Spring has sprung and many of us are looking at getting out to our gardens.

Spring has sprung and many of us are looking at getting out to our gardens.

We are dreaming about fresh produce from our own yard, knowing the only way to eat tomatoes is straight from your own garden. Nothing beats a homegrown Ohio tomato in a salad or on that (unhealthy) white bread with a little mayo and salt and pepper. So let's get started on just how to grow the best.

Summit County Master Gardener Lee Paulson is giving a talk at Springfield senior/community center 7 p.m. May 6. Paulson gives us a preview of what we need to do to help guarantee a decent crop of those luscious tomatoes. Here are 10 tips for growing the best tomatoes

1. CHOOSE CAREFULLY.

Pick the right tomatoes for your situation. Ask yourself--What do you like to eat?  Will you do a lot of canning or freezing?

Paulson suggests choosing either heirloom or hybrid tomatoes. "I go a little of each. It is also trial and error," he said. Paulson has been doing this for years, some varieties he grows every year and some are new to his garden.

2. START FROM SEEDS.

Growing your plants from seed is less expensive, and Paulson said you are guaranteed to get the ones you want. Plus, if you grow heirlooms, you can save the seeds from year to year.

3. CHOOSE GOOD SOIL.

Good soil starts by adding organic matter. "Nothing beats compost," said Paulson. Tomatoes perfer a rich organic soil with a PH balance of 6.5.   

4. USE EGG SHELLS.

When you plant the tomato add a good handful of egg shells to the hole.

"Tomatoes like calcium,” Paulson said. “It improves the taste and also helps prevent blossom end rot.”

5. PLANT HORIZONTALLY.

When you first plant the tomato plant, do not plant it vertically. Instead lay if flat with just the top four inches sticking out of the soil. Roots will form on the stem that is buried.   

6. PLENTY OF SUNSHINE.

Plant your tomatoes where they will get at least eight hours of sun a day. Love apples comes from the 1937 film "Shall We Dance" which featured a song "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" by George and Ira Gershwin.

7. USE CAGES.

Tomatoes are a vine. Paulson said he strongly encourages people to use tomato cages. Cages help fight disease, it keeps the fruit off the ground, easy to pick.

“I make my own cages out of concrete reinforcing wire," Paulson said.    

8. REUSE YOUR SUBURBANITE

Newspaper makes some of the best compost and helps to control weeds. Paulson suggests using 4 layers of newspaper.

9. WATER SPARINGLY.  Tomatoes need about an inch of water a week, so don’t over-water your plants. Too much water on the leaves could encourage fungal disease. Watering in the morning is better than the afternoon.

10. TOSS DEAD LEAVES. Any yellow leaves on the bottom of the plant should be removed and put in the garbage, not the compost pile.

Take Paulson's tips and enjoy delicious tomatoes on your summer dinner table.