On growing tomatoes
It seems tomatoes would win a vote for the favorite vegetable. With the warm weather, we have been selling quite a few. Here are a few tips on raising tomatoes.
1. Most vegetables like calcium, but tomatoes seem to want an extra amount. One symptom of a lack of calcium is end rot at the tips of the tomatoes. By the time you see that, it is hard to correct the problem. The time to add calcium is when you prepare the soil. Tomatoes need an extra amount of calcium when they are blooming and for the next two weeks, when the fruit is still pea-sized. It is at this stage that the cell walls are being developed and require extra calcium.
What is a good source of calcium? Limestone is one, but it is not easy to come by in small amounts. Gypsum is another good source. A limited amount of wood ashes also provides calcium, and provides potash as well. A cupful per plant would be plenty. Some people blend up egg shells, which is a form of calcium.
2. Be careful with the nitrogen. Tomatoes like nitrogen, but not too much. Nitrogen is what animal waste has a lot of, and it makes plants big and green. That is not always a good thing when it comes to tomatoes. You want a nice looking plant, but if the plant is too big and green, it might not have much fruit. Other minerals, like phosphate, and potash in particular, help the plant produce more and larger fruit.
3. Tomatoes are rather shallow-rooted and will put out roots at each node (where leaves branch out) that is below the soil. So if the plant is somewhat leggy, tip it sideways when you plant it and bury some of the stalk. The remainder of the plant will turn upright, and roots will sprout at each buried node.
4. Tomatoes of course need water, but not too much. Too much water, or uneven watering, can worsen the end rot problem mentioned above.