How to Grow Tomatoes – Complete Growing Guide
Tomatoes are my favorite food or should I say fruit? Some say tomatoes are easy to grow, but I find growing tomatoes organically is not as easy as they say. The very first crop of tomatoes grown in uncontaminated soil is easy as there are fewer chances of the plants picking up tomato diseases, such as wilt.
Of course, you can grow tomatoes without too many problems in the same soil over and over again, by using artificial fertilizers and chemical sprays but you will be harvesting and eating a crop of tasteless tomatoes, full of chemicals with chemical residue on them.
Farmers that only grow the same crop over and over, all year round, such as tomatoes, have depleted the soil through lack of crop rotation, eroded the topsoil, and lost organic matter. They are committed to using artificial fertilizers and chemical sprays. Their environment is artificial. (In the USA tomatoes are up to 70% deficient in vitamin C).
If you like tomatoes and would like them to taste the way they use to, try growing them organically. I think everyone should have a couple of tomato plants growing in their gardens.
Read More: Best Types of Vegetable and Tomato Cage
Seeds/Seedlings to Growing Tomatoes
To grow tomatoes successfully, start you will need a good seed, preferably a non-hybrid seed. You can buy these from Eden Seeds. Commercial seeds are fine but are usually hybrid; the seeds from these tomatoes should not be used for your next crop. Only use non-hybrid seeds.
You can either sow the seeds directly in the soil or start them off in punnets. Or you could buy good plants from your local nursery, but these seedlings will more than likely be hybrids. Pick young strong plants, not spindly specimens with flowers or fruit on them.
The optimum temperature for growing tomatoes and for the fruit to set is 18 to 24 degrees C.
For internal seed, treatment infections soak your seeds in hot water at 55 degrees C, for 25 minutes (anything over will only cook the seed).
OK, we have found a spot in the garden for our tomatoes. All we have to do now is a hammer in the tomato stakes (not round ones – ties slip on these) before planting the seedlings and/or seeds, and dig in the compost around the stakes (150 mm (6″) diameter, 200mm (8″) deep), with a small garden fork.
Pinch off the bottom leaves of your seedling, dig a small hole then bury 3/4s of the plant. This way the tomato seedling will grow more roots up to the stem and should be larger and healthier plants.
Read More: Growing Hanging Tomatoes Method
Water in well, give them a good soak, then mulch up
Then cover up with pots. Or if you are like me and you remember a week later that you covered up the tomato seedlings with pots the previous weekend and now they are dead, you should try this. Prune a shrub with lots of leaves, and then stick the cuttings in the ground around the seedlings so to shade them. By the time the leaves have fallen off the cuttings, the seedlings will be well over the shock of transplanting and hardened off from the sun.
They like Tomatoes
Tomatoes like rich soil, compost, mulch, lots of sun at least six hours a day, and lots of water; they just love comfrey as a liquid fertilizer; they also like a good foliage spray such as seaweed, fish emulsion, or liquid worm casting extracts. They also like Animal and Bird manures (preferably composted and dug into the soil) these manures can also be used as liquid fertilizer, not too strong to start with, around 25% Brew (liquid fertilizer) and 75% water.
Feed your plants once a fortnight; when they have fruit setting, feed once a week, preferably late in the day as plants feed at night.
Tomatoes do best with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8. It is not necessary to test the pH every time you go out in the garden; as long as the plants have good color your pH is fine. A lot of new gardeners are always worrying about their pH and trying to make changes overnight to the soil structure with catastrophic results. If your plant looks a little off-color give it a good feed of liquid fertilizer. Plants have no trouble drinking but as you know they don’t have teeth to eat rock minerals overnight; these can take up to six months to break down.
Rather than overhead watering and of course, if you have the time, it’s a good idea to hand water. The water around the roots. Hand watering will also help to avoid the spreading of disease (water once a week).
A friend of mine Myrtle Charteris who is a life member of “BOGI” (Brisbane Organic Growers Inc) grows her Tomatoes without staking, straight onto the ground, and to avoid the fruit fly she covers the fruit with a rag, about same size as a small hanky.
