The origin of tomatoes date back to 700 years in South America and it spread around the world during the Spanish colonization of America. With over 7500 varieties, tomatoes can be grown anywhere with sufficient sunlight.
When to Plant Tomatoes – for the Best Harvest
Prior to cultivation, it is crucial to know when to plant tomatoes and what variety to choose. Some regions do not support the growth of certain tomatoes owing to various environmental factors. The best soil pH for tomatoes is between 6.0 and 7.0. They ideally grow at temperatures around 55 degree Fahrenheit and need plenty of sunshine to grow, which gives you the basic idea on when to plant tomatoes. While exposing to sunlight, start by keeping the seedlings out in the shade for a couple of hours and progress gradually before subjecting them to direct sunlight throughout.Before deciding on when to plant tomatoes, know the prevalent climatic conditions in your area. The seeds must be sown two months before frost. During frost, protect the plants using row covers, and harvest the tomatoes. The fruits are at their best when allowed to develop on the plant itself. Picking healthy seedlings, growing them at the right time and watering them regularly will help grow juicy tomatoes. They are rich in vitamin A and C, and lycopene, an antioxidant that fights cancer.
Tomato Gardening – Phases of Development
There are three stages of tomato gardening; hardening off, soil preparation and planting. Seeds must be placed half inch deep in flat ground or pots, under moist soil conditions. Upon germination, the seedlings must be placed outside for shorter intervals for acclimation. Before planting, loosen the soil, make a trench 6-8 inches deep and spread a thin layer of organic fertilizer at the bottom. Cover the fertilizer layer with three inches soil and plant the seedlings 12 inches apart, to give room for more root growth. Once the plants develop, place a stake or trellis to spread them out for richer harvests.Seedlings can be planted on containers, 14 inches deep and 18 inches wide. Tomato gardening is possible in patios, balconies or even greenhouses.
Planting tomatoes – Ways to Promote Growth
Regular pruning, mulching and fertilizing is essential while planting tomatoes. Slow release granules can improve the texture of the soil around the plants. To deter weeds, use organic mulch. Plants suffering from blights must be dug out and burnt. Placing paper collar at the base of the plants deter cutworms. To keep fungal diseases at bay, direct a fan towards the seedlings for almost ten minutes everyday for better air circulation.To promote the growth of tomatoes and to keep pests and diseases away, grow companion plants. A few best known companion plants for tomatoes are onions, basil, borage, marigold, geraniums, petunias, nasturtium, oregano, carrots, garlic and shallots.Heirloom is the most popular variety of tomatoes.