I'm not talking about those scraggly little bushes that manage a few insipid fruits that the bugs get to first. I'm talking big booty tomatoes that are bursting with flavour and juice. Growing your own tomatoes can be really rewarding and, if you keep it organic, the taste will blow your mind! Here's how...
Opt for heirloom seedlings that are organic. Plant a couple of different varieties so that they fruit at different times, are susceptible to different diseases and offer a variety of flavours.
Tomatoes like direct sun and protection from wind where possible. They need at least eight hours of sun for optimal growth and yields.
When watering, focus on the soil rather than leaves as tomatoes aren't fond of getting their bits wet. Regular, deep watering is best, but don't overdo it or the fruit will split.
Tomatoes love soil rich in organic matter, so go heavy on the compost. They prefer slightly acidic soil (pH 6.2 to 6.8). Where soil is particularly alkaline, add coffee grounds to increase the acidity.
Plant two to three feet apart so they don't shade each other out and have plenty of room to grow.
When planting, add 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt to the hole before putting your plant in. Epsom salt sounds counter-intuitive, after all salt is known to kill plants. Unlike table salt, Epsom salt is a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. Tomato plants love magnesium and it helps them to absorb the other nutrients, so it's essential for healthy tomatoes.
Add a crushed egg shell to the hole before planting your tomatoes. The egg shell provides your plant with calcium. No eggshells? Add a Tums tablet to help out some calcium back into your soil.
When you plant your tomato seedlings, dig a deep hole. Plant each seedling with part of the stem in the ground - roots will sprout out around the stem and you'll have a healthy plant. Don't plant deeper than the first leaf though.
Small suckers will start to grow where the branches meet the stems. Gently break these off so your tomato can concentrate its energy on fruiting rather than growing fancy foliage.
Mulch with used coffee grounds which are rich in nitrogen. You can get coffee grounds from your local coffee shop. You can spread some around the rest of the veggies too!
Once your plants are established, mulch with straw or wood chips to ensure that they don't dry out and to prevent the growth of weeds.
Ensure that your plant has a stake or cage to prevent fruit-bearing branches from breaking. It's best to put these in when you are planting so you don't break branches trying to get them on later. This will prevent the tomatoes from laying on the ground where they are more susceptible to rot and insects.
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