One of the great pleasures of summer is to pick a ripe tomato and eat it right off the vine. Tonkadale Greenhouse sells several varieties of tomatoes that thrive in our area.

Follow our tips to grow the best tomatoes throughout the season.

Wait for warmth

Wait to transplant tomatoes until the ground is warm and the night time temperatures are consistently above 45° F. Tomatoes thrive with heat and will stall if there is not enough heat buildup in the soil and air to promote growth.

Prevent disease before it starts

Select and plant disease-resistant varieties with good horticultural characteristics. Purchase disease-free transplants from a reliable source.

Symbols for
disease resistance
in tomatoes

V = Verticillium Wilt

F1 = Fusarium, Strain 1

F2 = Fusarium, Strain 2

N = Nematodes

A = Alternaria

T = Tobacco Mosaic Virus

St = Gray Leaf Spot

SWV = Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus

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Maintain a disease control program throughout the growing season. Establish good cultural and sanitation practices, such as proper soil preparation, fertilizing and watering.

Bury your tomato plants

Bury tomato plants deeper than they come in the pot.  All the way up to a few top leaves is the best. Tomatoes are able to develop roots all along their stems. You can either dig a deeper hole or simply dig a shallow tunnel and lay the plant sideways if you happen to be late and have to buy the curvy ones. Tomato plants will be sturdier if you bury the stems.

Water from below and water consistently

tonkadale-vegetablesWater deeply and regularly while tomato plants are developing. Irregular watering, such as missing a week and trying to make up for it, leads to blossom end rot and cracking.

Once fruit begins to ripen, reducing the amount of water will coax the plant into concentrating its sugars.  But don’t withhold so much water that the plants wilt and become stressed, or they will drop their blossoms and possibly their fruit.

Water from the base of the plant to prevent spreading diseases through water droplets. This also helps to keep leaves dry and fungus free.

It’s best to water in the morning to allow leaves to dry out during the day. This practice prevents disease.

Mulch

Mulch after the ground has had a chance to warm up. Mulching conserves water and prevents soil-born diseases from splashing up on the plants. If you put down mulch too early, it will shade and therefore cool the soil.

Mulch with materials such as newspaper, plastic or wood chips.

Remove bottom leaves

Once the tomato plants are about 3 feet tall, remove the leaves from the bottom 12 inches of stem. These are usually the first leaves to develop fungus problems. They get the least amount of sun and are susceptible to soil-borne pathogens.

Remove suckers

Pinch and remove suckers that develop in the joint of two branches. Suckers will not bear fruit and take energy away from fruit set. You can thin leaves to allow the sun to reach the ripening fruit, but keep in mind that it’s the leaves that are photosynthesizing and creating the sugars that give flavor to your tomatoes.

Fruit set – determinate vs. indeterminate varieties

Determinate or bush-type tomatoes reach a fixed height and set and ripen fruit all at once. These types of tomatoes are good for canning or making sauce and they have high yields during a short period of time.

Pruning and removing suckers from determinate tomatoes is not recommended. Staking or caging is still recommended as concentrated fruit set can add considerable weight to the branches.

Indeterminate or vining varieties continue to grow and produce tomatoes throughout the growing season and will produce until the first hard frost. Indeterminate tomatoes are good for eating throughout the season.

Indeterminate tomato plants will require substantial staking or caging to support what can become a large, heavy plant. Each plant can grow to be 6 to 10 feet tall.

If you have any questions or need assistance, please call our gardening experts at Tonkadale. We’ll be happy to assist you.