Growing tomato plants is the most popular choice of individual gardeners for their home gardens. The plants are easy to grow and yield delicious fruit that can be incorporated into many foods or eaten raw. But many gardeners worry about pesticides and unnatural fertilizers and the effect these may have on the plants and the people who eat them. Some gardeners therefore choose growing tomato plants organically.
The key to growing anything organically is to avoid things like pesticides that contain unnatural chemical elements. Organic tomatoes should be grown in a warm sunny location. This can be anything from a container inside the home to a pot hung upside down to in the ground outside in a traditional garden. They should be given ample water as they grow.
Different types of tomatoes grow better or worse in different parts of the world and different climates. Discovering which varieties work best in a specific part of the world requires some research. Often nurseries or gardening publications will be able to advise as to which types of tomato plants have the most successful history of growing in a given location.
Many commercial brands of soil contain chemicals, so in order to grow tomatoes organically, an organic brand of soil will need to be purchased. Organic soil, unlike inorganic types, does not use chemicals to try to deter pests and make plants grow more rapidly. Organic soil instead uses compost and manure (from organically-fed animals) to do these jobs. The organic soil should be extremely dark, moist and fragrant. Organic soil can be more expensive than inorganic soil, and promotes slower, more natural growth of plants.
Organic tomatoes will need to be given organic fertilizer every other week to help them grow. Once they begin to bear fruit, they'll need fertilizer after every flush of tomatoes. Instead of being made from chemicals, organic fertilizers consist of plants, animals and minerals.
If the tomatoes are not being grown upside down, they will need support. Stakes, wire cages and trellises can provide necessary support as the tomato plants get too tall to support themselves. If the tomatoes are not supported somehow they will grow wild on the ground, which could cause them to attract pests and diseases.
Any type of tomato plant - organic or inorganic - will need plenty of water as it grows. The plants will need regular, frequent watering. Irregular watering could cause them to wilt.
Once the soil is warm, mulching under the tomatoes will help prevent weeds from growing. Mulching will also keep soil temperatures and water levels under control. Controlling water levels is critical to preventing blossom end rot, one of the diseases that may result from irregular watering.
One challenge faced when attempting to grow organic tomatoes is fending off pests. Typically, pests are warded off with chemical pesticides. But there are ways to defend against insects while still growing organically.
Pests like healthy plants. Therefore, one simple way to help defend an organic tomato garden from insects is simply to keep the plants healthy. Plants that are too wet or too dry will attract more pests. Natural predators or pests will also keep them away. Ladybugs, birds, frogs and lizards will all kill pests if the garden has a source of water to attract them to it. Some other methods include sticky traps, barriers and plant collars.