In order to grow good tomatoes that are free from disease, have a good plump juicy body and are plentiful on the vine there are 3 key aspects you need to take care of to get the best from your plants. It involves a little forethought and planning on your part but the results will make it well worth the effort. So exactly what do tomatoes need to grow?
First, as they say about real estate, its location, location, location, tomato plants are true sun worshipers and need to be in the sun for at least 6 hours a day in order to provide plenty of fruit on the vine.
Second, they need to get the correct nutrients to flourish and the place they get them from is the soil helped along by the correct watering program. If you are planting the tomatoes in the garden it is essential that the ground is properly prepared for planting with plenty of compost and or fertiliser dug into the soil to aid growth. Once planted they should be revisited fairly frequently with some sort of feed and I would recommend this is done at least once a week, especially if you notice that your plants are flagging a bit. You can either purchase specialist tomato feed (don’t forget to refer to their instructions) or you can use your left over ground coffee and place this around the base of the plants. Do this and before you know it you will have lots of lovely fresh tasting tomatoes.
Do not underestimate just how thirsty your tomato plants are, when I mentioned the correct watering program, this means never allowing your plants to dry out, especially important if they are in pots or a grow bag and also try not to shock them with cold water. If you can, store buckets of water next to the plants so that the water reaches ambient temperature then when you need to, transfer the water into a watering can with a rose fitted so that the water can be sprinkled on gently. Ideally you will be watering like this once or twice a day, remembering that tomatoes also don’t like to be in totally saturated soil.
If that all sounds a bit labour intensive, you could install a drip feed watering system, there are special systems you can purchase for this task or you could make up your own system. One way is to bury plastic water bottles between the plants that have been pierced around the circumference and through the bottoms, the tops are left above the level of the soil so that they can be re-filled. Its a rough and ready but very effective way of ensuring the soil doesn’t dry out, as long as you remember to top the bottles up of course. Also remember that when you do water there has to be enough for a good deep soak, too little and you will encourage your roots to the surface.
Third is the proper support of the plant, they need to be off the ground and up in the air. Leaving shoots running across the ground will leave them open to fungal attack and disease. A lot of people take care to prune their plants, removing any growth below the flowering fronds. Make sure that you use either a suitable and strong enough stake or you can use tomato cage whichever is your preference and do it while the plants are still young so that the roots are not disturbed at a later time.
This is the best way to grow tomatoes that I know, obviously there are some common sense actions you need to take as well to maintain your plants in a healthy condition, such as removing dead or dried out leaves and getting rid of pests, but essentially pay attention to these 3 key aspects and you will be well on the way to plenty of juicy fresh tomatoes.