Around the Yard
Tips for Growing Tomatoes
By: Danny Lipford
Tomatoes are one the most popular fruits grown by homeowners, but many of us aren’t really sure what the best method is to insure we have healthy plants and good fruit. Here are some tips for growing tomatoes:
- First, protect the plants from cutworms. These creatures gnaw at the base of the stem, so wrap a two-inch wide strip of aluminum foil around the stem before you plant and let it extend an inch or so into the soil.
- If you fertilize, choose one that has higher second and third number. Chemical fertilizers have a three number code that describes the percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in them. The two latter elements control fruit production, disease resistance, stem strength, color and taste.
- Finally, water consistently. Inconsistent watering may cause the fruit to crack or split.
Danny Lipford: Barbara when I plant tomatoes, they look really good just like this but only for a couple of weeks and boom, they keel right over.
Barbara: Oh Danny, you know what you’ve got is tomato cutworms. So what you need to do when you plant them is just get some tin foil and cut a strip 2″ wide, wrap it around the stem, and make sure you go about an inch into the soil and your plant should grow beautifully.
Danny Lipford: Okay what about fertilizer, I mean all those kinds of different fertilizer, what’s kind do I need to buy to take care of my tomatoes.
Barbara: You know all the fertilizers have three numbers. The first number, which is nitrogen, makes everything grow incredibly leafy huge leaves; but it’s the second two numbers which encourage the flowers and the roots so that’s what you want, you want those last two numbers to be much, much higher than the first number and if you can just remember that, that will help you with all of your tomato plants.
Danny Lipford: What about watering? Do they like a lot of water, a little water, no water, what’s best for them?
Barbara: Like anything they need water, but for tomatoes especially it’s critical to give them consistent water because what will happen is that if they get very thirsty and then you give them consistant water, if not, you’ll see the fruit actually swells and then split and that’s really disappointing. So just try and give them consistent water and give them a little bit of fertilizer and you have tomatoes all summer long.