Information about growing tomatoes, which may have been picked up randomly from magazines or the internet can often appear contradictory or confusing. There are really only three main factors to bear in mind for growing superdelicious, sweet, juicy tomatoes at home.
First Factor – Soil
Tomatoes require consistently rich, moist nutrient soil for adequate growth. The soil you start out with will depend on whether you will be cultivating your tomatoes from seeds or from seedlings.
If you are a purist who prefers to start from the beginning, then you will start with recently purchased or properly stored tomato seeds. When starting from seeds, you must use seed starter mix, which can be easily obtained from your local garden center. After your seeds have germinated, you can transplant them into ordinary potting soil.
If you are like most home tomato growers, you will start your tomatoes from seedlings obtained from your local garden center – the quicker and easier route. If that is the case, then you can start with ordinary potting soil. Just make sure you adequately fortify your soil for the two month growth period to follow.
The easiest and least expensive way to insure healthy soil is to simply add compost or bagged manure to the potting soil. Special fertilizer is not necessary and may even be harmful.
Second Factor – Sunlight
Tomato plants require at least 6 – 8 hours of good sunlight each day for adequate growth. More than 6 – 8 hours of sunlight would be better.
If your tomatoes have been transplanted to their final outdoor setting, make sure the area is sufficiently free of shade. Many beginners just assume the outdoors is the outdoors and adequate sunlight is automatic. Not so. Too much shade during the day will stunt your tomato plants’ growth.
If you are growing your tomatoes in containers indoors, keep the plants near windows that get at least 6 – 8 hours of sunlight exposure. If no single window gets that much sunlight, you may have to move your plants to different windows during the day to add up to the required amount of light.
Third Factor – Water
This can be tricky. Too little water cause your plants to shrivel, while too much water can lead to problems like blossom end rot. A good rule of thumb is to water every other day.
Avoid drowning your plants when you water. Tomato plants prefer a steady amount of water that is not overwhelming. Also, do NOT water your tomato plants overhead like they are flowers. Water on the stem and leaves can expose the plants to pests and diseases. Apply the water to the soil around the roots. That’s where it is needed.
Some growers prefer a form of drip irrigation as a watering technique. You can use a drip hose, or for a cheaper and simpler approach, simply bury a one gallon water container in the ground near the roots. Poke a few small holes in the bottom and fill the container with water, allowing the water to slowly drip out of the bottom into the ground over time.