Growing Organic Tomatoes

Plant in full sun – Choose a spot that gets at least seven hours a day of full sun.

Rotate crops – Avoid pests and disease, do not grow tomatoes in the same area. Skip 2 full years before planting in the same spot again. Don’t plant your tomatoes where potatoes or eggplant were grown the year before. These are in the family as potatoes and can attract similar pests and problems.

Feed the soil – Dig a planting hole at least the size of a basketball. Add plenty of rich organic matter like shredded leaves, compost, manure, straw, pine needles, and dry grass clippings to your soil. A fertile, organically rich soil is the key to growing tomatoes successfully. Plant in raised beds or mounds of possible. Tomatoes need slightly acid soil (pH 6.0-6.8). Prepare your soil a week or two before planting so you are ready when the time is right.

 

Plant several varieties – By planting several varieties you ensure a steady harvest. Plant at least two plants for each member of the family. Plant more if you plan to canning or make salsa. If you have limited space plant bush variety tomato plants.

Buy tomato plants from nursery – If you’re only growing few plants just buy them at the nursery. It’s often a waste of time starting your own especially if you don’t have a greenhouse. If you do start your own seeds, sow them indoors eight to 10 weeks before planting.

Harden off seedlings – Before planting your tomatoes, take a week or two to gradually introduce them to their new growing conditions. It gives the plants a chance to acclimate to sunlight, drying winds and climate changes. Plant them in the garden when nighttime temperatures remain above 50 degrees F. Tomatoes do best at temperatures 65-75 degrees F

Space tomato plants – at least 18 to 36 inches apart depending on the variety. Leave yourself enough space to get in between the plants to water, weed, and harvest.

Plant them deeply – Plant up to the fourth branch from the top – to encourage new root development. Water within ten minutes of transplanting to avoid transplant shock.

Stake or cage plants – shortly after planting. Store bought tomato cages are too small for growing anything but bush tomatoes. You can make your own inexpensive tall cages by using a 5 1/2 foot length of concrete reinforcing wire. Secure cages to prevent them from blowing over in high wind.

 

Watering – Water young transplants every day for 1 to 2 weeks. After the plants are well-established the soil should be soaked 6 to 8 inches deep at 7-day intervals. Add a 6 inch layer of mulch when hot weather arrives. Use straw, composted leaves, pine needles, or dried grass clippings around the tomato plants. This will help conserve soil moisture, and prevent the fruit from touching the ground.

Fertilize – every two to three weeks with organic tomato fertilizer Tomato-tone® 3-4-6. Do not over fertilize. Remember that your goal in growing tomatoes not leaves.

Never use pesticides –Control Spider mites and aphids by gently spraying both sides of leaves with water from the garden hose.

Harvesting tomatoes – Tomato plants are ready to harvest 55 days to 85.Pick tomatoes when their color is glossy and even, and their texture midway between soft and firm.

Never store tomatoes in the refrigerator – While they last longer in the refrigerator, they will lose their flavor and texture.

 

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