The Perfect Tomato

It’s tomato planting season in Bedford! Whether you’re gardening in raised beds or patio containers, here are some tips to get you on your way to a summer filled with delicious vine-ripened tomatoes from your own backyard!C9i13KBKdEN3RR5rM8JK0TWmywfxh073-zvtXH6eQVc-1

Tomatoes like it hot! The best time to plant tomatoes outside is when the weather starts to warm up and all danger of frost has passed. Tomatoes prefer 8 hours of full sunlight a day at temperatures between 65 to 85 degrees, and a low of 55 F at night.

What variety? There are so many great varieties from which to choose; from small “Cherry Tomatoes”, to medium sizes like “Better Boys” for salads and sauces, to large slicing varieties like “Purple Cherokees”.  By mixing early and late cultivars — for example “Early Girls” and “Beefsteak” tomatoes — you’ll have a longer harvest. Click here for tomato choices to try for 2014 from one of our favorite garden bloggers, Margaret Roach.

How to plant?: Many gardeners recommend planting tomatoes horizontally by laying them at a 45 degree angle, and covering not only the roots, but one half of the plant with soil. This helps to create a stronger root system. Click here for a simple step by step video demonstration on how to plant tomatoes using the horizontal “trench method”.

How to Support? It’s important to create a support system for your tomatoes while they grow to keep plants and fruit off the ground for best health; to save space in your garden; and to encourage vertical growth which allows leaves to shade ripening tomatoes from hot summer sun. The most common methods are staking, caging or wire trellis. This blogger has written a comprehensive article on DIY tomato trellises! Depending on your garden/container and the variety you are growing, there are pros and cons to each.

Tomato Companions: In our last Veg Out newsletter, we noted that “Tomatoes Love Carrots”. Other great tomato companions include marigolds, chives, asparagus, onions, and parsley.

Happy tomato planting! In a few weeks we’ll follow up with tips on pruning, helping to avoid pests and a recipe or two for when you begin to harvest those perfect tomatoes.