Growing Tomatoes: A Beginner’s Guide

By Rick Vuyst

Vegans have made vegetables voguish. What kind of food do you want to be associated with? An important question, because we take our food and eating choices personally. Healthy soil, sunshine and irrigation practices are the primary keys to vegetable nirvana.

Positivity, self-care and mindfulness are aided by being surrounded by nature and eating a plant-based diet. Gardening is the ancient prescription for wellness.

Vegetables can be polarizing: From Brussels sprouts to beets, celery to cilantro, olives to mushrooms and kale to lima beans everyone seems to have an opinion. While some want bacon and maple syrup with their Brussel sprouts, others would rather just pass altogether. Are Lima Beans a rich and buttery delicacy, or do they taste more like wallpaper paste? Some will defend Lima Beans voraciously and attempt to make converts of others.

The key is to find vegetables you love and grow them. You need sunshine, good soil,  nutrients and love. If you haven’t grown vegetables before, try some tomatoes, the gateway plant to vegetable gardening.

Tomatoes

Remember to look at the tag of the tomato plant you are buying. The tag will tell you if the plant is indeterminate, determinate or semi-determinate. An indeterminate tomato will grow large and not set a terminal bud, meaning that if it doesn’t freeze come October, it will keep growing to the size of a large shrub! These are best planted in the ground with good plant supports to hold them up.

If you haven’t grown vegetables before, try some tomatoes, the gateway plant to vegetable gardening.

Place them in a spot that allows for sunlight and air movement around the plants. A determinate tomato does set terminal buds so they stay at a more manageable size, making them perfect for container growing. A semi-determinate tomato is between the two in size. These tomatoes need support but can be grown in large containers or in the ground. With any container garden, remember to make sure that plenty of room is available in the pot for root growth and stability. They’re going to grow!

To grow great tomatoes make sure you have a good sunny spot and have prepared the soil with lots of organic matter. Tomatoes like a moist, well-drained soil. If the soil gets dry between watering, you are likely to have cracking and zippering of the fruit. They also like a boost of calcium to avoid blossom end rot on the fruit, so look for a fertilizer that has micronutrients including calcium.

Another way to ensure good moisture availability is to plant them deep in the soil. You will see the main stem above the soil line on the young plants is “hairy” in nature. Roots will grow from that stem if planted deeper. Pluck off a few bottom leaves and place the tomato plant deeper than the existing soil surface in the pot. This will increase the depth of the roots searching for moisture and nutrients.


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Rick Vuyst is CEO of Flowerland, host of the Flowerland Show on NewsRadio WOOD 1300 and 106.9 FM as well as Mr. Green Thumb on WZZM TV 13.


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