How to Grow Bigger, Better Tasting Tomatoes
Learning how to grow bigger, better tomatoes… Whether you are a beginner at growing vegetables or a Master Gardener, these tips for growing tomatoes will help you increase your yield and produce better tasting tomatoes.
Seed packets and plant packs tell you how to plant tomato plants but they do not tell you how to care for them properly. Nor do they provide you with tips for growing tomatoes that have been discovered by experienced gardeners for hundreds of years.
Many gardeners search for tips for growing tomatoes because their plants do not produce high yields as they assumed they would. The main problem is usually caused by improper growing techniques. These tips will help you to grow bigger, better tasting tomatoes in no time.
Create a Stronger Root System by Planting Your Tomatoes Deeper
When planting tomato plants you should always plant them as deep as you can without any leaves touching the ground. By burying the plant deeper, the stem will have more contact with the soil and produce more roots.
The increased root system will help increase the moisture content by having more roots to take in more water. The larger root system also helps the plant ‘anchor’ into the ground preventing it from bending over and being damaged by storms and high winds.
Prune the Bottom Leaves to Encourage Growth and Prevent Diseases
After your tomato plants become well established remove the lower leaves to promote new growth at the top. The lower leaves will be shaded out by the upper portion of the plant and therefor render them useless since they will not be getting enough sun to actually produce photosynthesis.
Once your tomato plants reaches two feet high remove all of the leaves on the bottom half of the plant. Use snips or pruning shears to prevent damage to the stalk. Removing these leaves will also prevent soil born diseases by preventing the leaves and stems from touching the soil.
Pinch Suckers to Produce Increase Tomato Yields
Suckers are the stems that grow between the stalk and a mature stem. On mature plants that are over 3 feet high they should be pinched out as soon as they begin to develop since they will not produce fruit, cause over crowing and will cause increased shading. The increased shading will decrease photosynthesizing and reduce production and quality of taste.
Some tomato growers do not prune suckers. It is not required but do know that doing so will allow more energy to the main portion of the plant, more sugars to the tomatoes, and better shape.
Mulch Your Tomato Plants to Conserve Water and Prevent Diseases
Mulching around tomato plants will conserve water and help to warm the soil and promote a healthier root system. Mulching will also prevent soil born diseases by minimizing plant contact with the soil.
How to Prevent Tomatoes from Cracking and Spliiting
During hot temperature tomatoes will sometimes split and crack open rendering the tomato useless. This is a sure sign that the tomato is not getting enough water. Refer back to the tips above on properly watering tomatoes.
Use Epsom Salts to Prevent Yellowing of the Leaves and Extend the Growing Seasons
Epsom salts have been used for generations to promote growth, stronger stalks, prevent yellowing of the leaves and to extend the growing season. Epsom salts can be applied to the soil at planting or watered in during the growing season.
When adding Epsom salts to the soil, scratch in one tablespoon in the hole prior to planting. To water in Epsom salts you will want to add one tablespoon of Epsom salt per gallon of water and apply to young plants.
After the initial application at planting, continue to water in Epsom salt using one teaspoon per gallon of water every two to three weeks. Doing so will had magnesium and sulfate which will produce strong, healthy plants.
Prevent Nematodes With Marigolds
Planting marigolds near tomatoes create a lovely contrast of colors and height in your garden. Besides adding beauty, marigolds have another benefit- they prevent nematodes.
Plant marigolds of any variety near the base of your tomato plants and keep them tended. Their smell and foliage prevent nematodes from attacking your tomatoes allowing them to be healthier and produce a better crop.
Improve the Taste of Your Tomatoes with Garlic
Want to improve the taste of your tomatoes? Use garlic. Planting garlic bulbs near your tomato plants will not only improve the taste of your tomatoes but will also reduce fungi and improve the overall quality of your tomato plant.
If you have no desire to plant garlic in your flower bed you can still get the same effect by mixing a few crushed garlic cloves to a gallon of water and mix into the soil.
Alternate Your Planting Area
Like most field crops, the planting area for your tomatoes needs to be alternated every few years. Tomatoes should only be grown in the exact same spot for up to three years. You can rotate them yearly if you have the space, if not every three years will be fine.
After three consecutive years of growing tomatoes in the same spot, the soil become less fertile. Less fertile soil will grow less productive plants.
Water Your Tomatoes Properly!
Watering tomato plants often seems pretty obvious. We all water our tomato plants and think nothing else of it. However, you may be watering them wrong. Tomato plants should be watered from the bottom first of all. This prevents water from splashing and spreading diseases.
Next, when watering your plants water them slowly so that the water seeps into the ground instead of producing run off. Water them deeply by extending your watering times. The deeper you penetrate the soil the more water the roots will be able to take in. It will also allow the soil to stay moist longer preventing the tomato plant from drying out.
After watering your plant use a spade or shovel to dig back a portion of the soil and check the soil. You want to have at least 6 inches of wet soil but more is better. If the soil is not wet enough continue watering and check another spot shortly after. Once you have done this for a week or so you can get a pretty good idea of how long you need to water your tomatoes to make sure you watered deep enough.
Prevent Snails and Slugs with Copper
Snails and slugs can quickly take over a tomato bed without the proper prevention methods in place. To avoid using harsh chemicals near your tomatoes simply lay copper strips or copper pipes around the perimeter of your tomato garden. The copper will create a chemical reaction that will prevent slugs and snails from invading your tomatoes.