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Grow amazing juicy tomatoes every year
If you want to consistently grow juicy, full-flavored tomatoes every year, try these growing tips used by top tomato growers:
1. Choose a bright spot with good air circulation.
Plant your tomatoes in a spot that will receive at least 10 hours of light during the summer. Ensure that there is room between plants for air to circulate.
2. Practice crop rotation.
Alternating your tomato beds between even just two spots will diminish the chance of soil borne diseases such as early blight and bacterial spot.
3. Plant tomatoes deep.
Plant your tomato seedlings up to the first true leaves. New roots will quickly sprout on the stems. This makes your tomato plants establish a much larger root ball and gives you a higher yield.
4. Keep plants warm.
Temperatures cooler than 50 deg. F (13 deg. C) slow tomato plant growth and prevent fruit from setting. Protect them with heavyweight row covers or cloches to shield them from chilly nights until the nights are naturally warm enough.
5. Feed the soil appropriately.
A common mistake one should avoid is over-feeding the soil. Tomatoes thrive in soil that is rich in humus for extensive, well-developed root systems and potassium for strong stems. Adding too much nitrogen will produce overly lush plants with little fruit.
Homemade compost will typically supply all the necessary phosphorus the tomatoes need for good flowering and fruiting. A weekly spraying of liquid kelp or seaweed extract will increase the health and yield of your tomato plants.
6. Grow them up.
Tomato vines that are left to sprawl over the soil are more prone to attacks by pests and diseases than ones that have been staked or caged.
7. Choose indeterminate varieties.
Indeterminate tomato varieties tend to produce more fruit but require more space to grow, so make sure everything is in place and that you have enough room.
8. Water deeply but infrequently.
Tomato plants that are established in the soil have their roots spread deep inside the soil and as a result require deep watering less frequent than those growing in containers. Soak your tomato bed once a week, or every five days at the height of summer. Water evenly and consistently and water directly on the soil and not on the leaves to help avoid blossom end rot, fruit splitting and other tomato problems brought on by uneven watering.
9. Pluck, prune and trim.
Many tomato growers pull off the first flowers, so that the plant does not devote energy to forming fruit before its roots and foliage have filled out. Pinch off the sucker (non-fruiting branches) too to direct the plant’s energy into growing bigger, better fruit.
As your tomato plants grow, remove the bottom leaves as these are the oldest leaves and are usually the first to develop fungal problems. Go easy on pruning the rest of the plants though, as it’s the leaves that are photosynthesizing and creating the sugars that give flavor to your tomatoes.
Many organic gardeners rely on plastic mulch to warm up the soil in the start of spring and prevent weeds from sprouting up. Study after study has shown that beds covered in black plastic in spring produce tomatoes earlier and in abundance all season long. Infra-red transmitting plastic mulch is very effective researchers have found, as it reflects just the kind of light that plants need.
All natural mulches also help tomatoes grow. Surround your plants with a layer of straw, leaves, dried grass clippings or pine needles to prevent weeds from growing and retain moisture in the soil. Natural mulches keep the soil cool, so don’t apply them until the soil warms to a minimum of 65 deg. F (18 deg. C).