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How to Grow Tomatoes

how to grow tomatoes outside how to grow tomatoes outside

How to grow tomatoes: Most gardeners grow tomatoes from seedling or plant. They start growing tomatoes indoors (inside home or greenhouse) and then they transplant the tomato seedlings outside when temperatures are suitable for tomato growth.

Tomatoes require 60-110 days to be ready for harvest from seed, depending on the tomato variety and the weather during the growing season. Keep in mind that there are

Optimal air temperatures for growing tomatoes are between 69°F (20.5°C) and 76°F (24.4°C). Optimal night temperatures are between 60°F (15.5°C) and 65°F (18.3°C). Tomatoes can endure air temperatures as low as 55°F (12.7°C) during the night and up to 90°F (32.2°C) during the day.

Soil temperature during tomato growth should be between 65°F (18.3°C) and 75°F (23.8°C) in optimal conditions, but can withstand soil temperatures as low as 60°F (15.5°C).

Required soil pH for tomato growth is 5.7-7.3 but the optimal pH is 6.1-6.8.

Though tomatoes are an ideal summer crop they do suffer under prolonged conditions over 90°F (32.2°C) in direct sunlight. Consistently hot weather will not kill existing tomatoes on the plant, but will kill the pollen on the flowers needed to create new tomatoes.

Water between 1-1.5 inches of water per week, adjusting for weather conditions and type of soil accordingly. Tomatoes should not be watered at night, but rather during the day, specifically during the morning. Water left on the tomato plant overnight can cause disease.

Very few gardeners directly plant tomatoes outside in the garden. Most gardeners will wait to transplant seedling into the garden when they are about 6-8 weeks old. Seedling are still delicate at this stage so if there is threat of frost do apply protective cover.

Tomato spacing:  When planting tomato seeds directly into the ground sow seeds 0.4-0.5 inches (1- 1.27 cm) deep spaced 25 inches (63 cm) apart with rows spaced 28 inches (71 cm) apart. If you plant to start germinating seeds inside, then plant tomato seeds 0.4-0.5 inches (1- 1.27 cm) deep seeds about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart and then transplant to bigger pots once the seeds germinate in about 7-13 days.

How to classify tomatoes: Tomatoes are classified into many different groups and categories. They are classified by color, size, shape, firmness and days to maturity. Another way tomatoes are classified is by their growth habit.

The short bushy type tomato plants are called determinate tomatoes, or simply bush tomatoes. The taller tomato plants are called determinate tomatoes, also called vine tomatoes.

Determinate, or bush tomatoes, are usually only 2-3 feet tall, and will produce fruit over a 2-5 week time period, usually all at the same time. Indeterminate tomatoes grow to about 6 feet tall, sometimes even taller, and produce fruit throughout the growing season.

Indeterminate tomato plants will require staking to support the weight of the plant. Determinate tomato plants don’t need to be supported, though it couldn’t hurt. Determinate tomatoes plants do not need pruning, but indeterminates are better off pruned. Most of the heirloom types are the indeterminate varieties

How do I know if I have a determinate or indeterminate tomato plant?

You can tell by the size of the plant. Determinate varieties are only about 2-3 feet tall. Indeterminate varieties grow to about 6 feet and higher.

Another way to know whether you have a determinate or indeterminate variety is by how many flowers there are in various growth stages. Determinate tomato varieties stop growing when the plants start to flower, and they all flower nearly at the same time. They then set fruit and ripen nearly at the same time.

On indeterminate tomato plants one can observe flowers and fruit in their different development stages all growing on the plant. Indeterminate tomato plants can grow and produce fruit up until the first frost.

Tomato uses: Tomatoes are grown for many different uses. Tomatoes are grown to be eaten fresh or dried, canned, pickled, for tomato paste and sauces and even for facial products.

So don’t be worried if your tomato plant produces more tomatoes then what you need – you can always find what to do with those extra tomatoes.

How to grow tomatoes in your garden:

There are so many different tomato varieties but in general tomatoes should not be allowed to grow on the ground because it increases the chance of rot and disease. Many gardeners apply a layer of mulch to prevent disease and rot for tomatoes growing on the ground, but in most cases that will not help.

The best way to grow tomatoes is to make sure they grow above ground using a tomato cage, tomato stake or tomato trellis. Which one to use? What is the difference between them? Good question.

Tomato stake – simply a pole or stake placed into the ground beside the tomato plant. The stake can be made from metal, wood, plastic or even bamboo. This would be the cheapest way to support your tomato plant because you can literally take any metal or wooden pole lying around, place it in the ground next to your tomato plant, and voila, you’ve got your tomato stake.

Keep in mind that you need to match the stake to your tomato plant variety. Taller and heavier tomato varieties require stronger and taller stakes to support the weight and growth of the tomato plant. The tomato stem should be gently tied to the stake using string or yarn. Do not tie firmly so that the pressure does not damage the stem.

Tomato trellis - A tomato trellis is simply a number of stakes, usually made from metal or wood connected and woven together by string, wire or wood which are used to support the growth of the tomato plant. A tomato trellis can even be a fence beside your tomato plant used for support.

Tomato cage - a tomato cage is simply a cage structure, usually from metal, and in most cases purchased, which are place around the tomato plant and the tomato plant grows within the cage. The tomato cages vary in sizes according the tomato plant variety requirements. One downside to using cages is that the take up storage space when growing season is over. Many DIYers choose to construct their own tomato cages using wired metal fencing material of varying sizes.

About tomatoes: Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable grown in US gardens, growing in 93% of American gardens. However, this was not always the case.

Up until the mid-1800’s most Americans believed that tomatoes are poisonous and folklore saying that tomatoes will turn your blood to acid. Much of this belief was because tomatoes belong to the Solanaceae family which includes poisonous plants. So up until the mid-1800’s tomatoes were grown by Europeans solely for decorative purposes.

Tomatoes are dated back to the Aztecs in 700 AD, and are thought to have originated in the Americas, around what is today modern day Peru. Today there are an estimated 10,000 different varieties grown around the world, and some estimating that number to be closer to 25,000 varieties.

So is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable? Most people commonly regard the tomato as a vegetable, but it is actually a fruit.

This confusion is the result of a dispute that even reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 1893.  The US government imposed tariffs on vegetables but not on fruit. The Supreme Court determined that botanically speaking the tomato is a fruit, but it is considered by most people a vegetable, and placed the tariff on tomato imports.