Growing Tomatoes: 10 Useful Tips
With a sweet, juicy taste, perfect to eat raw or ideal for preparing homemade sauces and preserves: tomatoes are vegetables that can never be missing in the kitchen. And not even inside the vegetable garden.
Growing them is not so difficult, you just need to choose the right variety based on the space we have available and … follow these small but important tricks we are talking about today!
Let’s start immediately from the negative side, so the tooth and the pain: unfortunately there are few vegetables that are prone to various problems such as tomatoes. But nothing is impossible: just choose the best varieties, start the plants in the right way and check them regularly to check for the presence, or not, of any problems.
Here are some useful tips on growing tomatoes, essential to ensure healthy, beautiful and juicy tomatoes!
1. Space for tomatoes!
Tomato seedlings need a lot of space to branch out. Yes, this means thinning the seedlings on a large surface, without sacrificing them for example inside a small pot. Overcrowded conditions inhibit their growth, which stresses them and makes them more vulnerable to disease later on.
That’s why it would be better to grow tomatoes in the open ground, in the vegetable garden or in the garden, and not inside the pot, even if it all depends on the species. If your only possibility is to grow in pots, on the balcony of your home, the advice is to choose small species, which have plants that can grow well even in a somewhat sacrificed space like a pot.
2. A lot, a lot of light
Tomato seedlings need strong and direct light. The days are short during the winter, so even placing plants near a sunny window, if grown indoors, may not provide them with enough natural light. Unless you are growing in a greenhouse, the best option is to use some kind of artificial lighting for 14-18 hours a day.
To ensure that tomato plants grow sturdy and not slender, turn up the lights (or turn down the plants) as the seedlings grow. When you are ready to plant the tomatoes outside, choose the sunniest part of the garden as the ideal location.
3. Good air circulation
Tomato plants need to move and swing naturally to develop strong stems. This naturally occurs outdoors, but if you start growing seedlings indoors, you will need to provide some type of air circulation.
Create even artificial breeze conditions by turning on a fan for five to ten minutes, twice a day; a small amount of time that will make a big difference. Another viable option is to ruffle the tomato plants by gently rubbing the hand back and forth on their tops for a few minutes, several times a day.
4. The ground
Tomatoes love the heat. They won’t really start growing until the soil and air temperatures are hot. You can speed up these conditions in the soil by covering the planting area with black plastic a few weeks before planting: those extra degrees of soil heat will result in good and healthy tomatoes. You can lift the plastic even before planting, but experts claim that this sort of artificial mulch has the added benefit of increasing the yield of the tomato.
5. The depth
Tomato plants need to be planted deep. If planted in this way, tomatoes are able to develop healthy and strong roots. And the more roots there are, the stronger the plant will be. You can dig a deep hole and fix the plant even if it seems to hang from the side; it will straighten up quickly and on its own and grow towards the sun.
If you are not going to leave the plastic on the ground, then opt for the mulch until the soil has had a chance to warm up. Although mulching conserves water and prevents soil and bacteria from attacking plants, if you apply it too early, however, it will shade and cool the soil. And since tomatoes love heat, let the sun warm the soil in spring. When temperatures have stabilized and are warm, both day and night, a layer of mulch can be added to retain moisture.
7. Removal of the lower leaves
When your tomato plants have reached a height of about 3 feet, remove the leaves that are at the bottom. These are the oldest leaves and are usually the first leaves to develop problems of fungi, bacteria, and parasites.
As the plants fill, the lower leaves get a minimal amount of sun and airflow, and since these leaves are close to the ground, the pathogens in the soil can easily attack them. Their removal helps prevent disease outbreaks and helps keep the plant healthy and strong.
Pruning and removing the dry branches that form between the various branches is very important: those branches will not bear fruit and will take away vital energy from the plant. But in any case, go easy on pruning the rest of the plant and always follow the instructions for the species you have decided to grow.
9. The watering
Water deeply and regularly as the fruit is developing. Irregular irrigation leads to calcium deficiencies and the splitting of the plant. The rule is to guarantee the plants water at least once a week, but during the hot and dry periods, it is good to water even two or three times a week.
If the plants start to look wilted for most of the day, don’t hesitate and give them a drink. After the tomatoes start to ripen, you can also slow down with watering. Reducing the water will force the plant to concentrate its sugars, and the flavor of the tomatoes will also be better.
10. Facilitating the ripening of tomatoes
The ripening of tomatoes is practically at the mercy of time, but sometimes we can help things. Pinching the tips of the main stems in early summer will encourage the most profitable tomatoes to start blooming and ripening.
Some tomatoes love to grow high before they start to bear fruit, so don’t be alarmed if you see that tomato plants aren’t blooming for their first month. Pinching is also a useful trick in late summer when you want the last tomatoes to ripen soon.