Growing tomatoes is easier than you think.
By Pat Roome, Master Gardener and ENN Member
Everyone loves home-grown tomatoes. Surprisingly, growing them is a lot easier than you think. It all starts with a big sack of good dirt. Cherry tomatoes are the easiest to grow. Larger tomatoes need a longer season.
Tomato roots grow best in the top 4” of soil and can spread wide. Buy a bag of garden soil and plant directly into it. Place the bag in the sun next to the house or on a deck. Poke a dozen holes with a screwdriver on the bottom side, turn it right side up, and cut a large X in the middle. Plant at an angle to bury 3” of stem which will grow more roots.
The fluffed up bag of soil with an X cut in the top and drainage holes is the permanent pot - that’s what makes it so easy! Make sure to set the bag up in its long-term home from the start.
- Apply a liquid fertilizer three times: at planting, at flowering, and when fruits start to grow.
- Place a square cage over the plant.
- Water at planting and then once or twice a week. Do not let the soil become dry.
- Give the plant a shake every day when flowering to help pollination.
Here are Pat's answers to some questions from the editor:
Q: When is a good time to plant tomatoes?
A: Plant tomatoes in early May.
Q: Are there any varieties that do especially well in our climate?
A: Choose cherry and small fruiting varieties. Sun Gold Juliet, 4th of July, larger fruits should be a 65 to 75 day variety.
Q: Should I buy small plants or large ones?
A: Buy the ones in the biggest pots - they have more roots.
Q: How far apart should I plant them?
A: Plant about 30" apart. Always support with tomato cages.
Editor's note: Each year, Pat sells a variety of tomato plants for $5.00 per gallon-sized plant. For information, send email to Village@MyENN.org, with subject line, "Pat's tomatoes."
*Note to Full Service Members: Pat has offered to help members find ways to make their gardens easier to maintain. Full service members are eligible for this service which will be available for a limited time only. Sign in, click on the Members tab, and choose "New Service Request."