It’s a common scenario: One month, you carefully introduce tomato seeds or young tomato plants into well-prepared soil, and several weeks later, you’re delighted to see a bumper crop of juicy, healthy tomatoes ripe for the picking before your eyes.
Then, full of enthusiasm, you plant another crop…and it’s a complete failure. Why? Or to put it another way, what precautions must you take to increase your chances of consistently producing an abundant, sturdy, top grade batch of tomatoes – every time?
Put these tips into practice – and the results will speak for themselves!
1. A week or two before you start planting, warm the soil in advance by covering the area that will be planted with opaque plastic sheets – red or black probably works best. Since most tomato plants thrive best and ripen earliest in a warm environment, you’ll be able to enjoy the fruit (literally!) of your labors at an earlier date.
2. Make sure you plant your seedlings deep enough into the soil . As a general rule, a seedling is planted outdoors when about six leaves are developed, so plant deep enough so that four of these leaves are submerged below ground level. Small roots will then grow along the entire part of the stem that is underground. The expanded root system will
Make for a stronger, sturdier plant.
3. From time to time, remove the suckersthat develop where two branches of the plant join. They do not bear fruit and they take energy away from the rest of the plant.
4. Also prune the leaves so that the emerging tomatoes are adequately exposed to the sun. On the other hand, do not remove too many leaves. It is these leaves that create, through the process of photosynthesis, the sugars that impart to the maturing tomato fruit the distinctive flavor that we all love.
5. Water your plants regularly – but do not overdo it! (Every tomato plant is 95% water!) Knowing how much water to give your tomato plants and when to do it is important. Water is particularly critical in the stages when the plants are still developing. As a general rule, apply enough water to penetrate the soil to a depth of 12 to 18 inches. However, a small quantity of water daily is far better than occasionally giving a big amount all in one go. This is because an excess of water may cause the roots to crack or to rot. Once the roots start to ripen, it may be beneficial to limit the water, which will result in the sugars in the plant becoming more concentrated.