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Follow these steps to grow tomatoes:
- Don’t crowd - give the seedlings room to branch out.
- Provide lots of light.
- Put a fan on your seedlings to make the stems grow stronger
- In cold climates, preheat the soil in your garden by putting down black plastic. Red plastic can be even more beneficial to the soil and plants.please expand
- Bury tomato plants deeper, up to a few top leaves. 15 cm (6 inches) is usually a good amount. Plant deep down, or sideways. They can grow roots all along their stems. This builds better roots.
- Mulch. If in a cold climate, leave mulching to later so the sun can warm the ground. Plastic mulch may be good in early stages, to protect soil and warm it.
- Remove bottom leaves. Once they reach about a meter (3') tall, remove leaves from the bottom 30 cm (1') of stem. These leaves more easily develop fungus problems, which can then spread upwards. Spraying weekly with compost tea may also help.
- Pinch and prune. Shoots that develop in the joint of two branches won't bear fruit and will take nutrients away from the parts that are fruiting. Pinch and remove these. Don't prune the rest of the plant very much, but thin any leaves that are shading fruit that is ripening.
- Water deeply and regularly while plants are developing. Irregular watering leads to blossom end rot and cracking.
- Ease off the watering as fruit begins to ripen. This will encourage the plant to concentrate its sugars. Keep watering, just not as much - don't let them wilt.
- Some varieties ("indeterminate type" tomatoes) will set set fruit earlier if you pinch off the tips of the main stems in early summer.
Notes and references
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- Tips for Growing Great Tomatoes - About.com
- Instructions on How to Grow Better Tomatoes - growbetterveggies.com
- Tending Tomato Seedlings - growbetterveggies.com
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