Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gardening: Tips to Better, Healthier Tomato Plants

Nothing screams vegetable garden more than a row of nice tomato plants. To me tomatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. With a little know how, basic gardening skills and the tips I am about to give you, you should have no troubles either.

Go “Green” House that is
If you are looking to start your tomato plants by seed before your growing season begins, look towards a portable plastic greenhouse for best results. You can find them in any home or garden center for just a couple of dollars. They replicate the greenhouse affect on plants and allow for better germination. Once they come up they are ready to be moved outside.

Now that you are ready to plant the tomato plants, regardless of whether you started them from seed or you bought them already up and ready to go, tomato plants need their space. I have my best success when they are at least 6 inches or more apart. Of course if space is limited you can go down to 4 but I would not go any less than that. The last thing you want is for the roots of your tomato plants to be fighting for space and nutrients.

Tomatoes love sun, especially the heat also. I have had great success planting my tomatoes in direct sunlight and when the temperatures warm up in the summertime there seems to be no end to the production. Find a nice sunny spot in your garden so your tomatoes will flourish.

Deep Planting
When it comes to bury your plants, you will want to plant them up to the first set of leaves. Tomatoes have deep rooting systems and the deeper they can get the better your plant will be.

I like to keep my tomato plants upright throughout the season. This will require the use of either a tomato cage or driving a stake in the ground next to the tomato plant that measures at least 4 feet out of the ground and sits no closer than two inches to the plant. If going the cage route you simple plant the tomato plant, and place the cage overtop. As the season progresses and your tomato plant gets larger just readjust the plant so it is growing up through the center of the cage and not out of one of the sides. If you are using the stake option, you will want to pound the stake into the ground first (I recommend no less than one foot deep), then plant your tomato plant. When the plants get large enough and start to look like they are falling over you should gently tie them to the stake with some soft cloth and readjust throughout the season as necessary. Both options are fine and it is really a matter of preference.

Once your tomato plants reach near 3 foot tall it is time to give them a good pruning. You should remove all of the bottom most layer of leaves to avoid any fungus problems that can occur. Remove any growth that occurs in the elbows or v shaped areas of the plant branches and the stem. They will not produce any tomatoes and are just using up valuable energy that could go towards fruit production.

You should be watering all of your vegetables with a deep root watering technique which is watering the plants for a good 45 minutes to an hour. The roots of the plants need to get strong and a great way to do that is with deep watering so they have to reach for those deep water pockets in your soil.

So there you have it, my seven tips for better tomato plants that you can use in your next gardening season. Once you have great tasting tomatoes you will wonder why you never tried these methods sooner.

About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person. It is a practical easy to follow book that teaches gardeners everything from composting techniques, aeration and frost conditions, to choosing the right tools and picking the right seeds.

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