How to Grow a Great Tomato
Tomatoes are great supporters of overall health, containing vitamin C, A, beta-carotene, and lycopene. Research has found regularly eating tomatoes can lower cholesterol levels, promote proper fetal development, and regulate blood sugar.
How to Grow:
Tomatoes prefer full sunlight and a soil pH of 6. While tomatoes grow and produce the best outdoors, they can also grow in containers (minimum 15 gallons of potting soil) but growing them in larger beds with more soil volume will help them reach their full potential.
Plant seedlings or transplants in space at least 2 feet square. Keep the fruit from drooping onto the ground by growing the upright varieties against canes or wire cages. Pinch out the tops after they make 3-4 groups of fruits. Tomatoes are heavy feeders and can take copious amounts of fertilizer. Keep plants moist but not overly wet to avoid fungal diseases.
Tomatoes are susceptible to hornworm infestation. Spray foliage with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) for natural control. You can also remove worms by hand, typically early in the morning. Worms are usually on top of the foliage and are easy to remove and discard. As a general measure, you can spray with a botanical insecticide-fungicide for natural control of most insect pests and diseases, such as early blight, gray leaf spot, late blight, Septoria leaf spot, southern blight and verticillium wilt.
Pick or buy tomatoes fully ripe, the redder the better. Ripe tomatoes may have four times more beta-carotene than green, immature ones, making home-grown hand-picked tomatoes more healthy and more delicious that store bought, left to ripen in shipping containers.