Growing your own tomatoes is a great way to get fresh, healthy food in your diet. However, there are some mistakes gardeners can make that can sabotage their crops.
The good news is that the people at Click and Grow have come up with a way to make it easy to grow your own food without any outdoor space. Their plant pods utilize NASA-inspired technology to optimize water, soil and light to help your plants thrive!
Tomatoes are wide-spreading plants with deep roots that will need plenty of room to grow and produce fruit. For best results, plant tomatoes in a spot where they will receive at least six hours of sunlight each day.
Tender tomato seedlings can be purchased from garden centres and online suppliers in early summer, after all risk of frost has passed. Protect young tomato plants from cold by placing them in a warm frame for a week before planting outside.
The soil in your pots should be well-draining and rich with organic matter. If your soil test indicates sub-par nutrient levels, consider adding a fertilizer that has been specifically formulated for growing tomatoes (and other fruits and vegetables).
Tomatoes also need water to thrive, so water the plants slowly and deeply around the base of each one. Mulching the soil helps it retain moisture longer and lessens the amount of time you need to water the plants.
To produce healthy, bountiful crops of tomatoes, you must properly water your tomato plants. This is a delicate process that can have dire consequences on your yields, so it’s important to get it right.
The best way to water tomatoes is with a soaker hose that slowly and deeply penetrates the soil. This eliminates splashing and runoff and allows the water to reach the roots without wasting it.
You can also use a drip irrigation system to direct the water exactly where it’s needed and prevent runoff. You can also use a mulch around the base of your tomatoes to reduce evaporation.
Tomatoes in pots and raised beds need to be watered frequently, as often as once or twice a day. Choose a well-draining soil or potting mix and amend it with organic material before planting.
Tomato plants need a slow, steady supply of nutrients to produce healthy vines and fruits. They only need to be fertilized at two stages of growth – soon after planting and just before fruiting.
Plants also need well-drained, fertile soil that isn’t too compacted. A few inches of organic matter, compost, or aged manure mixed into the top 4-8 inches of soil prior to planting is an ideal start.
A slow-release, liquid fertilizer like compost or worm casting tea can be applied every 14 days to help the plant absorb nutrients quickly through its roots and leaves. A granular fertilizer is another option that is generally applied just once, but can be used as a normal part of your watering routine to keep a steady supply of nutrients coming to the plant.
Pruning is a great way to prepare your tomatoes before they start ripening. It will allow more sun to reach the fruits and encourage air flow to reduce fungal and bacterial disease spores that often affect tomato plants.
Generally speaking, you should prune a tomato plant once it has grown to about 1 – 2 feet tall. That is the height where you see new side shoots coming off the main stem (looking like a ‘v’).
These side branches are called suckers and you can remove them for several reasons, such as increasing air flow to prevent fungal and bacterial diseases, concentrating plant energy into growing fruit rather than more leaves, and keeping leaves off of the ground so they don’t pick up pathogens. Small suckers are easy to pinch out, while larger ones need to be cut with pruning shears.
The harvesting of food crops is a time-honored activity that is celebrated all over the world. When tomatoes are harvested, they can be used to make delicious soups and salads, or eaten right out of the garden for a healthy snack!
Whether you’re growing your own tomatoes in a smart garden or at home, you need to make sure they’re ready for harvesting. Danielle shows Sarah three things to check for – color, smell, and “squishability.”
For best results, only use tomatoes that are just beginning to ripen. These are referred to as “green” tomatoes. To speed up ripening, store green tomatoes in a warm sunny place with minimal air movement. This helps prevent gassing from escaping from the tomatoes, which can affect their flavor and texture.