There is nothing tastier than a ripe tomato right off the vine, warm from the summer sun. A rinse, some salt or a little balsamic vinegar and you have an amazing treat.
Here are ten tips for how you can grow your own tasty tomatoes:
1. When choosing a tomato, make sure it’s right for your area and see if it is determinate or indeterminate. Determinate tomatoes will yield fruits for only 1 to 2 months, while indeterminate will bear fruit season long. ROMA tomatoes are a popular kind of determinate tomato. BETTER BOY or BIG BEEF are indeterminate types of tomatoes. You can visit Bonnie Plants for a list of more varieties or check the plant sticker in the pot at the nursery.
2. When planting, place your seedlings and/or transplants right up to the first set of leaves. You’ll get new roots all along the stem and more roots mean more tomatoes! However, don’t buy plants that are too leggy and overgrown.
3. Tomatoes will grow best in sandy or loose soils. They also like soil on the slightly acidic side. Add peat moss or coffee grounds to the soil to keep your tomatoes happy.
4. During season, water at least once every 5 days. During especially hot or dry weather, shoot for 2 or 3 times a week. Water the roots and not the leaves if at all possible. I set up a soaker house with a timer in my garden that waters just a little bit every day. Soaker houses are also great since they go directly to the roots and avoid water waste. You should also water regularly to avoid blossom end rot (that black stuff on the bottom of the tomato).
5. Tomatoes need about 8 hours of direct sunlight. That can be a mix of morning and afternoon sun.
6. Don’t crowd your plants. Tomatoes like space and it will avoid bugs and fungus moving from one plant to the other and also allow them to get the sunlight they need.
7. After you water, mulch. The mulch helps keep weeds from growing and keeps the soil from drying out too quickly. I use a cedar mulch since cedar also helps to keep away bugs.
8. Once the plant starts to get taller, trim off the bottom leaves. They are the ones most likely to get wet and develop fungus. Trimming them off may help stop that.
9. Be sure to stake/support your tomatoes. Tomato cages work will as do trellises in larger garden plots.
10. Fertilize your plants when you first plant them, but then wait until you have the first fruits to fertilize again. Too much fertilizer will encourage lots of leaves and growth, but not fruits.