Do you want wonderful lush high producing tomatoes?
I think that’s an easy question to answer.
One of our close friends struggled with her tomatoes for years. This year she couldn’t take it anymore and decided to ask for our help. In this post, we will discuss our and now her proven methods that we use to have excellent, high producing tomatoes.
Getting your little sprouts off to a healthy and hardy start on day one is vital to their success.
We love growing tomatoes. Our son does too, we have to keep him out of the garden, or we will not have any leftover. We use our tomatoes to can homemade tomato juice, pizza and pasta sauce, fire-roasted tomatoes, and a long list of soups from tomato, chili, and vegetables.
When, where, and how you plant tomatoes really can make a huge difference in how well your plants perform. This guide is for heirloom tomatoes, but it will also work on hybrids. We prefer heirlooms for our garden.
How to Grow Tomatoes – Beginners Guide
Tomatoes are one of the easier plants to start our with on your gardening journey and they’re a plant we recommend to anyone wanting to start a garden.
Not only can they be easy to grow, but they can provide so many tomatoes again and again after picking.
Which is great if you’re wanting to can tomatoes to have for later in the year!
Why You Should Grow Tomatoes
Not only are tomatoes healthy for you, but they also have health benefits that might interest you.
- They can help with fighting cancer
- They can help with reducing blood pressure
- They’re helpful for heart health
- Helping to fight diabetes
- Helping to improve constipation and even eye health!
Prepping the Soil
Warm Soil: You want your soil to be warm enough to sustain the plant. Starting them inside your home or in a greenhouse is recommended. Having the plant established inside first will ensure a healthy adult plant.
Our rule of thumb is to plant after the Easter cold snap, and you want to be sure that there is little to no chance of frost. Planting too early can have their growth stunted by the low-temperature soil or cold weather.
Transplanted tomatoes from your greenhouse or your house will adapt in warmer soil better, rapidly, and absorb nutrients faster. Cooler climate? A few black tarps laid in your garden will absorb the sun’s energy, this will warm your ground faster.
Remember there is still a threat of frost, in colder climates, a 5-gallon bucket will protect them from the frost.
Use a small shovel to bust the ground, your kids or dog may love to help here. Posthole diggers work well too. Dig a wide and enough hole approximately 6 inches wide by 8 inches deep. This will bust up the soil so the young roots can grow quickly.
Place the tomato supports before planting, but after we dig the holes.
Putting them in after the plant is established can disturb the root system.
- Grandmothers secret Soil
- Organic compost from your compost bin – sprinkle a hand or two full of your compost in each hole.
- Some crushed eggshells for calcium, this helps prevent black and blossom rot.
- A tablespoon of Epson salt. Plain Epson salt will add some magnesium to the soil. Here are some telltale signs of magnesium deficiency
- The leaves turn yellow
- Or the leaves turn yellow in between the veins (interveinal chlorosis)
- The leaves might curl
- Plants become spindly
- Fruit production decreases
- A soil test reveals a magnesium deficiency.
- Coffee grounds
Planting the tomato
We plant our tomato transplants deep.
Planting the tomatoes deep protects the roots and keeps them from drying out too. Then, we will fill the bottom 2 to 3″ of the hole with Grandmother’s secret soil.
Next, we break apart the roots because it will help the plants’ root system expand quickly. Take the roots and gently work the dirt and roots so that they are loose.
This is a super important step, as it keeps the plants to keep from getting root-bound.
Next, we’ll put the transplants on top of the 2 to 3″ of the soil mixture. On the top, we like to add in a few extra tablespoons of the soil mixture.
This will add additional soil when it rains, or you water it.
Gently water each plant
- Water slowly around the tomato plants to allow them a sufficient amount of time for the water to enter the soil. Runaway water is just a waste, and it can leach nutrients from the soil. Don’t be afraid to let the water soak in at least 5 – 6 inches of soil.
- Water tomatoes only when they need it. Water twice a day, maybe. To begin with, moisten the soil but do not flood the tomato plants. The roots need air and you don’t want to drown your plants.
- Make sure you water at the stem rather than putting the water around the leaves. If you put the water around the base of the plant rather than on the stem it will encourage the roots to spread outward.
- We suggest watering early in the day if you use a hose, bucket, or any other manual form of watering. By watering early, it limits the chance of scorching your plants.
- Do not water at night because moist conditions and low temperatures can increase the chances that the tomato plant will succumb to diseases.
- You can add mulch around the plants. It acts as a moisture regulator and also a source of nutrition. Definitely give this a thought, if you don’t already implement it.
Chopped leaves or mulch is the final key to success. It keeps out competing weeds, provides insulation to keep the soil temperature and moisture levels regulated on both cool evenings and hot days to the tomato plant’s root zone.
Tomato Problems You Might Face
Even though tomatoes are easy to grow, this doesn’t mean they’re so easy that you can plant, water, and forget.
They have issues just like any other plant.
One common issue with tomatoes is the bugs. This plant can get a few bugs that you want to watch out for.
Now you get to decide if you’re wanting to grow in pots, in the ground, or in a raised bed garden.
The choice is yours and really depends on your family and land.
We have a mix of both raised and in the ground plants.