How to Grow Your Own Tomatoes (Plus Summer Tomato-Basil Salad with Fresh Mozzarella Recipe)

Tomato Basil Salad with Mozzarella

Nothing beats the taste of a homegrown tomato fresh from the garden. Here are a few tips to get you started growing your own supply, plus a simple recipe.

Plant in spring for a summer harvest or midsummer for fall harvest. Pick a location that gets a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight. Support plants with stakes or wire cages. Stakes are the most economical choice for growing a lot of tomatoes. Choose from metal spirals or wooden or bamboo skewers. Tomato supports keep the fruit off the ground. Be sure to anchor cages with small stakes to prevent them from tipping over.

Plant tomatoes in full sun in well drained neutral soil.

There are two kinds of tomato plants: determinate and indeterminate. Determinate types grow short and bushy and ripen all their fruit at once. These grow well in cages. Romas are a good pick. Better Boy, Big Beef and Early Girl are good choices for indeterminate.

Pick tomatoes early in the morning on the day you plan to eat them.

As the growing season progresses, keep your tomatoes in line. Stretch tie, twine, and tomato clips all put plants on the right path. Try galvanized cattle panel for solid support. Wooden tomato stakes and wire pens and cages can also be used to help keep them inbounds.

Heirloom tomatoes represent old types of tomatoes that have been maintained by enthusiasts in different parts of the country. Tomato tasting is fairly similar to wine tasting. Different flavors appeal to different palates, and few crops offer a greater range of flavors than heirloom tomatoes. To grow them, you’ll most likely want to start from seed. If you opt to buy transplants, look for sturdy plants that haven’t begun flowering or fruiting.

Enjoy your homegrown tomatoes in this simple salad, or look for sungold and black cherry tomatoes at your local farmer’s market. They make this salad beautiful.

Summer Tomato-Basil Salad with Fresh Mozzarella
6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small chunks
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Instructions
  1. Combine tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil, salt and crushed red pepper in a large bowl.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar; toss to coat.
  3. Let stand at least 1 hour before serving.

 

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