My mission this year is to get you to grow something you can eat! So let’s start with showing you how to grow tomatoes! Did you know tomatoes are the most popular food growing in gardens globally! Why? They taste good and are pretty easy to grow! The key is to plant tomatoes after the risk of frost outdoors and follow these 10 easy steps:
1. LET THE SUN SHINE ON!
As lovers of light, tomatoes require at least six hours of direct sunlight — preferably in the afternoon — for optimum performance (but eight hours or more is even better).
2. GET DIRTY!
In a rich, organic, well-drained soil that’s slightly acidic (pH 6 to 7), place your tomatoes slightly deeper than they were in their pot, laying the plant itself sideways and half-buried in a shallow tunnel.
3. KNOW WHAT YOU GROW!
Look to the tag to learn the im- portant details. Are your tomatoes determinate or indeterminate? Determinate tomatoes grow as a bush and ripen all at one time; indeterminate tomatoes are produced on a vine that grows continually, producing tomatoes from late summer until frost. The latter requires more staking, more support and, generally, more space. Also find out if the variety is resistant to disease.
4. STRIP SUCKERS!
Remove suckers from the tomato vines by pinching them between your fingers. Suckers are a cluster of leaves in the spot where the branch and the stem meet and should always be removed, as they don’t bear fruit and take energy away from the plant.
In a vegetable garden, mulch tomato plants using clean straw (don’t use hay — it contains weed seeds). This helps to retain moisture while also reducing the amount of water and soil that splashes back onto the foliage or the tomatoes themselves.
6. FEED IT!
For optimal production, apply Miracle Gro Shake n’ Feed Tomato, Fruit and Vegetable, shake evenly to the soil after planting. Growing organic? Mix sheep manure to existing soil just before planting.
7. SOAK DON’T SPRINKLE!
It’s best to do the watering in the low intensity of the early morning sun. Use a soaker hose rather than a sprinkler, as it’s important to water only the root zone and avoid the fruit or foliage.
8. YOU NEED BEES!
Lack bees in your area to pollinate your plant? Simply use a Q-tip to transfer pollen from bloom to bloom. Plant a wide array of flow- ering plants in existing gardens to encourage visits from pollinators.
9. RIPEN THE FLAVOUR!
Allow your tomatoes to ripen on the vine for the best, most flavourful, results. But if you’re stuck with green tomatoes, place one ripe tomato in a paper bag with a few green ones to speed the ripening process.
10. REFRIGERATOR FREE!
Store your tomatoes on the counter, not in the refrigerator. Chilling a tomato does not increase its shelf life but does decrease its flavour.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Pick up “Food to Grow” by Frankie Flowers: A simple, no-fail guide to growing your own vegetables, fruits and herbs!
Available anywhere books are sold!