Now is a great time for planting your garden. It is said that you plant your tomatoes after you pay your taxes, and I did my taxes yesterday. After April 15 here in Atlanta there has been no recorded frost and is said to be safe for starting your garden. Here in the store I often have first timers ask for advise as to which tomato plants to grow and these are the questions I ask them.
Do you have an area that gets full sun or 8 hours of sun a day?
Tomato plants require at least 8 hours of sun a day. A plant that does not get enough sun will get thin and spindly and it will not produce tomatoes to preserve itself.
Are we planting in the ground or in a pot?
Determinate tomatoes are better designed for container planting. They grow more compact, bush like rather than a vine. They can grow without the use of a cage in most instances. They also will stop growing in size and they will produce all of its fruit at once.
Indeterminate tomatoes are more suited for growing in the ground. These are the preference of most people, for they do not stop growing and they will continue producing fruit until first frost. They will give you tomatoes through the spring and summer nonstop. They will get large and unruly, but can be managed when you put a cage around them.
It does take an amazing amount of energy and nutrients to produce so much fruit. Therefore I would not cut corners when it comes to your planting or potting soils. I would use the Miracle Grow Moisture control potting mix or the Miracle Grow flower vegetable garden soil when planting. Also when growing in containers be sure to put plenty of holes in the bottom of the pot to assure proper drainage.
for the ground. for a pot.
You could use an all purpose fertilizer like 10-10-10 when planting, which would be OK but I would recommend a good water soluble fertilizer like Miracle Grow Tomato Vegetable fertilizer or the Vigoro granular Tomato Vegetable food. These fertilizers are designed to meet the specific needs of veggies by not only giving your plants N, P, and K but also providing most of the other micro nutrients. Using these can also reduce the chances of your plants developing a common Calcium deficiency called Blossom End Rot. Do not over-fertilize, as too much nitrogen can cause a plant to not produce.
Blossom End Rot and Crop Rotation
Most vegetables like a soil with a pH around 6.2 to 6.8. Gardens that are too acidic can prevent plants from utilizing nutrients. Although there may be plenty of calcium in the soil, plants can not absorb it in acidic soil. Another scenario could be that you plant your tomatoes in the same place each year in soil that has become depleted of calcium.
Because certain crops use certain nutrients in excess, rotating your crops is critical. Do not plant a crop in the same place for 3 years. Do a soil test when prepping your garden in February. Till lime into the garden to fix soil pH and avoid the calcium deficiency known as Blossom End Rot. Blossom End Rot is common in tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and melons.
If your plant gets Blossom End Rot then there are a few things that you can do to fight it off. First apply a fast acting lime to the soil. This will still take some time for it to adjust soil pH, therefore we will need to apply a faster acting calcium 3 times a week until the lime kicks in. If you have some Tums antacids then crush up 5 of them and add to 1 gallon of water and water into the plant. There is also water soluble calcium for blossom end rot.
Heirloom vs.. Hybrid tomatoes.
Heirloom tomatoes have been around for 50 or more years and have been grown by old timers forever. One might say that if it aint broke then don't fix it. Where these tomatoes have worked just fine for all these years there is a strong case to be made for heirlooms. Heirlooms produce seeds that are true to the parent plant. Heirlooms are not cross-pollinated with other tomatoes so the seeds produced are fertile unlike most hybrids.
Hybrids have been bred to take 1 good trait from a plant and cross it with a different good trait from another. So hybrids are designed to be more resistant to diseases, produce higher yields and mature quicker. Hybrids, however, produce sterile seeds.
With your garden it is important to rotate your crops each year. Do not plant your tomatoes in the same place. Certain nutrients are taken out of the soil each year by certain crops therefore if you continue planting in the same place then your crops will be deprived of the nutrients it needs, making it more prone to diseases. Incorporate a lot of organic compost with your crops. This will continue giving it nutrients throughout the season and it will continue to produce high yields.
Every plant has particular insects that are attracted to it. Tomatoes are particularly prone to Cutworms, Aphids, Hornworms, Leafhoppers, Tomato Fruitworms, Spider Mites and Flea Beetles. The Home Depot has the quickest and safest ways to treat your garden.
Prevention is the best way to keep your garden healthy. By avoiding insecticides and incorporating beneficial organisms and insects into the garden that naturally occur, you can feel safe and know exactly what you are eating.
The Home depot sells Beneficial nematodes that are parasitic to all those insects with larva or pupal stages in the ground as well as those that pupate and turn to adults above ground. These Nematodes are responsible for the killing of over 200 different insects.
Using organic insecticides is a great way to insure that what we are eating, stays safe to eat while not killing the bees that are critical to a healthy ecosystem. When spraying insecticides, spray in the later evenings, once the bees have left.
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Tomatoes give their all when it comes to production. They will produce tomatoes up until their last days, even after their leaves have shriveled and fallen off.
Tomatoes have a finite production period. Plants that are set out early in the season will end their production before the end of summer. Plant more tomatoes at a later date for extended production into the fall. A "late crop" will yield tomatoes up until frost.
Genia, if your tomatoes were set out more recently, they may be suffering from over fertilization. Tomatoes are sensitive to nitrogen and can burn easily, causing leaf loss. Slow release nitrogen is critical for tomato plants. I personally fertilize tomatoes about half as much as the rest of my garden.
Another cause for leaf loss can be water. Too much or too little will show similar symptoms. Compost added to the soil helps regulate the moisture delivered to the plant. If the plant is in a pot, it can dry out quickly. Add mulch to the top of the soil to keep the moisture in.
Thanks for asking. Welcome to the community!!!
I have a lot of birds around my home. What can I do to keep them off my tomatoes when they start to ripen?
The Home Depot has a couple solutions to your problem. I would recommend using Birdblock netting around your Tomatoes. You can find this product in the garden department in the same section as the Weed block fabric. Just drape this over the Tomato cage and plant and hold it to the ground with the fabric staples , which are in the same place.
For an added layer of protection you could get one of those plastic owls, although they look rather tacky, they are very effective with keeping the birds away. They use them everywhere in Florida to keep Seagulls and Pelicans off of balcony's and porches.