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. Ok, so I planted my garden 1 week ago, that is their saying, not mine. 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 use the Miracle Grow Organic potting mix or the Miracle Grow flower vegetable planting mix 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.
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.
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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.