Essential Tomato Growing Tips

Growing Vegetables
Tomato Growing Essentials

All tomato growers aspire to have beautiful, tasty tomatoes. The best tomato fruit depends on the variety used, but it usually means reddest, juiciest and super-tasty fruit. Most of the time, you simply can't find that kind of tomatoes in the grocery stores.

To have such great tomato fruits, it takes some practice. While tomatoes are good plants to grow even for beginners, it does take some time and practice to truly understand how to grow them. There are certain tips and tricks you can use to improve your tomato fruits and to grow the strongest, healthiest and juiciest tomatoes.

Here's the list of 10 useful tips for tomato growing:

Choose the Best Spot

Part of the secret for growing tomatoes is to know where to plant them (or, if you choose to grow them in containers, where to put them). Tomatoes need a bright, airy spot to thrive. It's important to plant your tomatoes somewhere where they can get at least 10 hours of light per day during summer. It's also important to always leave some room between plants so the air can circulate properly.

Know How to Choose Seedlings

Chances are that you'll start your tomatoes using seedlings. This is why it's important to know how to choose strong, healthy seedlings to plant. When choosing your seedlings, make sure to check out the seedlings' root systems. There are many lush green seedlings with a poor root system. They will languish for weeks before growth, so it's important to take that into account.

Alternate Beds

It's important to alternate tomato beds between spots, even if you have only two of them. This will prevent soilborne diseases such as bacterial spot and early blight.

Make Sure to Bury the Stems

It's important to bury the stems fully. For the best result and the healthiest plants, make sure to plant the seedlings up to the first true leaves. This will allow the plant to develop many new roots on the stems. Remember: more roots mean a stronger root system, which in turn means more fruits.

Water Adequately

Tomatoes will benefit greatly from the right watering regime. This is why it's very important to know how and when to water your tomato plants. Tomatoes thrive when they are watered deeply, but they should not be watered often. It's best to water them only once per week, and once per 5 days in the summer. Make sure to soak the beds. Also, pay attention to water directly on the soil but not on the leaves.

Correct Staking

While there are many different ways to grow tomatoes, if you want to use stakes, it's best to use hight stakes. Stakes that are about 6 foot in height seem to work best. These are ideal for indeterminate varieties such as "Brandywine". It's best to put in the stakes when transplanting. This will prevent any possible root damage.

Don't Forget the Pruning

Pruning can help a lot and leads to more fruit and healthier fruit. It's best to prune off the non-fruiting branches. This will make the plant invest all of its energy into the remaining branches and ultimately, into growing bigger fruit. Pruning is the best way to make your tomatoes invest its resources directly into growing fruit.

Add Compost

Your tomatoes will benefit greatly from some composting. You can encourage the new growth by scratching compost around the stem. It's best to do it while the first fruit is ripening. It will also ensure continued fruit setting. It's also helpful to trim some of the upper leaves. All of this will encourage better fruit growth and ripening.

Know When to Harvest

Rule of thumb for harvesting tomatoes is: pick them ripe, but not dead ripe. Remember, heirloom tomatoes can be mealy when they are too ripe. It's best to harvest them when they are fully colored and in full size, but don't let them stay for too long before you harvest them.

Plant Again

For the best and continued results, it's important to plant another set of tomatoes about three weeks after the first set. This way, not all of your harvest will come at once and you will have a continuous supply of tomatoes for a longer time.

Photo credit: Ajith Kumar

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