Few things in life beat the absolute pleasure of eating a fresh, ripe, sweet tomato, still hot from the summer sun. Tomatoes are hardy plants that can grow in almost any condition you throw at it. There are literally thousands of varieties of tomatoes, each suited specifically for different conditions. With the choice of the right tomato variety for your growing conditions, and just a little care, you can enjoy fresh, ripe tomatoes that can easily beat the watery selection from your supermarket any day.
Tomatoes can be grown in your garden, in your backyard, and even in plastic pots. They generally grow well and quite fast, and with a little care, you should expect plenty of fruit. Tomato plants don’t really require much care, but if you want to optimize your tomato production and the flavor of your homegrown tomatoes, you have to keep some of the growing factors in mind and address them properly.
The factors that determine the quality and quantity of your tomatoes are – sunlight, the variety you are growing, and the quality of the soil. Tomatoes need plenty of sunlight. You can choose your variety depending on how much space you have for this addictive hobby.
Soil quality, is, of course, the most important factor in transforming, small, bland tomatoes into large flavorful ones. There are various aspects of soil that need to be addressed before you can do any tomato growing. Let’s take a look at some of these aspects, and how to address them properly for your tomato plants:
Like most vegetables, tomato thrives well in slightly acidic soil. A pH of 6 to 6.8 is ideal for growing beautiful, ripe tomatoes.
Before planting tomatoes, you should have the pH of your soil checked. If it’s too acidic and the pH is less than 6, add some limestone to bring the pH to optimum level. For alkaline soil you should use sulfur to bring the pH down to 6 – 6.8
Soil texture: Soil texture is another important factor in optimizing your tomato production. Neither light, sandy soil, nor dense soil from your garden is suitable by itself for growing tomatoes. You need well aerated soil that can retain more water than the sandy soils, and can seep water in faster than the heavy clay soils. This is because tomato plants need a tremendous amount of water all the time in order to be healthy and maintain a great tomato output
You can add organic matter such as dead leaves, compost, dry grass etc to both light sandy soil and heavy clay soil. For light sandy soils, this will increase water retention capabilities. Heavy soils will also become well aerated, and water can seep in easily to the roots of the tomato plants.
If you are planting tomatoes in a garden bed, it is a great practice to till the soil vigorously up to 6 or 8 inches deep. This will loosen the soil and aerate it well, so that when the seeds germinate, the roots can grow very rapidly; or if you use cuttings, the root will be established very fast. Additionally, vigorous tilling will kill many weeds.
A good fertilizer can really make your tomato plants bloom! Fertilizer is required to give your plants quick growth, and give you big, healthy tomatoes frequently throughout the season and in very large numbers too. Fertilizers come in a large range of options, and it can get really confusing when you are trying to look for the right one for your garden.
Try to follow up on basic symptoms, and use the fertilizer that addresses the nutritional deficiency of your soil the most. Fertilizers come in two basic options – organic and chemical. It is always advisable to use organic fertilizers, which includes dehydrated animal manure and compost.To use fertilizers, dig a furrow where your row of tomato plants will be.
The furrow should be about 6 to 8 inches deep. Lay a layer of fertilizer, and then cover up the layer with a few inches of soil. The few inches of soil are needed so that the roots don’t come in direct contact with the fertilizer initially, as the salts in the fertilizer can draw out water from the roots.
Tomatoes are hardy plants, and with a watchful eye to soil nutrition, you can easily grow great batches of tomatoes.
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