Tomatoes are the number one vegetable in home gardens. It seems like everyone has their secrets on how to grow the first, biggest, tastiest or prettiest tomatoes. Have fun growing tomatoes. It’s not rocket science. All tomatoes will do well with eight hours of sunlight a day, rich soil and consistent watering. Here are a few more tips on how to grow tomatoes.
- Start the seeds indoors so you can get a jump start on planting outside as soon as the average date of the last frost has past.
- Soak the seeds before planting for faster germination.
- Label the seedlings if there are different varieties. All tomatoes plants look pretty much alike.
- Place the seed trays where it’s warm for a quick start. Warm does not mean hot like in the oven.
- Use new potting soil for seedlings to avoid dampening off.
- Snip off all but the strongest seedling in each pot after they’ve reached 3 inches tall.
- Start fertilizing when seedlings have four true leaves. Dilute the fertilizer.
- Give the seedlings enough light or they’ll grow too leggy and flop over.
- Don’t try to resuscitate flopped seedlings. Give them a decent burial in the compost pile.
- Do not eat thinned seedlings like you would with lettuces, carrots, and leafy greens. Tomato vines, even the little ones, are toxic. No, really they are, so are potato plants. They’re both part of the nightshade family.
- Peat pots have a tendency to dry out fast. Use plastic for transplants.
- Use waxed paper cups with holes poked in the bottom for transplants.
- Use 1/2 gallon waxed paper juice containers with holes poked in the bottom for bigger transplants.
- Use 1-gallon milk containers with – you guessed it- holes poked in the bottom and the top cut off for the biggest transplants.
- Wrap the containers of tomatoes with black plastic if the weather is too cool. The black absorbs heat.
- Bring containers inside the house if the temperature falls below 50 degrees fahrenheit (10 degrees celsius) at night.
- Wrap mini Christmas lights (not LED they don’t get warm) around the tomato cage if frost threatens.
- Put plastic gallon milk jugs with the tops cut off over smaller tomato plants to keep them warmer at night.
- Cover the small transplants with straw when frost threatens.
Now you know how to grow tomatoes. Get your garden off to a good start this spring with the tips on how to grow tomatoes.
Dee Power is the author of several nonfiction books. Her hobbies include gardening and cooking.