According to the University of Missouri Extension, tomatoes are the most popular home garden crop in the United States. Even the worst home-grown tomato is much better than the very best store-bought tomato, Terry Mikel of the University of Arizona's Maricopa County Extension Service told the "Arizona Republic," adding: "The bite of the first tomato is probably the reason most people vegetable garden." Tomatoes are very heavy feeders. Ideal fertilizer formulas for tomatoes, whether organic or inorganic, are 8-32-16 and 6-24-24, the relative percentages of nitrogen, phosphorous and potash, respectively. Many gardeners believe adding banana peels to your planting holes boosts young plant health.
Things You'll Need
- Tomato plants
- 1 pound peat moss
- 1 pound coarse builder's sand
- Banana peels
- Garden hose
Select a planting site for your tomato plants based on their sunlight and soil requirements to increase your chances of successful cultivation. Choose a planting site that receives more than six hours of direct sun exposure every day and has nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. Look for a site that is a least 6 feet away from buildings and other structures to ensure that your tomato plants will have adequate space to develop.
Clear the entire planting site of existing vegetation and weeds to ensure that your tomato plants will not have to compete for moisture and nutrients. Dig deep into the soil to remove the root systems of perennial weed plants to prevent them from growing back.
Dig planting holes for your tomato plants that are 1 to 2 inches wider than the width of the nursery containers and 1 to 2 inches deeper than the height of the containers. Space the planting holes a minimum of 24 inches apart. Leave at least 36 inches of space between each planting hole when planting large-vine tomato varieties.
Mix 1 pound of peat moss and 1 pound of coarse builder's sand into the displaced soil that was created when the planting holes were dug. Work the amendments into the displaced soil until evenly distributed to create a loose, fertile and well-draining soil for your tomato plants.
Lay two banana peels in the bottom of each planting hole. Cover the banana peels with 2 inches of the displaced, amended soil so that, when planted, the roots of the plants will not come into direct contact with the banana peels.
Plant your tomato plants in their prepared planting holes. Plant them at the same level that they were growing in their nursery containers to reduce the risk of root rot or blossom end rot. Use the palms of your hands to tamp down the surface of the soil around the tomato plants.
Water the tomato plants after planting to thoroughly wet the entire root ball and surrounding soil.
Tips & Warnings
- For an even more powerful nutrient boost from kitchen scraps, toss 12 boiled and crushed egg shells into the bottom of each planting hole when you add the banana peels.
- Tomatoes plants often experience problems with common insect pests such as aphids, cutworms, flea beetles, hornworms, leaf miners, spider mites, stalk borers, stink bugs and tomato fruitworms. Contact the agricultural extension office in your area for prevention and treatment advice.
- Photo Credit Tomatoes Closeup image by John Walsh from Fotolia.com
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