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Organic Tomato Gardening Guidelines – Part 2

If you are buying seeds, check the labels to ensure they are organic. For seedlings, check with the shop owner. The soil pH might give you some indication on whether the plant is organic. Look for healthy green plants with thick stems and no tomatoes or flowers. Seedlings should start indoors six to seven weeks before transplanting them outside. Transplanting should be done when the soil is warmed sufficiently and the probability of frost is minimal. The soil should not be over-heated or the plants might suffer a shock. The recommended time for transplanting is late afternoon, cloudy days or after a rain. Be sure the water does not accumulate in the holes but drain well.

The plants should be spaced about two feet apart to allow air circulation and room for the roots to spread and grow healthily. Planting the tomatoes on their side in a trench or up their first set of leaves in a deep hole will enable the roots to develop along the underground stem and suck up the moisture.

Planting the tomato plants in sunny locations will help the plant be more prolific and produce faster. Seedlings, in particular, need a great deal of light. If there is insufficient sunlight, try putting a grow light in the area. If the seedlings grow tall and weak, put more light around them and try to keep the temperature at around sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit. If your tomatoes are growing in containers or pots, you should check the moisture of the soil frequently. Soil in containers tends to dry out faster than in the garden and require more frequent watering. The soil should be kept moist but not soggy.

The stems of the plant are fairly weak. Strong stems may be possible by placing a fan over the tomato seedlings for about ten minutes twice a day. This approach can improve air circulation and prevent the early incidences of some fungal diseases. Start attaching the plants when they are about a foot tall and continually support the plant as it grows higher. You can use thin strips of cloth or similar material to tie the stems or branches to the stakes or cage wires.

When the plant is about three feet tall, remove the leaves at the bottom of the stem for about a foot. The leaves at the bottom receive little sunlight and are likely to develop fungus problems. Compost tea is a good way of deterring several types of fungal diseases, and should be applied around and among the plants weekly. To reduce the possibility of insect and disease problems, do not plant tomatoes in the same spot every year.

If possible plant the next year’s tomato crops in a different location, you can return to the same location after three years. In order to change the location of the tomato plants annually, you need a sufficiently large area or limit the number of tomato plants. Organic tomatoes are considered more luscious and tastier, especially if the fruits are allowed to ripen on the vine. However, if a heavy frost is expected, you may have to harvest all tomatoes, including green ones, to preserve your produce. Allow them to ripen in storage.

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