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Secrets to Growing Tomatoes in Michigan


I know it’s only April, and 41 degrees, but this SUN has me thinking of spring! Which typically arrives late May around here. And this hamburger we just grilled has me thinking of the sun-sweet, vine-ripened tomatoes that my mom used to grow.

Those things would be 5-6 feet tall and yield tomatoes the size of a grapefruit. I would pick one right off the plant, polish it up on my t-shirt, and eat it like an apple. They were so good. I remember the tomato juice running down to my elbow. My dirty shirt always gave me away; but mom never cared, there were so many!

Me? I can’t grow ONE stinking tomato. I’ve tried everything except fertilizing with an eye of a newt and joining a tomato cult.

Ok, technically, I can grow tomato plants. The plants get big and bushy, flower like crazy, lots of green tomatoes sprout, then they keep growing and never ripen. They are big, round, green liars.

Every year I swear I’m not going to try it again, but come April, I start thinking about growing them again.

Missing a good tomato on my hamburger today sent me searching the interwebs to find out why I can’t grow them.

It turns out growing tomatoes in Michigan is a little tricky since they are a warm-weather crop. But, I found some good information about growing tomatoes in Michigan on the MSU extension site.

“A healthier Michigan” website has an article about the six varieties of tomatoes that you simply have to taste! The “yellow pear” tomato sounds intriguing!

Over at “Gardening Guides,” they recommend you “Place the tomato plants outdoors in a shady location during the day and then bring them back inside at night. Do this for a week to 10 days before planting them outdoors to help prepare them for the new climate.” Who knew?

Also, did you know you should pinch off all the flowers?

Neither did I. It turns out if you don’t pinch the flowers off, the plants energy goes into turning the flowers into tomatoes instead of establishing roots.

Did you also know tomatoes can grow roots right from their stems, so it’s good to bury 3-4″ of the stem in the ground?

Me neither!

So I’m wondering, how do you grow tomatoes in your Michigan garden? Tell us your secrets!

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