The recent lockdown has shook everyone. Oil and tourism is down, and a lot of other industries are also on the verse of total collapse. In this case, everyone must learn to grow their own food. This is part 1 of our new series, “Grow your own Food.” Let’s look at tomatoes today.
When springtime arrives, it is time to get your garden ready for the vegetables and fruits you want to harvest in summer and fall. Growing tomatoes is easy if you know how tomatoes grow and follow a couple of rules. Tomato plants have preferences and adhering to a few requirements will go a long way in growing a successful crop of this delicious fruit. Picking the right location is the key to growing juicy, plump, and flavourful tomatoes.
Tomato plants require at least 8 hours of full sunlight to produce mature fruit. Tomato plants like a specific soil with a pH of 5.5-6.8, and they grow best in well-drained, deep, and fertile soil. The soil has to be prepared so it holds moisture as evenly as possible. Standing water will cause major problems later on. A tiller can help to work organic matter into the soil. A good rule of thumb is to work about 3 inches of organic matter into the top 6 inches of soil.
Choosing between heirloom or hybrid tomatoes depends mostly on your personal preference. Hybrids usually produce more uniform fruits and a greater quantity of fruits. Besides, they are often more resistant to diseases. The heirloom tomatoes typically taste better but the plant does not produce as much fruit.
Most people start their seeds indoors a couple of weeks before the last frost of the spring. Planting your seeds means that you are not dependent on your local nursery. You can plant what you want and not what is offered. Your tomato plants should be planted 24-36 inches apart for free sprawling growth. Staking or caging your plants will allow you to plant the tomatoes much closer; 15 inches is a good distance between plants. Dig out a shallow trench and lay the plants on their side. Cover the plants with soil so that only the upper leaves are visible. The entire stem will form roots if the tomatoes are planted this way. The result is a strong plant with large roots to absorb nutrients.
After your plants are fully established, it is time to fertilize. Adding fertilizer too early will cause the plants to grow foliage instead of fruits. Once the plant starts to flower it is time to fertilize again. If you are intent on having an organic garden, you can make your compost from kitchen waste and mix that into your soil. Organic compost is a fantastic way to nourish your plants, and you are also limiting the number of chemicals being introduced into the environment, so that makes it an even better choice!
Tomato plants need to be watered regularly, and the idea is to provide a regular source of water without leaving the soil soggy, just moist to the touch. The right way to water tomatoes is to water the soil at the base of the plant. The leaves and fruit should remain dry. In very hot climates and areas with a short growing season, mulching around the plant may be necessary to keep the roots from drying out. Your tomato plants will let you know how much water they need and before you know, it is time to reap the fruits of your hard work.
You can start to harvest your tomatoes once they are a solid red color, or whatever other colors may be the mature color of your tomato. Harvest your fruits every day or every other day. You probably will have partially ripened or even green fruits later in the year. The best way to ripen those tomatoes is indoors. Find a warm and dark spot in the house where you can cover the tomatoes with some newspaper to finish the ripening process.
Learning the rewarding hobby of growing tomatoes can be a fun and successful endeavour for just about anyone. The keys to success are learning how tomatoes grow, how to keep them healthy and well-nourished and provide the right environment for them to flourish. Keep these tips in mind, and you too can have a fantastic tomato garden!