There’s nothing quite like the taste of a ripe tomato plucked fresh from a home garden. Today, tomato lovers can even choose from a variety of colors including red, orange, and yellow. With more than 25,000 varieties of tomatoes in existence today, the flavor one tastes on the tip of the tongue varies subtly by location.
While growers of this fine delicacy can choose any variety that they want from seed catalogs, area stores specialize in selling those varieties that perform well in their particular hardiness zone.
Planting Tips for Tomatoes
For the best results and the greatest abundance of tomatoes, follow the tips presented here to plant each of your tomato plants.
1). Wait until the danger of frost has passed completely before purchasing your plants. Resist the urge to but them once the danger is minimized yet not fully gone as an unexpected frost can destroy all of your hard efforts. For those gardeners who grow from seed, begin your plants at least 6 weeks and as many as 8 weeks before the official expected date of the last frost of the season.
2). Implement gradual adjusting to temperature changes for your plants. Rather than sticking them outside and keeping them there permanently, incorporate a gradual change that will not shock your plants and kill them. Allow each tomato plant to spend several hours outside during the daylight hours as soon as the weather begins to warm up.
Bring the plants in as soon as early evening arrives. Once the temperature reaches a temperature of 50°F consistently, it is time to allow the plants to remain outside permanently.
3). During the above stage in the process, figure out where you will be setting up the planting area. Tomatoes need plenty of sunlight so try to look for an area that will receive full sun throughout the day. For the greatest success in growth and production, test the soil for its pH level, which should be between a 6.0 and a 7.0 ideally.
4). Soil that is rich in organic material is the best type of soil to use when planting your tomato plants. Even if the soil had been prepared with rich organic material in previous years, it is wise to do so again. Simply add fertilizer or compost to enrich it with nutrients needed for the plants to produce large quantities.
5). Each tomato plant should be a minimum of 12 inches from the next plant. Ideally, this distance should be 18 inches, but the plants will still produce even at a 12-inch separation. Each seed packet or seedling should include specifications to the desired spacing for that particular species.
6). When you begin planting, you should dig a hole that is about the size of a basketball. It needs to be deep enough and wide enough to accommodate the roots and their growth. Plants that have begun to bloom are ready for planting in an outside plot.
7). As you place the tomato plant into the hole, you can fill in the area surrounding it gently with a combination of fertilizer and dirt. If you prefer, you can combine your soil and fertilizer before refilling the hole. The soil should be firmed around the entire base of the plant to provide stability as well as to reduce the chances of the dirt washing away in the rain.
8). Each plant needs to be planted deeply to provide the necessary stability for growth. This strategy encourages the growth of the roots, adding to the potential success of the plant’s growth and production of fruit. It is possible to cover the lower branches of the plant as long as you allow the top 4 branches to remain above ground.
9). If desired, add a tomato cage to the plant to provide stability as it grows. Additionally, a small trellis or stake can be used to secure the plant at various stages of its growth. It should only be secured with loose, soft twine so that you don’t risk cutting the branches. It is also important to check on these periodically and to make any necessary adjustments.
10). Plants should be watered on a regular basis, even more so during hot, dry spells. In order to encourage production and growth, pick the tomatoes as they ripen.