Tomatoes flourish in full sun and warm temperatures.
However, if you’re in short supply of sunny or warm days, havoc can begin taking over your tomatoes. Dreary-looking young tomato plants WILL flourish, once the weather changes, but it’s important to do what you can to make sure they have some extra care and are fed in the meantime.
Give Tomatoes a Lift
If you’re waiting on the weather to improve, the most important thing you can do for your tomato plants is give them some support. Tomato plants often bend, lean or even break as fruit matures. To help your plant from becoming damaged, get to know the tomato you’re planting. Indeterminate plants benefit from some support, while determinate tomatoes may be just fine on their own.
Use tomato cages, wood or metal stakes, or a trellis to give plants extra support. It’s really a matter of preference which one you choose.
The most important thing is that you’re keeping plants off the ground to avoid pests, diseases and rot. Learn more about supporting your tomatoes here.
The trick is to feed tomatoes monthly with an organic, nitrogen-heavy fertilizer. Tomatoes have big appetites, so their all-you-can-eat buffet runs out quick. Feed single in-ground plants with 3 tablespoons of Tomato-tone monthly. For rows of plants, spread 1 cup on each side per 5 feet. Feed potted plants 1.5 teaspoons per 4” pot diameter.
Pests got plants down?
When it comes to insects in your garden, don’t be quick to kill. Not all insects are enemies. In fact, most insects are essential players in your organic garden’s success. Others are neutral and don’t cause any harm. Yet some will ruin your harvest.
Spotting the difference between the good and the bad can be tricky, so keep your eyes peeled. Hornworms, fruitworms, aphids and beet armyworms can all spell disaster for your crop. Identify if these bad bugs are the cause of your problems here.
Less is More
Pruning tomatoes is a controversial practice that many expert gardeners say is unnecessary. There are times when pruning can be beneficial — fewer leaves mean air circulates better and leaves dry quicker, reducing the risk of disease.
Plants with less density direct energy toward producing bigger fruit. Plus, tomatoes often ripen earlier after a good pruning, allowing you to enjoy your harvest sooner.
Vertically grown tomatoes are ultimately easier to prune because unnecessary suckers and leaves are more visible. Though pruned plants may be better protected from insects and disease, staked and pruned plants may be more susceptible to blossom end rot and sunscald. Get the scoop on pruning tomato plants here.
If a dark, water soaked spot has formed on your tomato you may have blossom-end rot. This problem is likely caused by an imbalance of calcium in the plant. Large spots will dry out and appear to be leathery. Maintain consistent soil moisture throughout the growing season. When the weather is dry, water at least twice a week and moisten the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches. Find out more about stopping blossom end rot here.
See how Laura from Garden Answer grows tomatoes upside down!