How To Grow Luscious Tomatoes
By: Marilyn Pokorney
The tomato is the most commonly grown vegetable in the States. Here are some tips on how to grow your own bountiful crop of tomatoes.
Tomatoes should be grown in full sunlight.
Tomato plants require abundant moisture.
Tomatoes grow well in many types of soil but prefer fertile, well-drained soil with pH of about 6.5.
Garden soil may be improved by adding rotted manure, leaf mold, peat moss, or other organic materials.
The ideal tomato plant should be six to eight inches tall, dark green, with a stocky stem and well-developed root system.
For each family member three to five plants should be grown for fresh eating. If production for canning is desired, then five to 10 plants person needs to be grown.
Plant tomatoes when the weather has warmed and the soil temperature is above 60°F and air temperature is never lower than 45 degrees at night.
Plant seedlings a little deeper than they were in the pots.
Set out tomato plants in the evening or on a cloudy day.
Mulching helps stop weed growth and water loss from the soil. Place a two to three inch layer of organic material such as compost, leaves, straw, grass clippings, hay, newspapers, or black or red plastic sheeting around the growing plants.
Tomatoes can be grown on the ground or supported by stakes or cages. If using stakes put the stake in when planting As the plant grows taller, tie it loosely to the stake every 12 inches with soft fabric or twine.
Tomatoes require at least one inch of water per week during May and June and at least two inches per week during July, August, and September. Water once or twice a week and to a depth of 12 to 18 inches.
Space dwarf plants 12 inches apart; staked tomatoes should be 12 to 18 inches apart. Allow 2 to 4 feet between non- staked plants.
Rows should be spaced 3 to 5 feet apart for staked plants and 4 to 6 feet apart for non-staked plants.
A 10-20-10 fertilizer should be applied at planting time. Sidedress for the first time when the first fruits are one- third grown. Use about one to two tablespoons per plant. Mix the fertilizer into the soil then water, being careful not to get the fertilizer on the foliage. A second application should be made two weeks after the first ripe fruit and a third application one month later. Water the plants thoroughly after fertilizing. All fertilizers should be worked into the top six inches of soil.
For more information on fertilizers: http://www.apluswriting.net/garden/tomatotips.htm
Marilyn Pokorney is a freelance writer of science, nature, animals and the environment. She also loves crafts, gardening, and reading. Visit her website at http://www.apluswriting.net/