Tomato Plants

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TomatoesVIDEO: Farmer Tracie’s Tomato Plant Tips

Tips for growing tomatoes: A good tomato crop calls for sturdy stakes or cages; the best gardeners make their own cages from wire mesh, available at hardware- and builders’-supply stores. It’s sturdy, and six-foot lengths of it can simply be formed into cylinders that support the plants without restricting their growth. Concrete reinforcing wire is one good choice; the six-inch mesh is large enough to allow your hand to reach through for picking. The experts agree that cone-shaped wire tomato cages sold at garden shops often don’t do the job; they’re small and flimsy.

When starting tomato seeds, don’t fill the seed pots full of potting mix, but fill them only halfway. When the seedlings are three inches tall, then fill the pots to the top. New roots will develop along the newly buried stem, and you will have young plants with stronger root systems.

Don’t plant tomatoes too close together. Set plants six to eight feet apart; that way, grasshoppers and other pests can’t jump from one plant to the next.

Rotating the crop — planting it in a different part of the garden each year — will lessen the threat of soilborne diseases. As an extra precaution in areas that have heavy rains and high humidity, mulch well all around the tomatoes once the plants mature, to keep the soil from splashing up onto the leaves during a downpour.

To help tomatoes through periods of drought, find a flat rock (about the size of a sheet of notebook paper) and place it next to each tomato plant. The rock pulls up water from under the ground and keeps it from evaporating into the atmosphere.

If cool weather and high humidity have spelled disaster for your tomato crop in the past, consider cherry tomatoes. Foolproof in any climate, they bear abundant fruit in high or low temperatures and in rain or drought. Varieties for top flavor include ‘Matt’s Wild Cherry’, ‘Dr. Carolyn’, and ‘Gardener’s Delight’.

  • Marilyn

    I have good luck planting plants that are about 6 inches high in large pails (like the kind drywall plaster comes in) with the bottoms sawed off. I fill the pails and set the plants in new potting soil every year, so the soil is not re-used. I put two plants in each pot, set deeply in the soil (lower leaves and stems pulled/cut off) with a tomato cage after the plants get going and growing. This is a good way to have quite a few plants in a small area, close to my back door, that makes frequent watering easier. I keep the suckers pinched off as often as possible. I like to plant varieties that ripen at different times so we don’t get all the tomatoes at one time, and use heirloom varieties as well as the modern, very resistant varieties. It’s a lot of fun to have a good crop without too much work once the plants are started and growing. I do use seeds for a few types, but find that it’s often easier and better to buy little plants from a reputable grower. Having the bottoms of the pails sawed off makes it possible for the plants to put roots through all the potting soil and into the ground beneath if they need that much room.

  • Any advise on growing in really big pots, mine are all inthese pots and I have a lot of fruit now but they are sure slow at getting red. I planted them in May and used all your methods as well as plastic covers whenever the weather turned a bit cold, they have 6 to 7 hours of sun and I live in the middle of the state of Connecticut not to far from the river.

  • Patricia

    What information that was givin was usefull in starting seeds and growing tomatoes.We grow about 12 plants which we start from seed and I like Heirloom varities so we try and keep it to 2 plants per variety that way we can try new ones and not overdue ourselves.

  • The video is great. I do wish that the suckering footage wasn’t in closer in for me to really get a good look. Maybe it cannot be done because that seems to be a weak spot in most tomato growing videos.

  • Cynthia

    This article was very informative. I wish I would have had this information a little earlier. I planted tomato seeds, but unfortunately I didn’t do it that way. I filled my seeds pots full. The information you gave makes alot of sense. The next time I start seeds I will try it this way.


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