Friday, July 18, 2014

Tips for Growing Tomatoes

I thought I would share a few gardening tip blog posts, I am a newly certified master gardener and a very newbie gardener. I am about to embark on a fun learning and volunteer journey in local gardens.   I really want to help in school and community gardens as I adore the link between health and vegetable gardening and inspiring kids to know how food is grown and to experience the joy of tasting food they have grown. My gardening journey was inspired by my wonderful Granddad my hero one of the best people I have ever meet. He passed away last year and I miss him dearly but this keeps his memory alive and shares him with the kids :-)

I have learnt a few tips for tomatoes from trial and error and am still learning here are some pointers:

  • First when you select your garden spot choose an area clear of tree's and roots and not in the shade
  • tomatoes will need at least 6 hours of sunlight a day to grow and ripen
  • its great to be near a water source to make watering easier or install drip irrigation
  • Tomatoes are a summer crop 
  • ensure good nutrient rich soil if planting directly in the ground get a soil test, you can have it done at your local extension office for free. The test will give recommendations for adding lime to increase pH or nitrogen if needed. Even if you choose to use raised beds its advisable to check the soil under the beds and adjust before building to ensure good soil for the roots to grow in. 
  • Often for a traditional garden a cover crop can be grown the year before then mixed into the soil to make great soil 
  • for a raised bed a good gardening soil works well and most have nutrients added
  • ensure the soil has good drainage 
  • if you compost this is wonderful to add to your soil also 

  • you can start your seeds indoors if desired under fluorescent lights then transplant after the risk of frost usually late April, the first of May in North Carolina so adjust depending on where you live
  • use cages or stakes to support them as they grow 
  • when first planted plant a lot of the stem to increase the root system 
  • water them deeply and infrequently to ensure deep roots and help them withstand dry periods
  • be careful to only fertilize as needed too much will cause lots of grow with no tomatoes 
  • as they start to grow remove lower sprouts and prune as I find if they get to heavy its hard to stay up under the weight of the tomatoes 
  • If you see blossom end rot check the calcium levels of the soil and add calcium
  • only water the soil not the leaves as wet leaves will increase the risk of fungal disease

  • aphids can be an issue with tomatoes, simply spray with water and soap :-) and hope for wonderful insects like ladybugs or lacewings
  • harvest in the morning this is peak for freshness at desired ripeness. 
  • store on the counter top 
  •  enjoy nothing beats the taste of homegrown tomatoes. 
Most of our little tomatoes never make it inside the house the kids gobble them up :-) 

What tips do you have please share :-)

- Rebecca 

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