Do you want to know my tips for tomato growing? Read on and I will tell you!
When I first started growing tomatoes, all I knew was that I wanted to grow them. And, let’s see, did I leave anything out? Nope, that about covers tomato tips. That’s all I knew at the time. Beginners, are you growing tomatoes for the first time? The first thing you will want to know about your tomato plant is whether it is determinate or indeterminate.
Determinate tomato varieties are bushier, have fruit that typically ripens around the same time and have a shorter growing season.
Indeterminate tomatoes are vining, have fruit that ripens throughout the season and will typically grow until the first frost.
I always seem to select indeterminate tomatoes because those are the fun, heirloom varieties I enjoy growing. Pick what’s best for you based on your reason for growing, available space and the length of your season.
The tips for tomato growing listed here are the ones that made the most impact for me in my garden with indeterminate tomatoes when I was beginner. I gathered them from reading articles, volunteering at a local farm and chatting with farmers at my local farmers’ market.
Feed the soil calcium a few weeks, or more, before planting your tomato plants. I do this by saving eggshells, dehydrating them and adding them into the soil.
Anytime you use eggshells, save them. I save mine in the freezer in Ziploc bags until I have at least one bag full. Then, dry the eggshells out in the sun or in the oven (you can just place them in the oven as it heats up or cools down if you are cooking something else).
Afterwards, crush them and sprinkle them in the ground to either side-dress existing tomato plants or bury in the soil before planting new seeds or transplants. The calcium in the eggshells provides nutrients to your plants keeping them healthy and protecting against blossom end rot. The eggshells can also help other members of the Nightshade family like peppers and eggplant.
Added bonuses: the eggshells also help prevent blossom end rot for squash and melons, and if you have extra, feed them back to your chickens for calcium!
When you start to see little, tiny tomatoes sprouting, prune your plants. Prune from the bottom up, removing all the leaves below the first set of fruit. I know this sounds like a lot, but remember most fungi, disease and pests attack the leaves. When you prune the leaves, cut at the base of the leaf near the main stem.
Only prune on sunny days, during the hottest part of the day. The sun will help the plant heal the wound faster, lessening the chance of disease and pest.
Only prune your plants once a week, so they don’t get stressed.
Basil and tomatoes don’t just taste delicious when eaten together, they also help each other out in the garden. Plant tomatoes next to their allies: basil, peppers, borage and marigolds to name a few.
Be sure to feed your tomato plants weekly or bi-weekly starting as soon as they have their first set of true leaves (the leaves that look like tomato leaves, typically the third and fourth leaves to sprout). I feed my plants Neptune’s Harvest Fish Emulsion. If your tomatoes aren’t ripening, they are most likely hungry and need to be fed.
Once the tips for tomato growing above have helped you to have ripe tomatoes, enjoy them in a tomato-peach-basil salad. It’s one of our summer favorites because it is so fresh-tasting and simple! It tastes just like summer.
Harvest the unripe tomatoes before pulling out your tomato plants at the end of the season. You can either let your tomatoes ripen while sitting next to a sunny window or put those green tomatoes to good culinary use and switch things up a bit by making fried green tomatoes!
Troubleshooting in the garden can be a challenge, especially at first. I hope these tips will help you experience more success with your tomato plants this year and for years to come.
Featured image from @grow_fish_cook
Get your own copy of the ESSENTIAL GARDENING TOOLKIT emailed directly to you.
The Essential Gardening Toolkit is a must-have for every gardener! You’ll get: