Posted on 2nd May 2013 @ 7:11 PM
The tomato is actually a fruit though most people consider it a vegetable. In fact, the tomato is the world's most popular fruit. Its diversity is a major factor in its popularity, but the tomato is a nutritious food that contains vitamin A and vitamin C and lycopene, an antioxidant that fights cancer. Growing tomatoes is rather easy because tomatoes will grow in most soils. The trick to growing tomatoes is picking healthy plants and planting them at the right time. Does this Spark an idea?
Decide between seeds or seedlings. Because tomatoes cannot grow until the temperature is a consistent 50 degrees, many prefer to plant seedlings purchased at the local gardening store. Seeds may be started inside six to eight weeks before the last frost date. Plant the seeds a quarter-inch deep in flats or small pots. You must keep the seeds moist or they will dry out. After the seeds germinate, place them in an area that receives a lot of light. Before plants become root bound, plant in four-inch pots and begin placing outside for short periods of time to acclimate the plant.
Choose healthy seedlings. If you do not wish to start tomatoes from seed, then buy seedling plants at the local gardening store. Look for plants that do not have yellowing leaves or speckling on the leaves. Some popular choices are Celebrity, Big Boy and Better Boy. Not all tomatoes grow well in all areas of the country, so consider the area you live in. Your garden centers will have seedlings appropriate for your area. Choose plants according to the space you have for growing plants.
Decide whether to buy determinate or indeterminate tomatoes or both. Determinate tomatoes are vines that grow to a certain point and stop. They are compact and bushy. The tomatoes ripen early, so they are good for containers, small spaces and tomatoes for the early part of the season. Indeterminate tomatoes have longer vines that spread out and need to be staked. They produce fruit later in the season.
Prepare the soil in an area that will receive six to eight hours of sun. Tomatoes will grow most anywhere, but soil preparation is necessary for a productive crop. The best pH for tomatoes is 6.0 to 6.8, which is a slightly acidic soil. Before planting, loosen the soil about 6 to 8 inches in depth. Make a trench 6 to 8 inches deep, and put a thin line of organic or chemical fertilizer at the bottom of the trench. Use 5-10-10 fertilizer, which stands for the weight of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Cover the fertilizer with 2 to 3 inches of soil, so the plants don't touch the fertilizer but draw from it. If planting tomatoes in containers, use a container that is at least 14 inches deep and 18 inches wide.
Plant the seedling plants 3 to 4 inches deep into the soil. Plant them 2 to 3 feet apart and keep the rows 3 feet apart. For the indeterminate plants, place a stake beside the plant. As the plant grows, use twine to tie the plant to the stake. Tomato cages work well, too. Water thorough in early morning and water regularly, especially during dry periods.