Brad asks: How can I grow the best tomato?
The tomato is one of the most popular vegetable grown in American gardens. While technically a fruit the Supreme Court in the 1880 passed a judgment saying it would be considered a vegetable and not a fruit.
The tomato is a tropical plant originally from Central America. Many gardeners make the mistake of planting them too early in the spring before the soil warms up. Often a tomato planted too early will be stunted and will not do well in the garden. It is best to plant your tomato plants in mid to late May.
Plant your seedlings in good soil. I prefer planting my tomatoes in a raised bed where it is easier to weed, water and fertilize.
Place your plants in a deep hole. Many gardeners pull off a third of the bottom leaves and plant the seedling so the roots can provide good nutrients to the growing plant. Some gardeners like to plant the stem horizontally to provide additional root surface.
Tomatoes need a constant amount of moisture. When fertilizing be careful of products with a high nitrogen number. It is best to use a fertilizer made especially for tomatoes with a higher phosphorus count. Too much nitrogen will give you lush green plants with few fruits. Tomatoes are heavy feeders, so fertilize weekly.
Many people pinch or prune the suckers that grow in between the joints of main branches. Too much pruning may cause fewer fruits, so go lightly.
Provide a structure such as a cage or a trellis for your plant to grow on. Make sure it is planted in full sun and get good air circulation to avoid mildew and fungus. Remember newer hybrids are bred to be resistant to the many diseases attacking the tomato.
Many people enjoy planting tomato seeds indoors in late March or early April. They can be planted in small peat pods and sat beneath florescent shop lights or in a sunny window. Keep the plants turned so they don’t grow crooked. A few days before the seedlings are to be planted outside, place the seed pods in a semi-sunny place where the seedlings are protected. Give the seedlings a chance to harden so they can get use to the sun and weather.
Once planted keep an eye out for disease or insects.
Follow these simple steps and you will have the biggest and tastiest tomatoes in the neighborhood!
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