Introduction to How To Grow Tomatoes:
If you are just starting out growing tomatoes, you probably find yourself in one of two camps. You either might think it should be really easy and you are eager to get started, or you are looking around at all the vast wealth of information out there on the topic, and you may be a little overwhelmed. The reality is growing tomatoes is a relatively simple process that has an awful lot of variables.
Not only do you have to make sure that you have the proper growing conditions within the soil itself, but you also have to decide what type of tomatoes you would like to grow and what kind of harvest are you hoping to get. ie. Are you looking for just a few tomatoes or are you looking for bushels? Again the process of growing is easy, the rest of it really just comes down to preparation.
How To Grow Tomatoes From Seeds:
Let us assume that you are going to be learning how to grow tomatoes from seeds and use that as a base point. We are going to give you some good tips and practices that will help you get on your way fast and hopefully allow you to avoid some common mistakes. Looking for tomato seeds will provide you with a much broader selection of plants to start with, that you most likely will not find in your local nursery or garden center. If you need help on which variety to select, we have a great article in this section on Tomato Varieties, that details many of the facts on selecting tomatoes. Check that out if you need more reference material.
When learning how to grow tomatoes indoors, you are going to want to plant them a good 5 weeks or so before you will be planting them outside. If you are sowing directly into the ground, make sure all threat of frost has passed. Planting indoor tomatoes, you will want to invest in a grow light for the first couple weeks. A basic fluorescent shop light will do, however they do make grow light bulbs to fit these and you should consider making the investment.
How To Grow Tomatoes From Seeds - Part 2:
Getting your seeds to germinate is actually the easy part; from there you have to keep these fragile little plants alive long enough to make it into the ground. One you have the starter plants going, there are a few key points you need to remember. They must have sunlight and good airflow. Plants started indoors tend to stay overly moist and this makes them susceptible to mold and diseases. Try to put them in a place where the air has good circulation. You can recreate the lighting conditions for 12 hours a day using the above mentioned grow light.
At some point you are going to wonder when it is time to get these plants into the ground so they can start taking off. The best time for planting tomatoes is in the spring when the ground is about 60 degrees and there is no more danger of frost. You cannot simply put them right into the ground however, you must harden them off first or they won't survive the transition. The simplest way is to take your young tomato plants outside for several hours a day. Do not place them directly in harsh light or windy areas; a partial shade area will do nicely. After about two weeks, they should be strong enough to handle planting.
How To Grow Tomatoes From Starters:
Ok at this point you have some tomato starter plants in your possession that are ready to go. Either you grew them from seeds yourself as discussed above, or you simply bought a few plants from the local nursery and saved yourself a lot of work. Either way works great and you are ready to go. If you purchased your plants from a nursery or garden center then they are already hardened off and ready to plant.
When learning how to grow tomatoes, your new plants will need to be planted at a depth of about 4" and they should be planted on a day where you have moderate weather. Most plants need a couple days to establish to a new environment so it's not unusual for them to react badly if thrown into new conditions. Make sure you water them thoroughly and it's always a good idea to mix a generous dose of compost into the planting hole to give them a good start in their new home. You are going to want to get your tomatoes in as early in the season as the weather will allow so they are ready to go when the warmer temperatures arrive.
How To Grow Tomatoes Through Harvest:
At this point your tomatoes are in and growing and now you just have to keep those beauties alive until you can harvest that plump and juicy fruit. Along the way you are almost certainly going to encounter diseases in your tomatoes. We all go through it so don't worry, there are ways to combat them. One of the best things you can do to protect your tomato plants is to give them a generous layer of mulch.
2 to 3 inches of mulch is all you need to protect your plants from a variety of common problems. Not only does the mulch provide valuable insulation and moisture retention, but it also creates a barrier between your plants and any fungal spores on the ground. If you do run afoul of fungus problems, there are plenty of fungicides out there for you to use. You can also find various fertilizers made just for growing tomatoes, so your plants will always have the much needed nutrients they need to grow big and strong. Learning how to grow tomatoes is a fun an enjoyable hobby that will benefit you for years to come!
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