Growing Healthy, Tasty Tomatoes

All of today’s tips will focus on basic tomato plant care.

  1. Keep plants cultivated and watered but be very careful practicing shallow cultivation as the root system is shallow and easily damaged.

  1. For best results, mulch plants with black plastic, straw, hay, etc. to conserve moisture, eliminate cultivation and weeds and improve the soil.

  1. To help prevent blossom-end rot, incorporate lime at the rate of 5 lbs. per 100 sq. ft. at least 6 weeks prior to planting and mulch after planting.

  1. One stem (indeterminate) plants are produced by removing all suckers or side shoots that appear at the leaf joints (axils).

  1. Determinate varieties (shorter plants) are more compact and need no staking or pinching.

  1. Do not thin the foliage as it gives vital protection to the fruit.

  1. Keep the plants well supplied with water until just before harvest, then reduce water slightly. Too much water at this time may cause fruit cracking.

  1. Repeat fertilization at the rate of a handful per plant, worked into the soil in a band around the plant when the plants are 6-8 weeks old and again 4 weeks later.

  1. In areas where night temperatures are below 55° in the spring, blossoms may drop, thus reducing the fruit set. To prevent this, spray blossom clusters when most flowers have fully opened with a fruit set hormone such as Blossom Set.

  1. When day time temperatures average 75°, allow fruit to fully ripen for best quality; however, when temperatures are higher, harvest when fruits are pinkish and allow fruits to ripen in the house.

Determinate plants yield about 8 pounds each; semi-determinate plants about 10 pounds each; indeterminate plants about 8 pounds each when staked or 15 pounds each when unstaked.

And a little reminder:

  1. Determinate: Small, compact plants with 12-18″stems which stop bearing when they reach full size.

  1. Semi-Determinate: Slightly larger with 18-24″ stems which also cease production at full size.

  1. Indeterminate: Vine type plant growing and bearing indefinitely unless killed by frost or disease. Most suited for staking. Growth can be controlled by pinching out top growth and removing side shoots (laterals).

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