Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable to grow in a home garden. They are easy to grow and have an abundant harvest. Grow a few tomato plants at home and there will be an abundant supply for summer eating and to freeze for winter. There are hundreds of varieties of tomatoes to suit every taste and growing condition. Consider a few common questions before you begin growing tomatoes.
Consider the tomato variety you want to grow. Some home gardeners grow tomatoes for salads and summer cooking. 'Best Girl' is a medium-sized, all-purpose tomato. The 'Small Fry' variety is good for hanging baskets. Heirloom tomato varieties such as 'Brandywine' can be large and sprawling, while many hybrids are more compact and low-growing. Check the plant label or seed packet information to determine the final height of the plant and how much room to give it.
The question of available space in the garden is important. Tomato plants need 1 to 2 feet between them. Heirloom tomato varieties can be large and sprawling, while many hybrids are more compact and low-growing. Tomatoes should be caged or staked when they reach 5 to 8 inches in height. Tomatoes also grow well in containers. The 'Small Fry' variety is good for hanging baskets.
Healthy soil is important in growing good tomatoes. They like rich humus (garden soil) which has organic compost added. Organic compost gives a slow-release of essential nutrients to the tomato root system. Clay soil is improved by adding a 2 to 3 inch layer of peat moss or compost. Tomatoes can be grown from seed as soon as the garden warms up in spring. Many people purchase tomato plants that are 5 to 6 inches tall. You can set these into a prepared space in the garden.
Watering is another concern when growing tomatoes. Plant tomatoes near a water source, as they are thirsty plants. Soil should be soaked 6 to 8 inches deep at seven day intervals. Conserve moisture in the soil by adding a layer of straw or leaf mulch around the base of the plant. Tomatoes wilt quickly when they need water.
Questions about pests often arise when growing tomatoes. There are many organic pest control methods that are effective in resolving the common tomato problem of aphids. Beneficial insects introduced into the garden, in this case laceywings and ladybugs, can help remedy an aphid problem. Both of these beneficial insects can be purchased by mail order or at garden centers.