Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tomato Wisdom from the Tomato Mavens

After my last post, I got some great feedback from veteren tomato gardeners. 

Here's the pick of the crop: 

" Make sure your soil has some lime worked in if you live in an area that does not have enough of alkali in the soil. This will help prevent blossom end rot.

Use of fertilizer low in nitrogen, but high in superphosphate, such as 4-12-4 or 5-20-5, will also do much to alleviate the problem of blossom end rot. 

In emergency situations, foliage can be sprayed with calcium chloride solutions." 

by funluvn1

"Put some crushed eggshells in the planting hole This will accomplish the same end - supplying calcium to prevent blossom end rot." by RunawayRose 

"Watch water. They need lots of water, but if you overwater them the fruit splits. Also, if you fear tomatoes, try growing cherry tomatoes. They're REALLY easy to get a good crop from." by heart of a quince

Good tips
"I live in NE Ohio.
I have always found them pretty easy to grow, actually. I plant mine along the side of my house - it's about 2 feet from the side of the house and 2 feet from the driveway - the radiating heat DOES help a lot.

Lots of water is also vital. Try not to let the leaves get wet unless it's hot and sunny out and the water will evaporate within a couple hours.

Some other tips -
For larger tomato varieties (not cherry tomatoes), I always snip off the last few flowers on each cluster - leaving no more than 3 or 4 tomatoes per cluster. They are less likely to rot and grow larger.

Plant them DEEP! Tomato stems root prolifically, so plant them deep, all the up to the lowest leaves.

Prune to just a few major vines, plucking out the little "suckers" that grow at the Vs off the main stem.
I grow only organically, so I only use compost for fertilization - chemical fertilizers are a no-no if you want really good tasting tomatoes.
Half-way through the season I cut off the top 2-3 feet of the larger plants (they are often 4=6 tall by this point) - and let a couple suckers grow up into larger vines - this gives me a late season crop from plants that might otherwise be slowing down.
by G35Guy

"Don't pick when the plant is wet in my zone 4-ish, it tends to kill the plant - some kind of really fast moving fungus that gets spread, I think. If I absolutely have to pick after a rain, I always wear leather gloves, but I try to avoid picking at all. Other than that, tomatoes are easy." by Ophelia
A few tips
For container (or even garden) growing of tomatoes mix 1/3 dirt with 1/3 compost with 1/3 aged manure.  

Start seedlings indoors at least 3 weeks ahead of planting out and if you have room you can start much earlier and pot them up.

When you plant the tomato plant it deeper than the soil line by up to 2/3rd of the plant. It will put out more roots and bring in more nutrients and have a sturdier stem. If you want to plant it deeper than the lowest leaves allow be sure to snap them off the stem, this will encourage more roots.

Shake the plant once a day for 5-10 seconds once flowers begin appearing when the wind is calm. This spreads the pollen.

When you water, water deeply but don't drown them. 1-3 inches a week is what tomato plants like but if you water them lightly each day then all those roots you developed don't get fed so it's better to give them a lot of water 2 times a week. More often if there's wilting.

Tomatoes are subject to fusarium wilt so I use cinnamon on the surface of potted plants to deter fungi.

by KS Rose

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