A garden is a piece of land that grows vegetables, fruit, or flowers. It’s an outdoor activity that can provide fresh food and help you feel healthier.
Organic, farming and modern
Many farmers use organic farming techniques to make their operations more sustainable. These include compost manure, cover crops and crop rotations.
Is there anything more delicious than a home-grown, red-ripe tomato? Tomatoes are a must-have crop for most vegetable gardeners.
Here are some tips for growing terrific tomatoes:
• Sunlight. Tomatoes need a daily minimum of six hours full sunlight for highest yields. High light optimizes photosynthesis. High levels of photosynthesis are critical for manufacturing the carbohydrates needed to develop a strong, vegetative framework that will support future fruit. Sunlight is also the driving force in synthesis of pigments that give color to tomato fruit. High light increases pigment levels that increase coloration.
• Soil. Soil needs to be well drained; amend it with several inches organic matter such as well-composted manure. Organic matter gives sandy soils increased water-holding capacity and increases the aeration of heavy soils. Some gardeners swear by alfalfa pellets in the planting hole as a source of organic matter.
• Proper planting. A robust root system is the number one priority in establishing a young tomato plant. Once a location with well-drained soil and full sun is selected, tomatoes can be set in the garden. Tomatoes are unique among vegetables as roots are produced from stem tissue, which is a great advantage in getting transplants off to a quick start. Often tomato plants grown in 6-packs or small pots are tall and leggy with top growth several times greater than the root mass. Dig a hole deep enough to accommodate the root ball and at least half of the top growth. Bury the plant, leaving a few inches of top growth above the ground. Burying the plant accomplishes two things: roots induced from the buried stem tissue increases the size of the root system and transpiration is reduced as there is less exposed top growth.
• Water. Tomatoes require deep, consistent irrigation for a strong root system. Water thoroughly, allow excess water to drain, leaving the soil moist yet not saturated. Roots grown in soils that are moist with adequate air space will extend throughout the soil matrix. Give mature plants one-inch deep waterings weekly or deliver water through a drip system that delivers a consistent amount totaling one inch per week. Deep watering provides proper environment for deep root systems while shallow watering leads to shallow root systems.
• Elbow room. Tomato plants are large, most require 36 inches between plants. Crowded plants have less sun, less air movement, less overall photosynthesis, leading to weaker plants with smaller and fewer fruit. Growing plants in tomato cages or training to a trellis keeps plants from languishing on the ground.
• First flowers go. It may seem counterintuitive to remove the first flowers, but the tomato grower’s goal is to establish a robust root system and vigorous top growth for a strong framework. If first flowers are allowed to set fruit, photosynthates are shuttled to young fruit and not to develop a strong framework. Fruit will come in due time.
Ellen Peffley taught horticulture at the college level for 28 years, 25 of those at Texas Tech, during which time she developed two onion varieties. She is now the sole proprietor of From the Garden, a market garden farmette. You can email her at email@example.com