Grow Fresh Organic Tomatoes All Year
Growing Your Own Organic Tomatoes All Year Long Is Easy
When to start those tomatoes though is really a matter of choice or geographic location. Starting them inside the house or in a garden or maybe a greenhouse depends upon the weather.
Many people choose spring to plant tomatoes, but truly, they are one of the easiest plants to grow and can be grown all year long.
Planting my starts in starter cups, inside my home or greenhouse, as I usually do, (weather dependent, as spring can bring rain and even frost) gives me a chance to see exactly what I have and ensure their positive growth before transplanting.
Did You Know?
Tomatoes are the 'one' gardening plant that almost never fails. All you need do, is plant it, water it and get out of the way.
When planted in the spring, tomatoes can be harvested by May or June. By the time they have all been eaten, the fall crop of seed should already be planted.
When planted in the fall, tomatoes can be harvested by November or December. When those are gone? Plant again for the spring. You truly can grow fresh tomatoes all year 'round.
Buying 'Starts' or planting your own
The plastic containers, with a ready grown 'organic' start are preferred by many, as it eliminates a couple of steps in the process. (The filling of each container with potting soil and then planting and tending the seeds until they sprout etc).
Is that start really organic?
Although buying the seedlings already growing, speeds this process by a week or more, but how do you know anything about that start?
I prefer to grow my own starts, then I know what I have.
Growing Your Own - Is more affordable than you think
A CampingmanNW Tip: When purchasing lower priced items from Amazon that do not include free shipping, consolidate your orders to receive free shipping. It's NOT about being cheap, it's about shopping smart.
These Containers Are Great For Your Tomato Starts
This style is the most affordable for garden seed growth. The plastic container being dark means it retains warmth which is necessary for seed growth. Plus it won't break your wallet
Evaluation: These are not only in-expensive to buy, but they are easily stored at the end of the season by stacking and can be re-used year after year unless damaged.
Plant Starts Ready To Be Planted
Raised bed garden example
Here's an example of raised bed gardening to be able to your own fresh organic tomatoes all year long.
Take a look at the shadows in the picture, You can see that the garden is set up in an east west parameter for maximum sun coverage for the plants.
Remember though, if you live in a hot climate, tomatoes can't take a lot of direct sun. The solution is to stretch some muslin over the top on support poles for shade.
You can see from the picture also, the soil and compost have already mixed and the support forms were in place prior to planting. All of the basic plant structure is in place. The only thing left to do is wait until the plants are in the ground for a few weeks or so (each plant is different, but as they grow, you will know when it's time) for the cage to be placed around each one.
Remember your spacing.
3' centers for cherry tomato and 4' centers for beefsteak.
Whatever your choice, just make sure that the ground outside is prepared and that there are no more days of frost. If you still have a chance of frost, it is best to keep your tender young seedling starts inside. If you have planted them already and a frost is predicted, simply cover your starts with a light cover. Place small support stakes down the line of your seedlings to support the cover and keep it from touching your plants. NOTE: After planting, make sure to water the plants well, as the shock of re-planting is rough on them.
Once planted, spread mulch around each plant. Not just for moisture retention, but to keep the root stalks warm
A CampingmanNW Tip
Buy a few sheets of red plastic sheeting and stake them near each tomato plant in your garden. Stake them in such a way the suns rays will reflect towards your tomatoes. University studies have shown that the spectrum of light the red color reflects? Well, it promotes photosynthesis, which in turn, prompts growth and take it from someone who tried it.......... it really does work.
Your Seedlings Are Beginning To Sprout
As they grow, the tomato flowers will begin to bud
Now that the seedlings are in the ground, remember to water and weed accordingly.
Replace mulch as necessary, as it helps retain your moisture for your plants. Each plant must be able to not only grow, but sunlight must reach all sides of the growing vines.
Keep an eye on the 'runner branches' as I call them, to make sure they do not intertwine with the plant next to it.. Not to mention the fact that there must be room around the plants to be able to harvest the newly grown bounty.
As the vines grow, some cool little visible hairs will begin to show and these are necessary for the "vining" process. (The climbing of the plant.) It is at this stage that wire supports need to be installed, not only for the vines to climb, but to eventually support the healthy tomato that will soon grow.
