Numbers to Know
Getting started: Start seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the average last frost date. Or purchase stocky, nonfruiting nursery seedlings just before planting. Soil type: Optimum pH range is 6.0 to 6.8. Plant in well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Ideal temperature: 70° to 80°F, daytime; 60° to 70°F, nighttime. Light: Eight hours of full sun daily (some afternoon shade in very hot climates). Planting: Space transplants 1 1/2 to 3 ft. apart. Fertilizing: Apply a 2-in. layer of well-rotted cow manure to soil before you plant. At planting time apply a complete fertilizer (5-10-10 or 5-10-5); repeat when fruits are about 1 in. dia. and again when first fruits are ripe. Watering: Maintain consistent soil moisture; 1 to 1 1/2 in. each week. Mulching: Apply 3 to 4 in. of organic mulch about four weeks after transplanting. Harvesting: Pick tomatoes when they are firm and fully colored.
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