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In this series I’m compiling the quick and dirty info on growing specific vegetables. Just the basics. No fluff, no frills. When you’re sitting down in the late Winter, surrounded by seed catalogs, and your garden plan in front of you, you want a quick reference. How far apart can you plant? What pH do they need? How much water? What vegetables can you plant next to others? Which should you avoid?
This quick and dirty, 30-second guide to Tomatoes should help you answer all those questions quickly, without having to sort through article after article. I’ve always wanted a quick cheat sheet like this, so hopefully you’ll find it useful too!
Tomatoes are the best, easiest, and most delicious entry-level vegetable for the beginner homesteader to grow. If you’re just getting your thumbs green, check out my post: Gardening 101 for more basic information.
A lot of people get started with tomatoes — they’re easy to grow in containers, low maintenance and incredibly rewarding with you see those lush green globes of goodness turn red.
Nutritional Value of Tomatoes
I honestly didn’t like tomatoes, until I had a home-grown one. Tomatoes, to me, were watery, slimey, flavorless slices of yuck. Then, when visiting a friend, I had a vine-ripen, picked-that-morning slice of tomato with nothing on it but salt. Oh my goodness…it was like I’d never had a tomato before — and I pretty much hadn’t.
In addition to being delicious, they’re also pretty good for you! One cup of raw cherry tomatoes, for example, contains 32% of your daily recommended value of Vit. C, 25% of your daily Vit. A, and 15% of your daily Vit. K.
If you’ve got a surplus of tomatoes, or know a farmer who sells “canning tomatoes” (aka – ugly ones), check out my post on how to prepare them for canning and make homemade salsa, pasta sauce, marinara, ketchup, etc.
Below I’ve gathered a quick and dirty guide to tomato-growing success. Paired down to the simple necessities, this quick guide should give you an easy reference sheet for all things “tomato”.
1 in per week
Start seeds 6-8 weeks before last day of frost. Transplant after chance of last frost.
Chives, Marigolds, Basil, Carrots, Peppers, Sage, Onions, Garlic, Leaf lettuce
Avoid Planting With
Black walnuts, potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, corn, dill
Need tomato cage or support for stalk.
Harvest tomatoes when they first begin to turn yellow or orange and allow to ripen on your counter to prevent any type of rot or the birds getting to them first.
Saving The Seeds
To save the seeds from your tomatoes to plant in your garden next year, scoop out seeds from a healthy, vine-ripened tomato. Place in a glass jar and allow to ferment for at least three days. Rinse the seeds and allow to dry fully. For more detailed instruction, see my Saving Tomato Seeds post.