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!
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.