Growing tomatoes is a great place to start.

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Posted by Jason Pullen | Posted in Self Sufficient Living : Guide | Posted on 08-09-2011

Growing tomatoes  is a great place to start your quest for self sufficient living. A wide variety of tomatoes can be grown in pots, hangers and containers so the world is your oyster, it just depends upon your taste. For me I like to grow the yellow cherry tomatoes (the bush varieties) , I think the plant smells amazing and they taste so so nice! With these you should get a healthy crop even from a balcony with a hanging basket or two.

To start with you will need a little spot with full sun or a few hours of sun in the morning. Tomatoes can be grown in as little as four hours of sunlight but they don’t particularly like hot afternoon sun or windy weather. If you do live in a windy spot the smaller variety tomatoes are better.

If you are growing them on a balcony then I recommend that you create some sort of barrier to stop them dropping their contents onto the people below. Not everyone will appreciate being struck down by flying tomatoes!

We like to raise our tomatoes from seeds, they only need a little warmth and water to sprout into life. Use a seed raising mix or a good quality potting mix, the results seem pretty much same, so I would use the potting mix and save a few pennies.

Any small container can be used for sprouting and it should be about 10 cm deep, remember to punch some holes in the bottom for drainage.

Fill up the container with your potting mix and add water, ensure that there are no dry bits of soil. Don’t pat the soil to make it firm, the seedlings will need the soil to be loose to help them gain a foot hold.

Sprinkle your seeds onto the soil and agitate it a little. Next pop a clear plastic pot, cup or plastic bag over your seeds to create a mini green house. This will help keep them moist and warm, perfect conditions for them to sprout.

Put your babies to be on a sunny window sill and wait…

After about one week you will start to see some action. Leave them in their mini greenhouses for another few days.

During the second week remove the seedlings from their greenhouse and introduce them to the world.

2 Pk Hanging Tomato Planter Also, Veg, peppers, Flowers. For hanging variety tomatoes

 

If you find that your seedlings are growing too tall and spindly, it means they may not have enough light. If this happens you will need to move them elsewhere to a sunnier location.
If you don’t have a better location you can use reflective paper to reflect back more light. Simple plain paper can also be used if you want to do things in a little more sustainable fashion.

Once your seedlings have reached their fourth leaf they are ready to be replanted. Replant on a cool afternoon and not during the high heat of midday.

Fill your container about half full and take your seedlings out of their seeding pots. Don’t shake the soil from the roots, it’s best to keep as much of it as you can. Fill the pot whilst holding the plant, cover the roots and up to the first set of leaves. Plant two or three into the same container, tomatoes love company.

Next water the container thoroughly and place in a warm location away from direct sunlight. Leave them there for a day or so, just while the plant is in recovery.

On the second day move the plant to your selected warm and sunny position, make sure it’s not too windy.

From here on you should test the soil daily. It should be moist and not damp.

Never over fertilise your tomatoes if in doubt air on the side of caution, Less is best. use liquid fish emulsion and liquid seaweed for fertiliser. Fertilise your tomatoes once every fortnight, do not forget when they are flowering as they will need the extra nutrients.

Remember to train your plant by tying it to a stake, you don’t want it to buckle under the strain of the fruit. Don’t over tighten it should be just enough to hold the stem in place.

Finally…
Pick off some flowers here and there and you will get nice large fruit.

Pick your tomatoes when they are just starting to turn red. This is when they are at their most tasty.

Enjoy.

 

Why stop at tomatoes, growing your own food is easy! Try growing something else but do let us know how it went.

Elly and Jason

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