The Suburbanite
  • 4 ways to grow tomatoes

  • There are several principles  to keep in mind when growing  tomatoes.

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  • There are several principles to keep in mind when growing tomatoes. The University of Illinois Extension suggests these growing basics:
    • Full sunlight is needed.
    • Keep plants above 50 degrees, but not too hot.
    • A tomato cage or a teepee for the vine to grow around is helpful.
    • Trim one-third of all branches every month or so. This keeps the plant strong.
    • Trim one-third of all blooms for larger individual tomatoes.
    • Never let the tomato plant sit in water; it needs drainage.
    • Let the plant dry out between waterings.
    • Use good, loose, organic potting soil with lots of nutrition.
    • Feed with a good-quality vegetable garden fertilizer.
    • When harvesting tomatoes, twist tomatoes off the vine while supporting the plant with your hand to avoid damaging the plant and ensure continued growth.
    Container gardening is all the rage because of its manageable size, ease of growing and portability. A lightweight, inexpensive plastic container about three gallons or larger is the perfect home for growing a tomato seedling into a healthy fruit-bearing plant. Place the pot in a sunny spot or relocate to various sunny spots during the day. If you have a lot of shade and only partial sun, the container tomato is perfect for you.
    A small family garden is an ideal way to introduce children to the art of gardening and teach them about horticultural science without them knowing it. Tomatoes are a great plant to start, with as they grow relatively quickly. You will need a well-drained area that gets full sun most of the day to grow your plants to maturity. Skip the boring square garden design for a naturalized amoeba-like shape that enhances the plants' shapes and growth patterns with largest plants toward the center, graduating outward to the smallest plants at the border. Build up the soil with nutritious, organic soil. This method is beneficial as it controls the soil quality and enhances drainage.
    If you have a sunny window, atrium, Aero Garden or an artificial light source, you can grow tomatoes indoors. Starting tomatoes inside in spring parallels the natural growing season, but the harvest can last into the holiday season and beyond. Growing tomatoes in winter is possible, but an artificial lighting source will be necessary. The simplest way to try this method is by starting in spring with seedlings, a container at least 3 gallons, slightly acidic organic potting soil (moisture control mixes are great for indoor gardening) and a tomato cage to support the vines.
    The edge of a patio, side of the house or any tight spot that gets sun is a fine spot for a few well-placed tomato plants. Small-space gardening is just like any other form of outdoor gardening. Limit companion plants like lettuce and other fast growers, as they can crowd out the tomato plant. Basil and chrysanthemums grow well with the tomato plant and may even prevent insects from coming around naturally. Keep soil well-drained and fertilize regularly.

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