Tips for Successful Tomato Planting

May 7, 2017 lawanda Newspaper Columns

Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable garden plan and one of the easiest.to grow.  Even people who don’t have a dedicated vegetable garden often plant a tomato or two in flower beds or containers. 

      When buying young tomato plants, look for sturdy plants with healthy green leaves.  Avoid leggy plants and those with yellowed or spotted leaves. 

      Tomato plants are either determinate or indeterminate.  Determinate plant tomatoes ripen all at once and then no more tomatoes are formed.  If you are planning on canning, you want determinate plants.  Indeterminate plants continue growing and producing throughout the season.  Check the tag or ask at the nursery to make sure you purchase the right tomato for your planned use.

      The plant tags might have letters like V, F, N, T, A, St., and TSWV on them.  These are various diseases to which that variety of tomato has been bred to be resistant.  Don’t avoid buying tomatoes without these letters though.  Some of the best tasting tomatoes haven’t been bred for disease resistance and with a bit of care you can avoid disease problems.

      When you get the plants home, give them a good watering.  Put them in a protected spot outdoors and take a week or two to gradually introduce them to the sun and wind by exposing them to both for just a few minutes at first and working up to several hours at a time.  Set a timer if you think you might forget to move them out of the sun.

      Don’t plant too early!  Wait until mid-May and then take a look at the long-range forecast to make sure the weather will be staying warm.  Even then, have a plan in place to protect the plants from a late frost, perhaps by covering them with five-gallon buckets or wrapping old curtains or blankets around their supports.

      On planting day, dig a hole deeper than the tomato sits in its nursery pot.  Use your thumbnail to snap off several of the lower leaves, even almost all the way up to just below the canopy of leaves at the top of the plant.  Throw some crushed eggshells or powdered milk in the hole to provide calcium along with some compost if you have it.  Remove the tomato plant from its pot and place it deep in the hole.  Roots will form at each below-ground stem node to help support the plant. 

      Fill the hole with soil and firm it around the plant.  Water well and place a sturdy tomato cage or other support around the plant immediately.  Place mulch such as leaves, straw, or pine needles around the plant, not allowing it to touch the stem.  Spread it out from the stem as far as you think the plant will spread . . . and then a little further because you’ll probably underestimate!  Mulch protects the plant from bacterial, fungal and viral diseases that splash up from the soil, keeps soil moist, and shields roots from soil temperature fluctuations.

Fruits and vegetablesGardening techniques and tools


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