Its nice to have a fresh tomato from your garden to table. The following are answers and ideas to How to grow tomato plants with TIPS and DIYs for gardening.
Seed-starting vs Buying tomato plant
If you are planning to grow tomatoes from seeds, you should start six to eight weeks before the last frost date in your area. Then wait another two weeks after the last frost date to plant seeds or set transplants outdoors. Take note that night temperatures should be above 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
On the other hand, the easier way is to buy the tomato plants to grow. Because of the mother’s day sale in home depot, I got 12 of tomato plants (of 6 different kinds)
Planting the tomatoes
Tomato plants are sunlight loving plant. Dig 3 or 4 inches into a well-drained garden bed that expose with six to eight hours of sunlight daily. Plant the seedlings 18 to 36 inches apart. Plant the tomato plants as instructed in the packaging. Or keep the roots moist when transplanting. Then lightly compress the soil around each plant, and water thoroughly.
TIP : Adding one or two tablespoons of Epsom salt to the bottom of each hole before planting seeds or transplants helps the plant grow and produce larger, tastier fruit.
Another TIP: If you have different kinds of tomato plants in the garden, keep a list and a map. This will help to identify what kind of plant when harvesting. I grow 5 different tomato plants. These are Husky cherry, Red beef steak, Big beef, Beef master, German queen and Better bush tomatoes.
Regular watering maintain even soil moisture. Tomatoes stop producing flowers and fruit when temperatures rise above 100°F (38°C). I make it a habit that I water the plants in the morning. Also, watering it twice a day if temperature is too hot or above normal. And for good watering system, you can use Heavy Duty Garden/Farm/Water Hose,
Protecting tomato plants
I protected my tomato plants from woodchuck by putting a fence around it. The image below shows the tomatoes that woodchuck ate 2 days after I planted them.
Also, protect tomato plants from weeds by removing it. You can use different techniques to remove weeds like pulling it by hand, removing with a hand shovel or hoe or using chemical products. I prefer removing the weeds by digging with hand shovel next to the stem and pulling the whole root out. It’s best to remove the weeds when the soil is moist.
DIY Insecticide for tomato plants
Soft-bodied insects feed on tomato, aphids as an example can be sprayed with Homemade or DIY insecticide. This is a low-cost and safe method to protect the tomatoes. Mix the following in a spray bottle:
1 quart (32 fl oz or 950ml) of water
1/2 tablespoon of baking soda
1/2 tablespoon of liquid dish washing soap
TIP: To prevent burning the tomato leaves cause by too much insecticide and sunlight, spray it right after watering the plants. Or you can apply the DIY insecticide at late afternoon around 5pm or whenever the temperature dropped.
DIY fertilizer for tomatoes
You can have a DIY fertilizer for your tomato plants out of the kitchen. Don’t throw egg shells and coffee grounds away. By mixing the crushed eggshells and ground coffee, you can save and have DIY fertilizer for tomato plants. Crushed eggshell has calcium and coffee ground has release nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and other minerals that serve as good fertilizer.
Pruning tomato plants
When transplanting or planting the tomatoes, do not remove the lower leaves yet. When the plant is about 1- 2 feet cut the leaves touching the soil. This prevents any disease to spread in the plants. Prune the sucker (as illustrated in the following image, this is the small shoot that grows out in between branch and the stem) by snapping the young sucker off. Also, if the sucker is big enough prune it by cutting with sharp and clean pruning shear.
TIP: Don’t prune tomatoes when plants are wet, as doing so might spread disease (if any).
Pruning can be optional. But this method helps the tomato grows with a strong vertical support and helps for the plant get enough minerals that goes to the sucker.
Stake or Cage tomato plants
Speaking of strong vertical support for tomato plants, cages and stakes support the plants grow naturally. Staking makes the plants healthier. Most tomatoes grow 6- to 12-foot-tall plants; add tomato cages or stakes to keep the plants upright and the fruit off the ground.
Aside from the garden hose I use for watering the tomato plants, I use other gardening tools like pruning shear, hand shovel and gardening gloves.
To help you move and carry the tools around, check this Collapsible Outdoor Folding Wagon
The exact signs of ripeness vary with variety, but in general, perfectly ripe tomatoes show deep color yet still feel firm when gently squeezed.
Never refrigerate tomatoes, because temperatures below 55°F (or 13°C) cause the precious flavor compounds to break down. Place them in a paper bag and store them in a cool, dark place.
Having a fresh tomato for a burger or salad from backyard is great because of the time and effort you dedicated to grow them. I hope this will guide you to grow tomato plants. Above all, HAVE FUN AND ENJOY growing tomatoes.
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