The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Garden Tips

April 11, 2011

How to Grow a Tomato

The Daily Southerner — (Family Features) Tomatoes are far and away the most popular vegetable grown by home gardeners. Who can resist the vast array of sizes, shapes, colors, and flavors of hybrid and heirloom tomato varieties? Plus, there's nothing like walking through your garden and munching on your own home grown fruits in the middle of summer.

Here's a step-by-step guide to growing tomatoes.

1. Select the Variety - There are hundreds of hybrid and heirloom tomato varieties to choose from. In general, hybrid varieties are more uniform, vigorous, and disease resistant. They grow well almost anywhere in the country. Heirloom varieties offer more variety of fruit shapes, color, and flavor, but sometimes are only regionally adapted. It's best to grow some of each, trying new varieties each year to see which grow best in your climate. For containers, choose dwarf varieties or determinate varieties. Indeterminate varieties will grow until the weather, insects, diseases, or you stop them. They require the most support but will produce the most fruit. For kids, grow cherry tomatoes for a sweet and plentiful treat.

2. Start Seeds Early Indoors - Unless you're buying transplants at the local garden center, you'll need to start your tomato seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date in your area.

3. Raise and Warm the Soil - On all but sandy soils, create 8- to 10-inch tall raised beds to grow your tomatoes.  Two weeks before transplanting outdoors, cover the beds with red plastic mulch. The color red increases tomato yields by up to 20 percent. Plus it warms the soil, conserves soil moisture, and prevents weeds from growing. In extreme southern areas, use straw mulch or white plastic instead of red plastic to keep the soil from overheating. If using drop irrigation or soaker hoses to water your plants, lay these hoses under the plastic mulch before laying it down.

Text Only
Garden Tips
  • Ask A Master Gardener

    Judi L. (Tarboro) Asks: My azaleas are just about finished blooming and some of the blooms are turning brown.  Am I supposed to cut them back now?

    May 10, 2013

  • Worm.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    Ben B. (Tarboro) Asks: Is the Cooperative Extension Center planning a workshop about rain barrel irrigation?  I hear it’s a great way to keep a ready supply of free water for the garden and I think there are a lot of folks in this area that would want to learn more about it.

    May 3, 2013 2 Photos

  • poa annua.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    Millie H. (Pinetops) Asks: I’ve attached a photo of a weed in my lawn that I’ve always called “pee grass.”  What should I do to control this weed in my lawn ?
    Answer: It’s called Poa Annua, or Annual Bluegrass  -  an annual weed that looks similar to a regular lawn grass for a short while. It has shallow roots, and develops a short seed head early in the season. By the time summer heat hits, the weed goes dormant, leaving big brown areas in the lawn.

    April 12, 2013 1 Photo

  • GARDENER-hosta.jpg "Ask A Master Gardener"

    J. Winslow (Tarboro) asks-  I want to put some half rotten logs around-and in-my garden but wonder if the combustion process involved in their further decomposition would damage or detract from the growth of the surrounding plants.

    April 5, 2013 1 Photo

  • 10158.jpg What's Eating My Potatoes?

    Potatoes are a fun crop to grow, especially when it comes time to dig for those buried treasures. Unfortunately, there are numerous pests that are also fond of potatoes. Here are the most common and what to do about them.

    May 17, 2011 1 Photo

  • 10520_aUSE.jpg Pest Prevention: Three Easy DIY Tips


    (Family Features) Each year, uncontrolled bugs, including, beetles, cockroaches, ants, centipedes, sow bugs and box elder bugs, are a relentless annoyance that homeowners across the country fight to keep out of their homes.

    May 11, 2011 1 Photo

  • 10236.jpg Planting a Rain Garden

    (Family Features) Storm water runoff can be a big problem during heavy thunderstorms. As the water rushes across roofs and driveways, it picks up oil and other pollutants. Municipal storm water treatment plants often can't handle the deluge of water, and in many locations the untreated water ends up in natural waterways. The EPA estimates as much as 70 percent of the pollution in our streams, rivers, and lakes is carried there by storm water.

    May 4, 2011 1 Photo

  • 10551.jpg Planning an Outdoor Oasis

     If it's time to think about making some improvements or additions to your home, outside may be the best place to get started.

    April 26, 2011 1 Photo

  • 10561.jpg Controlling Annual Weeds

    (Family Features) Now that the vegetable garden is all planted, not only are your seeded squash, cucumbers, lettuces, beans and carrots coming up, so are the weeds.

    April 21, 2011 1 Photo

  • 10588.jpg Get Your Garden Growing Four Tips for Starting a Garden

     The popularity of gardening is growing. In fact, according to the National Gardening Association,* more than 70 percent of all U.S. households participate in one or more type of do-it-yourself outdoor lawn and garden activity - with flower and vegetable gardening topping the most popular activities.

    April 19, 2011 1 Photo

AP Video
Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners Obama Greets Wounded Warriors Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Must Read