In the photo at the right, a tomato flower can be clearly seen, along with several others behind and around it as well as those cool little hairs I spoke of.
This is the first stage in the growth of a tomato.
A suggestion: Plant no more than five cherry tomato plants unless you plan to open a store to sell the excess
Cherry tomato plants are (for Me) the easiest to grow and they seem to mature quicker for some reason as well, so I start off with them today. Cherry tomatoes origins date as far back as early Greek times and as recent as the Aztecs. But whatever their beginnings, they are a tasty treat for your table or eaten fresh from the vines. Many people prefer pots for growing cherry tomato plants, but I am a bit old fashioned and like them in a garden with plenty of room for the roots to grow and spread, not to mention the beneficial part of the plants all being close to one another for the bees and the fertilization process.
As you can see from the picture, each vine carries an abundance of tomatoes as they mature. but before they get there, there is some work to be done growing them. Cherry tomato plants need not be four feet apart, as they are a smaller plant to begin with than a regular tomato plant. Planting them on 2'-3' center's is far enough apart to allow sunlight and growth.
After the seedlings have been transplanted, like I mentioned earlier, a mulch of straw around the base of the plant will ensure moisture retention plus it also helps inhibit weed growth and keeps the root stalks warm. Replace mulch as it becomes necessary due to watering and or wind displacement. As the tomato plants begin to grow in height, it is time to place the tomato cage in place and begin training the vines to grasp the cage. (roughly two weeks after planting) The process is simple and as the plant grows, fruits of the labors will begin to show as the tomato begins to emerge roughly 60 days after planting.
Now, all that is left, is to weed and water and prepare to harvest the bounty.
I include cherry tomatoes for a specific reason. Not only are they good to eat right out of the garden, but these organically grown seeds are cheap for the value received. Tomatoes at a discount price. They are certified as organic
Evaluation: My favorite tomato to eat right from the garden.
Beefsteak Tomatoes, The Garden Staple
In the picture to the right, the tomatoes can be seen growing through and around the cage. For Me? A good square cage works best for supporting Beefsteak Tomatoes
Growing Beefsteak or Arkansas tomatoes is really not much different than growing cherry tomatoes, except for the size of the cage. If you plan to grown grow your own fresh organic tomatoes all year, then fertilizing with organic fertilizer's is a good step as well as the mulch around the base of the plants to help maintain moisture. Regardless of tomato style you choose to grow.
Planting on 4' center's allows as I said, allows the sun to reach all of the way around each plant and it makes it easier to harvest. If you have the room, the plants can be planted even further apart if you wish. Plant your plants in an east west manner, so that the sun can reach completely, end to end of the row of plants.
If the climate where you live is extreme, think about some long poles in a form of a long rectangle around your entire row of tomato plants. Once the poles are secure, tie a thin cloth (musllin works well) over the entire length of your tomato plants. The warmth of the sun will still reach the plants, but the tomato splitting direct sunlight will not.
Two weeks after planting the seedlings, is time to place the cage around each plant. Again, training each vine to grasp the cage as it grows. Use of plant clips will aid some in the beginning, but I have found that they work just as well throughout the growth process.
Now, for some fine tuning:
Do you want to keep birds and squirrels and the like away from your tomatoes? As the tomato begins to change color, tie a plastic bag around individual tomatoes. Zip lock bags (a commercial name) work the best. Just seal them around the tomato right up to the stem. Cut a small hole in the bottom of the bag for drainage of moisture and if you live somewhere like Texas where it is hot? Poke a few holes in the bag for ventilation, just not too many. This will ensure that the birds or squirrels do not get to enjoy the fruits of your labors.
There you have it, a simple way for you to grow your own fresh organic tomatoes all year
Thanks for reading today, stay safe and I'll see you on the trail--CampingmanNW
Let's face it. We are all trying to save money in today's economy and the Watermelon Beefsteak tomato is in the top ten of choices of tomatoes to grow on your own. Make sure you use orbuild a sturdy wire cage to support them, as they will grown large, healthy and heavy.
Evaluation: I like a large tomato to slice for a sandwich, these large tomatoes are perfect. Their flavor is excellent and they are not pulpy...just big and tasty..