Growing tomatoes is easy, but growing the picture-perfect tomatoes we all want isn’t. I remember when I began growing vegetables; I had visions of big, shiny, juicy, red tomatoes. Unfortunately, the tomatoes I grew didn’t measure up to this ideal. After a lot of research and experimenting, I’ve learned to grow consistently picture-perfect tomatoes. Here are my five top tips for those chasing that perfect tomato.
1. Heat your soil. Tomatoes like warm soil. Warming your soil up for future tomatoes is very easy. All you have to do is lay plastic down over your plot a week or two before you plant. Black plastic works especially well. This plastic mulch makes a nice environment for your tomatoes and kills potential weeds in the soil in the process.
2. Don’t tolerate suckers. What’s a sucker? Suckers are those little sprouts that pop up between the joints of your plant. These little sprouts suck nutrients that could go to tomatoes. What’s worse is suckers do not produce anything and aren’t vital to the plant’s survival. Be vigilant about plucking these little guys whenever they pop up and you’ll be one step closer to having big, healthy tomatoes.
3. Prune. Unnecessary leaves can have the same effect on your fruit as suckers. One good rule of thumb is to wait until your plants are about three feet tall. Then remove all leaves on the bottom foot of the plant. These low leaves are the least important and the weakest. They’re also the most likely to attract pests that can infect the rest of the plant.
4. Bury deep. Tomatoes can grow roots from their stalks. When you transplant your tomatoes from pots to the garden, bury them nice and deep and they’ll grow more roots. These extra roots take in more water and nutrients, which means more water and nutrients for your tomatoes.
5. Fan stems. One thing that can really make your tomatoes grow strong and healthy is fanning their stems. If you do not live in a place that gets a strong breeze, providing one for your plants can go a long way. This helps them grow strong stems and makes for healthy plants. To achieve this, just set up a fan that produces a good breeze for five to ten minutes twice a day.
That’s five tips – but that isn’t it. I have five more terrific tomato ideas tomorrow. Wait for it!