Tips on Growing Great Tomatoes

Tomatoes are probably the most popular crop for backyard gardeners, and for good reason. It is impossible for anyone selling tomatoes to replicate what you can get from your own plants. This includes flavor, texture, color, variety, size, and just about any other characteristic of the tomato that you care to measure. Depending on who you ask, you will find that there could be anywhere from 7,500 to 25,000 unique varieties of tomato in the world! If you want to experience some of this diversity, growing your own is a priority. Here are a few tips that may be helpful in getting going:
1. Tomatoes are normally easiest to grow in the ground because of a more consistent supply of moisture. They prefer consistency over fluctuation between too wet and too dry.
2. If you prefer to use a container, use one made of a non-porous material like plastic or glazed pottery. The Earth Box is a good way to go if you want to take the guesswork out of container gardening.
3. Start seeds indoors six to eight weeks before your last frost date. There are a number of good seed suppliers for unique varieties and high quality seed. I like Botanical Interests because they have a mix of hybrids and heirlooms; and the seed is always fresh so success rates are high.
4. Compost and manure are great soil amendments for growing tomatoes. They provide a good initial supply of nitrogen to get the plants going early on, then the less volatile phosphorous and potassium will do the work of setting fruit once the plant is well established. Work compost into the soil at planting time, then “top dress” monthly with a 1-2 inch layer around each plant.
5. Tomatoes prefer a slightly more acidic soil than the rest of the vegetable garden. When you lime the garden, skip the tomato patch.
6. As they grow, tomatoes need support. In fact, the supports should be in place before the plants need them, to avoid damaging the plants with a “retrofit”. I find that cages are okay with bushy varieties, if I can’t keep up with sucker removal, but I prefer stakes. Staking requires more maintenance: remove suckers and add more ties to the main stem weekly, at a minimum; the benefit is at harvest because the tomatoes are easier to reach and less crowded by stems and branches. Another seemingly good option is trellising, but I haven’t tried it. If you have, let me know how it went.
7. Blossom end rot is a black spot on the bottom of the tomato fruit that starts when it is green and grows to ruin that particular tomato. This condition is technically caused by “calcium deficiency”, however it can be brought on by soil moisture fluctuation. Simply put, when the soil is too dry, the plant can’t take up calcium. To prevent this condition but keep an acidic soil, add granular gypsum at planting time for the calcium and keep the soil moist but not wet. Mulch during the hot part of summer to retain moisture and cool the soil.
8. This year we had a cool, wet spring which led to leaf curl. This is not a major problem, and the plants grew out of it as the weather conditions changed. A major difference between leaf curl and blight is the color of the leaves: with leaf curl they are the normal color, with blight they turn yellow with brown spots after a while. Leave plants with leaf curl alone, remove blighted plants.
To see more, please visit The Prudent Garden :-)

Top Hometalk Projects

14 DIY Hacks to Stay Clean While Camping
17 DIY-Inspiring Kitchen Backsplashes
17 DIY Projects You Can Start And Finish Tonight
14 Cool Ways To Upholster Chairs That You Can DIY
30 Ways To Use Old Jeans For Brilliant Craft Ideas
15 Genius Curtain Ideas To Instantly Upgrade Your Space
31 Creative Garden Features Perfect For Summer
18 Adorable Container Garden Ideas To Copy This Spring
15 Kitchen Updates Under $20
21 Totally Terrific Things You Can Do With Doilies
Fake It Until You Make It! 27 Creative Hacks for High-End Looks
These Herb Garden Ideas Will Make You Want To Start One Of Your Own
31 Amazing Furniture Flips You Have to See to Believe
11 Unexpected Ways to Use Spices in Your Home
31 Coastal Decor Ideas Perfect For Your Home
The Prudent Garden

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

Join the conversation

2 of 4 comments
Your comment...