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Dad's Secrets to Growing a Great Keto Tomato from Seed-My Dad always has such a great summer garden and I get to enjoy the fruits of his labor when I visit.
Everything he grows is fantastic but his tomatoes are exceptional. I realize that growing tomatoes from seed is economical, but wow it's hard!
Dad also shared his gardening secret for growing onion sets in another post so if onions are more your thing, just click that link to read more.
Almost everyone is following a keto diet these days-
and tomatoes just happen to be one of those vegetables they can eat on the plan.
The seedlings are so fragile. They die easily so they need to be very carefully maintained. They need just the right amount of water, sun, and fertilizer and they're very sensitive to temperature and susceptible to pests.
Below is a summary of the process Dad uses year after year to grow awesome tomatoes that you can use in your next keto tomato recipe.
Prepare the ground for your keto tomato garden:
Early Spring, before you're ready to plant, rototill the ground with your fertilizer to help it mix in.
Then fertilize a second time after 3 to 4 weeks and rototill once again.
- Buy quality seeds. Avoid using seeds from last years crop. Seeds from Hybrid plants will often produce odd fruit or nothing at all.
- Start the plants using potting soil in the flats sold in all outlet stores. Get enough to have the capacity to start about 24 plants. Place 1 seed in each cup 1/4 inch deep and cover it with soil. Planting 1 seed at a time is done with special tweezers.
- Keep the soil moist not soaking wet. Place the flat in a lighted area, such as a window. The seeds will sprout in 7 to 10 days.
- Slowly expose the plants to light from a growing lamp for about two to three weeks until they become stronger. If weather allows slowly expose them to more direct sun light. Start at 10 min. and gradually increase as the growth increases Overexposure will kill young plants.
- You can also provide a light breeze by means of a fan to help strengthen the stems. The stems can grow long and weak other wise.
- If a small green house is available, place the flats in it and provide partial exposure to the sun. He uses a table that has a grate for a top, to allow proper sunlight through it and then he places the flats under the table. The grate will automatically filter the sunlight as it passes through while the sun changes position in the sky. Watch out for wilting.
- Even on a cool day temps. in the green house can get up to 120 degrees if the sun is out. Provide ventilation to regulate temps. 75 to 90 degree temperature ranges have worked well for me. You can hang an outdoor thermometer in the green house, but also automatic temperature control can be provided by means of fans if you want to go through the expense.
- Once the plant grows a 3rd leaf, transplant them into larger containers and let them grow until they are about 12 inches high. By this time you should have them all set to handle full sunlight. Keep plants watered properly.
- When temps. are well above freezing, put them into the ground. Bury each plant up to the fist 2 leafs on the stem for good support. First put about 1 tablespoon of powered lime in each hole and then wet down with liquid miracle grow. Dad covers the lime with a small amount of soil first. This will prevent blossom end rot.
- It is also wise to wrap the stem at the base with a small strip of paper to ward off cut worms.
- Support each plant with a tomato basket or stakes.
- Mulching is recommended to keep moisture in the soil, but use only straw or some other material that does not have seeds from weeds. Hay is not recommended.
- Water when ever you see wilting. Don't over do it. It will cause mold.
- Once the plants are fully established. prune the lower 8 to 10 inches of the stalk so that air can circulate around each plant. Air flow is important.
- He uses the Seven brand of insect protection in power or liquid form to ward off insects. However he uses very small amounts and not after flowering occurs because this pesticide can harm other insects, including bees.
*Perhaps you can find an effective organic, natural pesticide that is more environmentally friendly. However, as he told me, "Other methods can be used but are sometimes not very effective. You just have to apply before the plants start to blossom. Then I use the the non toxic brands if needed from this point on."
When you harvest way too many tomatoes, you can easily store for use in your keto tomato recipes all winter by doing the following:
- blanch the tomatoes
- this loosens the skin so you can peel them
- cut the peeled tomatoes into chunks
- put them in a separate pot
- drain the excess water/liquid
- put on a low heat and simmer for about 20 minutes
- strain extra liquid again and let cool
- put the tomatoes in freezer containers in 2 cup quantities as most recipes call for a can of tomatoes which is about 2 cups
- to save space, use freezer bags and freeze flat-you wouldn't believe how many you can fit doing it this way
THEN JUST ENJOY A HOME GROWN KETO TOMATO BASED RECIPE - like this tomato soup!
Read more about the keto diet and see if it's the diet for you, right here.