The Tomato is a warm-weather vegetable that tends to be very susceptible to light freezes and frosts. It also tends to be one of the most social plants in your garden! Beneficial plants for your tomato patch include basil, which repels flies and mosquitos, bee balm, chives, and mint, which helps with the health and flavour of your fruit! Companion Planting is your friend with this favourite fruit of the people.
Companion Planting Guide Found Here
Things to keep away from your Tomato include any walnut tree family member since they excrete an acid that kills everything. Corn is preyed upon by some of the same pests as your Tomato and should also. Kohlrabi tends to stunt the growth of your Tomato. Finally, keep potatoes, cabbage, and cauliflower away as they can get early and late blight.
When to Plant
Tomatoes are a transplant, started inside 6-8 weeks before being transferred outside. Never transplant your seedlings before the temperature stays above 12 C, and the plants are 15-25 cm. Transplanting early causes yellowing, stunting and makes the plants slow to bear.
How to Plant
Starting Your Seeds
Sow your seeds into soils starting pods approximately eight weeks before the last frost date for your area. Try your best to keep your seedlings in a warm, sunny place since less than 12 hours of light a day will produce spindly seedlings.
Once your seedlings have four leaves, it's time to transfer it into a 3-4" pot and to a slightly larger one when the plant reaches 8-10" tall. Each time you transplant your seedlings, be sure that only the uppermost leaves are just above the soil and remove all the lower ones.
Always wait until your stem has reached 8-10" tall before taking your plants to the garden. Be sure to allow them up to 10 days to harden off before transplanting them due to temperature fluctuations. Always be sure the temperature will remain above 12 C and keep them spaced 2-3' apart.
When planting your seedlings in the garden, be sure that you plant the tomatoes up to the first set of leaves. Doing this will cause roots to sprout along the stem underground to strengthen and support the plant. Alternatively, if you find yourself with a weak plant, you can plant it on its side up to the first set of leaves. Within a day or so, it should right itself up and grow strong and true like the rest of your seedlings.
When planting your seedlings, be sure to fertilize with a half and half solution of water and fertilizer to give them a little extra boost through the transition. Always be aware and listening to cold weather warnings, and be prepared to cover your plants with paper tents or other materials to protect them from any frost.
How to Grow
Sources suggest that indeterminate and large semi indeterminate breeds should be pruned of all suckers as it's believed they steal essential nourishment from the fruit. Tomato Sucker Pruning Guide Found Here
Always start your transplants with a half and half starter solution. Once when planting and once again after the first flowers form. Once the flowering has begun, supplement your Tomatoes with Compost Tea every 2-3 weeks. You should also feed your plants with 5-10-5 fertilizer once a month scattered in a 2' wide band around each plant.
Water is essential to your Tomato plants as they require at least 1" of water per week. It is especially vital in warm, dry spells to keep your Tomatoes well watered. Mulching around your plants will also help retain some of the necessary water and prevents weeds and soil-borne pests from finding their way onto your plants.
To minimize the leafy growth on your indeterminate plants, you should regularly prune them to a single main stem by breaking off any shoots as soon as they appear. Don't forget to take care of those little suckers in the crotch of your main-stem, or they will start robbing necessary nutrients from your fruit. Cut the terminal chute once the plant has reached the top of its 5-6' stake to stop its growth. Most gardeners prefer to trim their Tomatoes to one or two main stems to maximize production.
How to Harvest
Harvest is the best time of the year for any gardener. It's finally a chance for you to enjoy the fruits of your labour, and Tomatoes are no exception! Pick your fruit when it's a deep ripe red, and be sure to check back regularly once the harvest begins. You may store excess fruit in the fridge, but Tomatoes kept at room temperature maintain the best flavour. Once the frost starts to threaten, be sure to harvest all of your Green Tomatoes, wrap them in newspaper and keep them in a warm, dark area so they will gradually ripen well into the winter. Once you plant a seedling, you should expect to start enjoying the fruits of your labour in approximately 60-85 days.
To store excess Tomatoes, you can roast them and store them in a little olive oil in the refrigerator.
A light frost will scorch and kill some of the leaves on your plants, but they will continue to produce until they encounter a severe frost which will likely kill the entire plant. If an early frost is coming, you can either cover your plants with plastic or old sheets. Alternatively, you can pull the plants out by the roots and hang them in the basement until the fruit ripens. These options are a last resort because a frost commonly signals the end of the harvesting season.
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