Growing Tomatoes, Part 1

Tomatoes are everyone’s favorite vegetable and are actually easier to grow than one might think. However, there are several precautions you must take in order to prevent the wide range of pests and diseases that these versatile plants are susceptible to. The amount of advice or instruction we could give on this topic is limitless, so we’ll be breaking these blogs out by topic, starting with “planting.”

If you’re planting with seeds, here are a couple steps you should take before and during planting:

  • Your seeds should remain indoors for 6-8 weeks before the last spring frost date.
  • You’ll need to find a site with well-draining soil and full sunlight. If you’re in a northern, cooler climate it is important that you ensure at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. In southern climates, afternoon shade will greatly help your tomatoes.

If you’re transplanting seedlings:

  • Before transplanting, till soil to about 1 foot and add compost or fertilizer. This should be done about two weeks in advance.
  • Transplants should be hardened off for a week before moving outside.
  • It’s best to transplant when the soil is warm, after the last spring frost.
  • You should take time to establish stakes and/or cages before you transplant them. Support is not required, but is greatly helpful for the growing process.
  • Ensure that you plant them two feet apart and plant the root ball deep enough so that the lowest leaves are just above the surface of the soil.
  • Water the seedlings well to reduce shock to the roots.

There are so many helpful resources for tomato planting, but we find these few the best for determining dates and times for planting transplants and seeds:

http://www.almanac.com/blog/gardening-blog/tomatoes-seed-easy-way

http://www.almanac.com/content/planting-moons-phase-gardening-calendar