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Tomato Growing Guide

Tomato Tips

Select a tomato for three reasons:
Time of planting: If you are planting early, you will need an earlier tomato, one that doesn’t mind the cooler temperatures. If you are planning on a late harvest, plant a more heat tolerant variety.
Growing method: Do you want to stake or just grow the plant as a bush?
Variety: What types of tomatoes do you enjoy? What types are you curious about?

A minimum of 6 hours is good. The sun really helps to bring out the flavor in the tomato when it is harvested.

You will want to harden off the plants before planting. If you purchase them here at Volante’s in late May, chances are we have done this process already. Place the plants deep in the ground, as roots will grow from the stalk to help stabilize the plant while it grows.

Water deeply and evenly, but try not to water the foliage. If the foliage is wet, try to avoid picking or pruning. A deep watering promotes deep rooting.

Tomatoes enjoy fertilization, especially those which contain calcium. Products such as Tomato Tone are good for side dressing throughout the summer. If the plant appears to be yellowing, it is probably lacking nitrogen. Be careful not to apply too much nitrogen before the blossoms are present, or you will get all leaf and no fruit.

For most varieties (indeterminate) you will need to keep a weekly eye on pruning. Break off the suckers that form in between the main stalk and the leafy branches of the plant. For the other types (determinate) like Patio Hybrid, you will only need to do this process once or twice while the plants are small.

Stems need help to support the heavy fruit. Use 6 foot stakes and fix firmly in soil at planting to prevent root damage in growing plants. As the plant grows, secure it to the stake with soft ties at 12 inch intervals.

Common Problems:
Blossom End Rot: A large dark brown spot will develop on the bottom of the tomato as it is about to ripen. Once the spot appears, there is nothing you can do. However, you should pick the tomato off so that the plant can use its’ resources for the healthy remaining fruit.
Causes: Calcium Deficiency
Water more evenly and deeply
Work in a calcium based fertilizer
Make sure pH is correct, a very acid pH will affect the plant’s ability to take calcium.
Tomato Hornworm: A greenish black work with a distinctive point on its’ head. They are around 4” long, and relatively easy to find. They feed quickly and ferociously on the foliage of the plant.
Hand pick the worms off of the plants, there should not be an overwhelming amount, and they should be easy to find.
Fall tillage will help destroy the pupae for next year.

Aphids: Small bugs, either green or black, will feed on the stems of the plant, usually on the new growth.
Flea Beetles: Small jumping insects about 1/10” long.
Colorado Potato Beetles: Small bugs with yellow and black striped abdomen, will strip the plant of foliage.
Leafhoppers and Disease Transmission: Small long green bugs, which transmit common diseases like Curly Top Virus.
Solution: Keep garden weed free, plant later to avoid infestation, try to get a small amount of shade for the plants during the day to make the plant less desirable to the leaf hoppers.

Blossom Drop: If temperatures are below 50 at night, you are running the risk of losing any blossoms that have set on the plant. Don’t worry, more blossoms will come and your plant will still produce, but it will be a later harvest. If you want to plant early and you have a way to cover them on cold nights, then you can avert this problem. You can also wait until the temperature rises and try one of the earlier varieties, like Early Girl, and follow it with a later crop of a longer maturing variety. Blossom drop could also be caused by a magnesium deficiency.

Tomato Wilt: Most non-heirloom tomatoes are blight, wilt and nematode resistant, and therefore easier to manage.

Splitting: Too much water

Sun Scald: Yellow spots on the fruits. Usually caused by too much sun exposure, try to prune less aggressively or plant more sun tolerant varieties.

Early or Late Blight: Leaves develop large brown spots. Not much you can do other than treat with chemical. Try to mulch around the plant to prevent splashing and spreading in the future. It may be wise to remove the affected plant, as to avoid spreading.


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