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□¡□Growing Tomatoes□¡□

If you’re growing tomatoes in a deep-dug or raised garden bed, shovel the top 8-10” from ¼ of the bed onto a tarp next to the bed. Loosen and cultivate the layer of soil below, then lay down a 1-2” layer of compost, a 1” layer of composted cow or sheep manure, or a ½” layer of composted poultry manure. Cultivate into the soil with a hoe or small tiller.
Shovel the top layer from the next section into the hole from the first, cultivate and amend the lower layer, then repeat the process with the last 2 sections of the bed. Shovel the soil from the tarp back onto the bed and rake it flat.
Cultivate the top layer of soil with a hoe, grape mattock, or tiller to break up lumps. Add a 1-2” layer of compost, rake it flat, and spread any organic soil amendments you’re using evenly over the surface. If you’re using composted manure, add a 1” layer of cow or sheep manure, ora ½” layer of poultry manure. Mix thesoil amendments thoroughly into thesoil.
Planting Tomatoes Planting tomato plants is really the only option in temperate zones in thenorthern and southern hemispheres. Growing tomatoes from seed outdoors is only possible in the warmest climates, with 4-5 months of hot summer weather and long sunny days. Local nurseries usually offer tomato varieties that work well in your area,but their selection may be limited to a few old stand-bys. For a wider range of choices, start tomato seeds indoors under lights 6-7 weeks before your last frost date
Watering Tomatoes Determinate (bush) tomatoes requireregular watering, 1-1½”per week. Ifyou don’t get enough rain, or if your soil is sandy, you’ll need to irrigate. For Indeterminate (vining) tomatoes,follow a 3-stage watering regime:
Stage 1 Watering: Get the plants established. For the first 2 weeks after planting, water a little bit every day or every other day if it doesn’t rain, to get the plants established. Overhead watering is best at this stage.
Stage 2 Watering: Make them stretch their roots. After the tomatoes have been in the ground for 3 weeks, when the vines are thickening up and beginning to grow aggressively, back off on the watering. Let them dry out for a few days. At this stage, you want to make your tomatoes work to sink their roots deeper to find water.
If it’s really hot and they’re wilting, give them some water. The point is to make them stretch, not stress them excessively. After a few days, give them a good, deep soaking. Saturate the soil, then let it dry out again for a few days, to make your tomatoes stretch their roots even deeper into the soil.
When you’re growing tomatoes, the deeper their root systems, the more nutrients they can pull from the soil. The more nutrients they can pull from the soil, the larger, more vigorous, and more resilient your tomato plants will be.
Large, robust plants put off garden pests, resist diseases, and fruit more heavily.
Stage 3 Watering: Once they’re fruiting, give your tomatoes steady, even watering till they’re done producing. Once your tomatoes start flowering and setting fruit, shift to regular watering, a little bit every day or every other day, for 1-1 ½” of water per week. Once tomatoes are thickening on the vine, the root system is about as deep as it’s going to get, and uneven watering can produce split fruit, especially with cherry tomatoes.
This is a good time to switch on the drip system, both to automate watering, and to keep water off the foliage.
Defending leaves from pathogens becomes less of a priority once plantsstart flowering and setting fruit. Water on the foliage of mature summer vegetables is an invitation to bacterial and fungal leaf diseases.
If you’re growing tomatoes organically and building organic fertilizers into the soil when you plant, supplemental fertilizing usuallyisn’t necessary.
If you didn’t build organic fertilizer into the soil when you planted, you may need to sidedress your tomato plants at midseason.
Pull back the mulch about a foot out from the stems on each side of the plant and lay down a 1” layer of garden compost or composted manure. You can mix in organic soil amendments if your plants need extra nitrogen or other minerals at this time.
Lightly cultivate the soil amendmentsinto the soil, push the mulch back over, and water thoroughly. Try not to cultivate too close to the plants, to avoid disturbing surface feeder roots

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