By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter
Tomatoes are one of the favorite vegetables not only eaten but also grown.
But a successful tomato garden does happen overnight and requires some work.
Below are a list of dos and dont’s for any tomato garden.
Following this advice will help you have a more successful and enjoyable gardening experience and tomato harvest.
• Plant the right type of tomato. Many gardeners do not understand tomato terminology and the different between tomato types. Tomatoes can either be determinate or indeterminate. A determinate tomato is one that grows to a certain height, flowers and produce fruit at one time. This type of tomato is great for container gardens since it will not need to be trellised and for those who want to control when their harvest comes in. An indeterminate tomato, on the other hand, is one that grows to an undetermined height and in doing so will need to be trellised. It also flowers all season long and produces fruit for the entire season. Planting a combination of both determinate and indeterminate is a great way of extending ones harvest.
• Add calcium to the soil. Doing this simple step will prevent bottom rot, which can increase ones yield. Sources of calcium that one can use include a calcium-rich commercial fertilizer, crushed eggshells and/or powdered milk.
• Plant deep. Planting ones tomato plants deep allows the plant to develop a stronger root system, reduces the height of indeterminate tomatoes, and reduces the chance of the plant suffering from dehydration.
• Watch were you plant. Many years ago, I had a neighbor who planted a garden underneath her trees. As you can imagine, she was disappointed in the results from her garden. Not only was the shade a problem for her tomato plants, the type of tree she planted under was also a problem. As it would have it, the tree was a black walnut, which effects the growth and production of tomatoes. When picking a location, not only consider the amount of sun, soil type, and garden space but also look at what is around the garden. These too can affect the success of the tomato garden.
• Plant only after your local frost-free date. While I love to be the first on my block with homegrown tomatoes, I know planting one garden before my local frost-free date is a chance. In the past, I have used cloches to protect my plants but since I plant so many tomatoes using this type of protection has become impractical. If you grow your tomatoes in a container that is mobile, placing them outside early is not that big of a problem. Simply bring them in when it gets too cold.
• Watch what you purchase. Many gardeners will try to get a jump on the season by purchasing plants that are in bloom. Avoid using this strategy since most blooms will drop after planting. Instead, purchase plants that have no blooms or blooms that are just beginning to form.
Following these simple dos and dont’s will reduce your gardening stress and help you have a successful gardening season. So until we blog again, if you do more dos and less dont’s you will be able to sit and admire your garden space while enjoy a freshly squeezed glass of homegrown tomato juice.