Juicy Ripe Tomatoes
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Tomato plants are almost guaranteed to play a major part of your new vegetable garden.

Ripe succulent red tomatoes are the treasure of the garden for most great gardeners and they're not that hard to grow, even from seeds. Once you've tasted a fresh garden tomato, you'll be hard pressed to ever go back to the store-bought tomatoes you have been buying in the past.

Growing tomatoes from seed can become a science and have plenty of bragging rights for the connoisseur gardener. This article is meant for the newbie who wants tomatoes without becoming a scientist or spending more money on the garden than the products would be worth from an organic grocery store.

Fresh Garden TomatoesWhat is the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes and why would I care to know?

Indeterminate varieties of tomato seeds will produce juicy tomatoes all season long; right up until the frost arrives. They are preferred by most home gardeners because eating fresh tomatoes daily, spread out over the whole season is their goal.

Determinate varieties of tomato seeds grow to a certain size; usually 4 to 5 feet, then the tomatoes start to ripen all at once. Usually over a short period of about 2 weeks, then they pretty much done after that. This is not what most home gardeners want as it's a feast or famine way to grow tomatoes, however people that like to make massive amounts of tomato sauce at once would prefer this variety for obvious reasons.

For the most productive tomato growing season, start your tomato seeds indoors 5 to 8 weeks before you intend to transplant them into your garden.
If it's close to growing season you can also start the seeds in a shed and bring them out in the warm sun and breeze during the day then put them away in safe surroundings at night or during adverse weather conditions. This will allow a good safe start for the seedlings while at the same time allowing the soil in your garden to warm up and reduce any chance of spring frost.

While it's tempting to crowd as many tomato plants into your garden as possible, you'll actually have better productivity by planting your seedlings or small plants about 1.5 to 2 feet apart. Tomato plants love basking in the sun and breeze so planting them too close to each other can be counterproductive as they grow bigger and start to shade each other out.

When starting your tomato plants from seed you'll want to take the leaves from the bottom 1 foot of the stem once the tomato plants reach approximately 3 feet tall. Allow 2 to 4 suckers near the base of the plant to grow and become stronger while pinching off the suckers that develop in the crotch of two branches higher up on the plant as it matures. The reason being that you don't want the plant devoting too much energy to growing more and more stems when it could be better spending it's energy producing more tomatoes.

Supporting and pruning the plant so it grows tomatoes on 2 to 4 main stems allows for plenty of larger tomatoes and keeps the plant from becoming overgrown to the point where none of the tomatoes benefit. Once your plant is larger, you can help it to produce tomatoes a little earlier by pinching off the main stems in the early summertime. As the plant gets to be approximately 3 feet tall, remove most of the leaves that get very little sunlight from the bottom one foot of the main stems.

In order for your tomatoes to be their juiciest and taste their best, you'll want to leave them to mature on the plant to become their natural rich color before removing them for eating.

When the growing season is over and a heavy frost is called for, you'll need to remove all the tomatoes left on the plants – even the green ones. The green tomatoes will eventually ripen indoors - or you can cook up your favorite green tomato recipes!