Essential Tomato Cultivation Tips

Good tomato cultivation is a very important stage that requires great care in both germinating your seeds and transplanting to get them off to a strong start. The strength of your plants and the quality of your crop depends on the care taken during the cultivation stage.

Germination is the whole process of taking the seeds and starting them growing into a new plant. This could be after a period when the seeds have been dormant, there’s no need to plant and germinate your seeds as soon as you’ve collected them.

Protect Your Seedlings

The ideal environment for your seedlings is indoors or under the cover of a greenhouse. This will speed the germination process and give them a strong start, you can expect the process to take 8 to 10 days. Try not to germinate in temperatures below 15 degrees celcius.

A tip is to keep the seedlings in separate pots to keep the roots from getting tangled up during their first growth spurt. You can buy good seedling mix at your local gardening store or make your own out of compost, potting mix and cow manure. Bird manure can be too acidic for tomato seedlings. The strength of your seedling’s roots is so, so important to the lifespan of the plant, so pay attention to the soil right from the start.

Time For The Garden

The time when you can take your seedlings outside varies. They are ready when they reach 3 or 4 leaves, which might take from 4 to 6 weeks. The biggest shock to tomato plant seedlings in the big outdoors is the drop in temperature so you can give them a period of adjustment of about 7 days outdoors before you transplant them to the garden soil.

Transplanting

Position your seedlings at least a foot apart, and more is fine. You’ll need space for weeding and pruning later on when they’re bigger. It also depends how you’re supporting your plants. If you’re using stakes they can be closer together, but if you’re using tomato cages you should space them further apart.

It also depends on whether your plants are determinate or indeterminate tomatoes – generally determinate tomatoes can be planted a bit closer together. Try and judge it by the size of your variety of tomato plant when it’s fully grown. Large plants will spread their roots over 3 feet of area.

The timing of your transplanting is essential – any frost can easily kill your seedlings. Check the temperature of the soil with a thermometer to make sure it is above 15 degrees celcius. And check at night too! Protective polythene covers can help to make sure they stay warm during any cold late spring nights.

The magic ingredient most professional tomato growers use with their seedlings is to dip them in seaweed as they transplant. It’s a little super-boost to get them started flying.

Good Pruning

An often overlooked aspect of good tomato cultivation is the pruning. Two things you should bear in mind with pruning is the energy the plant has to pump into the growth of different part of itself. And the circulation of air that is essential around any tomato plant.

With regards to the limited energy a tomato plant has, right at the start you can trim the very first fruit flowers, so the plant doesn’t spend too much energy on those low-lying and vulnerable tomatoes. In general as your plant grows it’s a good idea to prune all the leaf branches and leaves. Leaving 3 or 4 leaves at the top to absorb sunlight.

Leaves and leaf-branches just take a huge amount of energy from the plant, which could be going into your tomatoes.  Also, the leaves can suffocate your plant, keeping the fresh air out and the humid vapors inside and close to the plant – this creates a perfect breeding ground for dangerous fungi.

And a final tip with pruning is to use your fingers and pinch off the branches right at the base. So the plant does not try to recover them. These tomato cultivation techniques should get your plants off to a strong and healthy start.

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