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If you want to grow the healthiest and most delicious tomatoes you possibly can this gardening season, take some pointers from the pros. There are a few very easy-to-implement tricks and tips you can use to consistently grow bumper crops of succulent tomatoes.
Implement the organic tomato gardening tips outlined below and your tomato plants will deliver the biggest and healthiest yield possible.
1. Plant Deep
Make sure you plant deep for the best possible results. Burying the stem of a tomato allows the plant to sprout new roots which will help improve strength and vitality. This also provides better absorption of the nutrients your tomato plants need to grow faster and healthier. To do this, remove the bottom sets of leaves and bury the stem up to just below the bottom of the remaining leaves.
You can also plant your tomatoes horizontally in a long trench with just the top leafy part exposed. The plant will correct itself and start growing up vs. along the ground. Doing this will help your plants establish the strongest root structure possible because all those little fibers along the plant stem are little roots waiting to develop.
2. Make Soil Amendments
Testing your soil is important for proper tomato growth. Whether you take a sample of your soil to a nearby gardening or home improvement center that offers lab testing, or you purchase a DIY pH level testing kit, this step is crucial.
After you discern your ground’s alkaline and acidity levels, you can add the appropriate soil amendments to reach the recommended 6.0 – 6.8 pH for tomatoes. Most garden centers can tell you just what you need to do to get your soil perfect.
3. Ensure Adequate Light & Ventilation
Whether growing in containers or in the ground, make sure you select a bright and well ventilated, airy location for your tomatoes. Your plants should receive at least 10 hours of natural light in the summer. Also, make sure you have enough room between your tomato plants to provide for adequate air circulation.
4. Encourage Stronger Roots
Trick your tomatoes into being stronger by plucking the first flowers that appear. This allows your tomato plants to grow more extensive root systems, as well as a mature and developed leaf canopy before any fruit is produced. You should also pull off any suckers, which are the little offshoots of the main stem below your first fruit-producing branch.
5. Raise Plants Off the Ground
Use cages or fencing to grow your tomatoes vertically. When you allow tomato vines to lay on the ground, your plants are much more susceptible to pests and diseases. When you provide vertical support, these garden dangers have a harder time attacking your plants. Sprawling vines also take up valuable space in your garden, and the backbreaking process of bending over to harvest the fruit is no fun, either.
6. Add Organic Compost
When the first fruit of the season begins to appear, add organic compost, either your own or store-bought. This will encourage new, healthy growth and a bigger yield. Scratch compost into the ground around the stem, and at the same time, trim a few of the upper leaves on each plant.
7. Extend Your Growing Season
Whether you decide to plant determinate or indeterminate varieties, consider planting new tomatoes three weeks after your original plants are planted. This will extend your growing season and guarantee that if you run into any weather or pest problems, you are still sure to enjoy multiple, healthy harvests. This means you won’t need to harvest and use your entire crop at once.
Most Important of All Organic Tomato Gardening Tips – Buy Good Quality Tomato Seeds
Planting good quality tomato seeds from a reputed buyer is one of the most important of all organic tomato growing tips to get a good yield. Without good seeds, no matter what you do, you’ll never be able to grow succulent tomatoes. Your plant will struggle to grow and even if it does bear fruit, they will not grow to their full potential.
Seeds Now is a reputed seller of a large variety of vegetable, herb and flower seeds. On their All Tomato Seeds page, you will find seeds for a large range of tomato varieties, from Ponderosa Red Beefsteak Tomatoes to Manitoba, Rio Grande, and San Marzano tomatoes. If you’re not sure which variety you want to plant, you can start with the sampler packs of 15 seeds. If you’re sure about the tomato variety you want to plant, you can buy the seeds in medium, large or extra-large packs.
Seeds Now also has a lot of useful resources that you can refer to. On this page Plant, Grow, Harvest, and Save Organic Heirloom Tomato Seeds you will find lots of useful information that will help you with your organic tomato gardening journey.
In addition to seeds and resources, at Seeds Now you will also find all types of garden supplies including Seed Starting Soil Pods, Mylar Bags, Seed Saving Kits, and more. This site is a one-stop-shop for everything you need to get started with growing tomatoes or any other vegetable or herb.
3 Common Tomato Plant Pests & How to Control Them Organically
As a tomato gardener, you will no doubt encounter a whole host of common garden pests. Creepy critters like cutworms, flea beetles, grasshoppers, spider mites, and root weevils are all too eager to feast on your beautiful, healthy plants. Three of the most common tomato pests you’ll want to guard against are aphids, stink bugs, and tomato fruit worms. The damage these little buggers cause is varied, so it pays to know exactly what you are up against with each. So, let’s look at each one and discuss some organic solutions to get rid of them.
These tiny green or black insects can either be winged or wingless and like to hang out in clusters on the bottom side of tomato leaves or tomato stems. They suck moisture and nutrients out of your tomatoes, causing curled and yellowed leaves and stunted plants.
True to their name, stink bugs let off a very foul odor if threatened or squashed. Both nymphs and adults damage your tomatoes by sucking their sap and attacking the fruit. Young and adult stink bugs look the same with an easily recognized shield-shaped body. Adults can be black, brown or green, and either with or without markings. Youths are basically just smaller versions of adult stink bugs. When they attack your tomatoes, your plants are weakened and young fruit may form improperly as a result. Yellow-white spots beneath the skin of ripened fruit are a common sign of stink bug damage to your crops.
Tomato Fruit Worms
Also known as the corn earworm, these pink, green or brown insects with light striping can grow to nearly 2 inches long. They are actually moth larvae that bore into tomato fruit to feed. Moths lay their eggs close to tomato stems with green fruit, and approximately a week later, you will have a tomato fruit worm problem.
Organic Garden Pest Control Solutions
Once you see any of these common and frustrating tomato pests on your plants, you’ll want to take immediate action. For starters, spray the affected areas with a strong stream of water to dislodge these critters. If you spray several days consecutively, you can eliminate multiple generations of these quickly multiplying pests. Once you’ve done that, you’ll also want to employ any of the following organic pest control methods:
- Hand-picking – throw on a pair of gardening gloves and fill a large can with warm, soapy water. Then simply pluck the little “darlings” off your plants and drop them into the can.
- Weeding – keep the areas around your plants free from weeds and other garden debris as this eliminates a favorite habitat and hiding place for many garden pests.
- Organic insecticidal soap – mix with water to create a 2 to 3% solution and apply directly to common tomato pests for best results.
- Neem oil – this organic, plant-based oil is very effective against aphids, stink bugs, and tomato fruit worms. You can find it in many garden centers or order it online. Apply according to package directions for the best results.
- Beneficial insects – introduce beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, praying mantis, and lacewings (all available for order online) to your garden and let them do what they do best.
Garden pests are an inevitable fact of life for tomato gardeners. However, with a little education and the right resources, you’ll be able to protect your hard work so you can relax and enjoy the fruits of your labors.