Speed Up Your Tomato Harvest
Be the first in your neighborhood to harvest a red ripe tomato from your garden this summer.
Start by selecting an early-ripening tomato like Early Girl or Fourth of July and plant in properly prepared soil. Plant tall, leggy tomatoes deeper to encourage a larger root system to develop along the buried stem. Dig a trench, remove the lower leaves and set the plant in the trench carefully bending the stem upright. Cover the stem with soil, then water.
Stake your tomato and remove any side shoots that form between the stem and leaves to further speed ripening. Staked tomatoes produce fewer, but earlier fruit. Plus, training tomatoes off the ground keeps the fruit off the soil, reducing insect and disease problems.
Place red tomato boosters on the soil around the plants to warm the soil and increase productivity. Now, add a little early season protection and warmth to speed up growth, flowering and fruiting. Floating row covers, wall-o-waters, or Aqua Domes as well as home made devices work well.
A bit more information: Make your tomato tower do double duty. Wrap the tower with clear plastic to trap heat around your plants. Cover the top when there is a danger of frost. Or create your own cloches (frost protectors) from gallon milk jugs and 2 liter soda bottles. Remove the bottom of the container and place over the plants. Keep the caps on in cold weather and frosty nights. Remove the caps to vent on sunny and warm days.
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