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Tomato Gardening | Growing Tomatoes | Tomato Tending

Tomato Gardening

You Say Tomāto - I Say Tomăto

However you say it, the tomato is as diverse in growing as it is in pronunciation. Available in a size and variety to tempt any palate, the popular and versatile tomato is frequently the first edible that novice gardeners grow successfully.

Tomatoes range in size from tiny fruits like grape and cherry tomatoes to medium sized varieties like plum and Roma tomatoes and on to mammoth "love apples" like big, better, and best boy varieties.

Many varieties also have distinctive flavors from lip-puckering tart to lip-smacking sweet! Enjoying tomatoes is the best part of tomato gardening!

Tomato plants are annuals that, especially in northern climates, are often started indoors either from seed or from purchased transplants. Originally produced by the native peoples of Mexico, tomatoes were "discovered" by the Spanish conquistadors in the 1500's. In keeping with their tropical heritage, tomatoes like a lot of sun, warm soil, and a moist (yet well-drained) growing environment.

How do you grow tomatoes? Before I tell you, I need to apologize to Elizabeth Barrett Browning in advance because:

How do you grow tomatoes?
Let me count the ways…
Grow tomatoes to the depth and breadth and height
The vines can reach…

Starting Tomato Seeds

Spring garden nurseries are filled with tomato transplants in every variety. Yet tomatoes are easily grown from seed. When you grow tomatoes from seed, begin planting six to eight weeks before you anticipate the last frost in your area. Although many gardeners begin tomato gardening indoors, some use a cold frame to start their tomato seed outside.

tomato-seedlingAn important consideration for tomato gardening is the potting mixture. Both tomato seed and tomato transplants need a moist environment that has good drainage. Although you can buy tomato starter kits, if you choose to make your own, a simple and inexpensive potting mix contains one part soil, one part clean sand or perlite and one part leaf mold or moist peat.

Use seed trays (flats) or small peat pots to start your tomato seed. Dry peat pots will leach the moisture from your soil. When you use them for starting tomato seeds, soak them before filling them with potting mixture.

Generally, follow planting directions printed on the tomato seed package, but a good rule of thumb is to plant each tomato seed at a depth four times its width. Make your planting hole with your finger or the eraser tip of a pencil. After planting your seeds, place them by the sunniest window in your home. As the weather starts to warm, acclimate (harden off) your tomato plants by setting the pots outside everyday. Gradually increase their time in the outdoors each day.

Growing Tomatoes →