Who doesn't like a tomato fresh from the garden? No tomato in the store can compare to one fresh from the field. Sun ripened and full of flavor and picked at the perfect time. No green tomatoes forced to ripen as they are carted off to the store. Harvested at the peak of perfection and flavor, there is nothing better.
So, how do you grow the perfect tomato? It really isn't hard at all. It just takes a little planning and a few simple tips. For the perfect tomato garden, just follow these simple tips and you will be on your way to enjoying a crop of delicious tomatoes!
Where to Plant
First of all, you need to make sure you have a good location for you tomatoes to grow. Tomatoes love the sun, so your area needs to get plenty of sunlight throughout the day. Whether it is a sunny spot in your yard, or a sunny corner of a deck - make sure your sun worshiping tomatoes get plenty of sunshine!
You don't need a lot of space to grow tomatoes. If you have a large yard, you can plant as many as your garden will hold then sell them at a farmers market, or can them for later use. For those that have limited space, tomatoes are the perfect patio plant as well. Plant them in a pot that is well drained and gets plenty of sun. Put a trellis or a stake in the pot so the plant doesn't tip over.
There are more varieties of tomatoes than you can count! With so many to choose from which do you pick? Your best option is to visit your local garden center and ask the experts what type of tomato grows best in your area. Most tomatoes do well anywhere, but it never hurts to ask around. Consider planting a few cherry tomatoes as well. They are great to pick fresh and add to salads and recipes. Cherry tomatoes are perfect container plants and they also look great mixed in with your flowers. The little red fruit really looks attractive planted among marigolds. Plus, the marigolds help to deter pests from attacking the tomatoes!
How to Begin
You don't want to put your tomatoes in the ground until the danger of frost has past. Once that danger has gone by, you can place tomato plants in the garden or containers. You can find tomato plants at most garden centers or you can start your own from seed indoors. Tomatoes do best if they are transplanted into the garden rather than seeded into the garden. If you choose to grow your own with seed, then start them indoors six to eight weeks before you will be transplanting them outdoors. Fill a growing tray with a seed starter soil mixture and gently press the seeds into the soil. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Think of a damp sponge, you know it is wet but you can't see water standing on it. In a week or so you will see the seeds start to sprout. Keep the plants in a sunny window or under a grow light. When the plants are big enough, transplant them outdoors.
Watch for Pests!
Although tomatoes are very easy to grow, they do have their share of pest problems. Probably the biggest tomato pest is the hornworm. They like to feed on the underside of the leaves so you won't really see them on the plant. If you find one, the best way to get rid of it is to squish it! Check over your plants regularly to make sure you don't get infested with the hornworm.
Some pests can be repelled by simply planting other plants close to your tomatoes. Perhaps you have noticed that people have a few rows of marigolds in their gardens. That is because marigolds are a great natural pest repellent.