With the Economy and unhealthy imported foods many are returning to gardening. In this article we share with you what we have learned over the years about growing tomatoes.
We have a very sandy soil that nematodes have come to like over the years. They particularly like tomatoes, so we have had to adjust our gardening for these conditions in the following ways.
- The use of the most effective insecticide (Methyl Bromide) has been banned by the EPA . So if you are also having trouble with nematodes, we recommend four things: (1) keep the soil free of grass and weeds, some of which also attract this root knotting insect. (2) Lay a black plastic over the bare ground before planting to create a heat that sometimes kills this pest. (3) Plant Marigolds around plants that nematodes are attracted to (like tomatoes). (4) Plant nematode resistant tomatoes. They particularly like Beef Stake (our favorite), but Better Boy is more resistant, so that is the one we recommend if you are also experiencing this problem.
Note: (1) the tomatoes are not planted on rows of small hills because of the sandy soil conditions in our garden. However if your soil is not sandy, you will want to plant on hills to prevent excessive water conditions. (2) we have also added organic matter (and fertilizers) around our plants for plant nutrition. (3) We recommend wire fencing as seen in the picture over staking the plants…it makes for better support.
In the picture below my husband is showing you something very important in planting tomatoes. He is pointing to the area where he will bury the plant in the soil (this is not a good idea with most other crops, but tomatoes like it). You will notice that it is deeper than were the soil is located from the seed planting.
Here is another interesting tip shown in the two pictures below. Tomato Suckers grow between branches , and cause smaller tomatoes. So we prune them as shown below:
We pick the tomatoes when they look like the red one in the picture below. It would be great to leave it longer, but once the birds see the bright red, they swoop down, and eat it before we can.
You can also obtain more information from your local agricultural department. In Florida that would be: The Florida Department Of Agriculture. They are usually very helpful.
Other than this it is pretty much a matter of watering, fertilizing and weeding. Good luck, and enjoy those tomatoes.