How To Grow The Best Tomatoes

GETTING THE SOIL RIGHT

Tomato plants love food and water. They are quite greedy plants. Start the soil work at least two weeks before planting by turning it over,  then add composted waste, aged chicken or cow manure and turn it over again.  Try to avoid sheep manure as they often pass undigested seeds. This could lead to unwanted crops of just about anything they have eaten. You should know prepare the garden bed into furrows and mounds. Eventually, tomatoes will be planted on mounds.

SELECTING PLANTS
Select healthy plants from your local nursery, making sure they are not too young and fragile, nor too old and root bound.  Leaves should be a rich dark green and preferably plants should not yet be flowering. While the varieties available may be endless, you don’t need to be overwhelmed by this.  If you are planting early in spring, go for varieties such as Rouge de Marmande, Apollo, Roma or San Marzano.

These are early fruiting types that can endure the cooler mornings of early spring. You can replant other types later in the season to stagger tomatoes for a longer cropping period. Your nursery should have details on these tomato types.

PLANTING
Nearly all tomatoes need staking, so get some 6’ hardwood stakes and set them along the mounds about six feet apart, one after the other.  Next to each one of these stakes, plant a tomato seedling. Water in well when finished. As the tomato grows you will need to use the stake and some twine (or flexible cording), to support and hold the plant upright.

CARE & MAINTENANCE
Tomatoes grow fast and constantly like to eat and drink.  Water them daily, usually in the cool of the evening, and liquid fertilize once per fortnight. Use a fast acting liquid fertilizer high in potassium and  phosphor. This will aid flowering and fruiting. Too much nitrogen will produce a healthy, vigorous plant but with few tomatoes.

The plant will grow suckers between the main stem and main leaves. Although these look healthy and fresh, they should be removed. These will cause a mass of foliage an the plant will tend towards over production. This will lead to poor quality tomatoes. Check plants constantly for any signs of disease and pest infection, removing sick or infested leaves. Tomatoes don’t like their roots disturbed. Do not trample on or dig around roots. Walk along the furrows and not the mounds.

FINALLY…
Harvest ripe tomatoes as they appear and keep up maintenance of plants. A healthy tomato plant can produce throughout summer and autumn and even into winter. Planting basil and marigolds along with your tomatoes will.
l prevent many types of bugs and diseases affecting your plants. These contain ingredients certain bugs like aphids and thrips try to avoid.

That’s about it. HAPPY GARDENING!!!
JJ Koutlis

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