Growing tomatoes at home

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I’m always trying to give fresh food, if possible organic ( especially fruits and vegetables ) to our kids and also trying to teach them the value of food and tell them lucky we are to live in an area of the world where access to good food and fertile earth is accessible.

So having a small garden at home was not even a questions, even for me, the mother that has NOT A GREEN THUMB AT ALL. I needed to start slowly by having only 3 varieties of tomatoes. Just wanted to share a few tips that I’ve learned and I am SO open to suggestions for next year as I am hoping to plant more veggies. So all your tips and tricks on growing more yummy veggies are REALLY WELCOME or if you have any great websites to share as well.

Tomatoes require a long growing season, so we  start ( my mother and I )  the seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date.

DON’T CROWD SEEDLINGS

If you are starting tomatoes from seed, be sure to give the seedlings plenty of room to branch out so we transplant them into their own individual 4 in. pot, shortly after they get their first set of true leaves.

LOTS OF LIGHT

Tomato seedlings need strong, direct light. Days are short during winter, so even placing them near a very sunny window may not provide them with sufficient natural light but we only had the natural direct daylight and I can say with my own experience, it was enough.

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BURY THE PLANTS

No you won’t need these kind of toys or heavy machines to plant your tomatoes… my son just LOVES to play in the garden with his trucks since it’s full of mud usually.

Plant your tomato plants deeper than they come in the pot, all the way up to the top few leaves. When planted this way, tomatoes are able to develop roots all along their stems. And more roots will make for a stronger plant. Place a small handful of all-purpose organic fertilizer or compost into the hole. The location I choose in my backyard has a LOT of direct sun, which is totally a must for sweet tomatoes.

STAKING OR CAGING

  • Staking: Drive a wooden or metal stake into the ground next to the tomato transplant. Fasten the main trunk of the tomato to the stake with plastic ties. *** My favorite method if you take a look at my pictures, we used iron rods. ( but you can definetly use bamboo sticks or wooden ones too) ***

  • Caging: Insert a three-ringed metal cage into the soil around your tomato transplant. Keep branches inside the cage as the plant grows.

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REMOVE THE BOTTOM LEAVES

Once your tomato plants reach about 3 ft. tall, remove the leaves from the bottom 1 ft. of ​stem. These are the oldest leaves and they are usually the first leaves to develop fungus problems. Also, it makes the plant stronger and leaving all the energy to grow the tomatoes, and it really makes sweeter fruits. ( Take a look at the above picture where I have just removed the lower leaves. It really helps the plants to grow faster ).

PRUNE AND PINCH THE PLANT

Pinch and remove suckers that develop in the crotch joint of two branches. They won’t bear fruit and will take energy away from the rest of the plant.

However go easy on pruning the rest of the plant. You can thin out a few leaves to allow the sun to reach the ripening fruit, but it’s the leaves that are photosynthesizing and creating the sugars that give flavor to your tomatoes.

WATER YOUR PLANTS… REGULARLY

Water deeply and regularly while the fruits are developing. Irregular watering – missing a week and trying to make up for it – leads to blossom end rot and cracking. The rule of thumb is to ensure your plants get at least 1 in. of water per week, but during hot, dry spells, they may need more. I also noticed that watering just the base of the plant is better and there’s less chance of fungus on the leaves to appear.

FERTILIZING THE TOMATOES

Side-dress your tomato plants with a complete organic fertilizer, such as 5-5-5. Apply the first side-dressing when the tomatoes are golf-ball sized, and then side-dress every three weeks.

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TOMATOES PICKING

We usually start seeing our first read tomatoes appearing in late July but it totally depends of when your plants started blooming and on the location you live in. We are way up north in Canada so summers being short and warm weather always coming late, our harvest comes in later. It is a really exiting moments for the kids to start picking up their own tomatoes before diner or lunch. They often snack directly from the garden which I can’t complaint since it’s good vitamins right?

And now, on the hunt for some yummy recipes.

Definitely homemade ketchup, tomato sauce for base recipes and salsas.

What are you favorite tomato based recipes?

Here is a link that I really like to consult to get ready with my garden:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gardening-blog/2010/may/18/growing-tomatoes-tips

and I also linked a website for growing tips in Canada ( Quebec )

http://www.laterre.ca/actualites/trucs-et-astuces-cultiver-la-tomate.php

Thanks for reading.

 

Stephanie xx.

 

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