Many of us long for homegrown delicious tomatoes of our childhood. Tomatoes had such great flavor and depth years ago. They were so juicy. People complain how store bought tomatoes taste like cardboard. Follow the steps below and your memories of yesterday will become a reality of today. Most tomato varieties set fruit when temperatures are below 70 degrees at night. Now is the time of year to start planting your tomatoes from seed or buy them from a plant nursery.
Due to the sandy Florida soils, it is best to plant your tomato in a large pot and with a store bought good quality potting soil. You may add some store bought composted manure and homemade compost as well. . Mix them together. Get a huge pot to grow them in, at least a pot 18” to 26” across. You may also plant in a raised bed. Keep the soil moist and water at least every couple of days. Once the tomato plant starts producing fruit, it will require loads of water. That is how the tomatoes get juicy. Do not let the plants wilt. During peak production they may need water daily or even twice, morning and night. Deeply plant the tomato up to eighty percent of the stem in the soil. The deeper the stem is planted the stronger the plant will grow. Roots will form down the length of the stem. Remove some of the suckering branches from the indeterminate varieties. This will strengthen the plant and will give you higher yields.
Tomatoes need plenty of direct sunshine. Place the container in as much sun as you can give them. Growing your own tomatoes does not require a farm. Apartment dwellers can grow a pot on their balcony.
The following varieties recommended by IFAS in Gainesville.
Another favorite variety not mentioned is the Everglades or swamp tomatoe. This is an indeterminate small cherry tomato that is very easy to grow. Look for it at local plant sales and plant clubs.
Buy fertilizer just for tomatoes or use a general purpose variety. Follow instructions on the label. If one teaspoon is suggested, double is not better. You can kill the plant with kindness. Some people add dolomite to the potting soil to prevent blossom end rot of the tomato.
Insects love the soft succulent leaves of the tomato plant. Cut worms can eat at the vase of the stem, cutting off the stem entirely. Tomato horn worms can eat the entire plant in one day. Spider mites feast on the underside of leaves causing the leaves to look light green and mottled. Leaf minors burrow inside the leaf, leaving a pattern trail visible on the leaves. Monitor the plant and if needed spray with a homemade solution of garlic and soap. Use one teaspoon of non detergent soap and one clove of garlic crushed (or a teaspoon of garlic power) per gallon of water.
Good luck and happy planting! Comment on your progress.
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