Tomatoes are American's favorite vegetable to grow; wait, or is it a fruit? Actually it is both, depending on who you ask.
There are the cooks who think of 'fruit' as sweet plant parts, so to them tomatoes are vegetables (although some would argue that certain cherry tomatoes are pretty close to being candy). Then there are the scientists who view true fruit as a mature flower-part. That would not only make tomatoes fruit, but also peppers, squash, beans, corn, avocado, & peas to name a few.
Whatever you want to call them, we think fresh, fragrant & delicious tomatoes are a wonderful seasonal treat. Below are some tomato gardening tips for the home gardener.
CULTURE: For the best tomatoes, plant in Full sun in Fertile soil that drains well.
There are two basic Types: Determinate=more upright medium height/growth. Fruit tends to ripen in a shorter time frame. Indeterminate=more sprawling growth. Can be staked on supports. Longer fruiting time frame. Keep the strongest leader & pinch side growth at base for larger fruit.
Soil, Fertilizer: We recommend enriching your soil with leaf compost or aged cow manure before planting to make sure the soil has enough organic material. 1/3 to 1/2 of the soil should be compost. This helps retain soil moisture & feeds them as it breaks down. Adding a bit of eggshell or garden lime will provide calcium. We recommend using Neptune's Harvest Organic Fish & Seaweed as a foliar feed every other watering (early in the day) to provide micro nutrients.
Companions: Planting basil in your tomato patch helps to repel insects, as does carrots, onions, chives, garlic, and parsley. Sounds like a good start to some sauce! Hairy vetch as a cover crop works well to provide nitrogen. Keep corn & potatoes far away from tomatoes as they share pests.
Water: It is important to keep tomatoes moist but not soggy. They love heat & water (originally from Central/South America.) Drip hose works well as does mulching to help that moisture stay by the root system. To make a determinate harvest sweeter, you can cut back on H2O, just remember not to stress them before ripe.
Disease & Pests: See Cornell University Plant Pathogens LINK for photos & description.