By Troy S. Jenks
It’s never too early to start making plans for your tomato garden, especially if you’re interested in getting the earliest and best tasting tomatoes. In order to grow tomatoes that taste really great, select your favorite variety, make sure you start the growing process correctly and be proactive about solving potential problems.
In this article, you will find some tomato growing tips that are time tested. Use them to ensure you have an enviable harvest.
Don’t crowd seedlings
It is important that you give the seeds you grow enough space to branch out if you are growing your tomatoes from seed. Conditions in which seeds are crowded hinder growth and expose the plants to risk of disease. As soon as they develop their first true leaves, transfer each of the plants into a 4-inch pot.
Make sure there is plenty of light
In order for tomato seedlings to thrive, they require a lot of light. In winter, when the days are short, even positioning them near a window that lets in sunlight may not provide the plants with all the light they need. In such conditions where there is a shortage of natural sunlight, you may have to use artificial plant lighting for about 16 hours a day.
In order for the tomato plants to grow strong, healthy stocks, you need to keep the infant plants only a few inches from artificial plant lighting. You may have to lower the plants or raise the lights as the plants develop. When it is time for them to be transferred outdoors, choose the spot on your vegetable garden that has the most light for growing tomatoes.
Fan your seedlings
It is important for tomatoes to sway and move in the breeze in order to develop stems that are strong. When they are outdoors, it happens naturally. However, when seedlings are grown indoors, you need to provide a means for air circulation. Turning a fan on the seedlings for up to ten minutes twice daily creates a sufficient breeze.
Alternatively, you can ruffle the tomato plants by gently rubbing your hand across the top back and forth. This should be done several times a day for a few minutes. Granted, this requires more effort than using a fan, but at least the pleasant tomato scent will rub off on you.
Preheat the soil
Tomatoes thrive in heat. Use red or black plastic to cover the planting area a few weeks before you start planting the tomato seedlings. The additional warmth in the soil will make the tomatoes sprout earlier. Clear plastic is also effective because it lets in the sun’s energy and traps the warmth in the soil. It also forces any weed seeds to germinate then kills them with the heat.
If you’re planting already sprouted tomato plants, make sure you plant them even deeper than they came in the container. Plant them all the way up to the top few leaves. This allows the plants to develop roots along the stems as they grow. The more roots your tomato plant has, the stronger it will be.
Troy S. Jenks is a vegetable container gardening enthusiast. He has developed his skills for over 13 years and has written numerous articles and blog posts on topics related to container gardening, including tips on successfully growing tomatoes in a container garden.