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How can you grow your own tomatoes?

  1. In Europe we are used to finding quality products in supermarkets. It's something that consumers have demanded and the market has responded to.

  1. The question for me is simply: do we produce a quality that is in our interest? The term 'quality' can mean something different to different people, so when it comes to quality, let's take a look at what we can find in the traditional market and then let's look at what I think about when talking about quality products. .

Commercial Quality

  1. When we think of quality products, we have to take into account the qualities or characteristics that consumers have demanded and accepted in the market. It is our demands that are largely responsible for what we can find in the supermarket.

  1. As you may know, most chickens lay brown eggs, but until recently you could hardly find any brown eggs in the supermarket. Show any child a brown egg and they'll ask, "What's wrong with the egg?" or they may even ask themselves "What is this?" This is because as consumers we asked for white eggs instead of the spotted, less smooth and varying shades of brown eggs.

  2. As you may know, most chickens lay brown eggs, but until recently you could hardly find any brown eggs in the supermarket. Show any child a brown egg and they'll ask, "What's wrong with the egg?" or they may even ask themselves "What is this?" This is because, as consumers, we asked for white eggs instead of the spotted, less clear and varying shades of brown eggs.

  1. A similar story can be told about different products. All year round there is a lot of demand for all kinds of products and they are therefore produced. Over the years we also demanded a better taste and this is what we now see in the supermarket:

  2. A similar story can be told about different products. There is a lot of demand for all kinds of products all year round and they are therefore produced. Over the years we also demanded a better taste and this is what we now see in the supermarket:

  1. Many more packaged products such as chopped and washed lettuce, vegetables, carrots and broccoli florets.

  1. Obviously there have been improvements over the years, but for the most part we have cornered ourselves through limited selection, higher prices, and lower nutritional value. We are paying these higher prices because we expect to have year-round availability on certain products and our demand for attractive products that can withstand handling and shipping without noticeable damage.

  1. With full acknowledgment of my prejudices in favor of your own grown products, I want to let you know my thoughts on quality products.

Quality grown at home

  1. Have you ever had the pleasure of being able to eat products of your own cultivation quality from your own garden, for example?

  1. How about places where you can pick your own fruit and vegetables? My memories of delicious tomatoes, corn, cucumbers and apples are vivid. I can remember eating fresh, warm and delicious tomatoes while picking while we filled our baskets with tomatoes from our own garden. You can just grow those kinds of quality products in your own windowsill, backyard, front yard or on the vacant lot in the street. If you really want it, it's really easy.

  2. How about places where you can pick your own fruit and vegetables? My memories of delicious tomatoes, corn, cucumbers and apples are vivid. I remember eating fresh, warm and delicious tomatoes while picking while we filled our baskets with tomatoes from our own garden. You can just grow those kinds of quality products in your own windowsill, backyard, front yard or on the vacant lot in the street. If you really want it, it's really easy.

  1. This is what I consider quality products. While reading this article, take the products you buy at the supermarket as a point of comparison.

  1. I have the pleasure of eating my own vegetables from my own garden. Yes, I know: It's a luxury. But that does not mean that this is only reserved for people who live in the countryside or have a large piece of land.

  1. These are, in my opinion, the great benefits of eating home-grown produce:

  1. Freshness - I consider my vegetable garden to be a life-size production section of the supermarket. In a matter of minutes, I pick and prepare my tomatoes from the garden instead of letting them come from miles away.

  1. Organic - We are talking about true biological methods and not just methods that government agencies have labeled as acceptable under the organic banner.

  1. Higher nutritional value - Picked when it is ripe, my product offers me the maximum nutritional value because often the last nutrients are only formed in the fruit or vegetables during ripening and you will not find that nutritional value when it is not ripe. The processing is without gas, cold storage, chemicals or contamination, which is often the case with mass production of food.

  1. Does it also require more effort to get quality products? Yes, but your effort will be rewarded. If you organize it properly, it really doesn't take that much effort and the results are much more enjoyable than anything you could buy in the store.

  1. Tomatoes, simply because their taste is so much better than store-bought tomatoes, are one of the most rewarding crops for the hobby gardener to grow. The tomatoes grown for the supermarket shelves have been processed so that they remain good during transport and look good for as long as possible; caressing your taste buds is not their number one priority.

  1. Many commercially produced tomatoes are also grown using a fertilizer solution and are picked before they are ripe; both practices result in tomatoes that look nice but don't taste good. Research has also shown that organic, domestic tomatoes have a much more complex chemistry than commercially produced fruits. Not only does the chemistry equate to more flavor, it is also likely that domestic tomatoes are healthier because they contain higher levels of the pigment 'lycopene'. Lycopene has been shown to help dilate clogged arteries and this is probably one of the reasons why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy.

