Tomatoes are one of the most popular summertime crops in gardens all over the world. And like any crop, they’ve got their own traits and quirks that can make them a real challenge to grow into the beautiful, succulent red beauty you want. Today, we’re going to share a few tips that any gardener can apply to their tomato patch to get better results.
Stake Your Plants!
Tomatoes should always be kept caged or staked to help them grow tall and strong. Those tomatoes can get heavy, after all, and you don’t want the stalks to weaken and sag. You can also use a trellis, which not only gives your plants a lot of support, but can add a very nice aesthetic touch to your garden.
Give Them Sun, Give Them Space
Tomatoes need lots of room to stretch out, and they love to do it while basking in the sun. Make sure your crops get 8+ hours of sunlight per day, and are planted 3-4 feet apart from one another in each direction. Planting your tomatoes too close together will limit their air circulation. Eventually, you run the risk of the plants growing into each other. Save yourself the hassle and give your crops the space they need to thrive.
Check out our other column for more advice on how to beat the summer heat in your garden.
Water Healthily, but Not Too Often
Tomatoes are a hardy plant that can withstand the intense summertime heat. While they need water just like any other crop, too much water can encourage disease. For this reason, it’s also recommended that you water your tomato plants as early as possible in the day. This way, they can dry quickly. Water directly on the roots, which should be buried deeply (about as deep as the first leaf).
To Sucker or Not to Sucker?
What’s a sucker?
If you look really closely at the stalks of your tomato plants, you’ll see white spines growing all over them. These suckers will eventually grow larger, and when left to grow, the tomatoes will wind up being a bit larger.
However, many gardeners prefer to strip the suckers off the plant, which you can do simply by pinching them off with your fingers. The result is an overall greater yield of tomatoes, if only a bit smaller in size than those grown from an untouched plant. Ultimately, suckering is a matter of preference; if you want to grow the plumpest and most impressive tomatoes on the block, don’t bother suckering your plant. But, if you want more tomatoes than your family can eat, make sure to strip those sucker off.
Rotate Your Tomatoes
No, this doesn’t mean spinning your tomatoes around. The idea is to move your tomato crop to a different part of your garden from year to year. This helps your soil stay as rich and fresh as possible, and avoids the buildup of disease-causing bacteria that can harm your plants.
The hard part is ensuring that your crops are always in an optimal position to get lots of sunlight, and still have plenty of space between them. If you simply can’t rotate your crops to a different location, then you need to very diligently replenish your soil each year before planting new tomatoes.
Gardening is never easy, but these tips should make your tomato crops a little bit more manageable. For more great tips, check out our blog and our featured products brought to you by Garden Kneelers Club.