How to Grow Tomatoes

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How to Grow TomatoesTomatoes seem like the ultimate vegetables (although they are technically a fruit.) They can be used in everything from sauces to salads, and add a nice bright red color to a primarily green-colored garden. They are also easy to grow, right? Well, in some cases they are.

Some people have no problem growing tomatoes and end up with so many that they end up sharing them with their neighbors, while others can’t seem to get their tomatoes to grow at all. If you fall into the latter category, here are a few rules to follow:

1) Place your seedlings a fair distance apart. Plants don’t like to be crowded, especially tomatoes. Their small stalks need plenty of space to grow. If you’re starting them from seed, you can place several seeds in the same pot and thin them out later. Once they’re ready to be transplanted outdoors, make sure to leave at least 6 inches between each plant. This will give them enough room to grow while leaving you space to place a cage or pole by them later.

2) Plant your tomatoes where they will receive plenty of light. Tomatoes need between 14 and 16 hours of sunlight each day. This means that they need to go in a very sunny section of your yard. If you place them in the shade, they may grow, but will be stunted. You might also end up with a lot of green tomatoes that refuse to ripen. Avoid this by planting them in an ideal spot that’s free of shade.

3) Water your tomatoes a lot. This is especially true at first, when the tomatoes are mere seedlings. Once they begin to grow, they will still need plenty of water. Test the soil with your hand to see if it is moist enough. If they soil seems dry, then water them. However, you don’t want the water to sit in puddles on top of the soil, as too much water can be harmful as well.

4) Pinch off sucker branches. These tiny branches form in the triangle made by the stem and another branch. They appear as leaves at first, then begin to grow and form a separate branch growing out of the first one. Pinch off these fledgling branches and remove them before they grow too large, as they can take away from the nutrients needed to grow properly sized tomatoes on the original branches.

5) Be careful when placing the pole or cage into the soil. If you place the pole or edges of the cage too close to the plant, you could damage the stem or the root system. You’re better off placing the pole or cage several inches away from the main part of the plant and then loosely tying the plant to it to keep it upright. You also don’t want to tie the twine too tightly, as this can damage the plant, not to mention kill it if the twine begins to bite into the stem of your tomato plant.

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 Pic by Photon_de