Tuesday, May 10, 2016

It's tomato planting time!

Here are some ways to get more from your tomato plants this year. Pick the sunniest spot in the garden. Your tomato plants need at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. 8 hours a day is better. If at all possible, choose a spot where you didn’t grow tomatoes or potatoes last year. Rotating your crops every year helps cut down on disease problems. Great soil is a must for growing tomatoes, so plan to amend the site with compost and peat moss.
Add 2" to 3" of compost and peat and dig it in to your existing soil 6" to 8". Once the soil is amended, plant your tomatoes on their sides in a trench, not straight down in a hole. This method keeps your roots closer to the surface. They will develop more roots and the roots will stay warmer through the course of the growing season. Warmer roots will give you more tomatoes.
Start by removing the lower leaves from the plant. Next, dig a trench deep enough to hold your tomato plant. 
Add some tomato fertilizer such as
Espoma Tomato-tone or
Happy Frog Tomato and Vegetable to the bottom of the trench. These fertilizers feed your tomatoes and they add calcium and magnesium. Plus, they contain mycorrhizae, beneficial fungui which will help your tomato roots grow bigger roots and take up nutrients more efficiently.  
Place your tomato plant in the trench and add enough soil to bury the stem. When you get to the top of the tomato, gently build up the soil until the top of the tomato is upright.
Now that your tomato is planted, give it a good drink.  Your tomato plants need to be watered deeply and regularly through the growing season. Not watering consistently can lead to many problems including
Blossom End Rot and cracking. Watering inconsistently can also cause the flowers to drop and the fruit not to set. Avoid watering your tomato plants overhead. Irrigate at the base of the plant.
Staking is important because it keeps your plant upright which allows even exposure to sunlight and helps produce more fruit. As your plant grows, pinch off any suckers that form in the crotch of two branches. They won’t produce fruit and they take away energy from the plant. Go easy on pruning the rest of the plant. Removing too many leaves can damage your fruit due to sunburn.
Apply some dusting sulfur. It’s organic and will help control disease and ward off insects. Lightly dust the leaves and the soil around the plant.
Other supplements include Blossom Set to help your plant set fruit and Calcium.
Calcium is available in concentrate and ready to use sprays. Calcium will help reduce the fruit ripen more evenly and help reduce Blossom End Rot problems. Doing these things now and through the course of the growing season will help you grow better tomatoes.

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