Tomatoes are probably the most satisfying plants to experience on your garden, even thought they may not be the easiest to grow we all want the experiment with them at every spring, I mean who doesn’t want to see small tomatoes growing in your garden! they are cute like babies , and it is soo much fun!!!
In this guide we are going to provide you with all the necessary knowledge for you to be able to grow your precious tomatoes indoor or in a small garden, enough missing up this year you’re going to get them right.
Getting your seedlings ready
You can either start your own seedlings at home or just by them from the nursery, we will make sure that you get the best start possible because it will be the N°1 factor for your success.
10 steps to start tomato seedlings at home
In fact creating your own seedlings at home is easy and you’ll get to live the full experience with your plants from the moment you put them on the soil until they become mature follow those easy steps to create the best possible plants :
- Step 1: choose a variety of tomatoes that you like and consume frequently; there are so many varieties and it’s all depends on your personal preference after all you are the one who is going to eat them.
- Step 2: buy good quality seeds from your seed provider (it is preferable that you get the highest quality diseased free seeds)
- Step 3: start sowing those seed from late January until late mars indoors and from early mars until late April outdoor ( if the last frost has passed)
- Step 4: put them on a 7cm pot or seed starter in moist compost or in sterile seed-starting mix
- Step 5: water them and cover with a cling film (remove it as soon as they germinate)
- Step 6: put them in a warm place close to a bright windowsill.
- Step 7: transplant them separately in 5cm pots when they have their first set of true leaves.
- Step 8: provide abandon amount of light ; preferably strong direct light at least 14 to 18 hours
- Step 9: move and sway in breeze or turn a fan ; breeze will develop strong steem for the plant
- Step 10: move them outside as soon as the weather warm up and you have worked the soil
What seedlings to buy from the nursery
If you’ve decided to buy seedlings done for you from the nursery it is crucial that you choose the best ones, but it isn’t always obvious know how to inspect them otherwise you are deemed to fail from the beginning:
- Avoid the biggest and tallest. your fist move is to choose the tallest seedling on display, it’s not always the best choice.
these may have been competing for light in the growing conditions but Smaller seedlings are more likely to grow faster and suffer less transplant shock.
- Look at the roots, roots are what defines if a plant will do or die,
Check the rooting system by gently and carefully lifting the seedlings from the pot, good ones should have well formed root balls holding the potting mix in a solid mass (not too long that they couldn’t find space and not too short that they could’t lift the soil)
Ask the seller if you’re allowed to check it is the best insurance policy.
- Check the foliage, Leaves should be a consistent strong solid color
Make sure that they do not have any yellowish part or any sort of spots beginning to form, or any evidence of disease.
Moving the seedling outside
Like we said tomatoes need to have a lot of nutrients so you need to move your plants to bigger containers or to your raised beds for them to have more space also make sure you are choosing the sunniest place possible and then start by preparing your soil:
how to prepare the soil
Tomatoes are heavy feeders and they need a lot of nutrients and an abundant amount of sun to be able to give you the best possible yield, and for that you need to enrich your soil with peat free potting compost, you’ll also need to pre heat your garden soil days before moving your tomatoes in.
Your tomatoes won’t grow if the soil is cold or freezing they will rather die, if you want to move them early into the soil make sure to cover it with a blanket or a piece of plastic for a week or two to warm up and keep a consistent warmth day and night or wait until may for it to get warm naturally and then move them outside.
Start digging your soil: You can grow them in rows in your garden soil or raised beds or you can choose to grow them on at least 30cm pots or containers, either ways make sure to space between the plants is at least 2 to 3 feets (50-100cm) and 5 feet (150cm) between the rows.
To plant your seedling you have two options: either plant them deep into the soil or you can do the trenching method to plant it horizontally by gently bending the stem up. And just fill in the trench. Around the tomato plant, Leave few top leaves on top of the soil, and the plant will develop roots on the stems to give you a strong more reliable built that can get the nutrients it needs easily.
Now you can choose to put cages or stackes depending on the variety that you chose to plant indeterminate or determinant *
make sure to implant them before moving your plants to make sure you are not shocking the plant do this in the seamless way possible
make sure not to put mulch as soon as you plant them especially if the soil is still cold, as soon as temperature is consistent , add mulch to keep moisture and protect from the weeds to come.
Phase 3: provide the best care and nutrients for your plants
When the plant is growing and starting to flourish, make sure to pitch out the side shoots especially if you are growing indeterminate varieties this will help the plant concentrate more energy on growing fruits rather than leaves, you can keep one to two side shoots in the determinate plants especially if you are using a growing cage.
after the first fruit start to take form you will need to start adding tomato food fertilizer weekly for the plant to be fully capable and produce high quality fruits, then you need to make sure you strip aways leaves underneath the suits for better light and air circulation.
When you have at least 4 trusses (clusters) on a single end pinch out the growing tip, this is a sign for the plant to focus on growing big quality fruits rather than volume low quality, also in the end of the season if you want the plant to hurry up and ripped the fruits.
Watering your tomatoes :
We talked about watering your tomato plants in a dedicated section because it is one of the main factors people don’t succeed growing tomatoes and before the know it the plant is dead.
So you have to be careful: tomatoes will need generally one inch of water per week for the normal days, when the days start to heat make sure you give it a little more, leaves will tell you if they need water(when you see them wilt most of the day) but make sure not to over water and flood the roots (roots need air too) or under water until you kill the plant , keep it in the middle
inconsistent watering will make your tomato fruits to split and crack or catch diseases such as blossom end rot (causes deficiency of calcium), what happen is that rapid changes in soil moisture levels cause fruits to expand quicker than the tomato skin can grow and they split also this inconsistency keep calcium from achieving tomatoes and causes black spots on them.
Also make sure you water the soil not the leaves or the steams, to avoid some other diseases.
how to protect your plants from diseases, pests and worms
Make sure to cut the lower branches especially if the leaves are touching the soil, to avoid catching fungus and soil borne pathogens can easily get into them.
do not over feed, too much nitrogen can cause the plants lush and not really fruitful
if your leaves are turning yellow, this might be a sign of nutrient deficiency so make sure you are providing them with the right nutrients.
If you’ll face tomato worm you need to get rid of them as quickly as possible, otherwise they will consume all of your fruits.
make sure to take a look at this article if you have any problems or diseases on your plants.
Harvesting your tomatoes
After 40 to 50 days from the day your seedling get out of the soil you’ll start to see fruits that are starting to take form and start growing make sure they are exposed to light and not covered with leaves.
you can eliminate the new fruits that form in the top to let those in the bottom become enormous, or pluck any ripen tomato once it achieve the desired size to give the chance for others to get bigger fast.
when they achieve the perfect size and start to ripen on the plant, ease up watering to make sure the plant will give them more sugar and they will have more flavor, be careful not to withhold water that the plant continuously wilt and stress (stress make it drop blossom and fruits)
Towards the end of the season prune off older leaves to let in more light and get the tomatoes to ripen vastly or you can get them to ripen indoors
Storing your excess of fruits:
tomatoes are better eaten fresh after harvest or store them in room temperature, they don’t freeze well so avoid the fridge that can make them develop a mealy texture.
if you still want to freeze them we suggest you do it by making them tomato sauce
Now that you finished ready what was the most helpful tip for you , share it in the comments bellow