Posted on 02 July 2012 by

Top 5 Things Tomato Gardeners Need to Remember this Season


By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

As we approach this year’s tomato season, many gardeners will be rushing out to their garden space to haphazardly plant tomatoes.

But don’t.

A little preparation will go a long way on not only preparing the garden but also preparing the plants for a successful gardening season.

First-Know Your Tomatoes

Every tomato gardener knows that their plants become, somehow, their babies by the end of the season. A gardener can tell a lot about their plants by just getting to know them. Study their leaf development, bloom development and fruit development daily. If you see a change, address it then. This will prevent many problems by being proactive verses reactive when it comes to pests and plant diseases.

Second-Know Your Tomato Terms

When shopping for tomatoes, keep in mind what you need. If you are going to grow tomatoes in a container and do not want to use a trellis, then choose a determinate tomato variety. This type of tomato plant does not require any type of trellising but it will bloom and fruit at the same time. Once this happens, the plant is done.

If you are going to use a trellis, then pick a tomato plant that is an indeterminate type. A tomato that is indeterminate grows uncontrollably, requires a trellis, and will produce all season long.

Another group of terms you will need to understand are those that deal with the plants creation. Heirloom varieties are those old-time plants that your grandmother grew in the garden. The fruit may be smaller or colored differently then what you are used to but they make up for it through their taste. Many of them, also, do not have the disease problems that hybrids can have. Also, the seeds from heirlooms can be saved from one year to the next.

Hybrids are a cross between two plants. The seeds from their offspring are saved and grown. When a hybrid is created one trait is traded for another. As an example large fruit may be traded for taste or creating a fruit with tough skin may be traded for blight resistance.

Seeds from hybrids can be saved but you will never get a “true” variety when they are planted and sometimes the seeds are sterile.

Organically grown plants and/or seeds are another choice that you will have when you go shopping for your tomato products. Plants and/or seeds that are grown organically means that they are not treated with any type of synthetic chemical or fertilizer. Seeds only come from plants that were grown organically. Many scientists believe that plants treated with synthetic chemicals and/or fertilizer, take up these substances and store it in their fruit. In doing so, when the fruit is eaten or the seeds are saved from these plants, the contamination continues.

Three-Know How to Plant

Tomato plants love to be planted deep. When this is done, it creates a stronger plant that forms roots all along the buried part of the stem. If you cannot plant them deep, utilize the trench method.

Also, when you plant deep do not forget to remove any leaves and/or stems that may be buried. If these are left on the plant, disease problems will occur.

Four-Know When to Plan

Recently, the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map has changed. Before planting any warm season crops, always check this map for your local area’s new frost-free date.

Five-Know the Tricks of the Trade

When planting tomato plants there are a few additives that one should add to the soil. The first one is Epson salt or magnesium sulfate. This simple drugstore staple will increase bloom production, which in the case of tomato plants will also increase the amount of fruit produced.

The second thing is calcium. This simple element can prevent the dreaded bottom rot of tomatoes.

Remembering these five simple things will help you have a better tomato season. So until we blog again, may your ruby-red orbits of delight bring you many tasty dreams this gardening season.

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