Tomatoes are the most popular plant to grow at home. There are varieties to suit every garden need and every culinary taste. They are prolific; one plant can provide enough summer table tomatoes for an entire family. It is easy to be successful with tomato growing by starting with good soil preparation. Tomatoes use a lot of nutrients from the soil so it is necessary to supply them with rich soil additives. Organic gardening practices are safer and produce better-tasting tomatoes.
Tomato Soil Needs
Tomatoes like rich humus (garden soil), which has added organic compost. Organic compost is a rich soil created from decayed plant matter. It has an abundance of microorganisms, which feed nutrients to the soil. Organic compost is less likely than chemical fertilizers to injure sensitive tomato plant roots. 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. Choose a sunny spot that is easy to water and drains well.
Homemade or Commercial Compost
Everyone can garden organically. Organic compost is available at most garden centers and by mail order. You also can make your own organic compost with little space. A backyard compost pile should be 3 feet wide, 3 feet long and 3 feet tall. You can create a pile for kitchen scraps and garden waste, you can build a simple bin, or you can purchase a commercial compost maker. It takes from six weeks to six months to create compost, depending on the method.
Add a shovelful of organic compost to each spot where you will plant a tomato. Turn the soil over once or twice to mix in the compost. The soil will become darker and richer looking with the addition of compost. Compost is often called “black gold” because of its value to growing plants. Soil which has been subjected to repeated seasons of fertilizer use often looks dead and gray. Compost has live organisms, which release their nutrients slowly into the soil.
Good Soil Creates Strong Plants
Healthy soil is the first defense against tomato plant diseases and pests. Good garden sanitation practices are also important as pests are attracted to decay. Tomato plants grown in healthy soil produce healthy plants. It is worth the extra time and effort to give your tomatoes good soil to grow in. The addition of organic matter (compost) is the safest and easiest way to do this.
Care of Tomato Plants
Water young tomato plants frequently and watch for signs of dryness and drooping leaves. Tomato plants have deep root systems, so soak each plant deeply. As the fruit sets and tomatoes grow, they need less water. Over-irrigated tomatoes lose their flavor. Compost-rich soil eliminates the need to fertilize plants during the growing season because compost slow-releases nutrients into the soil so the plant has a steady supply for many months.