Tomatoes sold in the markets are usually picked at a half-ripened stage in order to extend their shelf life. Hence, growing a vine is a rewarding experience, where you get to enjoy juicy tomatoes ripened naturally. Except for staking and supporting, vine plantation tips are no different from tomatoes that are normally grown in vegetable gardens. Refer to the following gardening tips to maintain healthy vines:
- Site Selection - Areas that receive full sun are perfect. The soil pH should be neutral (within a range of 6-7 will do). Choose areas that have protective structures such as near walls or vine-covered trellis. This will minimize the effects of strong winds.
- Seeds or Plantlets - Tomatoes of any variety are easy to germinate at home. Hence, it is not necessary to buy costly plantlets. Purchase tomato vine seeds from your local nursery. Make sure to select a disease and pest resistant variety.
- Growing - Prepare soil or potting media by supplementing an extra concentration of compost. If you are using seeds, sow them indoors in a seed tray 2 months before the last expected frost. To grow plantlets, you can plant them after the frost is over while maintaining a space of 12-18 inches between two plantlets.
- Watering - Ensure that the plants receive at least 1 inch of water every week. Depending upon the weather conditions in your area, determine the irrigation frequency of tomato plants.
- Pruning - When grown in an uncontrolled manner, indeterminate tomato varieties grow up to 10 feet and higher. Hence, pruning the vines and removing suckers is crucial to restore energy for the formation of large fruits. Also, consider staking the plants to support the vines.
Vine tomatoes are rich sources of vitamin A and C, along with dietary fiber, iron, and potassium. The only drawback is the high amounts of sugar, which is not good for diabetics. Research studies conducted on ripe tomatoes also found that they possess anti-cancer properties and help fight development of cancerous cells.
Nowadays, 'tomatoes on the vine' are sold in food stores at a high price―approximately three times more than those without stems. They are determinate varieties, harvested with a small piece of the vine. According to suppliers, tomatoes attached to stems are juicier and tastier than artificially ripened ones. However, the increased price is not for juiciness, but for the appearance that attracts prospective buyers. So, instead of purchasing them, you can grow vines yourself and ensure a continuous supply of fresh, juicy tomatoes.