How to Grow Tomatoes for Beginners?
Looking to grow some tomatoes as a beginner? Tomatoes are widely and can be found in almost any dish. So it makes sense to try and grow tomatoes at home.
Growing your tomatoes gives you variety and tasty results. We all know supermarkets sell uniform-appearance tomatoes. So growing your own gives you options, tastier and fresher results.
However, growing tomatoes at home are not easy for any beginner. Tomatoes take long to grow. You need to take time and prepare accordingly before starting to grow tomatoes.
So how do you go about growing tomatoes as a beginner? Join me below as I take you through steps to grow tomatoes as a beginner and everything you need to know.
Decide on the right tomato type
The first step for a beginner is choosing the right type of tomato variety to grow. Some tomatoes cannot do well in containers while others require big space.
So what are the two main types of tomatoes to grow? Depending on the available space, you need to choose between vines and bushes.
The first type of tomato to consider is determinate. It’s a bush-type tomato growing like a bush. They grow short and produce fruits once they reach a certain height.
They are a great choice to grow in containers as they don’t take up much space. However, determinate tomatoes will start to die once they finish fruiting.
Secondly, we have vine tomato types. These are the indeterminate ones and grow tall producing tomatoes all year. You can be sure of enjoying tomato harvest beyond the first harvest.
Indeterminate tomatoes are tender perennials and can provide you with tomato fruits throughout the year. Some growers have claimed their vines in greenhouses growing for up to 3 years under the right conditions.
They are ideal for growing in gardens since they can grow up to 16 feet long. Lastly, we have semi-determinate. This one grows more like determinate tomatoes but ends up producing a second crop.
I would recommend you to follow some expert guys from Backyard Gardeners Network, they have some great articles on tomato plants as well as well-explained differences between determinate vs indeterminate tomatoes. Generally, there are over 1000 different types of tomatoes from the hybrid ones to the heirloom ones.
As a beginner, it’s important to determine which type you will be growing. How tall does it grow and the size of the fruits? Does it require support? What is the maturity period? These questions will help you choose the right variety for your needs.
You need to prepare the soil and ensure they meet the right nutrient requirements. Tomatoes require a lot of nutrients to produce big fruits. You need well-drained soil. The soil should be loose and well broken down.
In addition, you need to maintain pH levels of 6 to 7.5. Make sure you perform soil analysis and come up with test results. This will help you choose the right fertilizer. Gypsum is used to lower the pH while lime helps raise the pH levels.
You can grow seeds indoors or outdoors in a nursery. The nursery is prepared by raising the beds 15cm high. Make sure the soil is fine and the seeds are well-spaced.
Plant seeds at a depth of 1 cm and water the well. Watering should be done in the morning. Seeds germination is expected in around 8 days.
Transplanting and planting
With the soil prepared, now it’s time to transplant your seedlings. Make sure the nursery is watered thoroughly before transplanting. This helps loosen the soil and the roots to carry a ball of soil when transplanting.
Transplanting seedlings should be done early in the morning, or evening. You can grow your seedlings in a pot or a garden. Make sure you maintain proper spacing between 65 to 45 cm holes.
Fertilizer application and watering
You need to apply fertilizer and the base to ensure excellent root development. Start with a phosphate fertilizer before adding urea in 2 to 3 weeks.
When tomato plants start to flower, you can apply NPK fertilizer. You can read Stephanie’s article for more detail about applying fertilizer for tomato plants. Apart from watering, the plant needs to get a lot of water for maximum growth. However, make sure you avoid overwatering.
Support and Pruning
Tomato plants require support to ensure they grow vertically. Use poles and strings to provide support. You also need to prune older leaves, side shoots, and dead leaves to ensure maximum fruit growth.
Make sure you remove suckers between the branches as they don’t bear fruits. Yellow and wilting leaves as the plant matures need to be removed.
Tomato growing tips for beginners
- Type or variety: Know the type or variety of tomatoes you’re growing. Are they bush or vines? Will they require a trellis, stakes, or a tomato cage?
- Days to maturity: How long will the tomato take from growing to harvest? Warm Seasons are usually short and most farmers start growing seeds indoors. You need to plan when to grow and know when they can be ready for harvesting.
- Early harvest: Check for fruits that are ready and harvest them on time, This ensures other fruits are set and grow bigger.
- Soil tests: Soil testing is essential to ensure tomato plants get proper nutrients. Add necessary and recommended tomato fertilizers.
Overall, growing tomatoes as a beginner are not difficult when you follow the steps above. Choose the right tomato variety, prepare the soil well, add fertilizer, and water, and provide support.