Monday, 10 February 2014

Why You Should Plant Your Own Tomatoes
 If you are planting your first garden one of the most favorite vegetables you will want to plant will be tomatoes. Planting and raising and harvesting your own tomatoes will be very satisfying. Nothing is sweeter than a fresh tomato right off the vine and into your mouth. Depending on what type of tomato you like will depend if you plant large size producers or uniform not-so-big fruit producers.
You may want to start your own plants if you have the room indoors or for quicker production you may opt to purchase the already established plants from the local nursery or plant section of the local department store. If you want small salad tomatoes there are several types. Small sizes come in tiny Sweet 100s to grape tomatoes to patio size about the size of a plum. Larger sizes are good for slicing or canning or freezing. When you grow your own you can control what is used for pest control, such as just using flour to get rid of cabbage moths, and hand picking off the tomato horn worms. Using chemicals in the garden not only kills unwanted insects but the useful ones also.
Tomatoes usually are very prolific, so if you are going organic, use manure instead of chemical fertilizers. Some think it is unhealthy to use the chemicals and therefore go all organic. Search the internet or go to the local nursery for advise on organic gardening. Choose your tomato plants and put them in the satisfying location and watch them grow into beautiful productive and surely more nutritious plants for food and profit.
The Best Conditions For Growing Tomatoes
Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables grown by home gardeners. They were brought to the colonies from South America and people thought they were poisonous and were not good to eat. Tomatoes require warm weather to grow and bear fruit. The flowers are very sensitive to temperature changes especially at night. Tomatoes grow best in deep loamy soil with plenty of organic matter.
They prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.2 to 6.8. Fertilizer should be worked into the soil several weeks before transplanting the plants. When planning for tomatoes you must start them early inside or in a greenhouse. The soil should be kept damp, but not soggy. The plants will need to be hardened by taking them outside in late March so they become accustomed to the cold. You should plant two to three times the amount of seeds you want for a tomato garden.
Then when you plant them outside you only choose the hardiest ones. One way to keep a tomato plant happy is to keep the roots warm. They should be planted in full sun. By folding newspapers into a collar and placing around them they will stay warmer. Also large clear plastic bottles work well to protect the tender plants from March winds. A number of different pests and diseases will attack your tomato plants so prevention is the best way to have good tomatoes. Be sure you don't keep the soil too wet since that will encourage fungus growth. 

The Best Soil For Growing Tomatoes
The Ohio State University Extension Service says that the most popular vegetable/fruit for the home gardener is the tomato. It is so versatile and the uses are no many that they are used in every home at least once every day. They can be grown in a relative small amount of space. They can be staked and grown on patios or in large clay pots. As well, they say we can even grow them upside down, hanging in a screened room. One plant can produce eight to 10 pounds of tomatoes. They are low in calories and a good source of vitamin C.
Tomatoes are grown best in a deep, loamy soil, well drained and with a good organic matter of nutrients. Tomatoes grow best in a slightly acidic soil. The fertilizer used should be high in phosphorus. Too much nitrogen can result in large vines that will not produce much fruit. You should work the fertilizer into the soil a couple of weeks before planting the vines. Too much nitrogen will cause the plant to drop the flowers, but a side dressing of nitrogen fertilizer can be applied after the first cluster of flowers have set some fruit.

You may be able to start your tomato plants indoors and set them out after May 20 in Ohio. Check the temperatures in your area. If you are purchasing plants, choose those with straight, sturdy stems about the size of a pencil. They should have about five young leaves, no blossoms or fruit and be free of insects and diseases. Plants in individual containers usually experience little or no transplant shock and become adjusted quickly.
How to Freeze or Can Tomatoes
Freezing tomatoes couldn't be easier and requires minimal supplies. Use home-grown tomatoes or organic tomatoes purchased at a farmer's market. Wash them individually and remove the stems. Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a rapid boil. Submerge two or three tomatoes at a time for about 30 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon, and plunge into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. This will loosen the skins so they peel off easily. Remove the core, any remaining skin, and soft spots with a knife. You can pack them whole, halved, or quartered into zipper freezer bags. Squeeze out any air and lay flat in a freezer. Once frozen, they can be stacked to save space.
To can tomatoes, sterilize the jars and lids. Process the tomatoes as noted above, and then add them to the sterilized jars. Add two tablespoons of lemon juice and fill to the brim with boiling hot water or tomato juice. Use a plastic or wooden spoon to stir along the edges to remove any air bubbles. Seal with lids and rings and put them into a pot of boiling water at least one inch above the lids. Boil pint jars for 40 minutes and quart jars for 45 minutes. Remove from the hot water and let them cool overnight in a draft-free area. Once cool, test the seal by pressing down on the center of the lid. If it pops, the seal isn't tight. These jars can be refrigerated and used up within a couple of weeks.

Roma tomatoes are best because they are meaty and have few seeds, but any meaty type of tomato will suffice. Separation of liquids and solids is normal. Canned or frozen tomatoes will remain good for about one year.
What Are and How to Grow Heirloom Tomatoes
An heirloom tomato is a non-hybrid cultivar of tomato. They have become very popular in the last few years since people are taking an interest in going green and growing their own food. Heirloom tomatoes come in a variety of colors, sizes and shapes. The Brandywine tomato has been one of the most popular of the heirloom tomatoes. It is a large red fleshed tomato grown in Ohio and the seeds were traded by the various tomato growers in the area. The seeds were sold in the 1880's by a company called Stokes and Johnson. Several different varieties of the Brandywine were sold so it's past is a bit cloudy.

When you buy your seeds, be sure and buy from a reputable dealer. An heirloom tomato must be open-pollinated and must not be altered genetically. Heirloom tomatoes are classified as a fruit because the seeds are inside like a fruit. You must start the seeds in the house or greenhouse in small containers six to eight weeks before time to plant them outdoors. Be sure the seedlings get plenty of sunlight.

fluorescent bulbs work well if natural sunlight isn't available. Transplant into a larger pot when leaves appear. The plants need to be hardened by putting them in a cold place before they are set in the garden. The garden soil should be well tilled and composted soil. Depending on the size of your garden they can be planted in rows, or simply spaced 12 to 15 inches apart to allow for adequate growth. A drip irrigation system is the ideal way to water the plants. 


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