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Basic Principles for Growing Great Tomatoes

by Alesha Wilson
(Wilmington, NC)

Growing tomatoes can be fun, and it is a worthwhile hobby. Besides boosting your pride in your gardening skills, you will also save cash daily because you wouldn’t need to spend on tomatoes when you go to the store. Tomatoes are used in a lot of dishes. You can also can them for the rainy days, or for gifting. If you’re just starting your tomato garden, here are some tips to help you out.

Avoid Seedling Competition

If you’re using planters, make sure each seedling has enough space to grow. Competition for space and resources may be the main reason why some tomatoes don’t grow as well as they should. Plus, when the planter is crowded with too many plants, you’ll have a hard time transferring each individual plant to a bigger planter. Seedlings need to spread their roots and when the space is limited, the seedling will adapt by developing fewer roots.

Initially, the planter may seem too large for just two or three seedlings, but remember that many varieties of tomatoes grow fast. As soon as leaves appear, consider transferring the seedlings to other planters, to free up space for more seeds. This is the reason why some growers get more planters than they need for their seedlings. One planter can be the place where you grow the tomatoes from seed, while the others can be reserve space for your bigger plants.

Place Plants Under Strong Light

Ideally, tomatoes should be grown where the light is strongest, such as the balcony and in the yard where there aren’t big shade trees around. Indoor growing, however, means you must install strong lighting for the tomato seedlings. The young seedlings need at least 15 hours of continuous light for them to really grow. You may have to transfer the seedlings a couple of times a day to catch the sun’s rays, and place them under fluorescent bulbs during nighttime.

Use Plastic Mulch

This is particularly true for those in colder regions. The soil must be sufficiently warm for tomatoes to germinate and thrive. Using plastic mulch increases the warmth of the soil and can also be great for preventing weeds. Mulching can also improve the moisture content of the soil. When the soil’s health is improved by this method, the seedlings can develop more roots and can avoid disease.

Watch Out for Discolored Leaves

Near the base of the plant, you will find some leaves that become discolored because they aren’t getting enough sun. However, there are many instances where these leaves are harboring diseases that can spread to other areas of the plant. The best thing to do would be to remove these leaves and prevent the disease from spreading.

Regular Watering

Tomatoes are meant to receive a large amount of water every week. Regular watering ensures that there is enough water for the tomatoes to live on. Inconsistent watering can lead to disease and wilting. The worst thing that could happen is the flowers falling off. But take care not to use too much water that the soil around the tomato plants becomes waterlogged.

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