I prefer to stake or cage my Tomatoes, too also use the hanky trick but I usually pick the fruit just as they start to turn color, this way there is less of a risk of fruit fly attack. You can also buy a product called a Q wick, which is not organic but will kill the male fruit fly. The wick is put inside an open-ended container away from the vegetable garden.
The fruit flies go into it and die. As far as I am concerned we need to get rid of this pest one way or the other.
Read More: How To Grow San Marzano Tomatoes
If you want to know how to grow tomatoes indoors then you are at the right place!
Tomatoes are one of the easiest crop-bearing plants to grow indoors.
However, with that in mind, there are still a few guidelines to follow to ensure the maximum effectiveness of the tomato plant.
Information on how to grow tomatoes indoors
Choosing & Planting the seeds
What you need to know about which seeds you should pick for the best crop and tips for planting.
Tomato plants usually grow as large plants and easily grow to over 6ft in size!
However, this presents a problem for the indoor vegetable gardener as standard tomato plants have very large root systems (often as big as the plant above the soil) and require a large amount of soil to accommodate these large roots.
As most people will find it difficult to grow plants of this size, it is a much better option to search for one of the smaller 15-inch dwarf or cherry varieties of tomato plants such as Tiny Tim or Small Fry.
You will find that you have a much better success rate and for beginners, these plants are a lot easier to keep control of and will happily sit on the window ledge in a kitchen.
It is still necessary to ensure that you provide a nice-sized pot of around 9 inches to give your plant plenty of growing room with plenty of soil.
Tomatoes are slow-growing so plant your chosen seeds early in the year to allow 60-65 days for your crop to mature and begin producing & ripening fruit.
Note – This is especially important if you’re relying heavily on natural sunlight to grow your plants! If so, plant around March-April time.
Before choosing a variety to grow indoors, you should ALWAYS plan your space! – Allow for growth!
Light & Temperature
How to provide the correct environment for your plants to ensure growth.
Watering – Watering techniques specifically for Tomatoes
Water tomato plants not more than once a week as they can stand large periods of dryness and cannot tolerate water standing around the roots especially when young.
As the fruit begins to swell and the tomatoes get bigger, the plant will require watering more often.
You may need to test how often is best depending on the variety of tomato plants you choose as well as the conditions you provide for them.
Feeding & Nutrition
How to make sure that your plants get all the nutrients that they need to survive and produce juicy fruits!
Phosphorus is the most important nutrient for tomato plants and should be provided 1-2 times weekly. However, this should be reduced as the plant reaches maturity.
You should be able to find a suitable tomato feed in most good stores and most should provide individual instructions on how to use the product.
How to ensure that your plants are productive in their indoor environment.
How to collect your fruit safely and how to maximize crop growth for the future.
When it comes to reaping the fruits of your labor, there are a few tips that can maximize the rewards!
The only step left is to enjoy your indoor grown tomato in the best way you see fit! And that is how to grow tomatoes indoors!
For companion planting try planting Lettuce in between the Tomatoes also lots of Basil, Chives, and Marigolds.
Crop rotation plays a big part in organic gardening, but it is difficult to maintain in a small garden, it is also a good idea to keep a diary of the last crops you have grown in that part of your garden. The rule of thumb is to plant an above-the-ground crop and then a below-the-ground crop.
Tomatoes, Capsicum, Chillies, and Potatoes are in the same family the nightshade family (Solanaceae), by planting the nightshade family group to-getter or after each other is not a good idea as they will attract the same diseases and insect pests.
Ideally, a three-year crop rotation should avoid diseases, but as I mentioned before that is not an easy task in a small garden with a quick turnover of crops. If you have healthy plants and use lots of compost you should get away with a 12-month crop rotation.
Diseased plants and rotting fruits do and will attract pests and more diseases, get rid of them, even a leaf from a tomato plant. Place them into a plastic bag and throw them in the rubbish bin for the next collection, ( not on the compost heap as diseased plants and fruit that have been stung by the fruit fly will breed and spread into your garden. They are next year and the year after problems.)
Insects and pests will and do attack the weaker plants before a healthy plant if this happens to leave a plant for them and they might leave the other plants alone, five for you, one for the bugs and grubs. Better hygiene, healthier garden fewer diseases, and pest.
