Growing your own vegetables, especially heirloom tomatoes, in the garden is a wonderful pursuit. Tending the plants is a pleasurable activity that gets you outdoors, plus you’ll have healthy snacks to eat. Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable to grow at home, even though they’re technically a fruit.
Consider growing different varieties of heirloom tomatoes, which are more flavorful and vary greatly in appearance. Heirloom tomatoes are a unique variety that have been passed down amongst growers and are prized for different characteristics. That they often have unique and delightful names is just an added bonus. “Mr. Stripey” and “Abraham Lincoln” will be a welcome addition to salads, sauces and sandwiches.
You can start with seeds or find plants that are ready to go at your local nursery. If you are planting your own seeds, start them off indoors about two months before the last anticipated frost where you live. The plants do best in the 65-70 degree range. Plant the seeds in a window box filled with planting soil. Follow the directions on the packet for spacing and depth. Keep the soil moist and warm until the seedlings sprout. This should take about ten days. Once the leaves have opened, transfer the box to the sunlight. Make sure to turn the box regularly so the plants don’t strain towards the sun but instead grow straight upwards.
As they grow larger, transfer them to individual containers. Then acclimate them to the colder outdoor temperatures. Do not transfer them to the ground until the last threat of a frost has disappeared. This “hardening” process should take about two weeks.
Once transferred to the garden, keep the soil moist and make sure they’ll get plenty of sun. Plant them two to three feet apart to give them space to grown. Once ripe, pick and enjoy immediately – their peak is only a few days. And never refrigerate them – temperatures lower than 50 degrees sap them of all flavor.