Ever wish you could just walk out to the garden in your backyard and pick a plump, juicy, red tomato and throw it in a salad? The soil in the Lake Norman area makes for some incredible gardening, so you might just get your wish. We’ve got six great tips for you to grow some of Lake Norman’s finest Bad Boys (that’s a tomato joke!).
TOP SIX TIPS FOR GROWING TOMATOES
Tip 1. Seedling Choice
This may seem like the simplest part of the whole process. However, you really want to make sure that you choose the right seedlings at the right time. For instance, don’t just purchase your tomato seedlings and plant them just because the nursery has put them on their shelves. You want to make sure and wait until nighttime temps stay in the upper 50s. The best tasting tomatoes usually come from the healthiest seedlings, so choosing the healthiest ones is what you want to make sure to do. Avoid any plants with more than an inch between branches, compact plants with well-developed roots will grow faster and are less prone to have insect problems or disease.
Tip 2. Watering Your Plants
Limiting the amount of water in your fruit, will lead to a much flavorful tomato. Encouraging your plant to grow deep roots so that they can access the water below ground is key. Also, limiting the amount of water that is around your plant will reduce your chance that they will become infected with disease or mildew. With a consistent supply of water from below ground, the tomatoes will be less likely to rot or split open.
Tip 3. Cutting Your Plants
You want to be able to plant the stems of your plants deep to allow roots to grow from them. So you want to snip off the bottom branches on the seedlings before actually putting them into the ground. Essentially the more roots you have, the healthier the plants will be, which will lead to juicy, flavorful tomatoes.
Tip 4. Planting Your Tomatoes
Think deep! You want to give your plant room to grow, so make a hole that is at least a foot deep and put about a shovel full off compost at the bottom. Doing this will give each plant loose soil and nutrients. You also want to add a balanced fertilizer that will help provide even more nutrients to your tomatoes. And finally space the plants about two feet apart to allow air circulation.
Tip 5. Combination
Mixing compost, bone meal, and garden soil in with seedlings will give your plants more nutrients to grow throughout the season. Make sure that when you are mixing everything and planting the seedlings, you keep in mind that a one foot tall seedling should stand only about three to six inches above the ground. After you have planted the seedlings you want to water the tomatoes well. Mulch around the base with either straw or hay, doing this will reduce moisture that evaporates from the soil.
Tip 6. Proper Support
Providing the proper support for your plant is very important, especially as they continue to grow throughout the season. There are many different ways to provide proper support. Staking them is the most common option, just make sure that you use a stake that is at least 4 feet high, and that you continue to tie the plants up as they grow. You could also use cone-shaped cages or wired fences that are made for gardening. Whichever method you choose, supporting your tomatoes will help you maximize your harvest.
You can plant more tomatoes at the beginning of July to ensure that you have a continuous supply throughout the season, until the frost comes. Once you see that they are fully-colored and full-sized you can harvest your tomatoes and keep them at room temperature.
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Keeping it real,
The Cloninger Properties Team