A tomato has to be the most versatile fruit out there. It's a delicious raw addition to any salad, plus it can be an essential component in pasta, soups, sauces, or stews. And if you eat a lot of tomatoes, the costs can quickly start to add up. So it might be tempting to begin using your own garden as a means to sustain your tomato habit.
Growing tomatoes at home can be a fun hobby that helps boost your dining experience, too. But that isn't to say it's always easy, and there's nothing quite so disappointing as a lackluster tomato crop. Luckily, you can enjoy consistent (and delectable) tomato harvest success with these top tips.
1. Choose carefully
The first step towards tomato growing triumph is choosing the right tomatoes for you. Do some research into which variety will best suit your local climate and soil type, plus the size and flavor of tomato you prefer to eat.
2. The right location
Tomato plants like warm and bright areas for maximum growth. Inspect your garden to find the areas that receive the most consistent direct sunlight and try to focus your tomato crops there. If you're worried about temperature, you can protect your seedlings with plastic sheets.
3. The prep work
You'll want to ensure your beds are the perfect environment for your tomato plants before adding your seedlings. Make sure the soil is nutrient-rich and packed with high-quality compost. You should also be careful that there's enough space between each of your plants to allow for proper growth.
4. Plant deep & sideways
The way the roots of tomato plants grow means the deeper you can plant them, the better. The roots can grow from anywhere along their stems, so the deeper you plant your seedling, the more sturdy and resilient your plant will be. Furthermore, many gardeners support sideways planting such that the leaves are covered to allow for maximal root growth.
5. Consider support
Even if you plant your tomatoes adequately deeply, it's likely you'll also want to add some support to your plants. You can use a fence or wall to grow your plants up and over or install readymade trellises to give your tomatoes something to cling on to.
6. Prune carefully
Tomato plants are well-known for growing a large number of side shoots. If you have a bush variety plant, you can leave these alone, but if you are growing vines, pruning these suckers can be very useful. Simply pinch firmly between your thumb and index finger to remove.
7. Adequate water
Like sunlight, tomatoes require a large amount of water to reach their full potential. But what's even more important is to not water all at once. Instead, aim to deliver one to two inches of water to your plants over the course of the week, never allowing the soil to feel dried out or soaking wet.
8. Extra food
To give your tomato plants a boost, you could consider some specific plant food. Adding some liquid fertilizer into your watering can can offer your tomatoes a much-needed boost. Be careful not to add too much nitrogen, though, as this can create bushy leaves but little to no fruit.
9. Disease defense
There's nothing quite so disheartening as a whole crop of tomatoes coming down with a disease. Blight is by far the most common (and the most dangerous). To avoid it, remove the lower leaves of your plants and try to avoid wetting the plant above the base.