Tips on Planting Tomatoes

Planting Tomatoes

Planting tomatoes
Planting tomatoes
Planting tomatoes is not hard at all and if the weather cooperates, you will be rewarded for your efforts with large, plump juicy red tomatoes. The first step in planting tomatoes is to get your tomato plants. These can be bought at any gardening store/greenhouse in the spring or you can start the plants from seed inside six to eight weeks before planting.

Starting plants inside just requires planting seeds into pots or trays using a nice, rich plant starter soil. If using trays you will have to transplant into pots when the plants get two to three inches high. To get the seeds to germinate, make sure the soil is moist after you plant the seed and cover the top with a piece of plastic such as kitchen wrap. Remove the plastic covering after plants come through the soil. Before transplanting the little tomato plants outside, harden them off by putting them outside during the day for a few hours and bringing them in at night.

When the plants are ready for transplanting, you will need to prepare the outside soil with organic and/or synthetic fertilizers. Tomatoes like a pH in the neighborhood of 6.5 to 7.0. Also add a time-released garden fertilizer such as 8-32-16 or 6-24-24. Each number refers to the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium content respectively. You should be prepared to attach cutworm collars and insert stakes when planting. Cutworm collars can be made of newspaper or plastic and should wrap around the plant’s stem an inch below to an inch above ground.

When planting tomatoes, make sure to put them at least two feet apart from one another. Some indeterminate varieties will need four feet. Make sure all danger of frost is past. From the bottom up snap off all the leaves until there are two pair left at the top of the plant. Dig a hole and bury the stem up to the first pair of leaves. If the stem is longer than three inches or so, lie the excess stem length-wise in the hole with the top three inches vertical. Strong roots will develop on the horizontal length of stem.

Water the transplants thoroughly and apply fertilizer in approximately a week to ten days. Make sure your stakes will be able to hold the weight of the plant. Plants left to grow along the ground without stakes or cages tend to rot and have more disease and insect problems. Mulching your tomato plants also helps protect them and discourages weeds. You should cover the ground with two to four inches of straw, hay, grass clippings, compost, etc. Black plastic also helps to keep the soil warm and prevent weeds.

Tomatoes are 95% water and require frequent watering to grow and produce the nicest fruit. If there are several days without rain, or a longer drought you will need to water your tomato plants either by hand or with a sprinkler. Pruning is not a necessity but if you are growing late-season tomatoes, it is a good idea to pinch off the new growth at the the top of the plant if it starts to get too tall or thick. In order to produce plenty of healthy tomatoes, you will need good light and air circulation inside the plant.

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