I'm from Texas and I planted Rutgers Tomato seeds on April 9th directly in my garden. I now have small 2" to 3" seedlings growing in clusters about 18 inches apart. I have not yet fertilized the soil, thinned them out, or put any support structures up for them. Here are my questions:
1. Should I fertilize the soil soon? If so, can I use a fertilizer that will work for my other vegetables/fruits in the garden or should I use a fertilizer specifically for tomato plants? I'm also growing cucumbers, watermelons, onions, chives, lettuce, and corn.
2. At what point should I thin the plants out? Right now they are so tiny I'm afraid that thinning them would damage whatever plants I leave.
3. After thinning, should I pinch off lower branches and bury the stem up to the top few leaves? I've seen plenty of suggestions to do this after moving plants from pots to soil, so I'm wondering if this would help even though I started the seeds in the soil from the beginning.
4. What is the best support type to use for this type of tomato plant? I want to produce as much fruit as possible, so I'm open to any support that will accomplish this goal.
Thanks all, I really appreciate the help, this forum is freaking awesome!