Sunday, June 8, 2008

HOW TO GROW GREAT TOMATOES - 10 TIPS



  1. Determinate Tomatoes are tomatoes that bloom and bear in a very narrow time window. 2 or 3 weeks only in a growing season.

  2. Indeterminate Tomatoes - the ones most of us grow, have a long blooming season. Indeterminate Tomatoes, once the start blooming, bloom all summer up until the bitter end and the First Freeze. Here in Central Kansas, last year, mine bloomed and bore right into the last of October. I had to bring in several buckets full to avoid them being frozen on the vine. Anything smaller than a golf ball; I told my grandkids to let on the vine.

  3. At all costs, do not plant your tomatoes in the same spot as last year. The fungus that got your tomato plants last year, may well get them again this year. It lives in the soil. This year, plant somewhere different.

  4. Always plant in full sun. Tomatoes like at least 10 full hours of sunlight a day. 12 is ideal. Also, Tomatoes blossoms set fruit on at night. You may have tons of blooms but if the nights are not at least 55 degrees - no cooler and not over 75 degrees, tomatoes will not set. And you wont see any little tomatoes until those conditions are met. That's why tomatoes will set in the warm spring. Not in hot summer, then they will start bearing like crazy again in the fall when it cools down - just before the freeze. Now you know.

  5. Do your tomatoes have tons of luscious green leaves and not much else? To much Nitrogen. Cut back on the fertilizer. If the leaves soon turn yellow after first opening, you probably need to add fertilizer. Once production is started. Stop fertilizing. If tomatoes think they are starving to death, they start bearing like crazy. "Got to Save the Family. Quick -have more kids!" Tomatoes are funny like that. In this case, a little stress is good for them even if they don't like it.

  6. Don't use a herky-jerky method of watering. Water regularly. Never let your tomato plants dry out. If you reach down into the soil with your finger - one inch, and it doesn't feel damp, you need to water. If you placed a large coffee can around your new tomato plants when they were first planted Your cans embeded at least one inch in the soil - you will not only protect your young plants from cutworms, you have a handy watering container. Depending on your climate, fill these cans up with water as often as necessary. I paint mine with a cheap green enamel paint inside and outside. They last several seasons with cleaning and care. But note again. Erratic watering produces misshapen and especially Cracked tomato skins and flesh. So, to avoid ugly tomatoes, water regularly. Drying out also causes "Blossom End Rot" -Ugly, leathery, black circular spots on the blossom end. These get thrown away.

  7. For best tasting tomatoes, pick fully ripe on the vine. Picking early and letting ripen atop your refrigerator is O.K. but you will loose flavor. This is what you buy in most grocery stores. Nice, vine ripened tomatoes you get at your local Saturday Afternoon Farmers Market. Also, I suspect; tomatoes are like grapes. The longer on the vine they are left to ripen, the sweeter they are! Let me know if you find this to be true. I'm also going to experiment with this.

  8. Don't let tomatoes sprawl on the ground. A lot of tomatoes will be wasted do to high winds and bugs. Always use a stake to tie them to as a minimum and also a wire or wood cage, or derrick like I designed if you want to snazzy up your garden a little. (See Page 1 ). Tie the main stem loosely to a stake set within a few inches of the plant. Years ago people used old strips of torn cloth. Now you can buy green twine or plastic (bread tie) stuff at any store that sells plants etc. Bread ties are probably too short. Trash sack ties work great! Do they still include those with the bags? I don't do trash anymore... Also, I hope to have How-To plans available soon for my Tomato Derricks. Be watching for them.

  9. Do not mulch around your tomatoes until the soil is thoroughly warm. Mid -June for here in Central Kansas. Mulching early, usually when you first put the plants in, will slow the growth of your tomatoes by a couple weeks at least. But Do Mulch. It keeps the ground cool and holds moister in longer and more evenly.

  10. Never Spray Your Tomatoes When Watering. This promotes fungus growth. Always water close to the ground. If you use coffee cans around your tomatoes you can just stick the hose in them. I found that one minute of watering this way for each can is just about right . Since it will be hard to see through the foliage later on. You might want to add a little fertilizer again near Fall.

I hope this article has been helpful. Have a great gardening day!


Bob


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