Ah growing tomatoes one of those subjects that can lead to a rather robust if not exaggerated conversation filled with hyperbole and superlatives by those who fancy themselves hard core garden gurus. There are so many tricks and tips for the novice tomato grower to follow that it would probably take 5 lifetimes to try them all.
I by no means am a dedicated tomato plant researcher but over the years I have tried out some of the tips and advice I have been given, while some was not necessarily anything to write home about and some did not make much difference I did have success with others. I would say that my experience is that I have never had a crop failure with tomatoes and there are always plenty to can. ( No that does not mean I grow a hundred tomato plants ) I will share with you however the methods I do use.
The first thing I do is to make sure the soil is dug down at least 12 inches. When planting my tomato plants I always strip of all but the growing tip and top two sets of leaves. I dig a trench and lay the plant in it and then cover the plant up to an inch below the leave. By doing these I am assured of a strong root system as the whole stem will start to produce roots to feed the plants. I then scratch in three tablespoons of an all purpose vegetable fertilizer one in each of three spots about 6 inches from the plant. Once this is done I pound in a 6 foot fence post next to the plant mulch out two feet around the plant using 3 to 4 inches of compost water the plant well and then dig a whole 8 to 10 inches and bury a 36 oz coffee can up to the rim with 10 to 12 holes drilled in it . I know that some use baskets or trellises or sticks. The reason I put the post in right away is that it has been my experience when planted next to the post the tomato plants seems to grow quicker and taller like it is in a race to catch up to the post next to it. I know it sounds crazy and maybe it is but I notice if I wait the plants don’t grow so high.
The coffee can now that is special fill it three quarters up to the top with manure and then when you water the tomato you simple fill the can with water and the water will soak in the ground by the plant roots and give it a feeding of manure tea at the same time. Not only are you saving water you are not splashing soil and water on the leaves that could spread disease. This is tried and true and I have been doing it for 38 years so it may sound strange but it really works. ( For those who have trouble sleeping at night only use decaf coffee cans.)
As soon as the tomato plant reaches 12 inches I start tying it to the stake. I use to use cloth or string but an old timer once told me to use pieces of old nylon stalkings. His claim was that the ozone from lighting reacted with the metal and the nylon and was good for the plants. Don’t know if this is true or not and really don’t care I do know that I get very good tomatoes when I use them so I do. As the tomatoes form I tie the branches back towards the post so that the branches don’t break from the weight of the fruit.
Of course the one big factor no one can control is weather. But it seems that when we have hot days and warm nights those garden gurus seem to spend a bit more time bragging about them 5 lb tomatoes they are growing.