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A Guide to Growing Your Own Tomatoes

May 30, 2017 02:00 PM

Posted by Amy Bumbacco

This blog article was prepared by a freelance writer and editor, Jackie Edwards, who formally worked in the health care industry. Find the longer article here.

Guide to Bringing Tropical Tomato Conditions to Waterloo

Tomatoes are tropical fruit that love basking out in the sun and sipping on their drinks. Although they are more suited for warmer temperatures, this does not mean they can’t grow in Waterloo. You just simply have to take more precautions to ensure they grow healthy and strong. Here is how you can bring the delicious tropical fruit to your backyard.

Indoor Germination

Since tomatoes are tropical, they enjoy soil temperatures of about 27 degrees Celsius. This type of weather doesn’t hit Waterloo until the summer months, but it is important that we prepare before then because tomatoes have a long fertilization period. Therefore, you should start germinating your plants indoors beginning in mid-March. This will allow them to be ready for outdoor planting when the summer season comes.

To start planting your tomatoes, be sure you have adequate soil. Tomatoes prefer relatively neutral to slightly acidic soil and grow best in soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8. You also want to make sure this soil drains well so that you aren’t left with soggy soil when watered. Soggy soil could lead to root rot and other diseases that will stunt the growth of your plant. Once you have found your soil, place some in small plastic pots and plant your seeds about ¼ of an inch deep in the pots. Keep the pots moist and place them in a warm spot to germinate.

Maintenance

Tomatoes need a lot of sunlight and water to grow. When the plants are indoors, you will want to use grow lights to make sure they get access to light at least six hours a day – eight hours is ideal. This is less important before the seeds sprout, but very important when you start to see the plant. Tomatoes also need a constant supply of water. The Old Farmer’s Almanac recommends providing at least two inches or water a week.

Bringing the Plant Outdoors

You will want to bring your plant outdoors in late May. You should irrigate the area you plan to plant for about 24 hours before planting. After 24 hours, dig holes twice as wide as the indoor pots but just as deep. These holes should be about two feet apart to allow for growing. After making the holes, place the seedlings into the holes and fill with soil. Tomato stems like to be buried so be sure to bury up to two-thirds of the stem in the soil.

Outdoor Maintenance

The tomatoes will still need to be watered about two inches per week, but you should water generously during the first couple of days. They will have direct access to sunlight so you won’t have to worry about this anymore; however, be sure that all parts of the plants are exposed to the sun to promote healthy growth. You may also want to consider growing companion plants such as mint or basil to prevent attacks by bugs, or adding nitrogen fertilizer monthly to give them plenty of nutrition.

Picking the Tomatoes

You will want to leave the tomatoes on the vine for as long as possible. When they become firm and very red in color you will know they are ripe for picking. Remember that the size of the tomato will not tell you if it is ripe! Once you spot the perfect tomato, simply pick and add to your meal.

Bon Appétit!

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