Hot Tips For Your Best Tomatoes Ever
Tomatoes are probably the most favorite of all vegetables to grow. And why wouldn’t they be when you consider that they are relatively easy to grow, produce fruit (yes they are technically a fruit) all summer long, and have so many uses in cooking. Nothing says summer like a fresh tomato slice on a grilled burger.
Grow your best tomatoes ever with these handy tips.
Location, Location, Location
Tomatoes like it hot. Do not plant them until the danger of a late frost has passed. Late spring or early summer is the perfect time to get them in the ground. Choose a location that is full sun meaning 6-8 hours minimum.
Tomatoes are large plants. Most need to be about 3’ from the next plant so as to not have areas shaded out by another plant.
There are so many varieties available at garden centers and nurseries these days. There are varieties for every size garden including patio pots. There are also varieties for just about every taste and cooking purpose.
Our favorites happen to be the heirlooms. They are rich in flavor, tend to get fewer pest problems, and come in all kinds of funky colors and shapes. If you have not tried heirlooms, give them a try. You will not be disappointed.
Planting Depth and Soil
Plant deep! Bury the stem about 2/3 into the ground. This will create a really strong plant as it will root out all along the buried portion. Do not, however, do this for other types of vegetables.
Mix about 3”-4” of good, broken down organic compost into the soil. This will provide a lot of nutrients for the plant as it grows. It will also help hold moisture better.
Tomatoes prefer deep watering instead of more often shallow waterings. Deep waterings encourage stronger root growth which will pay dividends during the really hot and dry periods of summer.
Tomatoes are heavy and their weight can break the plant’s branches. Use a wooden stake, or better yet, a tomato cage for best results. If using a cage, it is helpful to drive in a stake next to it and secure the cage to the stake for added support.
One last tip. Plant complimentary plants such as basil or marigolds near your tomato plants. They naturally repel some insect pests that could attack you plants. The also help naturally repel mosquitoes, which will make your gardening time more enjoyable.
Watch For Blossom End Rot
Blossom End Rot is a common problem to tomatoes as well as peppers, eggplants, pumpkins and squashes. It is a nutritional disorder caused by a shortage of calcium. It occurs when plants are growing rapidly and the fruits are first developing. As fruit cells breakdown due to a lack of calcium, dark blemishes appear on the blossom-end of affected fruits. Blossom End Rot appears as shrunken, leathery areas on the bottom of the fruit.
Remove affected fruits immediately. To help prevent Blossom End Rot, keep the soil pH between 6.3 and 6.8, and apply limestone into the soil when planting or scratch some into the soil after planting.
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