Beat High Prices by Growing Your Own Tomatoes

It’s easy,very inexpensive and they taste better too so lets get started!

STEP 1: Which tomatoes should I grow? If you have a long growing season then you would want to go with an indeterminate variety which grows all summer long. If your growing season is short then you would go with a determinate variety which produces its fruit quickly (in as little as 85 days or less) and ripens all at once.

Step 2: Now that I have bought my seeds what do I do with them? Six to eight weeks for the end of winter I line up little paper cups filled with peat moss and put one seed in each cup. I then place them in a sunny window sill and water almost daily as peat tends to dry out quickly. Make sure not to over water or let the seed/roots sit in excessive water as this will kill them.

As your seedlings grow transplant them into larger and larger containers, each time burying them up to the first set of leaves. The plant will send out roots from the buried stem and will develop a stronger root system by the time they are ready to be planted outdoors. Once your seedlings have taken off and the threat of frosts are over move your plants outdoors for a few hours each afternoon to get them acclimated, or hardened off, before actually planting them in the garden.

Will any soil work? Tomatoes need a rich, well-drained soil ideally full of organic matter, so get started on that compost pile early.

How much sun do they need? Tomatoes require full sun which translates into no less than 6 to 8 hours a day. Plants will be weak and unhealthy with anything less.

STEP 3: Okay it’s time to transplant. Transplanting is an important step and if you do it carefully, you can look forward to an abundant crop of healthy mouth watering tomatoes.

Once your tomato plants have been hardened, or acclimated to outdoor conditions, and night-time temperatures continually exceed 50 degrees, it’s time to set your plants out into your garden or patio containers.

After planting your tomato plants its a good idea to place organic mulch around them. mulch helps keep the soil most and helps keep fruit off the ground, preventing rotting. The advantages to Mulching is that the soil retains moisture requiring less waterings. Also, the mulch acts as a slow release fertilizer and helps keep the weeds down.

STEP 4: It’s a good idea to prune your plants by pinching off the small leaves which appear in the crotch above a larger stem. Don’t pinch off too many large leaves or the sun will burn developing fruit. Pinching back the top of the plant after it reaches the top of your stake or cage encourages more flowering and fruit.

How often should I water them? Your plants should be deep watered 2 to 3 times a week or more depending of your soil type. If the plant is seen wilting in the middle of the day, ignore it. They will perk right back up by late afternoon. If the plants look droopy in the morning, they need water.

All that hard work gardening is getting ready to pay off and depending on what type of tomato plants you chose more than likely you will have an over abundance of ripe tomatoes.

When the fruits have ripened, pick them by bending back the fruit at the notch on the stem. They can be eaten straight from the plant, or can be stored for up to a week in the fridge.

Tomatoes store well in a cool, dry location. Do not put them in the refrigerator. While they last longer in the refrigerator, they will lose their flavor and texture. To slow down ripening keep them out of direct sunlight.

Good luck and happy gardening!

Penny owns and operates http://PennysTomatoes.com where she sells tomato seeds and offers advice on how to turn those seeds into tons of mouth watering tomatoes. She has written articles for South Carolina Womans Magazine and was a guest on Southern Style, a local show in Myrtle Beach.

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