This post was originally featured as a guest post on Bakerette.com.
Tomato Season is almost here, if you haven’t done so already it’s time to get serious about your tomato crop!! Here are my top 10 growing tips for tomatoes to get your season started off right this year!
1. Try an heirloom variety
Many people, like me, get locked in to our favorite varieties of tomatoes. Year after year we grow the same old tomatoes because it’s tried and true. There is nothing wrong with growing the varieties that have been successful for you, but you also need to expand your horizons a bit. This year try leaving space for some thing different and make it an heirloom tomato! Heirloom tomatoes offer so many delicious and colorful options. Don’t give up your standard tomatoes but try an heirloom this year and you may open up a whole new world of flavor in your garden.
2. Use Epsom salts for more and tastier tomatoes.
Epsom salt is actually not really salt its magnesium sulfate and using it with your tomatoes (and peppers) will improve the flavor of your tomatoes and help them produce more fruit. Add a tablespoon to the hole when you plant and then side dress every 6 weeks by mixing 1 tablespoon into the soil around the roots. You can also mix one gallon of water with one tablespoon of Epsom salt and spray it on the leaves when flowering starts to increase fruit set.
3. Use wall of waters to get an early start
Planting your tomatoes out in these simple water filled cloches allows you to plant 4 to 6 weeks sooner than you could otherwise. No better way to get tomatoes by the 4 th of July.
4. Spend the extra money to get strong cages to support your plants.
Don’t be tempted to buy small cheap tomato cages. They will never support your plants. Instead spend the extra cash to get good quality, well built cages that will last for years and keep that growing fruit off the ground.
5. Bury the stems
Tomatoes will actually grow roots from any part of the stem that is buried. So remove the bottom leaves on the stems of your seedlings and bury them deeper in the soil. This will add a bunch more roots to the plant making it stronger and more drought tolerant.
6. Water deep but infrequently
Tomatoes like to be watered deeply but not too often. Try to water your tomatoes only every 5 to 7 days. This will promote a deep root system with less foliage on the plant and more fruit. Also use a drip irrigation system that waters just the roots. Tomatoes don’t like water on their leaves or fruit. Remember to be consistent and watch it close, if you let them get too dry then you will have problems with blossom end rot and cracking. So find the happy medium for your garden.
7. Choose smaller compact transplants from your local nursery
Avoid transplants that are over grown, leggy, flowering or that already have fruit set. All of these signs are symptoms of the plants being stressed or not cared for properly. Instead buy smaller compact plants that have roots that are not crowded in the pot. Although smaller now, they will quickly surpass their stressed out counterparts.
8. Rotate where you plant
Most of the diseases that affect tomatoes are soil borne. And even some of the pests. By rotating where you plant your tomatoes you prevent pests and diseases from building up in the soil. Never plant tomatoes in the same spot in consecutive years. Try to rotate away from a bed for at least 3 years. Also avoid spots where potatoes, peppers, and egg plants have been as they are in the same family and carry the same diseases.
9. Look for a sunny spot
Tomatoes love sunny, airy spots with rich well drained soil. I reserve the best spots in my garden for my tomatoes. Give them the best you have and they will reward you with tons of tasty fruit!
10. Prune/pinch those suckers
Often little “sucker” branches will start growing in the crotch between branches. Pinch these little suckers off because they don’t produce fruit and end up robbing energy from the plant and growing fruit.
Be sure to visit my website, Stoney Acres, for more great gardening advice. Now is the time to get your tomatoes in, so get out there and get growing!