Grow Your Own Tomatoes

Are you as much of a fan of the fabulous taste of a good tomato as we are?  There are so many ways to enjoy a yummy tomato, such as: sliced tomatoes on a hamburger or sandwich, sliced tomatoes with fresh mozzarella cheese and basil for an appetizer, or mixing fresh tomatoes in some of your favorite recipes, like spaghetti sauce or chili.  Homegrown tomatoes are the best and can be easy to grow with a minimal amount of effort.

There is a wide range of tomato varieties.  Decide which type or types you would like to grow, based on your culinary preferences.  Visit your local nursery to see which plants are healthy and will thrive in the environment you have to offer. 

Tomatoes are available in an assortment of shapes and sizes.  Small tomatoes, such as the “Sweet 100” or “Tiny Tim”, are wonderful choices for salads or just to pop in your mouth for a nice snack.  If you are more interested in tomatoes that are suitable for sandwiches, larger choices like the “Big Boy” or the “Beefeater” are your best bet.  Some of these plump types can weigh between 1-2 pounds.  The best varieties to use for canning or mixing in sauces is a medium sized tomato, such as the “Roma” or the “San Marzano”.

In order to get started with your tomato plants, decide whether you would like to start from your own seeds, or with plant seedlings from a nursery.  If you decide to start with plant seedlings, buy the small plants that are sturdy and appear to have a good color.  If you begin with your own seeds, they should be planted indoors 5-7 weeks prior to placing them outdoors. 

As the tomato plants grow, it is essential to provide plenty of water.  The soil around a growing tomato should remain damp, but not soaked.  This will probably mean watering your plants about every day or two.  As the plants grow, you will need to stake them in order to support the stems.  As the tomato fruits appear, this will also keep the tomatoes off of the ground and preventing the fruits from rotting.  You can use either wooden stakes or metal cages to provide support for your plants.

Once you have plant seedlings that are ready for transplanting, place them either in large containers or in a garden.  Plants should be placed 12-24 inches apart, depending on the variety of tomato.  Some tomato plants, such as the “Big Boy”, can grow to be 12-14 feet in height, and will need ample room to reach its’ full potential.  It is wise to remember, the healthier the plant, the healthier the fruit the plant will bear.

Besides watering your plants regularly throughout the growing season, you may also decide to fertilize them.  It is best to fertilize your tomato plants when you first transplant the seedlings to a large container or garden, and also when the plants begin to bear fruit.  Throughout the summer, you may continue to fertilize lightly every 2-3 weeks. 

Another task is to weed around your tomato plants regularly.  Weeds can be a nuisance for thriving plants, and you will need to remove them so they don’t interfere with the growing process.  Pests and plant diseases can also be an issue.  It is the best practice to watch your plants closely for either of these issues.  If you discover pests, such as aphids or leaf miners on your plants, or if you notice any signs of diseases, you should treat the plant as soon as possible.  There are many products on the market that target specific problems with tomato plants.  Your local nursery will be able to help, if needed.

With just a little effort, you can have a few tomato plants or an abundance of them, that will supply you with mouthwatering tomatoes for you to enjoy all summer long.  The ability to have your own thriving tomato plants far outweighs the minimal effort it takes to grow them.