Tips For Tomatoes
It is no wonder why tomatoes are one of our most popular vegetables! There are so many varieties and uses in the kitchen it’s easy to see why. We thought it would be helpful to offer some tips and tricks on sowing and growing for you to have the best tomatoes.
When Should You Start Your Tomatoes?
We suggest starting your tomatoes indoors 4 to 6 weeks before your area’s average last spring frost. Then transplant them outdoors when the daytime temperature is at least 45°F, and when the soil temperature is about 70ºF – 90ºF.
Containers To Use
It’s best to use sterile, shallow, containers that have drainage (4-pack or 6-pack from a garden center). Then transplant into larger, 3″ to 4″ containers once the real, scalloped edged leaves have emerged.
Seed Starting Mix
You’ll want to use a lightweight seed starting mix/media. Sow the seeds shallow at a 1/8″ to 1/4″ depth. Since seed-starting mix is sterile (garden soil which is not) and is lighter than potting mix, it allows for the ideal air-to-moisture mix that is best.
Transplanting & Support
When you are ready to transplant your seedlings outside, we suggest you either plant them deeply, burying the stem leaving 1-2 sets of leaves above ground; or you can set each plant almost at a horizontal angle in the ground and leave 2 sets of leaves above ground. The part of the stem buried will then sprout roots and help develop a strong and extensive root system. The part of the seedling above the ground will then naturally reach toward the sun and begin to right itself. Now you may place any cages, stakes, or any other kind of supports in the ground right after transplanting which will avoid damage to the root.
Temperatures above 55°F at night are required for fruit set. Temperatures above 75°F at night in the summer will inhibit fruit set and may cause blossoms to drop, resulting in no fruit production. Before you transplant you should wait until night temperatures are at least 45°F.
Your tomatoes will need about 1″ to 2″ of water each week, depending on the type of soil they are in. 1 or 2 good soakings per week in mild weather, and 2 or 3 per week when the weather gets hot should be sufficient. If your tomatoes are cracking, then you should back off on the water. Too much water can burst tomatoes and can also water down the flavor.
When To Harvest
Every variety is a little different when it comes to color. It’s best to check your seed packet to see when the tomato is ripe.