Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tomato Growing Basics

By: Gardener, Contributor

Always remember that tomatoes are a subtropical plant, although careful breeding has produced some varieties that tolerate shorter days and cooler temperatures. Early tomatoes need everything you can do to keep them warm: row-cover tunnels, black or red plastic mulch, and/or Wall-o'-Water enclosures. The seeds like warm soil, too.

There are two types of tomato: determinate, and indeterminate. Determinate plants will grow to a certain height (usually two or three feet), and stop; they produce almost all their fruit at once. Indeterminate types grow very tall, often as high as six or eight feet, and sometimes more if they have support; they produce fruit constantly through the season. At any one time, indeterminates will have fruit at all stages of development and ripeness.

Tomatoes like rich soil and will grow happily in straight undiluted compost. Go easy with the manure, though, because too much nitrogen (from manure) will get you huge plants and very few tomatoes. Always mix a cup or more of bonemeal into the planting hole, because tomatoes need calcium and that's the organic way to give it to them. A foliar spray (wetting the leaves) of fish-seaweed fertilizer solution gives transplants a welcome more at

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