Gardening 101:Tomatoes

Growing food is a skill I would really like to have. If I could choose one thing to plant it would be tomatoes. Home grown tomatoes are so good,  pico de gallo, marinara, and BLT's are among my favorite foods. So after doing a little bit of research here's how to do it. I plan on doing this and will be sure to update this post with insights and results.

If you have space indoors you can start a seed on a sunny window during February to no later than April. I however intend to purchase a tomato plant (you should plan for 2 plants for each tomato member eating family member..more if you plan on canning) and planting in April.

Step 1: Cover the ground where you plan on planting for a few days to get it nice and warm. Purchase a tomatoes plant and begin the process of  transplanting it into your garden (containers work too-as pictured above). Good first-time growers’ varieties include Better Boy, Creole, Big Boy, Early Girl, Brandywine, Celebrity, Lemon Boy, or just about any cherry or grape tomato variety.

Plant several varieties

 Step 2: Place the plants in a sunny spot with at least 7 hours of direct sunlight. Warm sunshine will ensure the best taste.

Step 3: Prepare the garden bed by adding lots of compost (5 to 8 pounds per square foot) to the soil. Turn compost into the top 3 inches. Tomatoes need a growing medium rich in organic matter.You can use store-bought compost or composted manure available in the 40-pound bags. Apparently this is very inexpensive.

Step 4: Plant them deeply. About 75% in. It's even ok to bury some of the leaves. It all works out I've been assured.

Step 5: Give each plan about 1 gallon of warm water within 10 minutes of transplanting to avoid shock. (about 80 degree water)

Step 6: Space then 18 to 36 inches apart (less in warmer climates)

Step 7: Continue to water about 16 ounces of warm water per plant every day for the first 7 to 10 days after transplanting.

Step 8: Wait a week or two after transplanting,and then place a mulch of straw, dried grass, or pine needles to control weeds and keep the soil moist during dry weather. The mulch should be about an inch thick and surround at least a circle 12 inches in diameter around the stem. Pine needles are especially good for helping raise the acidity of the soil.

Step 9: Ensure that plants are receiving 1 to 3 inches of rain weekly. If not, give each plant about 2 gallons per plant per week, beginning 14 days after transplanting. The tomato plant should be watered 2 to 3 times weekly (so, water each plant with about .75 to 1 gallon each time ). In hot or dry weather you can water even more frequently with larger volumes.

Step 10: Consider using a tomato cage or a stake to support the tomato vine about 14 days after transplanting.

 Step 11: Choose whether to use chemical fertilizers. If the soil is enriched with organic matter Tomatoes can grow very well organically. If you do use chemical fertilizers, try using half the recommended concentration per gallon (using package directions), but fertilize twice as often, in order to avoid the stress caused by the feast-famine of the longer fertilization gaps.(watch out for over fertilization it can make plants more susceptible to disease and insects...usually the overuse of fertilizer causes more leaves than fruit.

Step 12: Shake your plants gently once or twice each week for about 5 seconds once flowering begins. Shaking the tomato plant increases fruit production by more evenly distributing pollen. Who knew!

Step 13: Watch for fruit to appear 45 to 90 days after transplanting. Tomato plants usually have small, green fruit to start. Wait until the fruit is of good size with a bright, deep coloring. This means that the fruit is ripe and ready to pick. Ripeness is usually determined by a slight softness. Be careful not to squeeze too hard and bruise the fruit. Also, be careful of allowing it to become overly ripe, which results in a very soft tomato.

Information and lots more found here

Then proceed to make these delicious recipes

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