Growing Great Tomatoes

Written by Karen Gross

Continued from page 1

Test kits are available at garden centers or through local horticultural organizations. To raiserepparttar soilís pH, work agriculture lime intorepparttar 113391 soil. Use sulfur to lowerrepparttar 113392 pH of alkaline soil. Using fertilizers and compost amendments will also changerepparttar 113393 soilís pH over time. Adding decomposed organic compost will improve any soil structure. You can purchase or make your own compost. Once you have cultivated your garden area and preparedrepparttar 113394 soil, it is ready forrepparttar 113395 plantings.

Planting The Tomatoes

Inspect all ofrepparttar 113396 transplants, looking for insects, wilting or blight. Plant only healthy plants. Tomatoes prefer full sun, so choose an area with at least six to eight hours of sun per day. Practice crop rotation in your vegetable gardening by planting tomatoes and other vegetables in a different spot every year. Tomatoes prefer to be planted by chives, parsley, marigolds, nasturtiums, garlic bulbs, and carrots. Avoid planting tomatoes by potatoes or members ofrepparttar 113397 cabbage family.

For large healthy tomatoes, give them plenty of room to grow. Space plants twenty-four inches between rows and leave twenty-four inches between plants. With your shovel or spade, make holes slightly larger thanrepparttar 113398 plants. Tap gently onrepparttar 113399 bottom ofrepparttar 113400 individual container, looseningrepparttar 113401 soil and gently removing fromrepparttar 113402 pot. Tomatoes are susceptible to cutworms, but placing a 3-4 inch nail next to each stem before planting or wrapping strips of newspaper aroundrepparttar 113403 bottom ofrepparttar 113404 stems will help prevent these pests. A paper cup surroundingrepparttar 113405 stem also works well.

Place tomato plant in hole and back fill with soil until it is well compacted. Place a rack or cage around each individual plant to help support future growth. Water aroundrepparttar 113406 base ofrepparttar 113407 plant, avoidingrepparttar 113408 foliage. Do not over water or soakrepparttar 113409 seedlings as this can promote disease and rot. Water early inrepparttar 113410 day to discourage blight.

Using a rake, spread organic mulch, such as weed-free straw, over plants at least two inches deep. These is an effective way to prevent weeds, preserve water and keeprepparttar 113411 soil warm, thus reducingrepparttar 113412 maintenance required for vegetable gardening. Fertilizerepparttar 113413 plants throughoutrepparttar 113414 growing season with compost or organic matter. Water when needed and inspect leaves periodically forrepparttar 113415 signs of tomato blight and insects. If blight is discovered, remove any infected leaves and destroy them. Treat plant with a fungicide. Be sure to remove all debris from your garden inrepparttar 113416 fall, as blight can survive onrepparttar 113417 dried tomatoes overrepparttar 113418 winter.

Most tomatoes take 100-days to bear fruit, so follow these easy directions and get ready to harvestrepparttar 113419 fruits of your labors and enjoy that first BLT ofrepparttar 113420 season.

Items Needed For Growing Tomatoes:

- Tomato seeds or plants - Containers or flats - A small greenhouse kit or plastic bags - Starter soil or mixture - Marking pen - Popsicle sticks or labels - Rake - Spade and shovel - Water, sun, adequate soil and patience

Karen Gross is a professional gardener and design consultant. She writes for, providing valuable tips and advice about seed companies, greenhouse kits and other vegetable gardening topics.

Organic Gardening In The Backyard Ė Fun, Healthy, and Easier Than You May Think

Written by C.J. Gustafson

Continued from page 1

Organic Fertilizers

Of course you want your plants to grow quickly and produce large yields. However, chemical fertilizers are potentially harmful to those who eatrepparttar plants and torepparttar 113390 environment, especially if applied too heavily and allowed to run off into water supplies and habitat areas. Using organic fertilizers can decreaserepparttar 113391 problems associated with chemicals.

Manure is a natural, effective fertilizer if used properly. Not only does it improve soil structure, it providesrepparttar 113392 nutrients plants need to develop. Manure that is allowed to age and decompose before use is most effective. Pasteurized manure is less likely to include active weed seed or harmful bacteria. Do not apply too heavily.

Create and maintain a compost pile to use as fertilizer. Not only does it incorporaterepparttar 113393 use of natural organic material such as leaves, lawn clippings and household waste such as potato peels and carrot stems, it also provides a free source of fertilizer and reducesrepparttar 113394 amount of waste that is hauled to landfills.

If you choose to use chemical fertilizers, use sparingly and choose a slow release variety that is less likely to leech into vulnerable areas.

Companion planting, which isrepparttar 113395 practice of putting together two plants that seem to benefit each other, has been offered as a means of enhancing organic gardening practices. It is thought that plants such as nicotina and marigolds are natural pest deterrents. However, there is no firm research to support this as yet. Still, many gardeners have reported success with this method.

Additionally, planting vegetables with prickly vines, such as watermelon or squashes aroundrepparttar 113396 perimeter of vulnerable plants may help keep out rabbits and other animals that donít likerepparttar 113397 scratchy vines.

These days, many gardeners are looking for ways to reducerepparttar 113398 use of chemicals and rely on more natural and inexpensive means of providing food for their tale and backyard growing enjoyment. Organic gardening techniques provide fun and healthy options.

C.J. Gustafson is an amateur gardener and a professional photographer, providing valuable tips and advice about garden accessories and other vegetable gardening topics. She would rather lose a few ears of corn than go without wildlife in her garden.

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