Tomatoes are a versatile fruit that’s very healthy, naturally sweet and quite delicious. Moreover, you can use tomatoes in a wide variety of recipes or dishes, and if you decide to can / preserve them, they’ll last for quite a long time as well. Likewise, this amazing vegetable-like fruit can be grown a number of different ways across an assortment of warm climates; we’re talking about a truly international plant here.
Anyway, here are a few tips for growing tomatoes at home…
If this is your first experience with growing tomatoes (or anything) then you might want to consider just picking up some sprouts or small tomato plants from a local greenhouse, etc… In short, approaching your first tomato-growing project in this manner means that most of the work has already been done for you. Plants at this stage don’t necessarily require as much attention as they do when they’re just starting out, and of course if you’re starting from seeds you might actually need something resembling a small greenhouse, so this is a much more direct option. Choose a location that’s fairly sunny, you probably aren’t going to get good results if your garden is blocked by a massive tree, for instance.
If you start off with seeds, then you’ll most likely want to start them off inside in order to ensure that they are able to reach the later growth stages. Of course if they’re too small, you might still have to place them under a fluorescent light (a few inches away from them) until they finally reach a height of around 6-12 inches. At that point, you’re going to want to plant them in a more permanent position outside. The trick of course is to have these sprouts ready right around the same time that the first few days of spring arrive; in this way, you’re actually planting your tomatoes at the optimum time to ensure that they’ll yield for you. Note* – avoid planting too early though, you don’t want to catch the end of a morning frost and risk having them die out.
As far as materials are concerned, use compost to cover the top 5-6 inches of your tomato garden, something like 5-10 pounds for each square foot is fine. When actually planting them you want to bury them up to half of their total size or more (50%-60%). Remember to space your tomatoes out by around 2 ½ feet from one another too. After performing the transplant, you’re going to need to give the plant around 1 gallon of warm water (this helps to avoid shock). Remember to water your tomato plants up to 10 days after transplanting as well. After a couple of weeks you can get some straw / hay and scatter it around the plants (this helps to keep the soil moist and cool). Obviously watering your plants is very important, so don’t forget. Also, if you’re not getting as much rain as you need, you’ll need to water your plants every week so that they receive around 2-2 ½ gallons of water.
Once you begin to see your tomato plants sprouting little fruit and/or beginning to slump a bit you’re going to want to either stake them or erect little “cages” for them to grow inside of. Some people like to use pieces of a latticed fence to achieve this feat, it really doesn’t matter what you use as long as it’s strong and able to support the weight of multiple fully-grown tomatoes.
- You might want to consider picking up some specialty fertilizers to help with the growing process
- Once your tomatoes start to turn red, they’re beginning to ripen. At this point you can remove some of them and ripen them indoors, perhaps on a window sill, if you prefer
- Some people swear by “shaking” their plants around once or twice a week, as this is said to promote pollination
- If you have problems with lots of bugs, you might want to use translucent, sealable sandwich (ziplock) bags to protect your tomatoes while they’re still on the vine