Your Year Around Flower and Garden Guide
Tomato Gardening | Growing Tomatoes | Tomato Tending

Tending Tomatoes

Tomatoes do well in temperatures of 55 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. When weather forecasts are cool, be sure to cover your plants or bring potted plants indoors.

Regular pruning of your tomato plant helps to produce larger and more abundant fruit. Between the central stalk and a main branch, you'll see smaller branches growing in a "V". These are "suckers". Nipping the suckers helps to control the size of your tomato and helps the plant to focus on producing strong, healthy fruit as well.

Tomatoes like their space! Keep garden tomato plants as weed free as possible.

tomato-harvestTo promote large fruits, keep your tomatoes well-watered. During hot, dry spells thoroughly water your plants once a week. Harvesting tomatoes is one of the easiest parts of growing tomatoes. To hasten ripening at harvest time, pinch stems back close to the fruit. Either let them ripen on the vine or pick them when they begin to shed their green color for their mature color (depending on variety, orange, yellow, red).

Yet, it's common to end up with at least a few green tomatoes at season's end. Green tomatoes that are showing a hint of orange or yellow will ripen quickly when placed in a brown paper bag with an apple or a pear or you can usually ripen tomatoes on a sunny windowsill if they show even a tinge of color change. Many recipes such as green tomato relishes, green tomato preserves, and fried green tomatoes also call for unripe tomatoes.

Tomato Tips

Although much of growing tomatoes depends on the cultivar you plant, there are some general tomato growing tips that are useful in nipping many tomato growing problems in the bud!

  1. When growing large variety tomatoes such as big boy, remember that these heavy fruits will need support as well as the support for tomato vines offered by tomato cages and garden stakes. Make slings from discarded panty hose or old bras to hold them up and help keep them attached to the vine.
  2. Never refrigerate your tomatoes. As mentioned earlier, tomatoes are a tropical plant and lose their flavor under cold conditions.
  3. Did your tomato split around the top? You probably over watered it, but don't worry. It will still be flavorful and very juicy! Remember, a good tomato is more than just a pretty face!
  4. Find at least two spots in your garden for tomato plants and rotate plantings between the two from year to year to help keep your tomato garden disease free every year.
  5. Although it's true that the tomato plant often is a favorite victim of parasitic insects and plant viruses, some tomato disease is more prevalent in one cultivar than another. When researching a specific problem, look to the variety of tomato that has the disease.