Also, before planting the seeds, make sure that the soil is ready. Cultivating the soil involves hoeing the dirt, adding compost, and clearing the area of weeds and debris. The most important step is adding compost because it improves the texture of the soil and makes it easier for the plants to receive moisture. Compost can be made from pretty much anything, but mulching lawn clippings, leaves, and leftover food together is a good starting point.
If you want to skip the whole soil hassle, you can also grow your tomatoes in an aeroponic vertical garden with no weeding or tilling.
When and Where to Plant Tomatoes
Tomato plants cannot tolerate frost, so wait to plant your tomatoes until after the last frost date in your area. Depending on where you live, that can range from early April to June. Plant your tomato plants where they will get full sunlight for at least six to eight hours each day. With less sun, you won’t get much fruit on your vines. Space your plants at least one foot to 18 inches apart and make sure that you have plenty of room. Tomato plants typically grow to be three to eight feet tall.
You can also grow tomatoes in a large pot.
Planting tomatoes with onions, garlic and/or chives benefits both plants. Folk wisdom maintains that insects can’t smell the tomatoes over the pungent smell of garlic and onions. Carrots are also traditionally planted alongside tomatoes.
Caring for Tomato Plants
Tomatoes require regular watering and weeding. Most plants also benefit from staking, attaching the plant to a stick that’s been buried at least a foot in the ground. This supports the plant and keeps the fruit off of the ground where it is likely to rot.
Harvesting Your Tomatoes
Most tomato varieties mature in 55 to 75 days. Pick the fruit when the tomatoes are fully red, but before they begin to crack around the stem. Freshly-picked tomatoes should be stored at room temperature as they lose their flavor when refrigerated. At the end of the season, you can pick those last tomatoes when they are still green (before the frost destroys them) and ripen them indoors in a paper bag.
Harvest time! Make sure you have a plan for all those ripe tomatoes!Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/free-stock/6855914436
Be sure to add a few tomato plants to your garden this summer. Come August, you’ll be enjoying freshly sliced tomatoes, tomato sauce and salsa–all made with tomatoes that you grew yourself.
Elli is a writer for www.yourlocalsecurity.com . She was born and raised in Colorado and now enjoys skiing, playing tennis, and hiking in the mountains of Salt Lake City, Utah.