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How to grow Tomatoes


Some things to know about choosing tomatoes:

First, Read the tag!

Determinate means it grows to a mature size and stops growing. The crop comes all at once, good to know if you are planning to can, or going on vacation.

Indeterminate means this tomato grows and produces all season. Good if you are planning to eat tomatoes all summer.

Disease resistant varieties are the tomatoes to look for. You may see some letters on the label as V, F, N. That means this tomato is resistant to Verticillium wilt (V); F means it is resistant to Fusarium wilt; and N means the plant is resistant to nematodes. Those are the most common diseases, there are some other. Disease resistance is important because tomatoes are susceptible to diseases.

If you choose to start from seeds, plant indoors 6 weeks before last frost date for your area. Supply a long day with plant lights, and bottom heat with a seed heating pad, keep soil moist. Or wait until frost has past and soil has warmed and plant seeds in garden; thin to 3ft apart.

If you plant nursery grown plants, tomatoes can be planted deep because the main stem will quickly grow roots. (Do not try this with other plants). You may want to circle the plant with some newspaper or toilet paper tube to prevent cut worms from chewing the young plant at the soil line.

You may choose to fertilize your plants after they have become established. I tend not to fertilize, because too much nitrogen will result in a lot of foliage and less flowers/fruit. The advantage of a specially formulated tomato fertilizer is that it will include some minor nutrients which are essential to tomato production. Calcium is usually included as it prevents black rot on the bottoms of fruits. It is important to keep tomatoes evenly moist during the growing season.

Plant support is important to keep the fruits from sitting on the soil. A three or four foot support is sufficient for determinate plants. A six foot support cage is more appropriate for indeterminate plants. Be sure to put in your cages or other supports before the plant gets too big.

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