they go too long between being watered and then getting a sudden burst.

The most common bug in a tomato garden is called a hornworm. These caterpillars are easy to remove by hand; usually there is only one on the garden. You can tell if one is hanging around if your tomato plants all have holes in the leaves. You can recognize the caterpillar easily; it is long, about 3 inches. It's green and white stripes and a horn on its rear end. Remove the caterpillar to afar enough away place to avoid its return.

Harvest Time

Tomatoes will continually grow fruit throughout the warm weather season. To get more fruit, simply pick tomatoes as they appear.

You'll need only to taste the fruit to tell if you've picked too early or too soon. If you pick them too early, you'll get hard tomatoes and it will taste less sweet. If you wait to long the skin will be tough and the flavor is depleted from the tomato.

Not all tomatoes will color in full when it's time to pick. Just pay attention to firmness and size. Don't be afraid to pick the tomato if some of it is still a little green.

Tomatoes are an amazing plant that you can add to your garden and appreciate the harvest all summer long. You can also use seeds from the tomato to plant for next year. Keep these tips in mind and you could have a beautiful tomato garden every year.

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