Nothing says Summer quite like the fragrant smell and succulent flavors of the tomato. Friends, family, and clients have been asking about it for months and it’s almost here - tomato season. While getting our plants in the ground, we collected some basic tomato tips to share with you.
As with planting all seedlings, it’s important to start with healthy plants. Wherever you buy your tomato plants, check the seedlings for signs of pests or diseases: discolored foliage, spotted leaves, holes, and dried up branches are all symptoms of an unhealthy plant.
When you get your tomato seedling to your garden, it’s essential to find the right spot for it. Tomatoes thrive in full sun and they’re prone to diseases that occur in damp conditions, so good drainage and air flow are a must. Caging, staking, or tying up your tomato will help increase air flow around the plant and will expose fruits for easy harvest.
Tomatoes are one of the only crops that should be planted deep. Snapping off any leaves that might get buried, plant up to ⅓ of the tomato stem. New roots will grow along the buried stem and will provide a more robust root system for feeding and support.
Because tomatoes are so sensitive to damp conditions, observing proper watering technique is especially important. Avoid overhead watering by watering the base of the plant rather than the leaves. It’s best to water in the morning so that any excess moisture can evaporate during the day rather than sitting on the plant overnight.
Once your tomato is established, it will start to grow fast. Pruning will keep growth in check, encourage airflow, and produce a more flavorful crop. When pruning tomatoes, look in the joints of the main stem and primary branches for side growth. These branches are called “suckers” and can be removed with pruners or shears.
Harvest tomatoes when they are plump but have some give and when their color has fully changed. They should come off of the vine easily with a twist. Store deep ridged heirloom varieties upside down to discourage pooling moisture and rot.