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Categories: APRIL/MAY 2021, Green Thumb Tips, HOME & GARDEN

Green Thumb Tips

Green Thumb Tips
New gardening column to offer helpful tips for Central Georgia gardeners
By Karol Kelly
Photo by Christopher Smith

Gardening can provide much needed therapy for all of us in Central Georgia. Many, including my family, found respite through gardening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gardening provides something for just about everyone, whether you enjoy the beauty of flowers or cherish the first harvest of your summer vegetables. Regardless of your budget, acreage or lifestyle, there is something for you!

Perhaps you are a seasoned gardener, or maybe you recently tried to give gardening a second chance after a childhood “trauma” of being forced to pick green beans on a hot, itchy July day. Some may want to have a pristine lawn that’s envied by the neighbors, while others delight in watching a bee visit dandelions growing in their front yard.

One of the best parts of gardening is that you can try, fail, regroup and try again. However, success is more likely if you can get to the “root” of any problem you might encounter.

We are happy that Macon Magazine is giving us a chance to help with that — working through gardening strategies and problems so you can achieve some gardening glory this year!

Let me begin this inaugural column with a question we often receive this time of year: “How do I grow tomatoes?”

The number one vegetable that people want to grow is tomato, and now is the time to plant! Tomatoes require a minimum of six hours of sunlight daily. They prefer well-drained soil that is amended heavily with compost, rotted manure or other organic material. Using some type of drip irrigation is a good idea to provide needed moisture while keeping the foliage dry.

Select only healthy transplants. Because tomatoes can develop roots all along their stems, plant them deeply into the soil, possibly removing their bottom set of leaves. Place plants 2-3 feet apart with 4-6 feet between rows to allow for good air circulation. Give them a small amount of fertilizer at planting time and plan for how you will support or trellis them as they begin to grow. Watching regularly for pests and plant disease is helpful for dealing with potential issues while they are small.

Even if you don’t have a garden space in the landscape, you can grow tomatoes in a minimal space by using containers on a patio or balcony. The minimal container size for growing a tomato plant successfully is 5 gallons. Be sure that there are drainage holes in the bottom before filling the container with potting soil.

For more information about growing tomatoes, head to the University of Georgia Extension’s website at

Karol Kelly is an Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent with Bibb County Extension. Share your questions and troubles as you turn that black thumb green! Email her at