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Organic Tomato Gardening Guidelines – Part 2

If you buy seeds, check the labels to make sure they are organic. For seedlings, consult the shop owner. The pH of the soil may give you some indication that the plant is organic. Look for healthy green plants with thick stems and no tomatoes or flowers. The seedlings should start indoors six to seven weeks before transplanting them outside. Transplanting should be performed when the soil is sufficiently heated and the probability of frost is minimal. The soil should not be overheated or the plants could be shocked. The recommended time for transplanting is in the late afternoon, on cloudy days or after a rain. Make sure that water does not accumulate in the holes but that it drains well.

Plants should be spaced about one meter apart to allow air circulation and root space to spread and grow healthily. Planting tomatoes on their side in a trench or their first set of leaves in a deep hole will allow the roots to develop along the underground stem and suck in moisture.

Planting tomato plants in sunny places will help the plant be more prolific and produce faster. Seedlings in particular need a lot of light. If there is insufficient sunlight, try to put a growing light in the area. If the seedlings grow tall and weak, put more light around them and try to keep the temperature around sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit. If your tomatoes grow in containers or pots, you should check the soil moisture frequently. The soil in the containers tends to dry faster than in the garden and requires more frequent watering. The soil must be kept moist but not soaked.

The stems of the plant are quite weak. Strong stems may be possible by placing a fan on top of the tomato seedlings for about ten minutes twice a day. This approach can improve air circulation and prevent the first incidences of some fungal diseases. Start attacking plants when they are about a foot high and continuously support the plant as it grows higher. Thin strips of cloth or similar material can be used to tie the stems or branches to the pegs or cage threads.

When the plant is about three feet tall, remove the leaves on the bottom of the stem for about a foot. The leaves on the bottom receive little sunlight and can develop mushroom problems. Compost tea is a good way to discourage different types of fungal diseases and should be applied around and between plants weekly. To reduce the possibility of insect and disease problems, do not plant tomatoes in the same spot every year.

If possible to plant the next year’s tomato crops in a different location, you can return to the same location after three years. In order to change the position of tomato plants every year, a sufficiently large area or limit the number of tomato plants is required. Organic tomatoes are considered more succulent and tasty, especially if the fruits can ripen on the vine. However, if severe frost is expected, it may be necessary to harvest all tomatoes, including green ones, to preserve your produce. Allow them to mature in storage.

by Deb Allen

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