How to Grow Amazing Tomatoes this Summer

Tomatoes are a great option for a first time vegetable grower.

While tomatoes are technically a fruit, they are grown in a manner that is similar to true vegetables.

They are a high yield crop that do great in the summer heat of our  southern climate. They can be grown from seed or purchased as seedlings.

The process of growing your own tomato seedlings is easy.

Step 1) Choose the variety of tomato

The first step is to choose the variety of tomato you want. The seed package will have Image result for back of tomato seed packetinformation on when and how to plant the seeds in your planting zone. Consult the USDA charts for your area.  It gives spacing information as well as planting depth and when to transplant outside.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2) Plant the seeds

The “Delicious” tomato variety should be begun inside 6-8 weeks before putting in the garden. Plant them at a depth of 1/4 of an inch. Cover them gently with soil and water them in thoroughly with a gentle sprayer.

Cover the plant tray with a humidity dome or plastic wrap until the first seedling emerges; usually 7-14 days after planting.

Seedlings should be uncovered and put in the brightest available window or under a grow light. They should get a daily average of 14 – 16 hours of light. Keep the seedlings moist but not wet. Use a gentle fan to blow on the seedlings to strengthen their stems, as this action replicates wind outside.

Step 3) Potting up

After a couple weeks, the seedlings should be at a point where they need to be repotted. Fill a 4” pot with soil and transplant the seedling.

The young plant may have a lengthy stem, but with tomatoes, that stem can be buried to develop more roots. Keep the young plants in these pots until you can place them in the garden.

Step 4) Prepare the garden

Amend the soil in your garden area. Tomatoes will grow in our clay soil, but they produce more abundantly with amended soil. Add in sand or loamy soil to the clay to better aid the tomato’s root development. Tomatoes thrive in full sun. The seedlings should be placed on a shadier area outside for around a week before they go into the garden.

Dig a hole slightly deeper than the plant’s pot and add a slow release fertilizer. Add a slow release fertilizer.

Next, add in the plant and backfill around it; actually cover a lot of the stem.  Ensure no leaves are touching the ground as this is an excellent bridge for insects. Simply remove any leaves that touch the ground; it will not hurt the plant.

Place a stake at the base of the plant to support it as it grows.

Step 5) Maintenance

After the tomatoes are established, fertilize them once every two weeks until the end of the growing season.

Break off any “sucker” leaves that sprout in the corner of branches.

Harvest tomatoes when they are around 90-95% red, allowing them to fully ripen on a counter.

Tomatoes are an easy plant to grow and maintain. Make sure to start them soon, spring is right around the corner!