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( Tomato )
|If you were to grow only one vegetable, this would probably be the one. Nothing beats a home-grown tomato. The trick is to grow a variety that is suited for your area and use. Some varieties are best suited for slicing, while others are meant for salads, canning, or sauces. Tomatoes are tender perennials grown as annuals. Most tomatoes have a vining habit and will require a fair amount of space. Bush varieties are a little more compact, but should still be caged. The two main growth habits of tomatoes are determinate (stops growing when end buds set fruit, crop is produced all at once - bush types) and indeterminate (continues to grow and set fruit - vine type)Tomatoes require full sun and grow best when day temperatures are between 65 and 85 degrees. Though they love warm weather, they stop growing when day temerpatures go over 95 degrees F and night over 85 degrees F. Flowers will not set fruit if night temperatures drop below 55 degrees F. Tomatoes may be started from seed or transplants. Transplants can be set out no sooner than 3 weeks after your last average frost date. Soil should be warm, fertile and well-drained. Work in a complete, balanced fertilizer at a rate of 1lb/100 SF. Plants should be set out on a cloudy day or late in the afternoon so they will not stress. Dig hole so that plants will be buried up to their first leaves. If stems are really long, plant in a trench with plant laying on it's side. Leaves will turn upright within a week. Space plants about 3 inches apart. Fertilize again around midseason. Provide plenty of even water until fruit starts to color, then reduce water so that fruit will be more flavorful. Harvest tomatoes when they are in full color for most flavor. For more information see the article "Seeing Red."
Important Info : It is imperative that vining or indeterminate tomatoes are staked. Determinate or bush types benefit from caging or staking too, though not as necessary.
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