Tomatoes are universally popular in gardens everywhere. Whether you are new to gardening or very experienced, chances are tomatoes are on the list of things you wish to grow. If you purchase a pack of seeds, you can simply read the instructions for basic planting information. While this is useful, it is a mere glimpse into the art of tomato growing. Amid these planting instructions, you will not necessarily find care instructions, basic or otherwise, and you definitely won’t find tried and true tips and tricks to guarantee the success of your tomato plants.

Sometimes gardening can be disappointing, such as when yields are less or smaller than expected. In order to give yourself the best production odds possible, it is wise to learn and experiment with techniques developed and used by successful gardeners for years.  Here are five to get you started on your way to bigger, brighter, tastier tomatoes:

1. Plant deep and use a support mechanism: the deeper your plant is, the better the root system it will produce. This keeps your plant in place, stable, sturdy, and resistant to inclement weather and high winds. Whether it is cages or stakes, keep plants supported so they will not fall over. This goes hand in hand with planting deep and is useful in allowing plants to optimize nutrients, putting energy into growth as opposed to maintenance of an upright stance.

2. Keep it spacious and alternate locations: each tomato plant needs room to grow and receive sunlight, so keep plants from falling in the shade of one another by planting them a few feet apart. Don’t forget to relocate your tomato plants to new soil every few years due to the soil nutrient depletion that comes with several years of repetitive planting.

3. Add Epsom Salt and garlic for improved health: adding Epsom Salt at planting and on a bi-weekly basis thereafter will keep plants rich in vital magnesium and sulfate, enhancing strength and growth potential. Garlic improves not only overall quality but also taste. Additionally, it fights off fungus that might attack plants. You can either grow garlic near your tomatoes or add crushed garlic to your soil.

4. Prune leaves to increase growth: since leaves at the bottom of your plant are often in shade, they are not of much use in terms of photosynthesis. By pulling these, you actually promote growth at the top of the plant where it matters most.

5. Water properly: in order to prevent cracked tomatoes, you need to keep water access consistent. Too much water at one time following a dry period results in growth cracks as the tomato fills with moisture and expands more rapidly than the skin can stretch. Water plants consistently to keep plants in a constant state of hydration, especially in periods of high heat, to avoid cracking. Water at ground level and do so slowly.

Tomatoes can be a bit of a labor of love, but when the end result is vibrant and delicious, that labor is worth it. Give these tips a try if you are not already doing so and compare and contrast the results. Chances are you will see a positive change that encourages your tomato growing endeavors along for years to come.