How to Grow and Care for Tomato Plants
This is a guide that I’ve written after thoroughly researching this topic, and I’ve also added a few points from my own personal experiences. Growing tomatoes from seeds is every gardener's dream. The excitement you feel when you get your first fruit—I believe that the tomato is a fruit—is truly amazing and unmatched. If you plan to do this yourself, you’ll need to ask one basic question: When should I plant tomato seedlings? The answer depends on various factors that I will discuss in this article.
However, that’s not all you’re going to find in this article; you’ll also get all the information you need regarding the common concern of transplanting tomato seedlings.
Caring for tomato seedlings is a hard task for some, but it is really important because well-nourished plants will eventually grow better and stronger, thereby, producing not just a higher yield but livelier and tastier tomatoes. Many of us just grow and water the tomato seedlings without providing proper care. You’ll surely get fruit—just not as much as you hoped for.
When to Start Planting Tomatoes
This is a common question asked by many home gardeners. The answer depends on the place you’re from and the prevailing weather conditions that particular year. Tomato seeds are typically planted about two months before the beginning of spring. You’ll need to plant seedlings indoors at this time because they’ll need to grow a bit before their ready for the outside world. If you still have doubts regarding the exact time to grow the seedlings in your area, you could consult a garden expert or any friends or family who plant tomatoes year after year. I hope this answers the question and erases all doubts from your mind.
Caring for the Tomato Seedlings
Like mentioned before, you should begin by growing indoors. The soil you choose should be nutrient-rich, and the moisture level should be maintained at a suitable level—not too wet neither too dry. The seeds should be planted in tiny furrows that are separated by at least half an inch or more.
Once the seeds are placed inside the furrows, you can then gently cover up the furrows with a pinch of soil. These containers need to be kept in a warm place so that the seeds can germinate well. Once they germinate and the seedlings are visible, you can then move the containers to a corner that receives ample sunlight—for instance, the windowsill. If you can’t find a spot indoors that receives good sunlight, you could also use fluorescent bulbs. However, natural light is always better and preferred.
The tomato seedlings will emerge with just their cotyledon leaves (first true leaves) present. They're still tender and need the most care at this stage. They grow rapidly, and you’ll notice a huge change every single day. Again, they'll enough sunlight. You can easily tell whether they're getting a sufficient amount by the colour of the leaves—the greener the better.
After about two weeks, the seedling stage is now complete. Once they’ve grown to a decent size, it’s time to transplant the tomato seedlings.
Transplanting the Seedlings
Once the tomato plants have grown to a desired height and girth, it’s time to transplant the tomato seedlings. You should wait at least until true leaves have grown. You will then re-plant each of the seedlings in individual pots or containers. This is known as pricking out the tomato seedlings.
You need to take care and perform this task gently. When pricking, you’ll need to hold the plant below the cotyledon and scoop up the plant from below the roots. You need the plant along with the whole root system. Use a small scoop or a spoon/fork to achieve this.
Now, dig furrows in each of the containers and gently place the plants into the furrows. The whole part below the cotyledons needs to be buried because this will make the plant to grow firm and strong. A sturdy plant will not collapse due to wind. The plant will readily grow roots from the part of the stem that is buried.
Once planted, gently water the plants so that the loose soil settles and firmly fixes the plant in the container. This is an easy task provided you have the patience to do it right.
In addition, don't forget to add the right fertilizers to the soil because tomatoes are known to be heavy feeders. When doing this, you also need to know how to water the tomato plants. Mastering these basics is the first step towards a successful harvest and juicy tomatoes.
Tomato Seedlings Turning Yellow?
This is something that happens very often. There are various reasons that can cause yellowing of tomato plants: an excess watering, an overdose of fertilizers, lack of nutrients, and many other factors