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Grow Your Own Tomatoes
Despite the perception of tomatoes as Mediterranean or a warm-climate crop, and Canada’s reputation as crisp and cold, it is perfectly possible to successfully grow your own juicy tomatoes during the Canadian summer.
The growing season can be up to four months long between mid-May and mid-September for most provinces. However, it’s a good idea to start off your tomato seedlings indoors, around mid-March, so that they are ready to be placed outside for the beginning of the growing season.
Starting from Seeds
Tomato seeds require darkness and temperatures of between 17°C and 20°C in order to germinate. This means they need to be sown deeply enough to give them the darkness they require. A good rule of thumb is to cover them with soil three times the diameter of the seed itself.
Once the seeds have germinated, you will want to transplant the seedlings to the garden or outside growing area. Tomatoes are sub-tropical, which means that among their requirements is the need for a lot of sunlight, about 6 hours per day. This should be considered when choosing their location, as it should be a place which receives a maximum amount of sun.
Tomatoes require a slightly acidic soil, and also soil that is neither too sandy nor contains too much clay. Too much sand will allow the water to drain too fast and the clay not fast enough. A good idea is to mix organic matter or mulch in with the soil , such as compost, grass clippings or leaves. This both provides the soil with nutrients and regulates the drainage.
Planting the Seedlings
Once you have chosen your spot, and have the right mixture of soil and organic matter ready, it is time to dig a trench, between 7-10 inches deep. Layer the bottom with an organic fertilizer, such as compost, and then add a layer of soil. This soil should sit at 3-4 inches deep, as once you plant the seedlings, you want to avoid their roots having actual contact with the fertilizer at the bottom, but rather be in the soil closest to it. This is because the salt content of the fertilizer can damage the roots if there is direct contact. Finally, gently compact the soil around the seedlings until they can stand on their own, and then water. Depending on the variety of tomato that you are trying to grow, it could be anywhere between 45 and 90 days for your fruit to reach maturity.