We all love tomatoes. Not only are they one of the most recognizable fruits (tomatoes are technically fruits with seeds, but grouped as vegetables) in the world, but also the most widely eaten – Who hasn’t tasted tomato sauce? But there is one good reason why not only should you eat them, but you should grow them as well, and that’s because tomatoes are pretty easy to plant and grow in any vegetable garden. They develop fast, so you can harvest them quickly; so unless you’re allergic to them, what is there not to like about these red fruits? So without much further ado, here are some tips you can use on growing tip top tomatoes.
Tomatoes love heat and sun! They need a minimum of 6 hours of direct sun to grow and fruit properly. This means a south or west exposure if you live in the northern hemisphere or a north or west exposure in the southern hemisphere
Tomatoes originate from tropical climates with large amounts of rainfall. However, they do like to dry out between each watering and If you keep them too wet, you run the risk of fungal infections or stem/crown rot. If your tomatoes are wilting between each watering this will damage them and lower their productivity so give them a little more water if this is happening. Mulching with a good organic mulch like wood chips or straw is a great way to make each watering more effective.
Tomato plants are heavy feeders and require either a good soil amendment when planting or a regular application of balanced fertilizer. Later in the season you can switch to something with more potassium to promote flowering and fruit.
Types of Tomatoes
There are two main types of tomatoes based on growth types. They are the Determinate and Indeterminate types. This influences how you prune them and where they are best suited to be grown. Research your variety or check its nursery tag to find out what type it is.
These plants have a set, usually smaller, size and their growth ends in flower buds and fruit. These plants should only be minimally pruned as they will not grow more branches. Determinate tomatoes are great for hanging baskets or smaller urban gardens as they do not get giant. Many field tomatoes are also bred to be determinate so that there isn’t as much work staking them.
These plants have no determined size and require staking to keep the plants and fruit off the ground. They will grow to fit whatever support you give them if given enough time, some people even train them into massive tree forms! Be sure to remove extra side shoots to increase production.
Pests and Companion Plants of Tomatoes
Tomatoes are susceptible to nematodes and aphids, as any experienced gardener can tell you You can plant French marigolds as companion plants around your tomatoes to deter these pests and also help attract pollinators like bees.
New Girl and Early Girl are great red, mid-sized slicing tomatoes that are disease resistant shorter season so you are guaranteed to get a great crop even in Northern climates.
Sweet 100 is a perfect heavy-yielding plant that produces chains of sweet cherry tomato. Good disease resistance and ease of care.
Yellow Pear is an heirloom cherry type that has very sweet, low acid fruit shaped like little pears. It is very productive and the plants are huge!
Brandywine is a pink heirloom variety with amazing taste and heavy production. It also has what they call “potato-type” leaves which give it a unique appearance.
Big Beef is a great shorter season, beefsteak type tomato perfect for canning or eating fresh. One slice is as big as a whole sandwich!
Roma VF is a great virus resistant Italian type, perfect for making sauces and processing. Also great if you like a little more crunch to your salad tomatoes.
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