Friday, June 20, 2014

7 Tips for Growing Better Tomatoes

tomato growing tips

Whether you are a beginner or, just looking for ways to grow bigger, better tasting tomatoes, then you have come to the right place. Over the last few years I have done a lot of searching for tips for growing tomatoes and by doing so, I have found some great ways to grow a great bounty of them.

Here in Florida, the ground is dry, the weather is hot and well, my tomatoes always ended up splitting before they were fully ripe. They also didn't produce high yields.

Over the last two years I have worked hard, researched, and most importantly- followed the guidance of the Old Timers, who can give more gardening tips than all of the gardening product companies put together. So, without further ado, let's get to these awesome tips for growing better tomatoes...


Feed Your Tomatoes Well!

fertilizer for tomatoesTomatoes are heavy feeders. The more you feed them the more they will feed you. You do have to be careful not to burn them with too much fertilizer but, they will always benefit from a good feeding of an all-purpose fertilizer or a fertilizer specifically formulated for tomatoes. Follow the packaging instructions and try to stay on the routine of fertilizing them as often as the package directs.

You can find a variety of tomato fertilizers, including organic tomato fertilizers, granules, liquid fertilizers and fertilizer spikes HERE


Plant Your Tomatoes Deep to Create a Stronger Root System

The first and foremost tip for growing tomatoes is to plant them deep! Tomatoes root super-easy and the more roots you have, the more water it can take in and the better the product and taste.

Start by cutting off all the lower branches and leaves. Don't worry, you won't hurt it! I usually cut all but the top two or three branches. Next, dig a hole that is 6 to 12 inches wide and about 6 to 12 inches deeper than the length of the plant. (The wider the better but, it depends on how much compost you want to add.)

Now, plant the tomato plant and back-fill it with a good growing medium (such as Miracle Gro Gardening Soil) and bury it up to the few branches you left. {Eek, your nice big tomato bush now looks like a little seedling... don't worry it will catch up to it's original size in a week or so, and will grow like a weed!}

Why did we plant it so deep? Well, not only will it make your plant stronger and more stable during high winds and storms but, most importantly, the entire stalk that was planted will now develop an amazing root system that will be able to ingest quadruple the amount of water, plus, the deeper the roots, the cooler and moister they will stay when the sun scorches and dries out top few inches of soil. Trust me--- if this is the only tomato tip you take aware from this post, then so be it. It is by far the best of them all.

Protect Your Tomatoes with Tomato Cages

This one will seem like a no-brainer but so many people forget or are not aware that you need to support your tomato plants to prevent them from toppling over in stormy weather and from the weight of the tomatoes. You can purchase them at the local department store or online. If you are buying more than two or three you can usually find them online in packs which, will save you money and, places like Amazon.com usually offers free shipping. 

In today's world, there are several different cages and stakes available to purchase to make sure that your tomatoes safe and well-supported. You can use metal or wooden stakes and use rope or clips to secure the main stalk to the stake. Clips are usually better than rope/string because they aren't compromised by weather elements.

In addition to preventing the tomatoes from falling over, supports also help prevent disease and fungi from attacking the bush by keeping the limbs and leaves up off the soil.


Properly Space Your Tomatoes

Tomatoes are like people- they need space to grow and room to breath... and plenty of sunshine. 

One of the most common problems I see when new gardeners try to grow tomatoes is that they plant them too close together. Tomatoes need plenty of sunlight. Sunlight will increase photosynthesis which, produces healthier plants and better tasting tomatoes. 

To insure your tomatoes are getting plenty of sunlight, plant them at least two feet apart, though more is better. Aim for 3 to 4 feet if you have the space. In addition to better tasting tomatoes, allowing adequate spaces also produces more airflow between the plants reducing the risk of fungi and diseases. 

Always Use Epsom Salt!

epsom salt tomatoes
Okay, so you don't have to use Epsom Salt but it does make a big difference! After planting your tomato bushes, scratch in tablespoon of Epsom Salt around the base of the plant and water the plant well. After planting, you can simply continue to add one teaspoon of Epsom Salt to a gallon of water, mix and pour around the base of the plant. {Initial application is a tablespoon, afterwards it's a teaspoon.}

Why does Epsom Salt work so well and what does it do? Well, first off, Epsom Salt is a fancy brand name for magnesium sulfate. A rather expensive fertilizer if purchased in the gardening section by it's simple name. You can find it in the bath and body section of Walmart or even the dollar store for $2-3.

Magnesium sulfate is used to prevent the leaves from yellowing, create stronger branches and stalks, and it also extends the growing season by keeping the plant nice and healthy. 

Water Your Tomatoes Properly

How much water do tomatoes need? The exact amount will depend on your soil, the amount of rainfall, the time of day you water, and the heat. {This is also another reason to plant them deep as listed in the first tip above!}

Tomatoes grow best in moist {not soggy} soil. When watering tomatoes you should always water at the base of the plant and water long enough that the soil is saturated thoroughly at least 12 inches. There should not be any standing water with in 10 minutes of watering the plants. If you are watering several plants, water each one for a few minutes and then go to the next, and then come back to the first one again. Rotating them out allows the water to penetrate the soil rather than running off. 

Always water your tomato bushes at soil level. This prevents damage to the leaves and stem from the weight of the extra water and also prevents spreading diseases. 


Companion Plants for Tomatoes

marigolds tomatoes
Image Source: ScottieT812 via Flickr
Another great tip for growing tomatoes is to give them some companion plants. By doing so, you can prevent a variety of pests and even enhance the flavor. 

Some of the best companion plants for tomatoes are marigolds and garlic. Marigolds prevent nematodes and can be planted right up near them in the garden or the same pot if you are growing a container garden. Plus, they are pretty, too. 

Garlic can also be plented around the edge of your tomato garden. Not only does it prevent a variety of pests with it's strong odor, but it also enhances the taste of the tomatoes. If you don't prefer to grow garlic in your garden, you can also crush several garlic cloves and till into the soil or sprinkle garlic granules {course garlic powder- not salt!} around the plant and scratch it into the soil. 

Share Your Tips for Growing Tomatoes!

Do you have your own tips for growing tomatoes? Have questions on how to grow tomatoes? Post your tips, questions and comments below and my readers and I will happily help you out! You can also find hundreds of books and ebook for growing tomatoes HERE.




Disclosure: This post does contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through any of these links I may earn a small royalty. These earnings help to cover the cost of maintaining my blog. 

5 comments:

  1. Excellent tips! I really enjoy reading your posts! Thanks! :)

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  2. I have always wanted to be able to grow tomatoes, and have never been very good at it- maybe now I will be! Thank you for sharing this with us at Treasure Box Tuesday- I'm sharing this great post on Google+! :)

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  3. Thank you for sharing these tips! Pinned to put into use soon!

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  4. My mom and dad grow the best tomatoes, but I didn't even try until a couple of years ago. The results were less than stellar. Now I know why. Thanks for these helpful tips. I'm going to pin it, save it and come back to it often.

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  5. Thanks for the tips! I grew tomatoes last year for the first time and it was a major FAIL. These tips are priceless to me! Hopefully this year I have better results. #homemattersparty

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