Wednesday, 22 May 2013

How to Grow Great Tomatoes ... and No Blight

Growing Great Tomatoes ....

 
I have written several articles about growing tomatoes, common issues/problems and how to avoid them or deal with them, and some planting how-to's.. Also, how to keep them warm in a cool June!
 
 

But... on to this month's blurb on how to grow fabulous tomatoes!

Amend the bed with compost.

Lay plastic or newspapers or paper weed barrier onto the beds, which helps to warm the soil, and also keeps the weeds away. Most importantly though, it prevents soil and diseases from splashing up onto the foliage when you water.
You can also use landscape fabric, the black keeps the soil warm, soaks up the sun, and keeps the splashes away. This is the only place I recommend using landscape fabric, ever!



Cut holes into the barrier for your tomato plants, at a minimum of 18 inches apart.

Plant the tomatoes on the edges or sides of the beds for good air flow. If you have two or more rows, place the rows 3 or 4 feet apart, again, for good air slow.


This photo shows an heirloom that has grown up and spilled over the sides of the tomato cage... one of the larger and sturdier ones.. if you use a small, flimsy one, you will have problems keeping it upright.

Stake or string up the indeterminate plants. Or use tall cages made out of  fencing wire.
Your typical tomato cages should only be used if you are planting bush tomatoes (determinate types), and even then,I highly recommend the taller, stronger ones, not the wee ones that bend and warp super easily!


Remove the bottom branches of the tomato plant, to prevent disease, about 12 inches up off the ground.

Feed every two weeks with a foliar spray of Liquid Seaweed. Or alternate feedings with Epsom Salt foliar spray.
Alfalfa tea, compost tea or manure tea are also great food for your tomatoes.

Prune off any suckers as they grow, I go around once a week and remove any. You would be surprised at how quickly they grow new ones.
Removing suckers keeps your tomatoes contained and makes for bigger and better fruits. If you leave all the suckers on, you will have lots of fruit, but they will be small, and you will have an out of control tomato plant ;)

Keep removing any foliage, leaves, or branches, as they yellow. Is okay to have a good portion of the bottom of your vining tomato bare of foliage, is better that they are gone rather than risk that they are harbouring disease or bugs.

Notice that all of the tomatoes have had the bottom foliage removed... as it yellows, I take it off.