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Tomatoes Planting Instructions for NJ Zone 6

New Jersey is reputed as being the ideal climate for growing fine, fat tomatoes that burst with flavor. Even the most casual or inexperienced of NJ gardeners will probably put at least one tomato plant in come springtime to see what becomes of it. Tomatoes are most definitely a hot-weather plant, and do not fare well when subjected to frosty conditions.

How to plant:

The easiest way to plant tomatoes is to buy the plants already in larger pots and ready for transplant. You can do this as soon as danger of frost is safely past. Bury your tomato plants deep into the ground; the stems should be 2/3 of the way in.

spring planting time: May 15
summer planting time: N/A
fall planting time: N/A
seed depth: 1/8"
plant spacing: 24-36"
plant height: 6-12 feet
days to maturity: 35-60
sun: full
watering: Average. Do not let the soil become soggy as it promotes rot. Let ground dry between waterings until plant almost wilts.
best companions: chives, marigolds, garlic, onions, sage, basil

Pests and disease:

Cutworms, hornworms, flea beetles, aphids, leaf miners. To deter insects of all sorts, use companion planting with basil and other aromatics such as garlic. Spray plant leaves with the garden hose to knock off aphids. Pick off and dispose of remaining pests. A Neem oil solution may also help.

Harvesting:

Harvest tomatoes throughout the growing season as needed for use in recipes. It can take as long as 100 days from seed planting before your tomatoes will be ready to harvest.

Pick tomatoes from the vine after they turn red, but try to do it before they over-ripen. Your picked tomatoes will continue to ripen placed on the countertop or in a brown bag along with an apple to speed the process.

Prior to first frost, remove unripe (green) tomatoes from the plants, and wrap in newspaper for continued ripening in a cool, dry place. You can also cut down the entire plant and place in a garage or other protected area, where the fruits will ripen on the vine as the plant perishes.

Storage:

Tomatoes will keep in the refrigerator for 2-4 weeks depending on if they're fully ripe. You can also wash, blanch and put your tomatoes up in sterilized Mason jars, at the end of the harvest. Tomatoes also freeze well.

Other:

Discard the old, rotted tomatoes to avoid spreading disease in the garden as well as finding wayward plants where you don't want them.


The above content is reprinted from our 95-page, Complete Beginner's Guide to Organic Gardening in NJ Zone 6.

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