Tomatoes are not difficult to grow if you follow a few basic rules. Begin by researching the many varieties and determine the type that best suits your tastes and growing space.
Select varieties that are suited for your climate and be sure that they are hardy. There are plenty of varieties that have been proved by the test of time. New varieties are available every year, and there are many heirloom varieties that some prefer.
Soil preparation is important. Be sure that it is cultivated and properly loosened up so that it can absorb moisture and nutrients.
Select plants that are healthy, with thick stems and dark green foliage and are good size (not small and skimpy). These plants will have a healthy root base and get off to a great start.
When planting, dig holes deep and pinch off the lower branches of the plant. Plant it deep in the hole, with only the tip of the plant above ground. The stem will produce roots up to the ground level, allowing the plant to absorb moisture and nutrients. This will promote rapid growth and abundant fruit.
In order to avoid major problems with blossom end rot, you can add potash to the bottom of the planting hole and cover with a handful of soil before planting the seedling.
You can also place a little fertilizer in the hole or side-dress the plant with fertilizer. Do not allow full strength fertilizer to touch the plant tissue. It can burn or damage the plant. Some fertilizers such as Miracle Grow can even be sprayed directly on the plant foliage.
Mulching will conserve moisture, increase fruit size and prolong plant life. You can use straw, newspaper, pine needles and various other products. Red poly is recommended by some nurseries now. It is supposed to reflect certain light spectrum that are beneficial to the fruit as well as retaining moisture.
There are two main types of tomatoes; determinate and indeterminate. The determinate are bushier, have a shorter growing period, and do not grow as tall. Most of the fruit is produced and matures in a shorter time period.
Indeterminate plants continue to grow all season and produce fruit up until frost time if they are fertilized and water adequately. Indeterminate plants will require staking to support the large stems and multiple fruits that develop along the stems.
You can increase fruit size by pinching or pruning “suckers” that sprout near the bottom of the main stem. Also, the secondary stem that occurs at some of the leaf branches can be removed.
Follow the basic steps to success and you will be rewarded with some of the best fruit for eating fresh, canning or freezing.
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