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GROWING TERRIFIC TOMATOES

How to Grow Terrific Tomatoes:

Tomato plants are found growing in over 90% of gardens or containers. Nothing compares to the taste of a warm tomato picked from the vine, eaten before you even get to the house with it. It is fabulous to go out and pick baskets of tomatoes for your own use, or to give away to family and friends.

Tomatoes are easy to grow: You need a spot where there will be at least 6 hours of direct sun. There are many different varieties out there to choose from, and you might be wondering about why they are different, and which one to pick from. Tomatoes are classed as either determinate which means they produce one large crop of tomatoes, or indeterminate which means the vines continue to grow all season, producing tomatoes up until frost. If you are planning on canning or freezing you probably want a determinate variety so you will have a big harvest at one time. Heirloom tomato varieties are becoming popular again, they usually have a wonderful flavor, but are not resistant to diseases. Hybrid tomatoes have been bred to be disease resistant, crack resistant, and to produce tomatoes under a wide variety of weather conditions.

Soil Preparation: Work the soil for your tomato patch well. Turn it over, and add some Back to Nature compost, and some gypsum. Gypsum is very important to prevent blossom end rot in tomatoes. Mix in some Bradfield organic fertilizer, which is more of a soil conditioner than a fertilizer. It will improve the flavor of your tomatoes because it is putting back trace elements long lost from the soil.

Selecting the variety to plant: It is always best to plant more than one variety. Tomatoes set fruit at different night time temperatures. Some set at 60 degrees, some at 65degrees, and on and on. A variety of types will also give you a steady supply of different flavors, and if you should get a disease on one type you may not on the other, so you are protecting your crop with more varieties. The tags on tomato plants will tell you how many days to harvest. You can also use that 'day to harvest' as a way to judge the size of tomato you will be growing. The more days - the larger the tomato.

Planting: Space tomato plants 5 to 6 feet apart. That seems like a lot, but they will grow large, and they need good air circulation. Grouping them actually decreases the yield you get. Plant around the 1st of May. Tomato plants can not handle cold nights. Too many cold nights can stunt them to a point of dying or very little fruit setting on them. Plant tomato plants deeper than what they are gowing in their pots. Remove the lower leaves and plant them up to 1/2 of the tomato plant. All of the stem that you have buried will turn to root and you will have a much stronger tomato plant giving you more tomatoes. Use 1 teaspoon of Osmocote Time release fertilizer in the bottom of the hole, and you will not need to fertilize for 3 months.

Tomatoes require consistent moisture to produce an abundant crop, of uncracked, unblemished fruit. After tomatoes have been growing about 3 weeks, put mulch around the tomatoes to conserve moisture, and keep weeds down. Water only with a soaker hose. NEVER WATER OVERHEAD. . .tomatoes don't like a lot of water on their leaves as it could lead to fungus diseases developing and spreading. A good deep soaking should last from 5 to 7 days. There is no need to water daily, unless you are growing them in containers.

Growing tomatoes in containers: Yes, they can be grown in containers, but the containers have to be large enough. You need a really BIG container, a 10 gallon pot or more would be good. You will need to fertilize and water more often. During hot windy days it will be every day.

Tomato pests: If you go out and find a really large worm with a big horn on it's head - that is the dreaded Tomato Hornworm. They can eat your foliage faster than you can imagine. To check for them (and they do blend in really well), look for black droppings on the leaves. The worm won't be far away. Pick them off and destroy them. Sometimes aphids are a problem, but not often.

Staking, Caging, or Flopping: The big debate. . . but because of my fear of snakes, all my tomatoes are staked or caged, and sometimes a combination of both. Make sure you get a heavy duty cage or stake. Tomato plants grow large and heavy. You really don't want to deal with a cheap, thin wire tomato cage collapsing which is loaded with fruit. Save money somewhere else - not on your tomato supports.

Varieties:

We carry over 90 varieties of tomatoes. Here is just a sampling. . .

  • Beefmaster - Indet. VFN, good flavored large 18ozfruit. Tolerant of cracking
  • BetterBoy - Indet. VFN, smooth, excellent flavor 16oz fruit.
  • Celebrity - Det. VF1 & 2NT, large glossy fruit
  • Jetstar - Indet. VF, long time favorite of high yields. Tasty fruits.
  • LaRoma - Det. VF1 & VF2, heavy yields, good tasting. Vigorous plants. Past type.
  • Lemon Boy - Indet. VNF, lemon yellow fruit.
  • Supersonic - Indet. VF, long time favorite, heavy yields of great tasting tomatoes
  • Sweet 100 - large clusters bearing up to 100 tomatoes on a cluster

TIPS: Don't crowd tomato plants. They get quite large, and need some good air circulation to get a bountiful crop. Crowding actually reduces the number of tomatoes that will set on.

Plant more than one variety. They set on at different night time temperatures, so a mix is better.

Plant some basil plants near tomatoes, it will improve their flavor.

 

 

Special Info:

OSMOCOTE time release fertilizer. More economical and easier than mixing blue water.

 
 

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