1. Don't Crowd the Seeds - When Growing Tomato Plants from seeds, you
want to leave enough room for the plants to branch out. To many plants
placed too close together will inhibit there growth. Once the seeds grow
and the first true leaves appear transplant each plant to 4 inch Pots.
You will do this in about two weeks.
2. Tomatoes Love Light - If you are growing your plants indoors you
will want to use grow lights. The plants will require 12 to 14 hours of
light a day. Place your grow lights about 2 to 3 inches from the plants.
Tomatoes love the light so you will want to plant them in the sunniest
part of your garden.
3. A Cool Breeze is Nice - Tomatoes love to sway in the breeze. When
growing them indoors it's a good idea to put a fan on them twice a day
for 10 to 15 minutes. This helps to promote strong stems.
4. Tomatoes Love the heat - When you get ready to plant your
seedlings in the garden warm soil is the best method. You can place
black plastic or weed block in the area prior to planting. This will
heat the soil. You should do this 1 or 2 weeks before you plant. This
warm soil will promote earlier production.
5. Plant them Deep - When you plant your tomatoes plant them deep.
Plant them up to the first leaves. Tomato plants will grow roots right
out of the stems and this will give a good root system for your plants.
You can also dig a small trench and lay the plant sideways. Don't worry
the plant will grow toward the sun and come out straight. I like to use
tomato cages to help support my plants once they have grown tall. It's a
good idea to put the cages into the ground first so that you don't end
up puncturing a healthy stem.
6. Mulch is Good - Placing Mulch around the plants is good as it
keeps the soil born diseases from splashing up on the stems. Mulch also
retains the water and helps to conserve water. Since tomatoes like the
soil warm mulch can also cause the soil to be cooler so using a black
rubber mulch works better for the warm loving plants like tomatoes.
Since I grow only organic tomatoes I use no mulch or only organic
materials for my mulch.
7. Remove the bottom Leaves - Once the plants grow to about 3 inches
tall remove all the leaves from the stem up to about 1 inch from the
soil. This will help prevent fungus from developing at the base of your
plants. Spraying your plants weekly with compost tea also seems to be
effective at warding off fungus diseases.
8. Prune/Pinch Gives More Tomatoes - Pinch and remove suckers that
develop in the crotch joint of two branches. The crotch joint is where
the branch joins the stem or two branches split. They won't bear fruit
and will take energy away from the rest of the plant. But go easy on
pruning the rest of the plant. You can thin leaves to allow the sun to
reach the ripening fruit, but it's the leaves that are photosynthesizing
and creating the sugars that give flavor to your tomatoes. So take it
easy with those pruning shears.
9. Timely Watering - Tomatoes like regular watering. You never want
the plants to begin to wilt before you water. Timely watering is a must.
Water the plants deeply and regularly especially while the plants are
developing. If you miss a watering don't over water to compensate. This
will cause root rot and eventually kill your plants. When fruit begins
to ripen cutting back on the watering will cause the sugars to
concentrate and give a sweeter tomato. Don't cut back too much though or
the plant will drop it's blossoms and fruit.
10. Getting them to Set Tomatoes - There are two varieties of tomatoes
determinate and indeterminate Determinate tomatoes are varieties that
grow to a fixed mature size and ripen all their fruit in a short period,
usually about 2 weeks. Once this first flush of fruit has ripened, the
plant will begin to diminish in vigor and will set little to no new
fruit. Determinate tomato varieties are often referred to as "bush"
tomatoes, because they do not continue growing in size throughout the
growing season. They are generally smaller than indeterminate tomatoes,
with most growing to a compact 4-5 feet. Pruning and removing suckers
from determinate tomatoes is not recommended. Despite their compact
size, staking or caging is still recommended, since the concentrated
fruit set can contribute considerable weight to the branches. Many paste
or Roma tomatoes are determinate varieties. Some others bred to be
determinate include: Celebrity, Mar-globe and Rutgers. Growing
determinate variety tomatoes makes good sense when you want a large
amount of tomatoes all at one time, to make tomato sauce for example.
Indeterminate tomatoes are actually vines that continue growing in
length throughout the growing season. Also referred to as "vining"
tomatoes, indeterminate tomato varieties will also continue to set and
ripen fruit until killed off by frost. Tomato growers seldom allow
tomato plants to actually vine. Indeterminate tomato plants will require
substantial staking or caging to support what can become a large (6-10')
heavy plant. However, tomato plants can easily be grown as a hanging
vine. This eliminates the need for support, keeps the fruit up off the
ground and permits the plant to grow in an open manner, allowing
sunlight to reach throughout the plant. The majority of tomato varieties
are indeterminate including most heirlooms and most cherry types. Other
indeterminate tomatoes include: 'Beefsteak', 'Big Boy' and
'Brandy-wine'. Early producing varieties like, 'Celebrity' and 'Early
Girl', are also indeterminate. However since they tend to mature earlier
and die back before the end of the season, they are sometimes labeled
semi-determinate. Heirloom tomatoes are all indeterminate varieties and
the plants get so large and heavy they can break the stakes holding
them. You can get indeterminate type tomatoes to set fruit earlier by
pinching off the tips of the main stems in early summer.