How to Plant Tomatoes in Your Backyard: A Step by Step Guide
If you know how to plant tomatoes and properly care for them, you will be able to see some tasty results anywhere from 45 to just 60 days. Tomatoes are one of the easiest vegetable varieties to grow and exceptionally great for a backyard organic food supply. Generally, you would want to start planting them when the warmer seasons kick in. However, it is possible to easily start a tomato crop indoors, so you get to enjoy them even in the winter.
Tomatoes are easy to grow, both from young plants, as well as from seeds. You will find in this article all the information you need on how to plant tomatoes and harvest rich crops starting off with young sprouts. You may already be an experienced gardener or just as well a novice, eager to grasp the secrets of gardening and health benefits this beautiful hobby promotes. Nevertheless, you will definitely enjoy learning how to plant tomatoes and provide an endless supply of these tasty vegetables for your whole family using some simple steps.
How to Plant Tomatoes Using Young Sprouts
Most gardeners regardless of their experience use tomato shoots for an easy planting, growing, and harvesting process. Even more so if you are a first-time grower, purchasing tomato seedlings and later transplant them into your garden will make for the easiest growing technique. Generally, the price of a tomato plant is highly dependent on size. Hence, purchase some cheaper and smaller tomato plants from your local gardening store. However, if you are falling behind, do go the extra mile and invest in larger plants in order to make up for the lost time.
There are many easy-to-grow varieties on the market that novice gardeners prefer. Such options include:
Also, for better results and a fail-proof harvest, consider planting multiple tomato varieties rather than just one type. In order to provide a plentiful fresh tomato supply for your family, you are going to need at least two plants for each member. However, if you plan on canning tomatoes or use them to make fresh salsa, make sure to grow up to four plants per person.
Choosing the Perfect Spot
Tomato plants and many other vegetable varieties, for that matter, need to benefit from at least seven hours of sunlight. Not only does this help the plants grow faster, but when it comes to tomato crops they will convert warm sunshine into a sweet taste. There are some aspects you need to consider before transplanting the plants:
- Do not wait more than a few days late to place them outside past the recommended dates appropriate for your particular climate zone! This will carry a negative impact on the overall development of the crop.
- When temperatures get to a low temperature of around 75 degrees F most tomato plants will quit setting new fruit. Ones that have already set will continue to grow, but none will set when the nights are particularly warm, especially through the wee hours near sunrise.
Soil and Compost
In order to ensure a healthy harvest, keep in mind that tomato plants thrive on soil rich in nutrients. As a result, you are going to need roughly 5 to 8 pounds of compost per square foot. You can purchase some high-quality compost and mix it into the soil if you do not make your own. Usually, a 3-inch thick layer of manure or compost does the trick and delivers all the nutrients the plants need for the growing process.
Transplanting Tomato Plants and Proper Spacing
Usually, most gardeners space the tomato space anywhere from 18 to 36 inches apart, but this practice highly depends on the climate. Hence, if you live in a warmer area, space the tomato plants half the suggested distance. Even more so if you are using tomato cages. Usually, spacing plants rather far away from one another allows them to bush out hugely on the ground.
However, when planting tomatoes closer together in special cages allows them to shade each other’s fruit and prevents burn while providing a sweeter taste. At the same time, make sure to leave yourself enough room to get in between the tomato plants to weed, water, and ultimately harvest.
When you move on to transplanting the plants, bury about 50% to 70% of it deep in the ground, leggy plants, in particular. Also, covering some leave with dirt does not hinder the growing process, since new roots will emerge along the buried stem. Ultimately, this gives the tomato plant a nice boost in further development since the transplant method focuses mainly on root production.
Tending to Your Tomato Crops: Watering
After you move the tomato plants outside make sure to water deeply within 10 minutes of transplanting. Hence, give each plant about one gallon of warm water (80 degrees F). After the first week, it is enough to provide each plant with about 16 ounces of warm water every day. There are some watering techniques you can use to prevent the plants from catching diseases.
Hence, soaker hose or drip watering is better than overhead. The latter encourages a wide range of diseases that tomatoes are especially prone to. It is ideal that plants receive anywhere between one to three inches of rain weekly. However, this may not always be the case. As a result, make sure to provide each tomato plant with two gallons of water per week beginning with the end of the second week after transplanting.
Also, use more water as the plants get larger. Furthermore, water frequently and with larger volumes in hot or dry weather conditions, as well.
Mulch and Fertilizers
Whether you decide to use chemical fertilizers is entirely up to you. Tomatoes can do well enough without the use of any fertilizers as long as you make sure to enrich the soil with organic matter. However, should you decide to provide an incentive for the tomato plants, stay clear of lawn fertilizers. Also, over-fertilization causes plants to grow unnaturally quickly and leaves them susceptible to pests and diseases.
Furthermore, keep in mind that when you wish to know how to plant tomatoes effectively, your aim is the fruit rather than the leaves. Hence, keep the use of fertilizers to a minimum since using too much or the wrong kind leads to producing more leaves and foliage than fruit.
Two weeks after transplanting you can surround the tomato plants with mulch, straws, pine needles, or dry grass. This practice helps you to control invasive weeds and keeps the soil moist, especially in dry weather conditions. Hence, the mulch layer should not be thicker than an inch and surround a circle at least 12 inches in diameter around the stem. Do not, under any circumstance, keep the soil continuously wet. You will end up smothering the roots and causing a stem disease, especially during warmer seasons.
Now that you already possess all the knowledge on how to plant tomatoes, grow, and care for them effectively, expect some results in between anywhere from 45 to 90 days. Usually, tomatoes are rather small and green, at first. Hence, wait until the fruit is ready for picking and features a good size with bright and deep coloring. Another tell that can give you information on whether the tomatoes are ready for picking is texture. When tomatoes are ripe enough, they will turn slightly soft.
When you pick them, do not squeeze the fruits as this will bruise the tomatoes. Leave them on the vine for a short while for a better taste. However, let them too much and pests will ruin your harvest or they will start to rot. You can also pick the fruits once they start to change colors and leave them inside by a sunny window for ripening.
Protecting the Tomato Crops
When you leave the fruits on the vine to get a sweeter taste it is crucial to protect them from pests and predators alike that can ruin the harvest. Hence, purchase some large plastic bags from the local supermarket and use them to cover up the tomato plants. Once you place the bag over the plant, close it from both sides at the top, right above the fruits. Leave about a quarter of an inch on each side for air flow. Next, cut the lower corner for drainage and when necessary, punch several air holes for a better ventilation.
You could also place some red Christmas decorations on the top of the tomato cage. The birds will peck at them, instead of the fruits and soon lose interest thanks to the confusion.
Even though many people learn how to plant tomatoes, many fail because they don’t have the proper knowledge when it comes to keeping their harvest safe. Hence, apart from planting and growing tomatoes, you will need to pay close attention to pest control and learn the best ways to keep predators away from your harvest.
Once you gather all the information on how to plant tomatoes, grow, and protect the plants you can go on to planting your own crop. Moreover, since there are so many tomato varieties to choose from, label each individual plant, so by the time they are ready for harvest you will know exactly what you will get. All that is left for you now is to start planting and later on enjoy the sweet taste of your work.