Melinda's Gardening How-To: Planting & Selecting Tomatoes

Nothing beats the flavor of fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes.

Proper selection can insure you have the right tomato for your sandwiches, salads, soups and sauces. Planting it right will get your plant off to a healthy start increasing your growing success.

FYI...tomatoes will be in stores in late May.

Select the Right Tomato for Your Cooking and Growing Needs
Look for disease resistant varieties and select those suited to their intended use. Will you eat them sliced, for cooking, as sauce or canned and frozen for later use?  Paste varieties like Romas and Amish Paste have meaty fruit perfect for cooking while Big Boy and Brandywine are great slicers.  Consider dwarf, determinate tomatoes for containers, hanging baskets and other small spaces. These grow a certain height and stop. The back page will help you with your selection.

Planting Tips
• Select a sunny location with 8 hours or more sunlight for best results.

• Prepare the soil
   *Add several inches of organic matter to the top 12 inches of soil
   *Incorporate fertilizer according to label directions

• Plant your tomato (except for grafted tomatoes) slightly deeper or trench to promote rooting
   *Dig a trench about 3 to 4 inches deep
   *Remove the lower leaves and lay the plant on its side in the trench. Roots will form along the buried stem.
   *Carefully bend the plant so the upper leaves will be above the ground
   *Cover with soil, gently tamp and water

• Stake or tower your tomatoes at planting. This is important for taller and indeterminate varieties that keep growing and flowering throughout the season until the frost kills the plant or you pinch out the growing tip.

• Mulch the soil with weed-free straw, shredded leaves or other organic material to suppress weeds, conserve moisture and improve the soil

• Water often enough to keep the top few inches of soil slightly moist.

Growing Tomatoes in a Pot
• Select a large 14 to 20” pot with drainage holes.

• Add a slow release fertilizer to the potting mix if needed
   *This will provide needed nutrients every time you water throughout most if not all of the season. That means less work for you

• Plant your tomato, add some herbs and flowers for extra color and flavor

• Use bamboo hoops, decorate stakes or other supports.

• Check containers daily and water thoroughly as needed

Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience.  She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Gardening How-To with you!