Man vs. Tomatoes

Growing tomatoes.  This is the reason most  home owners start a garden.  There is no other fruit or vegetable that tastes so much better grown at home versus buying in a grocery store.  I was never a huge fan of tomatoes until my wife suggested I grow them one year.  The taste was spectacular, but I found that growing tomatoes isn’t as straight forward as it may seem.  As with everything in life, some research and trial and error over the years does wonders.  Here is what I have learned.

There are several things to decide upon before choosing the right plant and planting method:

  1. Location location location.  You always need a location in your garden with a good amount of sun, but you also need to keep the plant about 2 feet away from any other veggie in your garden.  Tomatoes (especially indeterminate varieties) need room to grow.  You also want to make sure the tomato plant at its full grown size doesn’t shade out any other veggie from much needed sun.
  2. Support.  To cage or not to cage.  In my opinion, always cage.  Even determinate tomatoes can grow too high to support themselves.  The alternative is to let the tomato plant do what it would do in the wild – snake along the ground like a vine.  If you have the space to do this, great, but you will also have to deal with more diseases affecting the leaves and possible rot on the tomatoes as they come into contact with the ground.  Standard cages come in a variety of sizes and shapes.  Just be sure to buy sturdy cages that can weather multiple seasons, otherwise you are just going to need to buy new cages every year.
  3. Water.  Tomatoes tend to like a lot of water, focused on their roots, not on the leaves themselves.  If you hand water, this is easy.  If you have an automatic sprinkler system, see what you can do to convert to a drip line.  Not only will this make your tomatoes happy, but you’ll need to use less water.
  4. Determinant or Indeterminate.  Determinant tomatoes will only grow to a certain height and generally all fruit will mature at the same time.  Great for a smaller garden, but be sure to only trim dead or diseased leaves otherwise you can severely stunt the growth of the plant and the tomatoes.  Indeterminate varieties can easily grow 8 feet or more in height with proper support.  You can trim them back without affecting their output too much and the tomatoes will grow consistently throughout the season.
  5. Variety.  Really think about what you will be doing with the tomatoes you grow.  Cherry tomatoes for salads, beefsteaks for sandwiches, roma tomatoes for canning, any low acidic variety for just snacking on…

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This year I am growing only two plants – one is an Early Girl and the other is Mr. Stripey.  They have thus far produced far better then expected.  Here is my tomato tally:

WEEK ONE:  20 Tomatoes

WEEK TWO:  25 Tomatoes

WEEK THREE:  49 Tomatoes

WEEK FOUR:  12 Tomatoes

WEEK FIVE:  4 Tomatoes

WEEK SIX:  18 Tomatoes

I’ll keep up this count for the remainder of the season.

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