Six tips for a bumper crop of tomatoes
It’s time to get dirty. Yep, I said it – get in the dirt and get dirty.
Memorial Day weekend has passed and that means it’s fair game to plant a number of vegetables, some that will give you vegetables early and others in the middle of the summer. One of my favorites is the tomato.
Since I’m from the Midwest, I’m compelled to plant tomatoes. As a child I remember eating big, beefy tomatoes every day with a pinch of salt and pepper. I also recall my mom canning those juicy, plump tomatoes for winter dishes. So my goal is to relive those memories by planting my own this year. I want you to enjoy them too.
Here are six tips for healthy tomatoes that I’ve picked up over the years and from a recent class at Swanson’s Nursery:
1. If you are limited for space, grow tomatoes in large containers on your deck or patio. If the only person enjoying the tomatoes is you, then I suggest you buy two plants that are different types.
2. Choose starters from your local nursery or store at this point, seeds won’t develop in time. Pick the sunniest and warmest spot in your yard. Tomatoes need 6-8 hours of light per day.
3. Right before planting, pinch off the lowest two levels of leaves. This will encourage a strong stalk to support the heavy tomatoes.
4. Dig a deep hole, put an inch of compost in and sprinkle some fertilizer in the hole before planting it. Cover the root and plant with soil almost up to the first leaf.
5. Plant 18 inches apart and put a cage around each plant. If plants are too close to each other, they can get diseases due to wet foliage.
6. Water consistently, making sure soil doesn’t dry out. Inconsistent watering can lead to blossom-end rot, a brown leathery spot found on the bottom of fruit.
My desire for fresh tomatoes started two months ago when I planted two types of tomato seeds indoors – heirloom tomatoes and yellow cherry tomatoes. I used old plastic egg holders to start my seeds and placed them on the sunny kitchen windowsill.
After they got two strong leaves on them, I transplanted them into a small pot for several weeks before I daringly planted them in the ground this past weekend. I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll all have a hot, sunny summer, which means great tomatoes. Look for recipes from me in two months when we all are plucking them from our gardens.