Tips For Growing Sweet Tomatoes

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Are you like me and you can’t wait until you can pick your first sweet tomatoes? There is something spectacular when you put your hands in the earth and it’s so quiet outside, right? The wind is blowing a little and it’s not too hot or too cold. The sun is shining and you can hear the birds chirping nearby.

If you haven’t started a garden, maybe today this will encourage you to start one. There are many different ways you can plant sweet tomatoes. You don’t need 10 acres, or 5 acres, or even 1/4 acre. You can plant them in pots, straw bales, and garden bags, to name a few. If you want a raised garden bed so you don’t have to bend over as far, that’s awesome too.

How To Grow Sweet Tomatoes

Start With The Soil

I remember living up north and I rarely had to add soil amendments. The soil in Riverton, Utah was dark, rich, and loamy. The entire neighborhood had gardens and we frequently shared our bounty with each other. Here in Southern Utah it’s a whole different ball game, so to speak. It will take years to get the soil up to par here.

We have beautiful red clay that that is hard as cement, literally. You remember me telling you I decided to put together raised garden beds and I filled them with Miracle-Gro Garden Soil that I picked up from a local big box store. I also had to add other nutrients to help with growing seeds and plants. Below I’ve listed the amendments I use. I spread them evenly in seven grow boxes.

Azomite Micronized Bag, 44 pounds

FibreDust Coco Coir Block

Unco Industries Wiggle Worm Soil Builder Earthworm Castings Organic Fertilizer, 15-Pound

Miracle-Gro Nature’s Care Organic Bone Meal, 3 lb.

Espoma VM8 8-Quart Organic Vermiculite

Epsom Salts

Root Starter

If you are lucky enough to have dark rich soil you can grow almost anything. You will still have to start with a root starter when you plant your seedlings or small plants to give your plants a boost to start growing healthy strong roots and plants. I use Miracle-Gro Root Starter like this one. Miracle- Gro Root Starter

I mix the solution according the container I purchase and pour the required amount into each hole with the tomato seedlings or plants.

Choose The Right Tomatoes For You

Let’s talk about tomato choices. You have to decide if you are just going to eat BLT’s, that’s awesome! If you want to make salsa, tomato juice, or spaghetti sauce you need to think about which tomatoes are best to use. Of course, these have to be good for your area. I only know Utah, so I will share what I have done for years. These are 100% Heirloom/Non-Hybrid/Non-GMO tomatoes. I buy all my seeds from SeedsNow

  • Abraham Lincoln: 1 lb. heirloom, great for ketchup and tomato juice. Easy to grow and matures in 85 days.
  • Beefsteak: large tomatoes over 2 lbs. easy to grow, great for slicers and matures in 85 days.
  • Bonnie’s Best: 6-8 ounce fruit, great for slicers or canning. Matures in 85 days.
  • Marion: chefs prefer these crack resistant tomatoes. Great for salads or sandwiches. Matures in 75 days.
  • Pear: pear-shaped fruits that grow in clusters. Great for salads. Matures in 75 days.
  • Homestead: a popular heirloom variety. Good one for canning and they are great in a hot climate. They mature in 80 days.
  • Mortgage Lifter: they produce large tomatoes, up to 2 lbs. Easy to grow and matures in 70 days.
  • Money Maker: it’s one of the most reliable tomatoes you can grow. They grow up to 8-ounce size tomatoes. They are easy to grow and mature in 85 days.

When Can I Start Planting Seeds?

The best time to plant your seeds indoors is about 6-8 weeks before the last expected spring frost in your neighborhood. You can plant your seedlings or plants about two weeks after the last spring frost. You can enter your zip code on this website to find the best dates for you to get started. Farmer’s Almanac First and Last Frost Dates By Location

It’s really easy to grow tomatoes from seeds. You can start with seed pellets or plant them in smaller containers and transplant them to larger containers as needed. The seeds do not need light, so you can put them on top of your refrigerator to keep them warm to germinate. As soon as the seedlings pop up they need sunshine. You can put them on a window shelf or a table close to the window. You should see them poke through the soil in 7-10 days. I purchase seed pellets from SeedsNow

The seedlings need the temperatures to be 70 degrees F during the day and 40 degrees F at night. Once the seedlings reach 4 inches tall transplant them into larger containers. Please plant them deeper than other vegetables.

What Is Hardening of Seedlings?

About two weeks before you plant the seedlings outside, you need to get them used to the outdoors. Place the plants outside during the day to harden up and bring them back in during the night. I do this with plants I purchase at garden nurseries as well. It’s good to get them acclimated to your backyard temperatures during the day and night. This is critical to have your tomatoes or other vegetables thrive into the biggest harvest ever.

What Are Some Good Companion Plants?

I like to plant carrots, onions, lettuce, and Marigolds around my tomatoes. I use up the space that my tomatoes won’t use in order to produce more food by planting seeds that will work together.

What Are The Best Growing Conditions For Tomatoes?

Sweet tomatoes need at least 8 hours of sunlight each day. Be sure and plant your seeds or seedlings in a location that will have at least this much sunlight. They also need at least 3-4 months of warm dry weather. Continue feeding your tomatoes throughout the season with an organic compost. The temperatures at night should be 55 to 75 degrees F.

How To Plant Tomatoes-DEEP

I have always planted my tomato plants so that 2/3 of the plants are in the ground. To make this easy picture a plant ten inches high. You will plant it deep enough so only three inches are above the soil. Yes, that is deep, but it works, I promise. This makes for a really strong root system and stronger root systems mean the best sweet tomatoes ever! The main stock will soon begin to sprout more roots, yes it works! The extra roots give the plant stability down the road when the fruit starts to set.

Sweet Tomatoes

Feed The Sweet Tomatoes

Be sure and add organic compost as needed to keep those tomato plants thriving. I check my plants daily for water issues, diseases, or fertilizer needs.

Cages For Tomatoes

I wish everyone could purchase these tomato cages from Glover Nursery in West Jordan, Utah. They are extremely strong and last for many years.

Sweet Tomatoes

Final Word

I really hope my post today gets you excited to grow your very own sweet tomatoes. There is something so awesome about working with my hands in the soil, pulling weeds, and nurturing my plants in the garden. I love it! It’s one more step to being self-reliant. Thanks again for prepping for the unexpected. May God bless this world. Linda

Planting with Marigolds by Linda

Freezing Excess Tomatoes

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