Gardening Guide Tomatoes
Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables grown in the home garden. Many gardeners think growing their own tomatoes is the only way to get the freshest, most flavorful taste. Tomatoes are easy to grow, but they are warm season vegetable that will be killed off if there is a frost. Best results come from starting tomatoes from seeds grown indoors and transplanting the small plants outside when all danger of frost has past. Tomatoes need to grow in a well drained spot that receives 8 to 10 hours of sunlight every day.

There are hundreds of varieties of tomatoes. They range widely in size, shape, color, disease resistance, and ripening time. Seeds can be purchased from gardening centers, catalogs, or online sites. Many heirloom (old fashioned) varieties are only available from specialty growers. The seed packets are inexpensive and easy to ship.

Early tomatoes are ready in about 60 to 69 days. Most are compact plants with small to medium sized red tomatoes. Main crop tomato plants take longer to harvest, but they have superior yield, produce for longer periods of time, and supply higher quality, larger tomatoes. Extra large red varieties are usually late to mature but produce the largest tomatoes. Small salad tomatoes are sweet and tasty, and the plants are highly productive. Dwarf tomatoes can be grown in containers on balconies or patios where larger plants won't fit. Growers have developed special varieties of tomatoes to grow in greenhouses.

Yellow and orange tomatoes taste sweeter than red types because they have a higher sugar content. They are not lower in acid content. Newer varieties of these tomatoes mature earlier and have better growing habits than older types.

Many gardeners train their tomato plants on stakes or trellises or in cages to hold the tomatoes off the ground. Tomatoes need to be thoroughly watered during dry periods and usually benefit from some fertilizer. They should be harvested when the tomatoes are firm and fully colored.

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