Tomatoes are some of the most popular vegetables, and that's because they are healthy, easy to grow and you can use them in a lot of recipes. Like we said, tomatoes are easy to grow, but to grow them well, there are certain things that you should know. That's why, we've created a series of articles in which we are going to tell you everything you need to know about tomatoes, from planting to eating.
Getting started - growing tomatoes from seeds
Even though you can find tomato plants in the stores, it is better to grow them from seeds. If you have decided that you want to grow some tomatoes in your garden, here are some advice that might be helpful.
1. Choosing the right seeds: there are some things you need to consider when choosing your seeds. If you want seeds that have a good quality, make sure you buy organic seeds, that are also disease resistant. The Heirloom Tomatoes are some of the tastiest tomatoes and have a lot of varieties. So if you are looking for that special taste make sure you check them out. The plant size is also very important. On every packet of seeds you can find information about how tall will the plant be when it's mature, but remember that determinate plants can be smaller than the indeterminate ones. You might recognize the small plants that you can grow in containers because they have names like "patio" and "pixie". Also check out the harvest time of every plant. If you want to have your tomatoes all at once, buy a determinate variety because the indeterminate ones grow over a longer period of time.
2.What you need to grow tomatoes: here is a list of all the things you will need to grow your own tomatoes.
• Tomato Seeds.
• Containers ( it must be at least 3 inches deep and must have a drainage hole at the bottom).
• Potting Mix ( these mixes absorb the water and let out the excess drain).
• Labels ( either you buy them or you use sticks from ice cream, you will need the to know which plant is which).
• Water ( to keep your seeds moist).
• Light (don't worry to much about the light until the seeds germinate, but after that it is essential).
3. Planting tomato seeds indoors: the seeds will germinate quickly, within 5 to 10 days. The plants also grow fast, so you should put the seeds in the soil 6 to 8 weeks before you intend to take them outside. When you move them outdoors, take in consideration the last frost date and of course the weather outside. Here is an example: if you want to take your tomatoes outside at the beginning of May, start the indoor activity in the end of March. Also keep in mind that when you give your indoor plants a lot of sun and water, they will grow faster and you will have to move them outside quicker or to plant them in bigger containers.
4. Preparing the containers and planting the seeds: take the potting mix, add water and work it through. Keep on adding water until the soil stays compressed but it's not to wet. Fill the containers with this soil until is about one inch from the top. With your finger or with a label stick, make a 1/4 inch whole and put 2-3 seeds inside, and then cover them with soil. Spray some more water if you think is not moist enough. Place the containers in a warm place and check daily to see if the soil if moist, and wait for them to germinate.
5. Taking care of your tomatoes: now that your tomatoes have leaves, you can start feeding it once a week, with any good liquid fertilizer. But the most important thing is light. Put them near a good source of light and rotate them if they seem to be growing in only one direction. Put a fan that blows directly at the plants for one our each day, because this will make their stem grow stronger. If you don't have a fan, you can simply run your hand through them every time you pass near them. Wait until the tomatoes have 2 to 3 inches long stems and a couple of sets of leaves and then move them in larger pots.
6. Moving the tomatoes in individual containers: now that they are taller, they need bigger containers, 3 to 4 inches pots are perfect. Fill each one with potting soil just like before and take each tomato plant and plant it a little deeper. If in one container you have more plants, make sure you separate them before planting them again.
7. When and how to move your tomatoes outside: the date of the move should be determined by the date of the last frost and the weather outside. You can plant them a little later because they will catch up. But if the weather is to cold, they could dye because of the frost. So when the night time temperatures are above 50 degrees F./ 10 degrees C. it is safe to move your plants outside. Make the move in a cool day, when there are some clouds on the sky. You must plant the deeper than they are in their pots, even all the way up to the top couple set of leaves. This process will help them get stronger. If you don't have soil that is deep, plants them in a furrow and the top of the plant will find the sun and grow straight in a couple of days.
8. How to care for your tomato plants outside: once they are in the garden, stake the plants and give them a good portion of water. When the weather heats, the flowers will start blooming. Make sure your plants are healthy and strong, by leaving enough space between them, giving the water and checking them daily.