5 Tomato Growing Tips for Beginner Vegetable Gardeners – Mother Earth News
Brandywine Heirloom Tomato Seedlings (Photo by Mary Jane Duford)
Homemade tomatoes are the jewels of the summer vegetable garden. While their growth can seem intimidating, there are a few key things that can make up (or break down) your edible garden crop. Here are five of the top tomato growing tips that will help you grow great tomatoes.
Start with a pot seedling plant
Some vegetables grow best when planted as seeds directly in the ground outdoors. Unfortunately, tomatoes are not one of them. The best option for beginners (and many experienced gardeners) is to purchase pot seedling tomatoes from a trusted local garden center or farmer.
In many climates, tomatoes must be grown indoors in a heated room with a slight breeze, with heating mats under the seedling plants and plant lights above. Growers start growing the seedlings in January-March for sale in April-June. The baby plants need daily care in order to grow to the bushy, healthy beginnings we see in the nursery. While tomatoes can certainly be grown from seeds at home, they’re not nearly as easy as some other vegetables.
Growing tomatoes from seeds is a time consuming and energy intensive project. You can also end up spending quite a bit on different packets of seeds if you grow more than one strain. Of course, there is always the problem of growing too many seedlings and not having space for them in the garden while they are growing!
Choose pot starter tomato plants instead of growing your tomatoes from seeds. Some nurseries even offer unusual grafted tomato plants! Either way, you save yourself the trouble of caring for long-legged saplings in your living space.
Sungold tomatoes fresh from the vine (Photo by Mary Jane Duford)
Choose a type of tomato that tastes delicious
The world’s best tomato growing tips don’t matter if the tomato you’re growing just doesn’t taste very good. Since growing tomatoes requires some care and maintenance, it pays to invest some research time to choose a tomato variety that tastes delicious fresh from the vine.
One of the best tasting tomato picks for beginners is the sungold tomato. These orange hybrid cherry tomatoes have a fantastic, bright, almost tropical taste. Even gardeners who grow large tomatoes will often tuck a few sungold plants between their stout heirlooms.
For a delicious medium-sized tomato, choose a tomato variety that is grown for both taste and vitality. The green zebra tomato is another tomato fan favorite – both for its pretty green stripes and its fresh, piquant taste. The red snapper is another top-flavored tomato that is very similar in appearance to a supermarket tomato (but certainly not in taste!). These medium-sized, modern introductions are generally easier to grow than the large, legendary heirlooms.
When it comes to heirloom tomatoes, there are a number of varieties that are known for their great taste. Some of the most delicious heirloom tomatoes to grow are brandywine, cherokee purple, black krim and the pineapple tomato. These can be a little more chunky to grow than the aforementioned strains, but the taste is well worth the extra effort.
It’s finally warm enough for the big (transplant) day (Photo by Mary Jane Duford)
Tips for transplanting tomatoes at temperature
Tomatoes are heat-loving plants. They do not react well to cold air temperatures and can be permanently damaged if the weather is too cold. While spring has a tendency to rush the season, avoid the temptation to transplant your tomatoes outside too early.
When is it too early to transplant tomatoes outdoors? As a rule of thumb, keep tomatoes indoors at temperatures below 10 ° C. Plant growth is drastically slowed down at temperatures below 10 ° C, so planting them out too early can be counterproductive.
Tomato plants can be killed by frost, but they can also be seriously injured at temperatures above freezing. Temperatures don’t have to reach freezing to damage tomato plants. Cool weather at 43 ° F (6 ° C) and below can injure the plants. So try not to rush the season!
Continue reading: https://www.homefortheharvest.com/when-to-transplant-tomato-sedlings/
Tomatoes growing in a raised bed garden (Photo by Mary Jane Duford)
Grow tomatoes in a large container or raised garden bed
One of the best tips for growing tomatoes is to grow the plants in good quality potting soil in a large, raised container. Tomatoes planted in the ground adhere to the existing soil conditions, while tomatoes planted in containers can be grown anywhere. Like in a beautiful planter with potting soil. The tomato plants thrive with rich, porous potting soil that is quickly warmed by the sun.
Raised beds are the best choice for growing tomatoes because they are generally filled with excellent soil. The increased height of the beds helps the soil to warm up quickly in spring and prevents us gardeners from stepping on the soil around the plants as they grow.
When raised beds aren’t available, there are some other great options for large tomato planters. Some gardeners grow each tomato plant in a 5-gallon bucket, while others swear by 20-gallon grow bags or leftover nursery pots made by planting trees. These large containers provide plenty of root space and access to water / nutrients and allow the gardener to choose their growing medium.
Fresh Brandywine Tomatoes from the Vegetable Garden (Photo by Mary Jane Duford)
Use a slow release organic fertilizer
Tomato plants need an adequate supply of nutrients to promote their growth and fruit production. While many potting soil contains compost or organic fertilizers, the soil is not actively supplied with nutrients. For this reason, it is worthwhile to fertilize the plants with a gentle organic fertilizer while they are growing.
A beginner-friendly tip for feeding tomato plants as they grow is to use a slow release granular fertilizer. These fertilizers are simply dumped on the ground and watered over time, which usually takes a few months. They do not require pre-mixing with water or weekly / bi-weekly application like many water-soluble liquid fertilizers. Choose a slow-release, easy-to-apply organic fertilizer to reduce maintenance as the plants grow.
Enjoying the tomato harvest (Photo by Mary Jane Duford)
Hopefully the above tomato growing tips will help you grow your own food this year. Edible gardens are incredibly rewarding and fun to grow. Regardless of your space, whether balcony gardening, container gardening or cultivation in a larger city garden or a rural homestead, you can put your green thumb to the test with these tips and grow your own tomatoes.
Mary Jane Dufordis a gardening blogger and video creator based in British Columbia, Canada. She continues the task of creating a productive landscape around her parents’ home where her own children can have fun and learn from. Mary Jane writes about her experiences on her gardening blog, Home for the harvest. She also vlogs about her garden and natural life her YouTube channel. Connect with Mary Jane on Pinterest, LTK, and Twitter, and read all of their MOTHER EARTH NEWSPosts here.
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