Planting tomatoes in gardens is one way you can enjoy this vegetable straight from the backyard. They are a great source of vitamin-c and beta-carotene. When tomatoes are cooked, they release antioxidants that can help prevent certain cancers, like prostate cancer. Tomatoes are a favourite on sandwiches and in pasta sauces or salads. The best way to start your tomatoes are indoors from seed so they can be started well before the first frost. This will give you tomatoes a bit earlier in the season and keep the yield coming all summer long.
Planting Tomatoes in Garden
You can use a seedling tray with starter soil and compost or grow blocks that you can transplant right into the ground a couple weeks after the last frost. A good starter mix is made from dry peat moss, vermiculite and/or perlite, if you happen to have such minerals available at your local garden store. Either way, you must keep the mix the seeds are in damp, but not soaking, and warm. Some people place plastic foil or containers over their seedling trays to keep in moisture and to take advantage of the sun’s heat. Depending upon the conditions, the seeds will germinate between 3-30 days. When they have started to grow, daily sunlight is a must to keep them thriving. If your home isn’t too bright you can use fluorescent lights to heat the plants for up to 16 hours a day. Make sure they get a good break of darkness overnight.
As the seedlings grow, you can transplant them into bigger container pots to get them ready for the outdoors. Individual containers will let the tomato plants grow very big and strong. Make sure the containers have drainage holes and water them daily. It takes about 10 weeks for the plant to get about 8-10 inches tall, which is the perfect size for the garden. By this time, the soil outside should be hot and ready for the tomatoes. Bury the plants right up to their first set of leaves. This will create stronger roots and increase the plant’s hardiness.
Tomatoes love damp soil but it’s best to keep their leaves dry. Any airborne fungus can infect wet leaves so try your best to keep water off the leaves. Also don’t let the plants dry out and then think over watering will make up for it. Sure, this can produce a growth spurt in the plants but it can lead to calcium deficiency which leads to Blossom End rot, a common disorder that plagues beginner gardeners.
Harvesting tomatoes is a preference. Some will wait until they see lush red tomatoes, while others pick them when they are still slightly green and let them ripen slowly indoors. It all depends on what and when you will be using them. Either way, you’ll have some great tasting fruit to enjoy with family and friends. -KATIE FLYNN