You say “Tomato”, we say “YUM”


Posted with permission of the National Garden Bureau:

 

Man picking tomatoes
Yummm… Nothing is more delicious than a home-grown tomato straight out of your garden!

Tomatoes are one of the most popular plants for home gardeners. With just a few plants, you can easily feed your family plus have extras to share or preserve for winter eating.

They are also one of the easiest vegetables to grow if you remember a few key points….

1. Tomatoes need as much direct sunlight as possible to produce the highest yield. Native to the tropics, tomatoes require warm temperatures for good growth, so wait until the nighttime air has warmed to about 55 degrees F before transplanting. Planting tomatoes too soon will only slow them down.

2. The best way to plant a tomato is the trench method. After loosening the soil, dig a trench and lay the tomato plant into it horizontally. Pinch lower leaves off of the stem, and allow the top cluster of leaves to lead out of the trench. Cover the root system and bare stem with soil, gently firming it where the plant emerges, and push a pillow of soil under the top stem to keep it erect. The plant will grow up towards the sun and, because the bulk of the stem is buried at a shallow level, the newly developing roots will warm up quickly. This is a boon to gardeners living where the growing season is short. Be sure to water deeply to encourage deep root growth.

3. If temperatures drop at night, keep young plants warm with a cloche or other protective cover. Tomatoes are not frost hardy, and will die if exposed to 32 degrees F without protection.

4. Throughout the growing season remember to water the plants deeply during dry periods for as long as they are setting fruit. Established tomato plants need at least one inch of precipitation per week.

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5. For the best tomato flavor, allow the fruit to fully ripen on the plant. Wait until it is deep red, yellow, or whatever final color the tomato is to be, because once it is removed from the vine, the supply of sugars is cut off. To harvest, gently twist the fruit so that the stem separates from the vine.

6. Tomatoes are best kept at room temperature, and will store on a kitchen counter for several days. It is absolutely unnecessary to place a ripe tomato in the refrigerator.

7. At the end of the season when frost is predicted, green tomatoes can be harvested and placed on a windowsill or counter. Most will gradually turn red and have some degree of tomato flavor. Placing unripe tomatoes in a paper bag will hasten the ripening process.

8. For more information on growing your best tomatoes this season, check out these informative guidelines from some of our NGB members….

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