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Urban Farming? Know Your Own Food – Grow Your Own Food

How to Grow Tomatoes

"Brandy Wine Tomato"

Brandy Wine Tomato

There are a variety of tomato types to grow.  There are a variety of ways to grow them.  There are tiny tomatoes, large tomatoes and medium tomatoes in between.  Red tomatoes, gold tomatoes, black tomatoes, purple tomatoes & more!    Choose your variety.  Choose your growing method.
Grow tomatoes using the simplest & most laid-back methods or commit to the more structured methods.  I try to choose a tomato type that will first most especially fit my time, the growing method I prefer & my growing area.  Then I select a variety.

How to Grow Tomatoes
General
Night Shade Family

Annual
Although seeds from previous crops do re-plant themselves & grow.

Light
Full Sun

Soil:
pH range: 5.8 – 7.0
Loose & organic rich.
Avoid soils that have housed eggplant, peppers, potatoes.

Fertilizer
N=high P=high K=high
Routinely for healthier plants.
Fish emulsion, liquid seaweed, compost tea, worm tea, etc.

Determinate:
Bush type
Bush at mature size – Flowers – Bears Fruit – Stops Growing
Can be grown without support …but grows best with low support.
Does not have to be pruned
Less yield per square foot than indeterminate tomatoes.

Indeterminate:
True Vine
Continuous growth – Continuous Flowers – Continuous Fruit
Grows best with support
Continuous training required to maximize garden space.
Pruning: Directs growth to the main stem
Begin pruning about 2 Weeks after the final transplant into the garden.
Remove suckers non flowering stems
More yield per sq foot than determinate tomatoes.

Germinating Tomato Seeds
Recommend: Soil-less Starting Mix
Tomato seedlings are prone to damping-off disease.
A soil-less potting mix will help avoid this problem.

When to Sow
6 – 7 Weeks before last frost
Keep Moist – Not Wet
Keep Warm – Not Cold

Sowing
1/2 Deep
1″ Apart

Days to Germination
6 – 8 Days
Move germinated seeds to a sunny window or grow light.

Transplanting
Step 1: At about 10 days old transplant seedlings into 2 inch growing pots.
Hint: Clip all leaves except leaves within top inch.
Replant seedlings covering entire stem up to top 1 inch where remaining leaves are.
More roots will grow from the buried stem.
Stronger Roots = Stronger Plants

Step 2: About 2 weeks later transplant into 4 inch pots.
Hint Clip all leaves except leaves within the top 2 inches.
Replant seedlings covering entire stem up to top 2 inches where remaining leaves are.
More roots will grow from the buried stem.
Stronger Roots = Stronger Plant

Hardening Off:
About 2 weeks before transplanting to the garden or an outdoor planter.
Move tomato plants to a sheltered area outside.
Leave them out for a short while at first.
Increasing the outside time a little each day.
Tomato plants will be well adjusted to the outdoors by the time they are permanently transplanted into their outdoor area.

Into the Garden
Finally!
Deep Planting Method
Promotes Deep Roots
Deep Roots Promote strength during drought & heat.
Dig a hole 6″ wide
Dig a depth so that only 4 inches of the plant will be exposed.
Clip off any leaves that will be buried.
Set the plant. Fill with soil. Water…extremely well.

Shallow Planting Method
Promotes Shallow Roots
Shallow Roots for cooler climates.
Inclined to suffer from drought & root damage.
But if that’s all you have to work with…go with it!
Dig a trench 2″ – 3″ Deep
Dig a length so that only the top 4 inches of the plant will be exposed.
Clip off any leaves that will be buried.
Lay in trench. Fill with soil leaving the top leafy 4″ exposed. Water…extremely well.

Harvesting Tomatoes
Recommend: Vine Ripening
Harvest tomatoes when the skin of the tomato slightly springs back to shape after the touch of a finger.
Don’t forget to save some seeds for next year.

Companion Plants
Asparagus, pot marigold, basil, nasturtium, onion, parsley, pepper,
cabbage family, carrot, bush bean, celery, chive, cucumber, marigold, mint, pepper, head lettuce, borage to name a few.

Bad Companion Plants
Fennel, dill, potato, pole bean

Pests
Tomato hornworm, tomato worm, aphids, blister beatles, stink bugs, tomato fruit worms to name a few.

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