There are lots of different varieties of tomatoes on the market. There are thick-skinned varieties that can be tolerant of the fruit fly, it is disease-resistant, there are low-acid types, and there are the pear shape tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Not forgetting the large variety of heirloom types, which are the non-hybrid varieties, the ones you can keep the seed from for next season’s crops.
I have been experimenting to see what varieties grow best in my garden for the right season. At present Hardy Toms and Strobelle tomatoes seem to be growing well. They are heirloom varieties purchased from Eden Seeds.
If you are going to save seeds for your next crop, you need to know if they are hybrid or non-hybrid seeds. Only save seeds from plants that are not- hybrid. You can buy non-hybrid seeds. Commercial seeds are fine but are often hybrid; the seeds from these plants should not be collected for use in your next crop.
Eating the End Product
Now after nurturing your tomato plants for 60 to 90 days, you should be, and your friends should be, eating the best tomatoes you have eaten for quite some time, if not in your whole life. You can not beat homegrown organic tomatoes.
Never store tomatoes in the fridge it will retard the taste of a good tomato; the best place to keep tomatoes is in a sunny window cell (not too hot).
Are you interested to plant a tomato heirloom? Do you want to start your garden with delicious vegetables? That’s possible. All you need to do is buy an heirloom seed from a reputable source. Maybe you can start with tomatoes.
How to Support a Tomato Plant?
A Rotten Fate
Why do we have to support the limbs, you say? One disastrous season will teach you that heavier fruits weigh the limbs down and end up maturing on the ground and rotting. Anywhere from 15 to 50 percent of your yield could be lost if left to support itself.
A Grown Tomato, can’t even Support Himself
First, try the simple stake method. Get a one-inch square stake and drive it 1 and 1/2 feet into the ground. Each stake can support one plant, so keep them about 2 feet apart in each row with about 3 feet distance between rows. Plant your seedling a few inches from the stake and prune it regularly, letting a single stem grow tall. Shoots come quickly, so get out there often and prevent a sprawling tomato plant. When it comes time to tie, attach the main stem to the stake with soft twine, loose enough that it won’t break the stem as it grows.
Wire cages are a bit easier and less time-consuming than the labor-intensive stake method. They do, however, require a bit more cash and take up a lot of valuable garden space. Simply purchase or build a tomato support cage and install it around your plant. As the plant grows, pull the shoots through the wires to get the necessary support. You’ll save a ton of time not having to tie or prune – which is nice since the wire plant support is geared toward a more passive gardener not looking to maximize the yield.
You say Tomato…
There is a classic way to support a tomato plant, and then there are novel ways. We like the Topsy Turvy Upside Down Tomato Planter. This method bypasses all the typical hassles of growing great plant-like pests, digging, and setting up stakes or cages. It hangs from wherever you can put a strong hook and is watered and fed via a funnel on the top side. The producers encourage you to buy several and try them on flowers, herbs, peppers, and cucumbers. While they are fun and unique, we still suggest starting with one to test your luck.
If the hanging tomato planter is too daring a move for your tastes, the Veggie Cage might be a better bet. A spiral rod encompasses your tomato plant for sturdy support moving side to side. But when the season is over it can collapse into a flat coil. What’s nice is that the spiral provides three-dimensional support like a cage, but it is more discreet like a stake or trellis.
Tomatoes Plagued by Several Diseases
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Tomatoes are probably the most popular garden vegetable. Unfortunately, sometimes they can be plagued by problems. They are perfect for patio containers and are sometimes easiest to grow this way. You can’t grow a whole flat in containers, but three or four plants on your patio can provide fresh produce all season long.
What, then, seems to be the problem with growing them? There is often no simple solution to this question. Without careful observation, it can be difficult to determine the cause of the problem.
If your tomatoes start to wilt or show signs of stress, you need to find out why. If you know what is causing the problem, you’ll know how to correct it. I will discuss just a few diseases that frequently affect homegrown tomatoes.
This disease is most prevalent later in the season after several days of hot, rainy weather. The most obvious sign of this fungal disease is a white, webby fungus on the stem near the soil line. The plant will rapidly wilt and die.
