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I have grown tomatoes wherever life has taken me. It is always the first plant I try at any new situation. We had been working a small garden area in the back yard for the past couple years. We have diligently added all the "right stuff" to the soil but it still is a work in progress.imagesCAZVT6IIcrop tomato growing gardeningdirections

 

Last year I experimented with plants in containers and in the ground in the garden too. I also tried a couple of those "Seen on TV" upside down planters with limited success. Everything was going along smoothly until the pesky pests and diseases started on the plants in the ground. Fungus, aphids, scale,snails,slugs and possums and all of that mess spread to the soon to be unhealthy containers. This year is totally different.

imagesCACLJL4W tomato gardening directions

We have totally abandoned the in the ground garden. Let it sit for a while and treat the soil. I have planted everything in 5 gallon containers. Put drainage holes in bottom. They are filled with the best soiless mixture that I can get locally. A good organic, nutrient and moisture holding mixture is essential. The seeds came from a slice of a delicious tomato from the market. This is not the best way to get seeds because a lot of the vegetables today are not "true to seed". Meaning that an exact duplicate of the parent is not guaranteed. This was at least grown in the area. I planted the seeds with no regards to the correct time of year for planting here is South Florida. Tomatoes here are planted in early fall and early spring. When you can you should stagger planting for ten or so days so you can harvest for a longer time. I started the seeds in a couple of pots and waited to put them in a 5 gallon container after major thinning. Four plants per 5 gallon seems to be about right. These plants at the end of February are full of fruit and growing and growing. If these plants were in the ground they would have died in December from very cold weather (high 20's). However they are in containers and they are easy to protect whenever the weather hit the 40's. So I am well ahead of the game with this crop and should continue harvesting delicious cherry and the other 3-5 inch unnamed tomato for a couple more months.  I have another crop of large seedlings ready to go into containers this week.

imagesCAUX6ZG4 tomato gardeningdirections

I water once a day at least. Never let them stress for water. Nine out of ten days they are watered with a half solution of Peters or some other water soluble fertilizer rated for tomatoes and vegetable gardens. On the tenth day water them very thoroughly with plain water. This helps to leach out any salts or nitrates that can build up in the soil and harm the plants. Because of planting early and protecting this crop I have had very little pest problems. We have so far kept the vegetables insect free by inspecting the plants and picking off any pests. The warmer it gets the harder it will get for pest control. By being observant you should be able to minimize any damage. When you need to get rid of pests always try the method that will do the least harm to the environment and helpful garden critters. Start with mild soaps and work your way up if you must. We have been harvesting sweet and tangy tomatoes for a few weeks now.

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