How To Grow Tomatoes!
Most everyone is familiar with tomotoes. Tomatoes are a good food for the survivalist because they provide good food production, are fairly easy to grow and their seeds are fairly easy to carry over from one growing season to the next.
If you aren't a gardener what you may not know is that tomotoe doesn't refer to just one species of plant. Tomatoes incompases and large group of species and about a million (exaggeration) different varieties. Which you choose to save and grow is up to you. Most any will do. I think it would probably be best to stay away from hybrids because they will not come back the following year as that same plant usually. But enough of that, all tomatoes even the hybrids will produce viable seed for the following year so it is up to your preference.
Growing tomatoes! Plant after the fear of last frost. Tomatoes can't tolerate cold temps and will be killed by cold temperatures. They are native to areas that they can grow year round with no fear of a frost. So in the USA, since we have a colder winter we have a growing season. But as luck (bad) would have it tomotoes will not set fruit if it stays hot at night which is a common occurance in the southern half of the USA.
For this reason it is a good idea to get the plant growing as early as possilbe so that they are old enough to start making fruit before the heat of summer. Many people start early and if a frost kills their plant then they simply replant and start again. If spring comes early then they are ahead of the game.
You can also start plants in small containers early inside and then move them outside after the fear of frost is gone.
First choose an area for your tomatoes that recieves lots of sun. Shaded areas will be very poor producers if you get anything at all. tomotoes will grow on poor soil but the production of fruit is directly tied to the richness of the soil. Typically today people use lots of compost and lots of fertilizer.
You will not have access to commercial fertilizer but you can compost the heck out of you garden and use stuff such as fish, fish scales, ground bone, animal manure etc to be your survival mode fertilizer.
Plant your seed and water it immediately. As the plants grow you will need to water the plants to keep them growing well at first. After they are larger they become more and more drought tolerant. But water is needed for good tomatoe size and production so don't skimp on water. After a while without water and then getting a deluge of water can cause the tomotoes to split. This doesn't make them inedible but it isn't what you want to happen.
As the tomotoes grow you will need to inspect the plants and fruit daily to protect them from pest. Look for signs of leaves being eaten or fruits being eaten. The pest almost always remain on the plant so search around until you find the culprits and squash them underfoot. Pestisides aren't going to be available so manual protection is your only choice.
Tomotoe plants will usually do best if you have some sort of a support system. This will keep the fruits off the ground. Tie them to stakes or use makeshift cages.
When the tomotoes start to turn from green to orange it is time to pick. You can let them mature longer on the plant technically but the risk from birds and insects is in my opinion to great. So go ahead and pick them and bring them inside to finish ripening away from insects and such.
Unless you have refrigeration, your choices will be to eat the fruit now or can them for later.
Only eat the fruit as the rest of the plant is poisonous. Water in the morning not the evening.
OK so now you have tomatoes! What about next year??? Take a few of your tomatoes and manually remove the seeds. Select seeds from the best tomatoes. you can still eat the tomatoe you choose so all is not wasted.
Scoop out the seeds into a clean cup. Add a some water to the cup 1/2 inch (1.2cm) deep of water or so if fine. Cover but do not seal the cup. Place the container of seeds in a warm location, you don't want to cook them just keep them warm. This shouldn't be a problem as it will be summer time while you are trying to save seeds for next year.
The top of the liquid will get a scummy look in a few day. Now you need to separate and thoroughly clean the seeds. Dry the seeds lightly such as dabbing them with a cloth and lay them separately onto a plae and paper napkin or something like that.
Now store the seeds after drying for at least a week in a container. Paper envelops, plastic bags, or jars will work. Don't store all your seed in one container, use mutliple containers for safety sake. You want way more seed then you will need and use only half the seed next year from each container. Save the second half for the following year just encase for some reason all the seed from a particular year goes bad, due to rot or something.
Just store the seed in a shaded indoor place. Keeping the seed dry is key.
There are a ton of tips and idea about growing tomotoes that you should probably read up on now. Lots of information to improve you tomatoes that I just don't have the time or space here to accomodate. Different diseases and pitfalls that you might encounter would be good subjects to familiarize yourself with.
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