Get Your Tomato Plants Well Grounded
Of the 5 tips for growing fabulous tomatoes the first would have to be the soil. Tomatoes do best in soil rich in organic matter, so when preparing the planting beds put as many buckets of compost as you can in and work well into the soil. This may be one of the best kept secrets of fabulous tomatoes. Some of the best expert tomato growers plant them in nothing but pure compost.If you do nothing else this is a must do!
Choosing Your Plants
Healthy plants are productive plants and provide the best tasting produce. When choosing plants check to be sure they are disease free and growing well there should be no spots on the leaves or wilting. There are a great number of varieties out there that have been bread to make them more resistance to common diseases. Commonly known as hybrids these tomato varieties are good growers and will produce good fruits the only drawback I find with them is the taste.
When it comes to taste nothing beats the Heirloom varieties. Even though they are susceptible to disease with the proper care they are well worth taking a chance on to eat some of the finest tomatoes you ever tasted.
Getting Them In The Ground
A strong root system is essential to proper growth and development of your tomato plant the more roots the better. So the standard advice is plant them deep. When I was in my early twenties I was out in the yard planting tomatoes and the old guy next door came over and said no and then he proceeded to dig a trench about 4″ deep and about 2″ longer than the plant. After striping all but the top 2 sets of leaves off the plant he laid the plant down sideways in the trench buried the stem and the roots and just barely left the top 2 sets of leaves sticking out of the ground.
That summer the old guy showed me a couple of other tricks with beans and greens. That year was a very productive year for the garden. We never had very big conversations just show and tell Jose did not speak hardly any English as he had just came from Cuba the year before but he still found a way to pass on his many years of expertise in his new country. Now I am the old guy and I try to pass what I know works on to others. I have taken to adding Epsom salt about two table spoons into the soil at planting time. Epsom salt contains about 10 percent magnesium and about 13 percent sulfur this helps to elevate blossom end rot aid in photosynthesis and plant growth. Used towards the end of the season as a foliage spray of 1 tablespoon per gallon of water it will help increase production and keep the leaves dark green and growing.
Maintaining Your Tomato Plants
Water is a critical factor in the maintenance of your plants and tomato plants love dry leaves but a lot of water. The best way to accomplish this is with drip irrigation or soaker hoses. Either way you want to let the water get down nice and deep so both system requires hours of watering not just minutes. The addition of 3″ to 4″ of mulch will not only help retain moisture but prevent soil from splashing up on the leaves during rain storms spreading soil borne diseases.
As tomatoes start to form the get heavy and can cause the branches to snap or break. I place a 6′ fence post next to each plant so that I can take garden twin and tie the branches up and provide support this also keeps the fruit and leaves up off the ground. Many people use those commercial tomato baskets they are good for patio tomato plants but vine tomatoes will quickly out grow them.
Once a month a side dressing of fertilizer 1 to 2 tablespoons will help keep your plants growing vigorously. A foliar feeding of 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt to a gallon of water will make a huge difference in production and plant health.
Choose the best location for your tomato plants. Tomato plants need full sun to produce their best. The other key factor is plenty of space so that there is good air circulation, to help control the spread of fungus and diseases.
If you follow the above tips I can tell you that you will not be disappointed and when people asks where you learned to do that just tell them and old guy told you to.