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    • #264513

      We love tomatoes. They are a big part of our vegetable garden. Almost all gardeners grow at least one or two tomato plants.

      Most of us grow dozens of plants, and several varieties. Why? Because they are easy to grow, you harvest a big crop, and most people love tomatoes.

      There is nothing better than the fresh taste of a tomato picked fresh from the garden. Often, a fresh picked tomato is so ir-resistable, it doesn’t make it to the house.

      Your first decision is whether to grow them from seed, or to buy seedlings from a garden store. If you don’t have a lot of time, buying them from the store will do. But, it’s a lot of fun to start them indoors yourself, and watch them grow.

      It may take a couple seasons to get the knack of growing tomatoes indoors. But, it’s well worth the effort. If this is our first time starting tomatoes indoors, we will tell you the biggest tip…..give them plenty of light.

      We recommend using a gro light at night, in addition to providing as much sunlight during the day as possible.

      Sure, growing tomatoes is easy. That’s one big reason why us tomato lovers grow ’em. Learning how to grow them…..

      better… will produce much more fruit!

      Tomatoes are usually started indoors. Buy young seedlings at your local garden store. Or, plant them in containers, eight to ten weeks before the last frost date for your area.

      Before transplanting outdoors, “harden them off” by bringing them outside during the daytime. This allows them to get used to the outdoor environment, but protects them from cold evenings.

      Transplant your seedlings after the last frost date for your area. We recommend a cool, cloudy day, as this will help minimize transplant shock. To minimize transplant shock, work carefully to avoid disturbing the roots.

      Normal spacing is 24 ” apart, in rows 30″ to 36″ apart. After transplanting, soak the area around the plants with a light solution of liquid fertilizer.

      Fertilize on a regular basis. Early applications should be high in nitrogen. As blossoming occurs, switch to fertilizers which are higher in Phosphorus and Potassium.

      Too much Nitrogen fertilizer results in lots of lush green leaves, and little fruit.

      Water your plants on a regular basis. The soil should be kept moist to allow the roots to absorb moisture and nutrients. Water deeply as needed.

      Importantly, you should water directly to the roots. Don’t use overhead sprinklers. Moisture on the leaves in hot, humid weather will encourage plant disease.

      Support your tomato plants. It’s important to keep the fruit off of the ground, away from insects and pests..Grow them inside of tomato cages, or tie them to a stake or fence. Properly supported, you will harvest much more fruit.

      The plant will be healthier, too

      Great news! There are dozens upon dozens of varieties of tomatoes. Chances are, you will grow more than one.

      Each variety has different size flavor, texture, and use.

      Here are the basic types you can choose from:

      Cherry Tomato
      These are bite-sized tomatoes that kids and adults absolutely love. Because they produce a small fruit, they are the earliest to harvest. We suggest you try a newer type in this group, called “grape tomato”. The grape tomato grows flavorful fruit, about the size and shape of a grape.

      All cherry tomatoes are great for salads and snacks.

      Tip: Plant cherry tomatoes at the edge of your garden. You will find kids of all ages milling around this healthy fruit, munching away, before you even get a chance to pick them.

      Plum or Roma Tomato
      These are also called paste tomatoes. These tomatoes are small, cylindrical in shape, and usually have a pointed bottom. While they taste good, they are meaty, with little juice inside.

      Plum tomatoes are primarily used to make paste, sauces, canning, tomato juice, even ketchup.

      Beefsteak Tomato
      These are a favorite of many gardeners. They are the biggest type of tomato, and require the longest time to reach maturity. Your wait is rewarded with what most people believe is the juiciest, and most flavorful of all tomatoes.

      Main Crop Tomato
      Cherry tomatoes are small, and ripen early. Beefsteak tomatoes are huge, and take the longest time to mature. The vast majority of varieties in the middle are referred to as “main crop” tomatoes.

      There is a wide range to choose from. Each one has a somewhat different taste and maturity date. Gardeners experiment with these, looking for the perfect ones for their taste buds.

      Long Keeper Tomato
      Tomatoes don’t keep long indoors. At least most varieties, that is. Long Keeper types are perfect for tomato lovers that want the “home grown” taste long after the snow flies.

