Nothing beats a vine-ripened tomato grown in your own backyard! If you’ve never gardened before, it’s not as hard as you think to grow you’re own tomatoes, as long as you follow a few tips.
Aim for an area that gets plenty of sunlight. Tomatoes like 6-8 hours a day. Check your soil pH to see if it needs to be amended. Tomatoes like a pH of 6.2-6.8. You can get a pH kit from most hardware stores that just require you to mix the soil with a bit of water. Then, you check the pH level with strips. You can also send a sample to a local university agricultural extension office for analysis. To increase your pH, till in wood ash or lime. To decrease it, use peat or compost.
Till in compost or fertilizer about 2 weeks before you plant your tomatoes, here you can find more on fertilizer ratio. Tomatoes need a lot of nutrients to grow well, so make sure the soil has plenty of nutrients in it before you plant. Plan to get your tomatoes in the ground in May or June in cooler areas. If you live in a warm area, though, you can plant this crop in the fall or winter.
Acclimate your tomatoes to the outdoors before planting them. If you’re starting your tomatoes as seeds, you can shock them if you plant them without acclimating them to the outside first, a process called hardening off. Start by putting them in a shady spot for 2-3 hours and then bringing them back inside. Each day, put them outside for a bit longer, adding in sunlight a bit at a time. By the end of 2 weeks, they should be out most of the day in at least partial sun. Place your plants in rows with 2 feet of space between each plant.
Always check the information for the type you’re planting, though, as some varieties may need as much as 3 feet. Put your tomatoes in the ground so the soil comes 2/3 up the stem, which will allow roots to grow there and create a sturdier plant.Provide support for your tomatoes with stakes or trellises, unless you get a variety that doesn’t need staking. It’s important to put the stakes in when you plant the young seedlings so that you don’t run into roots putting them in later.Water your plants immediately after you put them in the ground so the soil is damp.
Aim for at least 1 inch of water a week. If you’re not getting that much rain, you need to water your plants. Watch for suckers so you can pinch them off. Suckers are growths that develop between the “Y” part of 2 branches. Because you won’t get tomatoes from this growth, it’s better to remove it and let nutrients go to other parts of the plants. Just pinch the growth and pluck it off. Let tomatoes ripen on the vine for better flavor. If squirrels or other animals are stealing them, you can take them off when they’re green. Put them in a paper bag away from heat sources to ripen.
Now, go enjoy your delicious tomatoes!