The only control method is to remove the plant and the soil immediately around the plant. Cultivate the area deeply to bury any remaining fungus.
The first sign of this disease is the yellowing of older (lower) leaves on one side of the plant only. Plants will wilt during the hottest part of the day and recover by sunset. The tomato wilt continues to worsen until the plant fails to recover and then dies. If you cut into the stem just above the soil line, it will be brown instead of green.
Always choose those tomato varieties with the letters VFN on the tag. They are resistant to several pests including fusarium wilt.
This is a disease that is harder to identify. This disease does move quickly because affected plants may appear healthy early in the morning and look sick by that afternoon. They look as though boiling water has been poured over them. The lowest part of the stem and upper roots will be rotted upon close observation. The easiest way to identify bacterial wilt is to suspend a cut stem in a glass of water. After a few minutes, you will see clear streams of bacteria flowing from the cut.
There are no resistant varieties to this disease and nothing you can do to save an infected plant. The bacteria will live in the soil for many years, even without tomatoes growing there. It is important to rotate your plants. In other words, move them to a new location if you can. Otherwise, containerized plants may be the best option
Vegetable Gardening Tricks To Grow Tomatoes And Maintain Your Garden
Vegetable gardening tricks can assist you in growing and maintaining a healthy garden. If you want to keep your plants growing and provide the fruit and vegetables for your meal table, then there are some steps you can take to review your options and prevent disease, grow your seeds to seedlings to fully grown healthy vegetable plants.
Among the many vegetable gardening tricks that you will come across while gardening, you will do well to pay special heed to what it takes to grow your tomatoes properly, which plant, though widely grown, can still prove to be a bit of a problem many a time.
Tomatoes are known to attract pests and diseases which can ruin them even before they can be harvested, and among the simplest and most effective vegetable gardening tricks about growing such vegetables is choosing the proper growing conditions for your tomatoes.
Look for soil that is well-drained and where there is plenty of sunlight and avoid heavy clay soil and shade which will only leave your tomatoes vulnerable to pests and disease.
Tomatoes Will Not Grow Well In Poor Soil
Another vegetable gardening trick is to avoid growing your tomatoes in soil that is poor, and whenever possible, you should choose to grow them in containers rather than in poor soil, and the reason for this is that by and large tomatoes grow well in large pots that have potting mixes, and a pot that is at least a foot in diameter would be most suitable.
Choose The Better Growing Variety For Your Area
Still another vegetable gardening trick for growing your tomatoes is to choose well from among the hundreds of different varieties of tomatoes since different types will be suited to different areas.
Thus, if you choose the ‘Solar Set’ variety, make sure that they are planted where the conditions are hot and humid, while varieties such as ‘Northern Delight’ will come to fruition rather soon and are best suited for a short-season area.
Choose A Variety of Resistant To Diseases
Finally, you can use a simple vegetable gardening trick and that is to choose a variety that is resistant to diseases to find such varieties, look for those varieties that contain a series of letters such as VFFN on the plant tag.
It needs not much elaboration, but still, to repeat a simple point, one vegetable gardening trick that you should not miss out on and which is simple to follow is to not grow the plant in stressful conditions which will only cause the plants to weaken and thus will easily fall prey to diseases.
Always Water Your Tomatoes Plants
Vegetable Gardening tricks you need to ensure that your tomatoes are watered adequately, especially during dry periods, and are given good feed all through the growing season, and you can also spread a few inches of mulch over the surface of the soil which will ensure that the tomatoes are free from weeds and the soil will remain moist as well.
Mulch is also able to form a protective barrier that will not allow diseases borne through the soil from splashing onto the plants or infecting them.
Watering Early In The Morning
Another trick is to water the plants early in the morning so that the water does not immediately evaporate and it has time to go into the soil. During the summer, you may need to water your plants every other day, but it is always best to water early in the morning.
Another trick, to reduce the risk of not having any tomatoes, is to include some tomato plants in your garden. One or two of your plants may fail, but the rest should survive and give you plenty of tomatoes, as long as you have well-drained soil, water your plants often, and place plenty of organic fertilizer to feed the plant.
If you use these vegetable gardening tricks over all your garden and potted plants, you should have plenty of healthy plants.