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Seasonal Tip

Growing Tomatoes
June 21, 2009

When planning the annual vegetable garden, many possibilities come to mind. To many, no garden is complete without the inclusion of the tomato.

It is hard to imagine that these bright red vegetables are actually a fruit. Bursting with juice and flavor, this fruit was actually considered to be a deadly poison during the Renaissance period. Now they are the King (or Queen) of the garden.

When planting tomatoes, choose a very sunny spot, preferably different from where you grew tomatoes last year. The soil should be loose and full of organic matter. Tomatoes feed heavily. A shovel full of garden manure and a handful of bone meal should be thoroughly mixed into each hole when planting your seedlings. Fertilizer applications throughout the growing season will provide the essential nutrients for your plants to produce an abundance of ripe fruits.

There are four basic ways to grow tomatoes:

  • Sprawling: Vining (determinate) varieties can be left to simply sprawl over the ground.
  • Staking: Use metal or wooden stakes (6 feet tall). Use soft twine, strips of cloth, or old stockings to tie the plant to the stake.\
  • Caging: A wire cage surrounding the plant will provide support without tying.
  • Trellising: Use horizontal roping or mesh affixed to stakes to provide a grid for vining tomatoes. Tie the vines to the trellis with soft twine or cloth.

Tomatoes need a steady water supply to help them ripen well. Beware of subjecting tomato plants to a period of drought followed by excess water. This will cause the tomatoes to crack or develop blossom end rot (round black spots on the tip of the fruit).

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