Bringing Out the Best in Your Tomatoes

Tomato Cages by Bonnie Plants

Veggie gardeners everywhere appreciate a well grown tomato. When you produce a healthy, delicious tomato, it truly does seem like the sky is the limit. There is so much you can do with that tomato but first you have to grow it. When it comes to growing tomatoes, we are constantly striving to outdo ourselves, remaining convinced that the best is yet to come. In order to prove that true, here are some tomato growing techniques to try this coming spring.

Give them a Change of Scenery: Don’t plant tomatoes in the same bed time and time again. Instead, rotate planting areas at least every three years. This is because of decreasing soil fertility which will result in plants that produce less and less if the same soil area is continually used year after year after year.

Give them Room to Breathe: No one likes having their personal space invaded, least of all tomato plants, so be sure to give them room to breathe and drink in the sun. Ideally a space of at least two feet between plants should be adhered to in order to give them all the room they need to grow while still allowing them to get the sunlight they need.

Add a Pinch of Salt: Epsom salt, that is. Prior to planting, toss a tablespoon of Epsom salt into the hole before your tomato plant is placed. This will create an infusion of much needed magnesium and sulfate that helps plants grow strong and healthy. Reapplying every few weeks via dilution in water and spraying is helpful as well.

Plant Deep: The deeper tomato plants are placed, the better the root system will be. This will allow roots to grow more plentifully and for these roots to make contact with more soil, thereby being able to access more nutrients which will in turn help with growth. Large, deep root systems are also better able to access and utilize water in the soil as well.

Add Mulch to Soil: Tomato plants enjoy warm, moist soil. It is good for them and helps them grow while at the same time fends off disease. Place some mulch around tomato plants to keep them happy and conserve water at the same time.

Keep ‘Em Caged: Don’t hesitate to use tomato cages or even trellises or stakes. Sometimes tomatoes, like us, can benefit from a little bit of support. Cages will help in windy conditions so that plants do not topple (planting deep goes hand in hand with this, by the way). They also help support plants once those big, juicy tomatoes form.

Tomatoes Need Friends: We’ve all had friends in our lives that were both good and bad influences. Keep the bad influences away from tomatoes by planting their good friend the marigold, which repel nematodes. You can also add friendly copper to the garden to keep away foes like slugs and snails.

Make Them Tasty: Giving your tomatoes garlic as a buddy will actually help improve their taste. Additionally, garlic fends off fungus and helps keep tomato plants healthy overall. Plus garlic is delicious in just as many dishes as are tomatoes and healthy for us as well!

Prune Lower Leaves: Once tomato plants have taken root, go ahead and take off some of the leaves at the base of the plant. These are unnecessary because they will not get enough sun to photosynthesize anyway and will take energy away from new growth at the top of the plant as well as tomatoes themselves. Additionally, having leaves close to the soil opens the plant up to contracting disease, so snip those lower leaves to eradicate the possibility of such problems. While you’re at it, remove any suckers as these are not going to produce fruit but will waste plant energy as well as stealing valuable sunshine.

Let Them Drink: We all know water is essential to tomato growth, but the trick is to do it right. Water from the bottom, taking care to prevent the disease that splashing may cause. Also be sure to pour slowly so soil can absorb water and it doesn’t simply run off instead. Deep watering helps soil retain moisture that is so vital to roots.

The more you love your tomato plants, the more they will love you back. A little TLC goes a long way towards having yummy tomatoes on the vine, so give your tomatoes what they need to be the best they can be, as well as the best you can grow. The best is not yet to come; the best is here!


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