Tomatoes are the most common vegetable grown in our gardens. There are home grown tomatoes, hydroponic tomatoes, green house tomatoes, container grown tomatoes, and even to-matoes grown upside down. After deciding on the right place (full sun), right time (after danger of frost) and right varieties (so many to choose) you’ll still need to consider many of these tips when growing the prized vegetables.
Planting- 1) Rotate your planting area within your garden. Don’t plant more than twice in the same spot.
2) Plant deep. Put the transplants in the ground so the stem is covered up to the first leaves.
Watering- 3) Consistent soil moisture is a big step toward having healthy toma-toes. Too much can suffocate the plant, too little can stress the plant allowing other problems to show up.
4) Avoid overhead watering, if possible. Soaker hoses put water where it’s needed. One or two inches of water per week are about right.
Mulching- 5) Use of organic mulch help prevent weeds, insulate the soil tem-perature, conserves moisture, and helps the soil as it breaks down.
6) Dark plastic mulch help heat up the soil, an advantage in early planting. Reflective plastic mulch helps with some insect damage prevention.
Fertilizing- 7) Ideally, you should add fertilizer to your soil 2 weeks before planting. Apply 6-8 pounds of 8-24-24 per 100 ft. of row. Too much nitrogen will cause deep green leaves, but no tomatoes.
8) After the first fruit sets, add calcium nitrate at 3 pounds per 100 ft. of row as a side dressing. A tomato spike, as a slow release, is another alternative.
Staking - 9) Use a trellis system for tomatoes in a row. Support the tomatoes at planting or before they reach 12 inches in height.
10) For individual plants, consider cages or stakes. Use metal stakes with loose ties.
Growing tomatoes is one of the true joys of the vegetable gardener. Following these tips can provide some tasty rewards.
For more information on tomatoes and other vegetables got to www.lsuagcenter.com
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture