Grow Tomatoes in Your own Backyard
Train or Not to Train
Late May is an ideal time to transplant tomatoes because
they need over 2 months to mature. Frost in earlier months will threaten
their survival. With no training, the plant will yield more fruits per
plant. However, trained crops produce cleaner, easier-to-harvest and more
rot- resistant fruit than untrained plants.
Untrained plants should be separated by 24 to 36 inches, and each row
of plants 36 to 48 inches apart. If training a plant with stakes, tie
the plants with a rag or twine to a 6 foot stake placing it 10 inches
in the ground. Space the plants 1 1/2-feet apart, and separate different
rows by 3 feet.
A preferred method of training involves a cage. The gardener
prunes less and yields a better crop because the tomatoes grow naturally.
In fact, research shows that regular pruning decreases the sum amount
of a tomato plant. You can make a cage by assembling mesh wire into a
cylinder 2 to 5 feet tall and 15 to 22 inches across.
Short cages are only good for specific varieties. Tall cages, suggested
for home use, should be used for average- sized and tall-growing tomatoes
like Big Boys, Better Boys, and Beefsteak tomatoes. Caged tomatoes grow
best 2 to 3 feet apart and need 5 feet between other rows. Put the cage
in place shortly after you transplant the seedlings. Then provide cover,
such as an organic mulch or black plastic (cut a hole and plant through
it). In the tenth week, remove covering and fertilize.
Buckets and Decks
You can use a 5-gallon plastic bucket to grow tomatoes
on your deck, back porch, patio or balcony. Punch four or five small holes
with an ice pick or a knife in the bottom of the bucket to let the water
drain. Next put 2 inches of mulch in the bottom of the bucket. Then pour
in a mixture of cow manure, topsoil, and Osmocote Time-Released feritilzier.
When the bucket is filled within 2 inches of the surface, dig a hole in
the dirt, and plant the tomato plant. Cover the hole with the dirt you've
removed. Use cypress mulch to fill up the rest of the bucket. Pour in
some Tomato Miracle Gro Liquid Fertilizer you've mixed up. Keep the plant
watered while it's growing and bearing fruit.
Insects and disease are a constant threat to the well-being
of a garden. Cutworms, flea beetles, hornworms, tomato fruitworms, aphids
and Colorado potato beetles terrorize tomatoes in particular. Diazinon
and Sevin flowable, two types of pesticide, combat these foliage- loving
Many tomato diseases are not often responsive to chemical treatment. Some
kinds of fungus cause defoliation by yellowing the oldest leaves first
or starting at the bottom of the plant and moving upward. One of the most
common diseases is stem rot; it is characterized by rotting at the stem's
ground level and having black pea-lie objects located inside the stem.
Soil rot differs in creating brown spots in 1-inch circles and cracking
the fruit in half. Wet or cool weather may increase the chance of getting
one of the previous diseases.
You can contact your local garden shop or the County Extension Office
in your area for more specific information. Gardening is cherished by
many people as a therapeutic hobby. It relieves daily frustration and
replaces it with a sense of accomplishment. Don't just sit and enjoy creation;
do a little creating of your own this summer.