Growing tomatoes should come easy, right? Not for everyone. You may have trouble getting them to grow and produce fruit without losing them to blossom-end rot or blight. Growing beautiful tomatoes really is a science, but it is not rocket science.
Planting is best done at depths beyond the depth of the pot. Lay your plants on their side and bury them up to the top few leaves. This will allow roots to grow all along the stalk. The more roots the plant has, the stronger the plant will grow. You will have to be careful not to drive your stake or cage through the roots or stalks. If you prefer, you can dig a deeper hole and just plant your tomato upright, up to its top few leaves. Either way, the plant needs strong roots to grow a strong plant.
Sunlight is a huge factor in the amount of fruit that you will get from your tomato plants. The more sun they receive, the more fruit they will produce. Tomatoes love heat and direct sun. But their love of both makes watering a full-time job.
Beef up your soil to provide the best start for your tomato plants. You can purchase a soil pH test at your local garden center or obtain one from your local cooperative extension office. Your tomatoes will grow best with slightly acidic soil. 6.5 to 6.8 is prime. If your soil is too acidic, add dolomite lime. If it is too alkaline, add sulfur or compost to your soil. Adding a calcium source is always a good idea and will help to ward off blossom-end rot. You can use crushed eggshells, or you can add calcium tablets to water and pour around your plants. Magnesium also can help to prevent some forms of blight and blossom end rot. Add a timed-release fertilizer as most soils do not have enough. Plants need feeding just as we do.
Tomatoes require regular watering. Inconsistent watering can lead to fungus and a plethora of other diseases and problems. You cannot let them dry completely out and then drench them in an effort to compensate. Keeping the soil at an even moisture should be your goal. If you know it is going to rain, you can skip water till the rain subsides. Don’t leave it up to mother nature alone to take care of your tomatoes. This past year has been an indication of how unpredictable and unstable she is. Do not trust her with the well-being of your tomato plants! Once established, plants should be watered only once or twice a week, depending on the temperature. Water so the water soaks throughout the root zone. Water in the early morning, so the foliage will dry before evening.
#4 CAGE OR STAKE
Your tomatoes will need support. You can give them what they need by purchasing a tomato cage or by staking and tying as they grow. Whichever method you choose will ensure that your tomatoes have the support they need to keep their fruit off of the ground. Being on the ground often causes disease and rot. Not to mention, being on the ground makes them easy targets for critters looking for a quick meal.
Removing suckers from the plant and bottom leaves will allow the plant to produce more abundantly.
If you take the time to tend to their needs, tomatoes will provide you with fruit for your family. You can share with family and friends, or you can preserve them in many different ways to get the most from your efforts. Or even better, send some to a local food pantry.