Tips for Growing Great Tomatoes

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As a follow up to last week’s post on tomato terminology, here are a few more tips and tricks for success in your tomato patch: some that have proven to be successful  in our garden; and some that we’ve gathered from  other homesteaders out in the blogosphere as well.

1. Choose the right variety.

Not all varieties are created equal. Some are more resistant to disease than others, and some climates (like ours) can not always be tomato friendly.

Regardless of whether or not you decide to go with hybrids or heirlooms make sure you choose a variety that is suitable for your zone. If you have any questions contact your local extension office or a fellow gardener.

1840 Farm has done a wonderful series of posts highlighting some of their favorite heirloom tomatoes. You can even purchase a set of their family favorites here. **

Here are a few profiles:

*German Johnson

*Black Cherry Heirloom

*Purple Calabash

Homestead Honey also profiles her favorites, including a few I had not heard of such as Pineapple and Kellogg’s Breakfast.

*Tomatoes I Have Grown and Loved

Author Chris McLaughlin at The Vegetable Gardener recommends shaking things up a bit by using choosing those with funky colors.

*Plant Pink Heirloom Tomatoes

*Discover (and grow) Tomatoes in Surprising Colors

2. Set the root ball deep in the soil adding a small amount of calcium to the hole. Use a thick layer of mulch to help keep the soil consistently moist.

Crushed eggshells in the hole before planting will give the tomatoes a calcium boost

Crushed eggshells in the hole before planting will give the tomatoes a calcium boost

Proper moisture and calcium are two of the best defenses against Blossom End Rot.  I save up my egg shells, crush them, and add a few when I plant.

Mulch will help conserve moisture, but continually do a finger check to gauge where you are at. I like the way Growing Days describes it in the post below. She also offers a great tip for salvaging leggy plants, and shares how she gives each plant a calcium boost.

*How to Trench Plant

3. Make sure the plants receive proper feeding.

But don’t overfeed. Too much fertilizer will give you beautiful foliage but very little fruit.

Five Little Homesteaders shares her favorite tomato fertilizer (and a few other great tips of her own) here:

*Growing Great Tomatoes

4. Try to keep the foliage off the ground as much as possible.

Dragging foliage is a breeding ground for disease. When my tomato plants get to be about three feet tall(ish) I will pinch off the bottom branches giving a good clearance between the ground and the bottom of the plant. We also use strong cages to offer support.

Here is the tutorial from Back to the Basics that we used for making 70 tomato cages for our garden this year:

*Tomato Cages

Learning and Yearning  also offers a tutorial for a beautiful garden arch to support tomatoes:

*Building a Trellis for Tomato Plants

In this post on determinate vs. indeterminate tomatoes Christ McLaughlin at The Vegetable Gardener also talks about staking and caging tomatoes.

*Should You Grow Determinate or Indeterminate Tomato Plants

In this post, Spring Mountain Living recommends using your old undies as ties when staking your tomatoes.

5. Know your pests and be prepared to fight them.

In our garden the biggest culprits are spider mites and tomato horn worms.

Tomato Horn Worm

Tomato Horn Worm

In past summers, I have used an organic Pyola spray but I’ve since learned that even that can be harmful to beneficials, so this year we’ve tried to incorporate more companion plants such as basil and borage to see if that will help.

Mom Prepares also has some tips on natural pest control and companion plants for tomatoes:

*Get Rid of Hornworms Naturally and Organically

*Companion Planting with Tomatoes

Other resources:

Here are a few more resources that we have found to be helpful in our tomato garden:

The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible
One of my favorite “go to” resources for anything and everything in the garden.
Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening
An excellent resource for companion planting.

What are some of your tomato growing tips?

Disclaimer

**Not an affiliate, just a great blogger whose site I really admire. :)

Find this post and others like it linked to: The Homestead Blog Hop, Homemade Mondays, Clever Chicks Blog Hop, The Scoop, Teach Me Tuesday, Tuesdays With A Twist, Down Home Blog Hop, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Tutorials Tips and Tidbits From the Farm Blog Hop

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Tips for Growing Great Tomatoes — 14 Comments

  1. Thanks for the great tips. I’m looking forward to a bumper crop of tomatoes this year (hopefully)! I’m going to try the egg shell tip. :)

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