Thursday, June 1, 2017

Tomato Planting Tips

Once you've chosen the varieties of tomato plants you're going to grow this season, it's time to plant. Begin by choosing the right location.  Tomatoes need sunlight, space and good air circulation in order to grow and develop fruit. Pick a spot in the garden that gets 7 to 8 hours of sunlight and enough  space so your plants aren't crowded together. If you grew tomatoes or potatoes last season, it's important to rotate your crops  to avoid disease issues. If you don't have the space to rotate your tomatoes, replenish the soil with compost and peat moss and dust with sulfur to help prevent disease.
As you prepare the site, mix a granular fertilizer into the soil before you plant. Use Happy Frog Tomato and Vegetable or Fertilome Gardener's Special. This will provide nutrients to your plants as they start to grow. Plant your tomato starts on a cloudy day or plant late in the afternoon when the sun isn't beating down on your garden. This will reduce transplant shock and help your new tomato plants get started right.
Remove the lower leaves and plant your tomatoes deep, all the way up to the top few leaves. When planted this way, tomatoes are able to develop roots all along their stems. More roots will make for a stronger plant and healthier fruit. This does not apply to grafted tomatoes. Grafted tomatoes must be planted at the graft line.
You can either dig a deep hole or a shallow trench and lay the plant sideways. It will quickly straighten itself up and grow toward the sun. Just be careful not to drive your stake or cage into the buried stem.
Now that your plants are in the ground, it's time to talk about watering. Consistent watering produces stronger plants and better yields. Water your tomato plants well once the top few inches of soil has dried out. 
It’s best to
soak each plant  right at the base, keeping the leaves as dry as possible. Another way to tell your if your tomato plant needs watering is to watch the leaves. Some leaf wilt is normal during the heat of the day. If your plants are wilted in the morning, it's time to water. For greater yields, use sturdy cages or stakes to keep your plants off the ground.
Pinching off suckers will also help your tomato plant produce better and bigger tomatoes. 
About three weeks after your initial planting, start another crop of tomatoes. Planting a second crop will help ensure a longer harvest and more tomatoes to enjoy!

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