Tomatoes might be the ultimate health food. Rich in nutrients and endlessly versatile, this savory fruit is essential to the cuisine of almost every world culture. Growing tomatoes, though, can be a bit of a challenge for the uninitiated.
In order to successfully produce your own crop, you need plenty of warmth and a spot that receives at least six to eight hours of sunlight per day. You also need plenty of growing space if you want a sizable crop. The good news is that the actual growing process is fairly easy as long as the right conditions are present.
Before you get started, you’ll need tomato seedlings, potting soil, and one or more tomato cages, depending on how many plants you want to grow. The job will also require some compost and mulch. All these supplies can be purchased at your local greenhouse or home improvement store.
Once you have the necessary supplies at the ready, read on to discover just how easy it can be to grow delicious tomatoes at home.
Start by planting each seedling in its own three- to four-inch pot filled with tomato-specific potting soil. Each seedling will produce its own plant, so plant as many individual seeds as you need.
Water the seedlings daily using a liquid fertilizer, and they should start to sprout in a few days.
Place each pot in a location that receives several hours of daily sunlight, or grow them indoors beneath grow lights. Within six to eight weeks, the seedlings will be ready to move to their permanent location outdoors.
The ideal time to move your seedlings outdoors will depend on your USDA hardiness zone. For most people, the best time to start growing is late spring. For people in zone ten, however, the growing season starts in late fall.
Growing Tomato Plants
Space each plant about two to three feet apart. Mix your regular soil with your specialized potting soil (it should have a pH level of 6.0 to 6.8) and place your plants into the ground with an additional three to four inches of compost. Finally, cover the soil with two inches of mulch.
Two-thirds of your stem should be buried, with the final third sticking up. Place the stem against the tomato cage to keep the plant upright through the growing phase. The budding tomatoes should never touch the ground.
Once the plant is grounded, you’ll want to water it about once a week on average. Check regularly to ensure that the soil is always moist, and provide additional water as needed.
Check on the tomatoes regularly, and readjust leaning plants on a regular basis to ensure that they’re always firmly upright. Before long, you’ll have delicious tomatoes that you can incorporate into all your favorite meals.
Once the tomatoes are ripe, try incorporating them into a delicious chicken Parmesan soup.