There is no competition: Homegrown tomatoes, freshly harvested, flavor best. Given that, including them at a summer vegetable garden is a no-brainer. The following question is, which to grow? There are tomatoes for every single region, from Alaska with its short summers to the cool Pacific Northwest to the hot and humid South.
However there are other considerations besides climate. Would you like giant beefsteak tomatoes, salad tomatoes, miniature cherry tomatoes or sauce or adhesive berries? Are you dedicated to “traditional” dark reddish fruits, or are you intrigued by berries that are rosy pink, orange, yellow, green, striped or so dim a purple they seem black? Do you want to come back to your origins with heirloom varieties, plant one of the newer hybrids or mix and match? Finally, do you want a single crop or one which lasts from summer until frost kills the plants?
You may even decide if you want a tidy and neat, though less prolific, manufacturer, called a determinate variety, or one of the more sprawling, bigger indeterminate (vining) types. Determinate varieties generally reach only about 3 ft, need minimal support and produce a harvest all at one time. Indeterminate varieties can spread to 16 ft and do best with assistance; they create a harvest over an extended season. Semideterminate varieties have attributes of both kinds.
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Margie Grace – Grace Design Associates
When to plant: Establish starts or nursery plants when the soil is warm and there’s no danger of frost. To grow from seed, start seeds indoors five to eight months before your intended planting date.
Days to maturity: 50 to 90 times when the plants have been set out
moderate requirement: Total sun
Water requirement: Regular and deep watering, but let dry out between waterings
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To grow from seed, start indoors five to eight months before your intended planting date. Plant tomatoes in the earth after they have at least two sets of mature leaves.
Planting: Wait until frost is past and the soil has warmed up before planting berries outside. Choose a website with rich, well-drained, neutral or slightly acidic soil; amend your soil when it is either alkaline or quite acidic. If fusarium or verticillium wilt is a problem in your area, do not plant where you have planted berries in the previous two decades. Start looking for a website in full sun for at least six and preferably eight hours every day. Cherry tomatoes may take less sunlight, but the sunnier the spot, the better the results.
If you don’t want to start from seed, you can generally find a good choice of transplants at nurseries, including unusual and heirloom varieties. Start looking for plants which are short and sturdy rather than tall and lanky and that haven’t yet set blossoms or fruit.
Ways to Get Your Garden Launched With Seeds
Infection notes: Tomatoes are highly susceptible to a range of ailments. Seeds which are resistant to the common and destructive of these diseases are labeled as follows: A (alternaria leaf spot), F (fusarium wilt), FF (Race 1 and Race 2 fusarium wilt), L (septonia leafspot), N (nematodes), T (tobacco mosaic virus) and V (verticillium wilt). Check to see whether these diseases are a problem in your area and select seeds so.
Remove the bottom two sets of leaves from every transplant, whether nursery purchased or started from seed. Dig a hole deep enough to cover the stem up towards the bottom of the rest of the leaves and then add amendments. Place from the plants; insert dirt and business the plant set up.
Leave 2-3 feet between plants whenever they will be staked or in cages; 3 to 4 ft if you would like to let them grow unfettered.
If you are growing in pots: Look for containers which are at least 20 g; a half barrel is a good choice. Cherry tomatoes can be grown in slightly bigger containers, but select as large a size as you can. Some folks swear by upside down containers; others find they are not as productive.
Whatever you choose, make sure that there is good drainage. Fill the container with well-amended potting soil and plant as described above.
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When you’ve planted the berries, whether from the ground or a container, then water them thoroughly. If you reside in a place particularly vulnerable to cutworms, put collars around the seedlings at this time.
This is also the ideal time to bring any bets. They may be traditional tomato cages, stakes or any sturdy support, including a woven service of branches. Nonmetal stakes or cages won’t burn the plant if they get hot. Determinate types need little to no staking. Other forms can be left to sprawl, but getting them off the ground helps prevent foliage and soil-borne ailments and keeps the fruit from rotting or bringing pests.
Erin Ponte Landscape Design
Growing-season care: Water regularly, directing the water to the base of the plant rather than using overhead sprinklers, and allow the soil dry out between waterings. You might want to water only every week to ten days, depending upon your climate. Attempt to prevent seesawing on water programs — too much one time, then excessive drying out — as this may lead to fruit split along with other issues. Cut back on watering as the fruit sets.
Tomatoes do not need an excessive amount of food. If you have rich soil, you are probably alright. If your land is not as rich, just lightly put in a low-nitrogen fertilizer every couple of weeks from the beginning of blossoms until you finish picking. You might also apply controlled-release fertilizer or utilize a diluted foliage fertilizer. Many experts recommend worm tea.
As plants grow, utilize soft ties to attach the stalks to the support. If you are using a cage, keep the branches indoors. Some people propose slough off the suckers that brow between the stem and the branches. It is not necessary; doing so will result in bigger fruit but a general smaller crop.
Note: Lightly brushing the blossoms with your palms or a paintbrush can aid in pollination.
Managing fleas: The pests that bother other vegetables will not leave tomatoes alone either. Aphids, Colorado potato beetles, cutworms, flea beetles, leaf miners, melon flies (in tropical areas), nematodes and whiteflies can all cause problems. Tomato hornworms are several other common pests.
Practice good gardening techniques and look for organic solutions to the typical problems, including picking off the hornworms and ruining them. Gophers and other tiny animals — like raccoons, birds, rodents and, in my own case, a cocker spaniel who considers just-ripe tomatoes the ideal bite — may also wreak havoc on your harvest.
Gopher cages may be effective, and good fencing may different dogs and other hungry creatures in the fruit.
Diseases can be more of a problem. A laundry list includes late blight, leaf roll, blossom-end rot, wilts and tobacco mosaic virus.
Proper garden care, particularly if watering, will help prevent problems, but when the illness is severe, you will need to destroy the plants, keeping any diseased plants out of your mulch.
Gardening with Confidence®
Harvest: select the fruit when it’s business and fully ripe (which can be a struggle to ascertain with berries which are still green when ripe). Store it where temperatures remain above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) — in other words, not in the refrigerator.
If frost threatens, select unripe tomatoes and allow them to fully ripen indoors or use instantly in specialty dishes. You might also pull the entire plant and hang it upside down in a sheltered spot until most of the fruit ripens.
Do you grow berries? Please discuss your favourite variety for where you live.
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