The Secrets To Growing Perfect Tomatoes
Want to grow tasty, juicy tomatoes?
Everyone loves a tasty tomato. They are versatile, make great bolognaise and will grow in almost any garden. But as we all know, there are tomatoes and there are tomatoes. Unfortunately I have been growing rather average tomatoes for a number of years and so I have gone to my Grandad for his secrets on tomato growing. (Which he is more than happy to share!)
When To Plant Tomatoes?
The perfect time to plant out tomatoes is in Spring. They like a warm growing season, and it lasts for about three months so they need time to mature and bear fruit over the warmer months. You should also remember that tomatoes are susceptible to cold and frost. If you live in a colder climate, give yourself a headstart and start off your seedlings indoors or in a green house until they are big enough to plant into your garden.
Where To Plant When Growing Perfect Tomatoes?
To grow perfect tomatoes you need the perfect spot. You need a position in the garden that gets at least six hours of sunshine every day and has protection from strong wind. Your soil should be good draining and have plenty of organic material such as compost. Add a good quality tomato fertilizer into the garden bed when you are preparing it prior to planting out your seedlings.
Place the stakes into the ground before you plant your seedlings. This way you wont disrupt their delicate root system or damage the plant by inserting your stakes at a later date. Secure them carefully into the ground. You will need to position the stake about 2-3" from the plant. As the plant grows you can secure it to the stake with soft twine or use old pantyhose to avoid cutting in to the plant or damaging the fruit.
Avoid adding too much animal manure as a fertilizer – you will find that it encourages leafy growth rather than tomatoes. Your tomatoes will need regular watering after they have been planted, and keep an eye on the weather – if its hot and dry increase your watering to accommodate. Try to avoid watering the leaves – this can encourage fungal diseases in your tomatoes and so aim your hose at the soil.
After the initial soil preparation and adding fertilizer to the garden bed you wont need to fertilize your tomatoes again until they flower. Apply this when the flowers appear and then continue it weekly while the tomato plants are producing. Use something high in potassium or something specifically formulated for tomatoes.
Use mulch to help conserve water in your vegetable garden and to add organic matter to the soil. Pea straw, compost or lucerne are good to help your tomatoes along. Don't put it too close to the stems to avoid stem rot. And, to help prevent disease build-up in the soil, don’t plant your tomatoes in the same spot two years running.
Picking Your Tomatoes
Unless you're making green tomato pickles you should only pick your tomatoes when they are ripe. This way they will be full of flavor. If you leave them on the plant too long you will find that they become floury.
Are you growing your tomatoes from seed this year? Look at more of Granddad's tips on how to raise tomatoes from seed.