When it comes to planting tomatoes, a little help from the get-go can go a long way towards healthy plants. And a big harvest!
Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetable crops in the home garden. They can also be one of the most difficult to grow.
For some, it is fighting disease and pests. For others, it is getting tomatoes to flower and fruit.
But healthy tomato plants and a big tomato harvest all begin at planting time.
Start them off right, and good things happen!
Here is a look at 6 big secrets to get your crop off on the right foot.
6 Key Secrets To Planting Tomatoes
#1 Plant In A New Space
Rotating your tomato crop from year to year is must.
It is one of the best things you can do to ensure healthy, productive tomato plants.
Tomatoes are heavy feeders. They require large amounts of nitrogen, calcium and other nutrients for good growth.
But when grown in the same space year after year, those nutrients become depleted. The result: plants become less and less productive.
In addition, moving plants each season helps keep disease and pests at bay.
Problems with blight, blossom rot and mildew can all be reduced simply through crop rotation.
#2 Wait To Plant Until The Soil Is Warm
One of the biggest mistakes made when planting tomatoes is putting them in the ground too early.
Tomatoes are a warm weather crop. And they need warm soil to grow strong and healthy.
Cold soil and cool air temperatures can stunt tomato growth. In addition, it can also lead to early-season mildew and even rotting issues.
Don’t let a few early warm days fool you into planting too early.
Wait to plant tomatoes until nightly temperatures average in the mid 50’s.
#3 Put Tomato Supports In Before Planting
Whether using stakes or cages, supports need to go in the ground before planting.
Putting supports in after planting disrupts the roots of plants. And when it comes to tomatoes, that can cause big problems.
Driving stakes or cages into the soil can damage tender roots. And in the process, heavy foot traffic compacts the plant’s root zone.
And compaction causes two more issues.
First, as roots become trampled and compressed, they have trouble expanding and growing.
In addition, with the soil now compacted around them tightly, they struggle to take in nutrients from the soil.
Always remember, the less you step near the root zone of any vegetable plant, the better it will perform.
#4 Plant Them Deep!
As you can see, the more roots a tomato plant grows, the better.
By planting transplants deep, you allow all of those fuzzy hairs on the stems of plants to grow additional roots.
Roots that are needed to soak up moisture and nutrients to keep plants growing strong.
Dig planting holes deep enough to plant two-thirds of the tomato plant underground.
Snip off any leaves that will be buried before planting.
Finally, if the transplant’s roots are tangled and compacted, gently break them apart.
This allows the roots to expand quickly into the soil.
#5 Fill The Planting Hole With Nutrients
Now that you have dug a deep hole, its time to pack it full of nutrients.
As mentioned before, tomatoes are heavy feeders. Therefore, it is important to give them plenty of nutrients right from the start.
When planting tomatoes, add in generous amounts of compost, a few crushed egg shells, and a few tablespoons of worm castings and spent coffee grounds to each planting hole.
All of these will set the stage for your plants to have incredible nutrients right by the roots.
The compost helps retain moisture and build soil health. While the egg shells add valuable calcium as they break down.
And the worm castings and coffee grounds? They are both incredible sources of slow-release nitrogen for plants. Product Link : Worm Castings
#6 Mulch Those Plants!
This last step is so often overlooked, and yet so important!
Mulching plants helps to keeps out competing weeds. Weeds that steal the same nutrients your tomato plants need.
But even more, mulching insulates and regulates soil temperature for tomato plants.
It helps keep both soil temperature and moisture levels regulated on cool evenings, or hot days.
Use a 2 to 4″ thick mulching of loose straw or shredded leaves to mulch plants.
It will go a long way in helping to keep the garden tidy, and your plants producing!
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