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TOMATOES

Dummer. ゛☀
2017-08-06
BOTANICAL NAME: Lycopersicon esculentum
PLANT TYPE: Vegetable
SUN EXPOSURE: Full Sun
SOIL TYPE: Loamy
SOIL PH: Acidic
Enjoy our tomato-growing page covering planting through plant care through harvesting—and even tomato recipes!
America’s favorite vegetable is fairly easy to grow and will produce a bumper crop with proper care. Its uses are numerous, however, tomato plants are susceptible to pests and diseases so proper plant care is important.
PLANTING
If you’re planting seeds (versus purchasing transplants), you’ll want to start your seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the average last spring frost date.
Select a site with full sun and well-drained soil. For northern regions, is is VERY important that your site receives at least 6 hours of sun. For southern regions, light afternoon shade will help tomatoes survive and thrive.
Two weeks before transplanting seedlings outdoors, till soil to about 1 foot and mix in aged manure, compost, or fertilizer.
Harden off transplants for a week before moving outdoors.
Transplant after last spring frost when the soil is warm.
Establish tomato stakes or cages in the soil at the time of planting. Staking keeps developing tomato fruit off the ground, while caging lets the plant hold itself upright. Some sort of support system is recommended, but sprawling can also produce fine crops if you have the space, and if the weather cooperates.
Plant seedlings two feet apart.
Pinch off a few of the lower branches on transplants, and plant the root ball deep enough so that the remaining lowest leaves are just above the surface of the soil.
Water well to reduce shock to the roots.
CARE
Water generously for the first few days.
Water well throughout the growing season, about 2 inches per week during the summer. Keep watering consistent!
Mulch five weeks after transplanting to retain moisture.
To help tomatoes through periods of drought, find some flat rocks and place one next to each plant. The rocks pull water up from under the ground and keep it from evaporating into the atmosphere.
Fertilize two weeks prior to first picking and again two weeks after first picking.
If using stakes, prune plants by pinching off suckers so that only a couple stems are growing per stake.
Practice crop rotation from year to year to prevent diseases that may have overwintered.
PESTS/DISEASES
Aphids
Flea Beetles
Tomato Hornworm
Whiteflies
Blossom-End Rot
Late Blight is a fungal disease that can strike during any part of the growing season. It will cause grey, moldy spots on leaves and fruit which later turn brown. The disease is spread and supported by persistent damp weather. This disease will overwinter, so all infected plants should be destroyed.
Mosaic Virus creates distorted leaves and causes young growth to be narrow and twisted, and the leaves become mottled with yellow. Unfortunately, infected plants should be destroyed (but don’t put them in your compost pile).
Cracking: When fruit growth is too rapid, the skin will crack. This usually occurs in uneven water or uneven moisture due to weather conditions (very rainy periods mixed with dry periods). Keep moisture levels constant with consistent watering and mulching.
Basil repels aphids, whiteflies, tomato hornworms, and mosquitoes from tomatoes.
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