|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
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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