Friday, 15 August 2008

Growing Heirloom Tomatoes

Once you have had a taste of a home grown heirloom tomato you will never eat a store bought one again! Growing Heirloom Tomatoes can be tricky to grow so here are some tips.

I have found that starting them from seed indoors and then planting them outside at the proper time ensures the greatest success and volume of tomatoes. I've grown identical plants, but one from seed and one from a store bought plant. There was no comparison, the one grown from seed was stronger, healthier, produced more fruit and had less growing problems. Even though the store/nursery ones may look good, you never know how much stress they have been through. Stick with seeds if you can!

Even bugs know which tomatoes taste better. I have found that most tomato pests love heirlooms. Sure the hybrid plants may not suffer from some of the problems heirlooms do, but they don't have the taste or vigor either. Most heirloom tomato pests can be easily taken care of with a few simple steps.
Keep your plants clean, no loose fruits on the ground.
Make sure you stake your plants and tie them up well.
Pinch off any extra suckers, don't go overboard though.
Pick off any bugs, like tomato horn worm. If you see a huge weird moth around your plants get rid of that too, because most likely it is laying horn worm eggs. YUCK!

Heirlooms need consistant watering. If they go through too many periods of drought or overwatering they may crack. A good deep soaking is all that is necessary. Mulch your plants to keep the soil temperature more even and extend the growing season.

Plant marigolds and basil around your Heirlooms, they will ward off pests. Marigolds look adorable planted around tomatoes, and basil is a delicious companion plant for tomatoes.

Check out this website for free info on growing tomatoes and other veggies and tons of pictures!

Monday, 11 August 2008

How to Save Tomato Seeds

One of the best ways to save money on gardening is to use seeds instead of buying plants. You can save the most money by saving your own seeds. Here are steps on how to save your tomato seeds. This is a really wonderful way to save Heirloom seeds!

Step 1. Scoop the seed out of the tomato, be sure to pick good looking healthy ones from your garden.
Step 2. Put the pulp and seeds into a glass jar, you may need to add some water. Let this mixture rot for a couple of days. It may take up to four days. Be sure to put this somewhere discreet as this mixture really smells bad!
Step 3. A mold will develop on the top and the seeds should be able to be seen on the bottom.
Step 4. Remove the moldy top add water and rinse through a strainer. Try to remove all the bits and pieces to just leave the seeds.
Step 5. Now you can dry your seeds, a paper plate or glass plate works well. Don't use towels or paper towels they will stick and you will have a mess on your hands. Just let them air dry, don't use the oven or bake them in the sun. Make sure the seeds are completely dry before you store them.
Step 6. Take all the dry seeds and store in a cool dry place. An envelope works well. Label everything.
Step 7. Did you know that seeds make excellent gifts to tuck inside a card? You can also sell your excess seeds. Good Luck and have fun gardening!

by J Hfield

Check out this website for free info on growing tomatoes and other veggies and tons of pictures!

How to Grow the Perfect Tomatoes

Of all of the different vegetables that are typically grown in the garden, the tomato is by far the favorite. As a matter of fact, people have bragging rights in accordance with the size of the tomatoes that they grow in some areas. That is why it is important to make sure that you are growing the perfect tomato in every season. Even though a lot of people think that is has to do with the variety of tomato that you grow, it actually has a lot more to do with how you grow them.

Of course, you need to start with strong, healthy plants and then you need to add them to the garden properly. Many people will leave a lot of the plant sticking out of the ground in order to get a head start on the growing season but if you do, you may be hurting the plant more than helping it. A tomato plant has an amazing ability to produce roots from any part of the plant that is put underground. Whenever I first plant my tomatoes, I only leave a little bit sticking out of the ground and the rest I allow to go to root. This gives it the opportunity to pull as many nutrients out of the soil as possible.

Something else that you should start doing as soon as the tomato plant starts to grow is to pull the suckers off of the plant. These are the odd stems that seem to appear between the main stalk and any branches that are growing. Even though these will produce tomatoes on their own, they tend to draw a lot of the energy out of the plant and hurt its overall production. If you pull these as soon as they appear, you will be able to keep the plant healthy and producing large tomatoes throughout the growing season.

Finally, you need to make sure that you are treating your tomato plants organically. The last thing that you would want to do is to grow the perfect looking tomato but have it be poison on the inside because you were adding chemicals to the garden. Yes, it does take a little bit more work in order to have an organic garden but the fresh, clean vegetables that it will produce are a much better addition to your table than those with pesticides on the inside.

If you want to make your thumb greener, visit for more gardening tips and information.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Growing Tomatoes - How to Avoid Common Problems

Flower Set and Blossom Drop

One of the most exciting moments in tomato growing is when flowers begin to fade and the first little pea-like fruits appear. Each day they grow a little bigger until they reach their mature size when they start to change colour and become ripe tomatoes. They look almost too good to eat!

However, temperatures and humidity have to be right for flowers to set fruit. If flowers fail to set, blossom drop is the result and those pretty little blooms wither and break off at the knuckle. To avoid blossom drop, mist and tap plants daily to help release pollen. If the weather is particularly hot and dry, also water around the base of plants to increase humidity.

Watering and Blossom End Rot

Watering can be a tricky business when it comes to tomatoes especially if they are grown in containers. However, correct watering can help avoid blossom end rot, which is caused by a lack of calcium when the fruits are swelling and leaves a dark leathery patch on the underside of the tomatoes.

The first aim should be to keep the entire root area moist by giving them a thorough watering once a week (especially when the fruits are swelling) and water moderately in between. The reason is that roots are only able to feed and absorb nutrients (including calcium) from areas of soil that are moist. If half of the soil that your plant is growing in is dry, calcium uptake may also be reduced by half.

Increase Aeration and Disease Control

One way to keep tomato plants healthy, especially when grown in a confined space such as a greenhouse or where they may be planted close together, is to increase aeration. This may be done by removing old, lower leaves below the first truss to improve air circulation.


Opinion about deleafing varies considerably. Some gardeners will leave most leaves on their plants which helps shield tomatoes from direct sunlight. Too much direct sunlight and heat can cause sun scald, greenback and blotchy ripening. Some growers, especially those who grow in greenhouses, remove all leaves below the truss that is producing ripe fruit. This enables plants resourses to be directed into the fruit rather than having to support lots of leaves. Plants grown in greenhouses do not usually have their fruit in direct sunlight for long periods, so avoid the problems of sun scald etc.

Watering and Disease

When watering, avoid splashing soil up onto the lowest leaves which may transfer soil infections into a plant through the leaves. Splashing water up onto growing fruit may also create ghost spot which is caused by grey mould soil spores and displays small transparent water-like rings.

It's also a good idea to pull off suckers, side shoots and leaf branches by hand rather than cut them because the blades of knives and scissors can spread disease from one plant to another.

Nick Chenhall has been a keen tomato grower for many years and runs his own tomato growing website. If you would like to find out more about growing tomatoes, please visit: