A generous harvest of my Pruden's Purple tomatoes.

A generous harvest of my Pruden’s Purple tomatoes.

Here are some tips for growing tomatoes:

Site, soil type:

Tomatoes need moderate fertility in the soil.   They need well-drained soil.

Tomatoes need full sun.

Planting requirements:

Start tomatoes indoors about 6 weeks before your last frost.   Plant outside when the soil is at least 60 degrees.

Tomatoes do not tolerate frost.

Put at least 30 inches between plants.

Nutrition/Fertilizer needs:

Use ½ cup of a complete organic fertilizer per plant.   Spray plants every week or so with diluted fish emulsion or compost tea to add nutrition.

Water needs:

Water the base of the plants, not the leaves.  This prevents the spread of tomato diseases.

Consistent moisture may prevent blossom end rot.

Tomatoes do well with reduced watering later in the season.  Let them grow green foliage early in the season, then stop watering when you have several large green tomatoes.  This will cause the plant to focus on producing fruit.  This will also cause tomatoes to ripen quicker and will concentrate the tomato’s sugars.

Other tips:

Tomatoes like heat.  Wall-o-waters are very useful for adding warmth to young plants.  A cheaper, easier-to-handle alternative is to fill used plastic milk jugs with water and surround the young tomatoes with them.  Row cover can be placed over the milk jugs.

Put plastic down one week before planting to warm soil.  Put holes in the plastic and put plants in the holes.  Plastic suppresses weeds but allows sun to warm the soil.

Abundant calcium in the soil may prevent blossom end rot.

Cornell University says that tomato diseases are caused by poor soil drainage.

Consider growing grafted tomato plants.  Your favorite variety can be grafted onto rootstock that is more productive and more resistant to soil born diseases.  Grafted plants can be purchased, or if you have the time, you can try grafting yourself.  Here’s a grafted plants and rootstock link.

Plant tomatoes next to black plastic garbage cans full of water (the wall-o-water effect) to keep tomatoes warm and producing into fall.  When the nights start dipping into the low 40’s, place row cover over the tomatoes using the cans to help hold it up.

When the weather dips into the 30’s, pick your green tomatoes and bring them to a cool room to ripen.  At this writing, it’s December 4th and I still have several wonderful tomatoes waiting to be eaten.

Plant Sun Sugar cherry tomatoes for out-of-this-world good tomato candy.

Plant tomatoes indoor in the winter.