For The Love of Tomatoes

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I LOVE tomatoes. I mean, one could say it’s pretty obscene, or gluttonous, or whatever you want to call it. The point is, I have a mad love affair with them. They made me love to garden.
I always grow several varieties, mostly heirloom, but some hybrids. I grow green tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, big fat slicing tomatoes…
I could go on..
I love to eat them, warm with salt right out of the garden. If you have never done this, I absolutely insist that you go pick a ripe tomato off the vine, peel back a little skin with your front teeth, salt it, and pig out. You will NEVER be the same.

My favorite varieties of tomato are:
Green Zebra – Heirloom with a tangy/tart flavor, great for salads, salsa or fried green tomatoes.
Mortgage lifter – Heirloom, big, tangy, sweet, slicing tomato.. DIVINE
Super fantastic – Hybrid, tangy and juicy and delicious in salads
Big Rainbow – Heirloom, beautiful texture taste and color
Cherry tomatoes πŸ™‚

PLANTING
It is VERY important when planting your tomatoes to plant most of the plant underground, leaves and all. Some people I know put the tomato plants in sideways, and one let three leaves stick out, this will produce what looks like three plants, but is actually one bushy plant. Planting almost the whole tomato plant underground creates a very thick stem and a hardy tomato plant. Be careful not to break the stem as this will kill your tomato plant. If you are planting from seed, be sure to thin the seedlings or the weaklings out, to leave plenty of room for you tomatoes. πŸ™‚

PRUNING
Some say you shouldn’t, some say you should, like everything else, you have to think for yourself. πŸ™‚
When it hailed marble size hail last year, it almost destroyed my tomatoes. Everyone told me that pruning wouldn’t help. I pruned them back pretty far, and guess who was the only one with tomatoes in her garden?

This girl.

I always prune them. When they are small, when they are medium and when they are large. That’s how my Dad did it, and that’s how I do it. Pruning just helps you have control of how the plant grows, redirects the plant’s energy and determines how tall or bushy it gets so it will be able to support the fruit it bears. If you prune it correctly, it will bear a LOT of fruit. Last year after the hail my plants were about 6′ tall and 2 or 3′ wide, in my raised garden beds.
Guess who had tomatoes coming out of her ears last year? Guess who ate them ALL?
This girl. πŸ™‚

I put my starts in about a month ago, but it has been raining, so they haven’t grown much. Maybe an inch or two. I like to let them settle for a couple weeks, but really my plants are like 3 inches tall right now, and that’s it.

You want to cut off the end leaf, just before the first double leaf (one on each side if the branch) when the branch starts to get thicker.

Cut just before the two smaller leaves

Cut just before the two smaller leaves

Prune from the top, this will make your plant bush out more. If you trim from the bottom up, your plant will become leggy and not very strong, and so it can break when it bears heavy fruit.

Prune both sides of the plant, but from the top leaves

Prune both sides of the plant, but from the top leaves

Tomato plants are like weeds, they are very hardy in the right conditions so don’t be afraid. They grow new leaves so fast, you will be amazed. Once your plant starts thriving and getting huge, let it get pretty unruly and prune it again, trust me. The fruit you will receive makes it worth it!!

Kerie

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9 responses to “For The Love of Tomatoes

  1. So I watched lots of YouTube videos about growing and pruning tomatoes. I have a determinate variety, and I started them from seed. I thinned, and transplanted them to a larger container with a good organic potting soil (Espoma). Like you say, I planted most of the stem in the soil, and the main stem is now nice and thick–almost as thick as my little finger. It’s about 18 inches tall now. My community garden should be ready for planting this weekend. Would you recommend planting it in the ground with most of the stem in the soil? Thanks!

    • Yes. As long as the soil is prepared, it is warm where you are, and u are able to give them consistant amounts of water. (Uneven watering will make them have splits. I would plant one, in a sunny spot, wait like 3 days and see how it does!

      • I’ve seen a suggested mix of 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 peat moss/coconut hairs for raised beds. What would you suggest for amending soil in a community garden? I don’t think it’s raised beds–it’s just plots of regular soil (I live in Michigan). I’m thinking of just mixing in some organic chicken compost I found on Amazon (Charlie’s compost) and maybe feeding later with organic fish/seaweed fertilizer. Clearly, I have no idea what I’m doing–it all seems good to me!

      • I think that suggestion is good. The point is to have good soil aeration, and good quality soil. Peat moss is awesome because it is good organic matter, partially decayed, but still decaying. It adds a lot to the soil. I swear by peat moss. I mix mine with compost, vermiculite, and a little top soil (just a little). This way there is already good soil but the bark from the top soil and the peat moss will continue to decay. then when I’m all done and planted, I always go to the bait shop and buy a couple boxes of nightcrawlers. Spread them out all along your beds. Their poop is magnificent for the soil too!! haha!
        I have listed on either, “spring garden season” or “raised garden beds” the kind of fertilizer I use. I don’t use miracle grow. I have though, and it does work, but it has a very high nitrogen content and that can burn your plants. I use garden tone organic.
        Let me know if this helps you, I appreciate the feedback and let me know if you have other questions. If all else fails, remember, people have been planting/growing since the dawn of time, there was only trial and error, and that really is the best way to learn because everyone has different soil/weather/conditions. πŸ™‚

  2. I don’t think anything, ANYTHING, beats the smell of tomato vines. My GOODNESS it’s gorgeous. We’re hoping to get some this year as last year’s crop all died of blight… *sniff*
    What a great post πŸ™‚

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