  1. The other big bonus you get from growing your own tomatoes is the amazing variety in size, shape, color and flavor available. A bit like the potato (they are of course family) there is a huge range of different varieties from very large beef tomatoes to the small and sweet cherry tomatoes. It is fun to grow and it will make your garden look beautiful.

Where can you best grow them?

  1. Tomatoes are subtropical plants and therefore require a spot in full sun. This is especially important in parts of the Netherlands, where sunlight and heat are sometimes difficult to find even in the middle of summer. A spot against a wall or fence has a better chance of success as long as they can receive enough water; avoid hedges as the soil will be too dry. Tomato plants also grow very well in raised beds; they like a soil condition that provides moisture without water retention.

  1. Place and soil - tomatoes need very fertile soil. Remember that a healthy plant can grow up to 2 meters high and produce hundreds of fruits while taking up a relatively small space (a cabbage takes up more space and produces only a single head!). Prepare your vegetable beds by mixing enough fertilizer into the soil. For every 3 square meters you need about a small wheelbarrow full.

  1. Tomatoes can also easily be grown in pots and special grow bags, but due to the limited root space you need a more intensive feeding system. Make sure that pots can store at least 40 liters of soil and only plant 2 plants together; these conditions are not ideal, but may be the only option in a small city garden or on a balcony. Use the best compost you can find and also use a generous amount of seaweed and poultry manure pellets.

When is the best time to grow tomatoes?

  1. If you want to grow indoors, sow the seed from the end of February to mid-March using a heat spreader or place your container on a warm south-facing windowsill. The temperature of the compost must be about 22 ° C for the seeds to germinate; young plants should also be kept warm until early summer when the soil temperature should be at least 10 ° C.

  1. Tomatoes can be sown in seed trays and then later transplanted to larger pots, but I prefer not to transfer the plants to a larger pot until after the third leaf has formed. Seeds should be sown 2cm deep in compost with few nutrient components and then transplanted into richer potting compost.

  1. This is followed by the biggest challenge because we have to keep them artificially warm at a time of the year when the light level is not really sufficient. Too much heat and too little light will result in tall and weak seedlings (because they grow quickly), so we need to reduce the heat to a minimum (10 ° C) and place the plants in as bright a spot as possible. If you are growing plants in your windowsill indoors, you may need to provide extra light with a grow light.

  1. Plants grown in pots should be spaced as soon as their leaves touch each other to avoid overcrowding and to prevent the plants from becoming elongated and 'leggy'; the best tomato seedlings are short and stocky rather than tall and thin. The compost should also be kept moist and never allowed to dry out.

Repotting

  1. When the tomato seedlings have been sown in pots, in seed trays or bags, put them in their final position when they are about 15cm high and before the roots are restricted in their growth by the pot.

  1. If the tomato plants have been grown under a cover and you plan to put them outside, harden them for a week or two before planting them outdoors in their final location. Hardening involves gradually getting them used to the outside temperature and you can do this by bringing them outside on nice days and then bringing them back inside at night. You then keep them outside longer and longer until they can also stay outside at night, but make sure that the frost has passed. This is especially important in the Netherlands because May and June can often be cool and windy.

  1. For each plant, dig a hole (45 cm apart) in the bed and make sure it is 5 cm deeper than in the pot. When you grow cordon strains, you need to provide support. You can do this by burying a piece of string under the root ball when planting and tying the other end to a support above the plant, this is very easy in a growing tunnel, but you can also add support sticks. A wide range of tomato supports is available for outdoor planting.

  1. Carefully remove the tomato plant from the pot and keep the root ball intact as far as possible. Place it in the hole and fill it around the roots with soil. The soil should be 5 cm higher than in the pot. Planting tomato plants deeper in the ground than in the pot will encourage the formation of additional roots. If the soil is dry, water it well.

Tomato care

  1. If you are growing cordon varieties (and chances are you will), remove any side shoots that form to prevent the side shoots from growing all the energy. of the plant. The side shoots appear at the point where the new branch, with the leaf attached, meets the main stem; you can break them off while they are still small but they should be cut off with a sharp knife or pruning shears if they are any bigger. For those new to growing tomatoes, recognizing the shoots can be quite tricky and they can mistake them for a new fruit (you don't want to remove it, of course!). If you are not sure, leave them for a few days and when the shoot starts to produce leaves you can still remove it! Remember that the side shoots are always in the space between the branch and the main trunk, once you know what to look for, you will never miss a shoot again.

  1. If fruit formation is slow to start in early summer, you can move the trunk back and forth around noon to encourage the spread of pollen.

  1. If you grow your tomatoes in a greenhouse or growing tunnel, make sure to keep them well ventilated, especially on hot days, to prevent the development of pests and diseases.

