Planting Your Seedlings:
Planting in the ground:
Be certain to check your local frost date and don’t be in a rush to plant too early. Planting too early in cold soil will only stress the plant and slow growth and development. Choose a sunny location with rich, well-drained soil (soil pH of 5.5-6.8 is preferred). More sun results in better growth and yields so choose a spot with a minimum of 8 hours of sunlight per day (12 hours or more is best). Add organic compost liberally to the planting area and add a small amount of balanced fertilizer to the planting hole. Plant seedlings deeply for best root formation. Roots will form along the entire portion of the stem that is buried, so this will benefit the plant’s growth and nutrient uptake. Make certain your soil is warm enough for planting (62 and above soil temp). Don’t overwater or over fertilize your plants! Allow the roots to dry a bit between waterings. I recommend watering near the base of the plant or use drip type irrigation. Overhead watering (sprinklers, hoses) can spread fungal diseases. If the soil is good and you have worked in ample compost at planting time, you don’t need to fertilize until the plants start to flower. Foliar spraying the plants with kelp emulsion periodically throughout the season will boost vigor and help fend off disease. Also, mulching around the base of the plants with straw will help regulate temperature and moisture and will keep weeds down. Allow 18" of spacing between plants when planting rows.
TOMATO GROWING TIPS
from RidgeBridge Farm
Planting in containers:
Tomato plants do well in containers, providing the container has enough volume to hold about 15 gallons of soil mix. While you may be able to grow them in smaller pots, you won’t have good fruit production unless you provide sufficient soil volume for the root system. Container soil warms much faster than ground, so it’s possible to plant earlier but beware of cool nights and frost. Also, in the heat of summer, containers require more frequent watering to keep roots from drying and soil from becoming too hot. One of the benefits of containers is that they may be moved around to maximize full sun exposure for those with shady growing areas.
Keep your tomato seedlings inside with ample light (12 hours/day) until temperatures are warm enough (65-70 degrees) to set them outside for brief periods of time while they get accustomed to the elements. You will want to provide wind shelter for the young stems and leaves. Most importantly, introduce them slowly to direct sunlight, as the tender leaves may sunburn. It is best to set them outside in the shade for a day or two. From there, over several days you can introduce them to partial shade and then direct sunlight. After a few days, they can be left in direct sun for an hour or two. Gradually allow longer periods of full sun exposure (I typically harden my seedlings over an 8-10 day period). If the nights are 50 degrees or warmer, the seedlings can be left outside. If temps are cooler, I recommend bringing them inside. The ideal soil temperature for planting the seedlings is 62 degrees or higher
Hardening your Seedlings:
Both ground and container plants will require staking. As most heirlooms are indeterminate, the vines will continue to grow throughout the season. We prefer untreated wooden 4 1/2 foot stakes. Individual plants can be tied to the stakes while entire rows may be trellised.
our fields with trellis system
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