9 Tomato Growing Tips that will Significantly Boost Production
These 9 little things are easy to do, but will make a big impact on your tomato growing results.
- Deep Transplanting
This is the most important tomato growing tip that will most likely affect your success: When first transplanting tomato plants into the garden, remove all but the top set of the leaves. Dig a deep hole, and burrow the entire stem up to the top leaves, which should be sticking just a little above ground. Transplanting like this will cause the entire stem that was burrowed to turn into root, creating a strong root foundation for the tomato plant. That plant will be able to take in more nutrients and grow bigger and healthier as a result. Fertilize 5 days after transplanting. (Fertilizing too early before the roots are established can harm the roots).
- Automated Drip Watering
Consider using drip irrigation with an automatic timer for all your watering needs. Drip irrigation provides regular and even watering, which is good for tomato plants. Studies have also shown that dripping allows water to penetrate deeper into the ground, thus increasing uptake by plant roots.
Use mulch to reduce water consumption when watering plants, especially in containers. Mulching will greatly reduce water loss due to evaporation. It will also act like a carpet on the growing area, covering up the soil and keeping the area clean to hinder pests and diseases. Red pine mulch is ideal, but lots of things can be used as mulch, including plastic wrapping.
Here’s another important tomato growing tip: fertilize tomato plants regularly (every 2-3 weeks). Follow the directions given for the particular brand of fertilizer you’re using. Choose fertilizers low in nitrogen to prevent getting tomato “trees” that don’t bear fruit. Do not over-fertilize, as that will release excess nutrients which encourages bacteria growth and pests.
- Foliar Feeding
Occasionally, spray tomato plant leaves with a very mild fertilizer (a much more dilute version of the fertilizer you use for the ground). This improves plant growth and enhances fruit formation.
- Stake Early
Plant stakes and implement them when tomato plants are young to avoid disrupting root formation later. Note that when staking tomatoes grown in containers, the stakes should be planted on the outside (if possible) where it will be stronger. Here’s a good tomato growing tip for staking- PVC pipes make excellent tomato cages. They’re clean, cheap and easy to setup around a tomato plant. Use linen to bind the branches to the pipes.
- Harvest Regularly
Harvest tomatoes as soon as they turn red and can be easily snapped off. The sooner ripe fruits are off the plant, the quicker new fruits are formed.
- Spawning New Plants from Suckers
Here’s a tomato growing tip you probably did not know. Notice those things that grow between the main branches on your tomato plants? They’re called suckers, and they grow to form a new branch or a flower cluster. People who like to prune remove them to encourage fruit production. Once cut off, suckers will develop their own roots if they're put in a glass of water and taken good care of. Place the glass in a dark place and wait a day or two for root formation. Afterwards, take the sucker and plant it in a container and watch it grow. Voila! You have cloned a brand new tomato plant from your existing variety.
- Boosting Fruit Production when the Season's about to End
When the growing season is almost over or if you live with a short growing season and wish to hasten production, prune off any new suckers on your tomato plants and also cut off their vertical growing tips. This will divert energy into fruit formation and will hasten the ripening of any existing fruits.