How to Grow Tomatoes
A Couple of Tomato Planting Tips from a Lady who Died about 50 Years Ago
I was first shown how to plant tomatoes when I was about 10 or 11 years old by a elderly neighbor lady. She let me use a small part of her garden and asked that I help her prepare the soil, carry the bucket of water, etc. We planted her tomatoes and then mine nearby, on the other side of the garden patch. It was a valuable lesson in ‘How-to’ gardening. She showed me how she did it and I never saw a reason to change that. I still do it just like she showed me.
***** Be Sure to See Video Below *****
Aside from getting the soil turned over and getting it nice and loose, the one thing that has always stuck with me, is what she used to guard the young seedlings from the cutworm. I’ve seen fancier ways of doing it but they all leave behind “stuff” that needs to be picked up in the fall. Or, it entails ‘buying’ something. Her method wasn’t fancy. It is free, however, and it is effective.
There is nothing scientific about the newspaper strips, and the dimensions are far from critical. The important point is there needs to be an inch or so sticking out of the soil to keep the cutworms off the plant stem.
The seedlings should be placed about 3 feet (or a meter) apart. You can crowd them if you are tight for space but they’ll all grow together. I’ve done it plenty of times. It doesn’t harm anything but it’s just to crowded and difficult to get in between the plants.
You can work a little fertilizer into the soil -commercial stuff is good or, if you are like me, you like to use organic plant food. Your garden center can steer you straight on that. It’s also desirable to dump some water into the hole before you place the tomato plant in it (a quart or so -or if it is soaking in really well, much more). It gives it a little kick start until the rain comes.
If the seedling is long and leggy, sink the plant further into the ground so it has some support. You can trim of the bottom leaves and roots will develop there if that part is in the ground.
“So I was skeptical when The News-Star reporter Barbara Leader returned to the newsroom today with a sack full of hydroponic greenhouse tomatoes grown by students at Ouachita Parish High School. The hydroponic, greenhouse tomatoes I remember were a mealy, flavorless mess. At best, they were barely worthy of topping a sandwich.” Tasty April tomato can sure tide one over: Monroe News Star
When should you be planting your tomatoes?
I never plant tomatoes before Memorial Day around here. There were some years when I jumped the gun and placed them out earlier -mainly because the weather was warm. Technically, around here, there is a danger of frost until the end of May. You can figure that, even if you get no frost, there will, during most years, be a lot of marginally cold weather -during which, the plants do not grow. They sit there doing nothing when it’s too cool. So, I don’t do that anymore.
After the plants are established and growing nicely, they should be pruned to avoid becoming too bushy. There is a right way and a wrong way to do this (as with most things). Click on this link to learn how to prune a tomato plant.
A word about staking up the tomato plants. It is desirable to keep them up off the ground. You can use 4 ft. stakes and strips of rags to tie them up. Or, you can buy the wire cages to hold them up. Keep in mind the tomato plant (vine) is a natural field crop. As such, it will grow on the ground. Staking up or caging the plants is an exercise in neatness and order. It’s nice to do but not necessary. Left on their own, the tomato plants will be all over the place. If you have enough garden space, there’s nothing wrong with it.
Growing tomatoes is fairly simple. You can’t hurt them much. Place them in full sun and get them ample water and they’ll do fine. Once you’ve done it once you can show the kids how to grow tomatoes themselves. Once you have grown vine ripened tomatoes, bring the kids out and show them how you can pick one right off the vine and eat it like an apple. All of it will stick with them a for a lifetime.
Below is a video detailing an alternative, more natural method of gardening -some say the wave of the future. It is called Food4Wealth. It is for people who like the idea of sustaining a ready organic food supply which is cheaper and much more healthful than the common stuff obtained from the Big Food Companies. Below that video you can click, if you like, to hear more from Jon White. He seems like a pleasant fellow -not at all a fast talker. And he makes sense to me. Maybe he will make sense to you, as well.
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