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3 Tips for Better Summer Tomatoes

Photo by Cacahuete courtesy iStock

What’s better than the taste of a fresh summer tomato? The taste of a fresh summer tomato you cultivated yourself! While they’re known for being somewhere between finicky and unforgiving, tomatoes don’t have to be such high maintenance. Follow these three simple tips to ensure your crop comes out looking and tasting picnic perfect.

1- Feed and water regularly (they’re greedy plants and need a lot of both).

  • Tomato plants thrive on consistency. Without regular food and water, the fruit develops soggy bottoms and split sides. Creating and sticking to a schedule for both watering and feeding (we recommend a seaweed feed) will ensure their needs are met. Here’s our recommended schedule:

    • In a planter: Water every other day, and deeply — you'll know you've done the job when you see water come through the drainage holes in the bottom. Feed every 2 weeks.

    • In the ground: Water one to three times per week, deeply, depending on your climate. Feed every 2 weeks.

2- Plant deeply.

  • There are varying rules of thumb on just how deep to bury your young (1’ tall or so) tomato plant. We err on the conservative side and recommend planting it up to the first set of leaves. This will promote more root growth in the main stem, which will help get more nutrients up to the plant. It also helps the plant become stronger and more stable, which is key for supporting those giant beefsteaks you’ll be enjoying in a few months. Don’t forget to mulch — a 1'' thick layer around the plant (not mounded on the stem area) will protect the roots and keep weeds at bay.

The correct depth to plant your young tomato plants. Image courtesy of Homestead and Chill

3- Pick a sunny spot.

  • You want to plant tomatoes in full sun, if at all possible.

  • If the only spot you've got is part sun (4 hours or less of direct sunlight), you're going to need to adjust your expectations. You'll still get some nice fruit, but not as much as if you plant in full sun.

  • Full sun and good air flow is a recipe for success with tomatoes.


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