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Gardening

How to Plant Tomatoes at Home

There's nothing more satisfying than harvesting fruit from a plant you took care off!

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Photography: Dan Gold | Unsplash (main)

Tomatoes are adaptable plants which you can easily grow in a pot or a small patch of land. Aside from okra, this is something that any beginner plantita or plantito can grow.

The benefits of tomatoes

Tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene, which reduces your risk of heart disease. According to Healthline, they are also rich in “vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K.” Vitamin C not only boosts your immune system, it also helps manage high blood pressure and prevent iron deficiency. Vitamin K helps with blood clotting, potassium protects against kindey stones and reduces risk of stroke, and folate is needed in creating red and white blood cells.

Where to get tomato seeds

Similar to other veggies, seeds can be bought in small packets from your local grocery store, or you can harvest your own from your store bought tomatoes—simply scoop the out the fruit and allow them to dry.

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How to plant tomatoes

Tomatoes can be planted directly on the ground or in a pot. The Department of Agriculture notes that the best times to plant them in the Philippines is from “September to January in hilly areas, and from November to February in lowland areas.” This is because tomatoes grow best in cooler climes; however, since tomatoes are adaptable, they can still survive the heat of summer months.

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You’ll need rich loam that irrigates well to plant tomatoes. For best results, go with soil with organic compost, which makes for good fertilizer. If you’re planting your tomatoes in a pot, make sure that its bottom has holes where excess water can flow out, lest you get pestered by root rot.

1. It’s best to start out in seedling trays or small pots when growing tomatoes. As these plants are food to many critters and birds, so starting them out in a safe area (or indoors) where they have ample access to sunlight and water will make things easier for you.

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Make sure that your soil is damp before putting in the seeds and pushing them in around one centimeter (1 cm.) deep. One potlet/tray well per seed will do. Afterwards, cover the hole with soil and moisten it with water.

2. Once the seedlings shoot up, water them in the morning and allow them ample sunlight—but not so much that they’ll wilt.

3. Allow your tomatoes to grow up until around 10 to 12 inches before “hardening them off.” Hardening off means gradually exposing your seedlings to the environment where they’ll soon be transferred in. Tomatoes, like many plants, need time to adjust. Skipping this step my cause your plant to die.

Hardening off can take around one to one-and-a-half weeks. The Department of Agriculture advises that you “expose the seedlings up to 10 o’clock in the morning and increase the duration every day until the seedling can withstand the heat of the sun the whole day.” Make sure to keep an eye out for signs for drooping or wilting!

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4. Prep the soil where you’ll be transplanting your tomato seedlings. Plow or dig into it, and take out weeds or pests. It’s important that the soil you is aired out to promote better irrigation for your plants.

5. Thirty (30) days from planting, you can now transfer your hardened off seedlings into their permanent pots or garden corner. You should only place one seedling per pot (a two-gallon container will work), or if you're planting them directly into the ground, make sure that each seedling is least 50 centimeters apart. The roots should be buried at least 5 cm deep, or depending on how tall your plant is.

6. Your transplanted seedlings may be a bit maselan for the next few days: make sure to give them shade until the can recover.

Watering your tomato plant

Water your tomato plants daily in the morning, but at the height of the dry season, you may want to water them twice a day, especially when temperatures hit the higher 30s. During this time, you may also want to afford your plants shade—a banana leaf or a used tarp will do. Make sure that your plants also have ample air circulation.

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Harvesting tomatoes

Given the right conditions, your tomato plants will flower and eventually produce tomatoes
“55 to 65 days after transplanting, or 15 to 20 days from flowering.”  Best harvest the fruits once they’re shiny and red.

Sources: Department of Agriculture, Healthline, University of Maryland

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