It’s every gardener’s dream to grow a bumper crop of mouthwateringly delicious tomatoes. Red ones, yellow ones, striped ones, green ones, purple ones.
Cherry tomatoes, red and green beefsteaks, Brandywine, Cherokee Chocolate and Yellow Oxheart, just to name a few more.
With a myriad of heirloom tomato varieties out there, it is hard to stick to growing just one variety.
After all, your garden can be so much more diverse than your local grocery store!
Of course, nature still plays her part.
The heat, the humidity, the incessant rain or the extended drought. There are so many factors to consider on your way to a fruitful harvest.
But the majority of the hard work is done when you first plant your tomatoes. Get that step wrong and you’ll be in for disappointing summer harvests. Get it right and any other issues can be overcome.
5 Tomato Planting Secrets
Secret 1 – Plant in a new space, always.
Tomatoes have one downfall, they are susceptible to a number of problems and diseases. Fungi, bacteria and viruses. Chances are good that at some point, you will have to deal with any number of them.
- septoria leaf spot
- fusarium and verticillium wilt
- blight – early or late
- mosaic virus
- blossom-end rot
- bacterial spot, speck and canker
- damping off
No one ever said tomato growing was easy!
Rotate your tomato crop each season, not only to keep them healthy and strong, but to prevent many diseases.
You also want to move them around the garden to give them fresh nutrients, as they tend to be heavy feeders.
Secret 2 – Plant tomatoes deep.
Don’t plant tomatoes as you would plant a tree, as their roots grow differently – that which you cannot see.
It perhaps seems counter-intuitive to plant tomatoes deep in the soil, though keep in mind that we are talking about transplants here, not tomato seeds.
Dig deep, about 6-8 inches, or as others suggest: that approximately 2/3 of the tomato plant is underground, with just the top leaves sticking out.
The reason for this?
It helps the tomato plant to develop deeper roots that will dry out less quickly. At the same time, it also promotes stability to a plant that can quickly become the size of a bush, perhaps in anticipation of those tomato cages to help hold the magnificent harvest?
Secret 3 – Provide support straight away.
Having just mentioned tomato cages, brings us to the topic of support.
In order to prevent disease, it is beneficial to lift your vines off the ground. This increases air circulation for both fruits and leaves, at the same time improves access to sunlight. Both of these factors contribute greatly to tomato ripeness.
Don’t limit your imagination to tomato cages as the only form of supporting structure. Wooden stakes with natural ties work wonders too.
Just be sure to add these at the beginning (while planting), so as not to damage roots later in the life cycle.
Here are 38 DIY and store-bought tomato support ideas for you to consider.
Secret 4 – Feed your tomatoes.
Before you can feed yourself, you have to feed your tomatoes.
Then as the bountiful fruits are growing, use this tomato fertilizer recipe to treat them right throughout the season.
In the end, you will be rewarded with the tastiest tomatoes you have had in years, perhaps even decades!
Secret 5 – Mulch is a tomato’s best friend.
While the roots love to be bathed in a dark, damp space, the leaves prefer light and plenty of fresh air. Yet, it is that in-between area that is often overlooked.
The base of the tomato plant also needs attention, and if you have a no-dig garden, you may already be providing the perfect mulch. If not, make sure that out of any plants in your garden, the tomatoes get all the mulched attention they desire.
Mulching at planting time helps to keep weeds out and moisture in. Finding the perfect amount/thickness it up to you – keeping in mind that tomatoes love warm soil.
Straw or grass clippings are an ideal organic mulch, but there are many more mulch ideas here.
Caring For Your Tomato Plants
It would be a lie to say that you can sit back and relax now that you’ve successfully planted your young tomato plants – but if you follow the steps above you’ll be well on your way to buckets of juicy tomatoes come summer.
Just make sure you continue to feed and water your plants, prune correctly (if required) and be sure to protect from harsh weather if a late frost threatens.