      It produces a small, yellowish to orange colored fruit. They can be stored in a cool, dark place for several months.

      Every tomato lover begins to drool as soon as the first tiny green tomato appears on the vine. The wait is unbearable. So, when harvest day first arrives, the feeling is indescribable.

      At first, one tomato is ripe. Then, a couple. Finally mid-season arrives with an abundance of fruit.

      Harvesting
      Pick tomatoes as soon as they are completely red. Do not let them get overripe on the vine, as they can split or rot. Tomatoes can be picked just before they are completely ripe.

      They will ripen in a sunny window.

      When picking in advance of a frost or freeze, green tomatoes can be picked and stored away. Clean them in a solution of water with a little bleach, to kill any bacteria on the surface.

      Canning
      Canning tomatoes is very popular. You can use cut up tomatoes, sauce, paste, and tomato juice. We can up to 100 quarts a year.

      While it’s a big task and consumes many hours of work, the reward comes in the winter, long after the snow is covering the garden.

      Canning is practiced by millions of gardeners. But, it is extremely important to follow safe canning practices. We recommend you stay current with USDSA guidelines for safe canning.

      Freezing
      A friend of mine freezes a dozen or so whole tomatoes each fall. When it comes time for a winter salad, she takes a tomato out of the refrigerator, and lets it partially defrost. She then “chips” it into a salad. While the texture is not the same, the taste is.

      Most people cook tomatoes into a sauce or paste before freezing. Tomato sauce and paste freezes well.

    • #400297

      The staple of our garden is Tomatos. We make our own Spaghetti sauce and homemade salsa.

    • #410761

      I am going to try my hand at growing tomatoes this spring. I have never done it before so thank you for all the helpful advice. I am going to start small with a cherry tomato plant that I will put in a hanging planter.

      I saw Lowe’s had cherry tomato plants last year and I decided to wait until this year for some reason. I don’t remember why…maybe I was just intimidated…anyways…I am going to do it this year. I can’t wait to see how my first veggie will do.

      Hopefully I don’t kill it…

    • #410770

      We grow TONS of tomatoes every year….but I think we eat just as much!! excellent tips!!!

    • #410781

      We grew tomatoes last year but im not sure about this year. We have a very small growing spot and my other half has decided he wants to try his hand at growing one of those huge pumpkins:101: so thats going to take up about all our growing spots.

    • #410794

      There’s another type of tomato. I used to grow it. Its called an “ugly tomato” because its all wrinkly/bumpy.

      It was really delicious for being “ugly” though.

    • #410820

      Great info! Thanks! I’ve been wanting to start some tomatoes, but I’m a little scared.

      I’m not good with plants. 🙁

    • #410831

      Oh ya, post this in January when all us gardeners are dying to get out there and grow baby grow! Another month and I’ll be able to start some seeds growing for March! we’ll be out there soon!

    • #410856

      I’ve had disastrous results with my tomatoes and finally realized I needed to manually assist them along with pollinating, so hopefully this year will be far better.

    • #410923

      Love my romas, so good on sandwiches .. No gook all taste and meat

      For those that can (I am going to try it again after not doing it for over 20 years) find a friend with a squeezo or similar. What a differance – 2 weeks of canning every night til 2-3 in morning vs the next year 2 nights til 10-11 pm (I probably could have done it with one all nighter til 3am)

      remember –
      if your plant gets leggy bury it deeper. tomatoes will reroot along the stem

      if they break off (kids, animals, plants flip in car) stick the top end in water and it will root, put the root back in dirt and shade and baby for a few days – double the amount of plants lol

      ria

    • #410984

      Love my romas, so good on sandwiches .. No gook all taste and meat

      For those that can (I am going to try it again after not doing it for over 20 years) find a friend with a squeezo or similar. What a differance – 2 weeks of canning every night til 2-3 in morning vs the next year 2 nights til 10-11 pm (I probably could have done it with one all nighter til 3am)

      remember –
      if your plant gets leggy bury it deeper. tomatoes will reroot along the stem

      if they break off (kids, animals, plants flip in car) stick the top end in water and it will root, put the root back in dirt and shade and baby for a few days – double the amount of plants lol

      ria

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