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How to: grow tomatoes

Los Angeles, Ca, June 20th, 2015- Time to grow tomatoes. If you’re new to the world of growing tomatoes check out the helpful tips below from a past interview I did with Scott Diagre of Tomato Mania as well as listen to chef Mary and Duane Pemberton talk to their guest Laura Taylor about growing tomatoes in your backyard.

Soil- Make sure your soil is good and, if it isn’t, amend it with organic composts and build it up. You might even try placing a whole egg under the soil to add calci

(c) hail mary food of grace 2015

Chef Mary Moran (c)copyright of hail mary food of grace 2015

um. Most importantly, keep the soil balanced and don’t use chicken manure (nitrogen loaded), as it will off-balance it.

Quantity- Grow three to five sturdy hybrids (the perfect amount to begin). Eight is a lot and maybe too many.

Varieties of tomatoes that are best for the first time grower:

  • Cherry tomatoes are the toughest species of tomatoes and the hardest to kill.
  • Middle of the road hybrids- Better Boy and Sweet Tangerine
  • Three heirlooms- Jaune Flame, Gardeners Delight, German heirlooms
  • Red cherry tomato Nyugu- chocolate insides
  • Good Buys-pineapple, Kellogg’s breakfast, any reds, Noir de Crimee and Paul Robeson Plant- Cherry tomatoes can be planted in a pot, but most tomatoes should be planted in the ground. Choose either Indeterminate (keep growing up) or Determinate (grows and stops). Indicated by a D or an I on the tag. Take your space into consideration and choose accordingly.

How to support the plant- Hold the tomato plants up with steaks, cages or spread along a fence (favorite). The most important part is to give them air. Ties- something soft, “Stockings are what my grandmother used,” Daigre said.

Water- Most people water too much. Test with a pencil by sticking into the ground and then remove it. If the bottom of the pencil is dry you need water, but if the bottom of the pencil is wet, then stop.

Pesticides and Pest Control – Assess the situation.  It’s best to check on your plants daily so you know what’s going on with them. Next, decide whether you can spray the bugs off with a hose, pick them by hand, use ladybugs or if you have to use a pesticide (organic is preferable).

Harvest- Pick tomatoes when they’re soft and ripe. Bright in color, firm but soft to touch. Avoid picking when they’re not full color or before they are overly soft. When growing heirlooms, make sure you know their true color and as they change color you know when to pick them.

Store- In the kitchen on a cool counter, avoid sunlight and the refrigerator. Best if stored blossom side down. Don’t wash them until you are ready to eat them.

Thanks to the lovely @MarkDonofrio13 for catching that I left out the important Tomato Mania link! Scott really is an amazing TomatoConnoisseur!

We want to know: What are your secrets for growing the sweetest tomatoes?