Watering

  1. When transplanting, give the plant sufficient water and light until fruit develops. As soon as there are fruits on the plant, you should give at least 12 liters of water per plant every week. Let the soil dry out slightly between watering, but be careful with this, as extreme dryness followed by large amounts of water can cause a growth spurt, resulting in split fruits. So make sure you have a nice moist soil, but also keep the plants slightly on the dry side as this will enhance the flavor.

  1. I myself have had a lot of success burying perforated plastic bottles in the ground, which can then act as a watering can between plans. Cut out the bottom of a 2.5 liter bottle and make lots of small perforations in the sides. Then bury the bottle upside down with the lid on between your plants and top up when you water, the water will seep through the sides of the bottle and moisturize the soil deep to the roots.

Feeding

  1. Once the plant has fruit, supplement your plants weekly with either root nutrition or a seaweed tonic formulated for growing tomatoes. Remember that tomatoes have two kinds of roots; deep roots for transporting water to the plant and shallow roots for absorbing nutrients. When feeding tomatoes, it is better to soak the soil around the plant with a nutrient solution instead of using the bottle reservoir above the plants.

The harvest of the tomatoes

  1. As soon as the fruit is ripe on the plant (the color and size will indicate this), choose the best taste and eat the fruit as soon as possible. This also stimulates the production of more fruit. As soon as frost threatens in October / November, immediately harvest all the fruit and ripen them on a windowsill. In upright varieties, it is possible to place the plants carefully on the ground and cover them with garden plastic to protect them from frost.

Storing the tomatoes

  1. Wash and dry your tomatoes well before storing. Unless you plan to store your tomatoes for more than a week, a windowsill, shelf, or bowl will work fine. If you know you won't be using them for the next few days, keep them at a lower temperature to preserve the fruit. Storing tomatoes in the refrigerator is not recommended because the colder temperatures can diminish the flavor and make the tomatoes mushy. Your freshly picked tomatoes will last longer on the counter than store bought tomatoes because they are probably a few days old when you get them.

  1. You can successfully grow tomatoes in containers on a patio, balcony or even on a fire escape, as long as the plants get six hours of sunlight per day. Another option is to grow indoors under artificial light. Here are some tips on growing tomatoes in containers or pots.

Find a big pot

  1. Even small tomato varieties have considerable root masses. The minimum size of a container or pot for a patio tomato must be 45cm and have a capacity of at least 5 liters. For best results, look for a pot of more than 50cm with a capacity of more than 10 liters. And try to avoid a black pot or container; it can overheat the soil. The larger the pots, the easier it is to keep your plants from drying out, which will help prevent plant rot. A large pot will also help keep you from constantly watering your potted tomatoes.

Use a suitable potting mix

  1. Make sure to purchase a potting mix specifically designed for growing tomatoes. Or you can also make your own mix. You can use a mix of potting soil, perlite, peat moss and compost and to make that mix you take a quarter of all types. A handful of worms also works wonders.

Please choose a suitable variety

  1. There are many tomato varieties that are suitable for growing in pots or containers and every year new terrace tomatoes are introduced. Look for varieties labeled as such or described as shrub or dwarf tomatoes or short season tomatoes. Some varieties are also especially suitable for planters.

  1. It is also possible to grow large varieties in containers and pots, but keep in mind that large varieties also need a larger pot with more soil to support the roots and to provide more fruit growth. In general, varieties with small to medium fruits are better choices than, say, large beef tomatoes if you want to grow in containers or pots, and choosing a hybrid variety with good disease resistance is also helpful.

Repot the plants on time

  1. Don't wait too long before repotting tomatoes in containers. Also use sticks or cages when repotting as even shrub varieties need support for their branches, from which the heavy fruits hang.

Fertilize regularly

  1. When your plants start to flower, you should provide supplemental nutrition every few weeks. Look for a balanced, soluble fertilizer that provides both the macro and micronutrients your tomatoes need; a combination of fish emulsion and liquid seaweed is a good, non-chemical, cheap supplemental food. Make sure to mix and apply the fertilizer according to the directions on the label.

Water often

  1. Try not to let your tomato plants wilt. Water your seedlings and keep the soil moist, but don't drown them. Early in the season this may mean watering once or twice a week, but once your plants get bigger and the weather warms up, you will likely need to water every day. If you plan on leaving, you may want to get a cheap container infusion system and timer.

  1. Then of course the original question remains whether growing tomatoes yourself is worthwhile.

  1. When it comes to money, I can assure you that growing tomatoes yourself is not always cheaper than in the store. You really don't have to do it for the money.

  1. But when it comes to quality, freshness, and taste, it's definitely worth it!

  1. Just pay attention: If you've never eaten a tomato fresh from the garden, your first reaction will be, “But this tastes very different!”

  1. Yes, you can now taste the real taste of tomatoes….

  1. Www.thespruce.com/top-tomato-growing-tips-1402587

  1. Www.finegardening.com/how-grow-tomatoes-containers



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