Our veggie experts have come up with some basic tips for growing great tomatoes, whether you are growing one or two plants in containers or a whole garden full, and whether you are growing tiny “Tommy Toe” tomatoes or big beefsteaks! (Be sure to wait until after our “safe” date of May 10th before planting tomatoes.)
*Sun! Tomato plants need several hours of sunlight daily for the tastiest results.
*Support! Whether cages, trellis or stakes, most tomato plants will need to be supported as they grow. Put these in the ground at the same time you plant.
*Water! When planting, water the plant well and deeply as soon as they are in the ground to reduce shock to the roots. Plant at a depth where the lowest leaves on the plant just hit the top of the soil. Continue to water the plants consistently for the best results and be sure to water in morning, so the leaves dry quickly, thus reducing the chance of fungal diseases setting in.
*Retain Moisture! We recommend using a traditional mulch and Pine Bark Soil Conditioner. At season’s end when the soil is chopped up for next year, it will greatly improve the overall soil condition! You can also place some flat rocks next to each plant to help prevent water in the soil from evaporating.
*Practice Prevention! Since tomato plants can be susceptible to both insects and disease, be ready to prevent both. The key to using safer organic pesticides is to use them before a problem exists or at least, start immediately at the very first sign of insects. If you wait, you will have to resort to stronger insecticides to keep them at bay.
To prevent disease like Blossom End Rot (caused by a calcium shortage), use safe, organic Fertilome Yield Booster. To fight insects like aphids and white flies, be standing by with Fertilome Triple Action – a combination of Neem and Pyrethrin, both of which are very safe for edibles!
Traditional Heirloom varieties that always perform well in our area include Cherokee Purple, Brandywine Pink, Black Krim, Mortgage Lifter, and Old German.
New hybrid varieties are generally are more resistant to diseases and pests, and they include Champion, Mountain Fresh, Park’s Whopper, and Celebrity.
We want YOUR tomatoes to be the best in East Tennessee, so if you have any questions or problems or concerns, contact our native experts any time for advice about growing great tomatoes!