Perhaps the most popular plant that people grow in their vegetable garden are tomatoes. Tomatoes versatility in the kitchen contributes to this as it is used in some of the most popular American dishes including spaghetti sauce and pizza. It can be used with a variety of meats as well as being eaten raw in salads. I am sure that many of our readers have procedures that they follow to grow great tomatoes and please feel free to share those on our Facebook page. Here are my top 5 tips for growing great tomatoes:
- I plant my tomatoes in full sun. They need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight to produce the best crop although they will tolerate conditions that are less sunny than this. For example, growing up in New York we always planted tomatoes in a garden between our house and the next door neighbor’s house. We always produced plenty of tomatoes for our family as well as our neighbors and friends.
- I always stake my tomatoes. Although tomatoes are vines and can produce fruit even while growing on the ground studies have found that tomatoes that grow upward produce more pounds of tomatoes than plants that are not supported. It is a good idea to put your stakes or other supports in the ground at the same time you plant the tomato to ensure you don’t damage the roots later on.
- Heat up the Soil. Tomatoes thrive in the heat and the warmer the soil temperature the faster they will grow. There are black or red plastics that can be laid on the ground to heat the soil up quickly in the spring, particularly in USDA Zones 1-7.
- Watering and Mulching are very Important. Tomatoes require regular watering to maintain a moist, but not soggy, soil consistency. Changes in the moisture levels in the soil, particularly when the tomato plant is setting fruit, can lead to something called blossom-end rot. This is not a disease but a physical deformity in the tomato that will eventually result in having to discard the tomato. This leads to the importance of mulching. Adding mulch can help address this concern about soil moisture but you want to be sure you mulch at the right time. Rather than mulch immediately after planting the tomatoes I wait for 2 to 3 weeks to allow the soil to get warmer. The mulch helps maintain the warmth in the soil as well as the moisture consistency.
- Remove the “Suckers” from the Plant. As the tomato plant grows it will generate additional leaves at joints between the main stem and branches. These leaves are called “Suckers” because they will never produce tomatoes but take strength away from the plant; strength that could be useful in growing fruit not leaves.
So there you have it; my top 5 tips for growing tomatoes. Whether you start your own tomatoes from seed or buy plants these tips will help you grow better tomatoes and more of them.