If you are looking to grow tomatoes in your garden, then you are in the right place. We are about to share some tomato growing secrets!
When you are a beginner home gardener, Tomatoes are one of the first vegetables that come to mind, and why not.
It is after all one of the most important ingredients in popular recipes like Lasagnas, Marinara Sauce, or even a burger, and a sandwich.
But if you have been growing tomatoes, you know it is easier said than done. Most likely, you aren’t getting a big yield as expected.
Don’t worry; experts at YardSurfer have you covered. We listed some of the biggest kept tomato growing secrets for big yields (growing tomatoes is about to get a whole lot easier).
Let’s dig right into them.
Tomato Growing Secrets for Big Yields
1: Keep an eye on the soil’s PH
Have you ever worried about your soil’s PH and taken steps to measure it? I guess not. And that is one of the biggest mistakes beginner home gardeners make, especially when it comes to tomatoes.
The perfect soil for tomatoes has a PH between 6.2 and 6.5. But how does that help?
At this PH level, the roots can better absorb a variety of nutrients that help with the growth, in turn, ensuring higher yield.
Testing the PH is easy. All you need is a soil testing kit that will have all the instructions at the back. For soil with high levels of Magnesium, Calcitic Lime is the solution, whereas for low magnesium levels, go with Dolomitic Lime.
On the other hand, to lower PH levels I’ll suggest you add elemental sulfur or aluminum sulfate.
2: Keep the soil warm
In case you didn’t know, tomatoes are summer plants and do not handle winters well. So If you haven’t yet planted your tomatoes, consider warming up the soil first as it promotes better root growth.
Warming it up takes about 14-15 days as you will have to leave the soil resting under a layer of black plastic sheeting or biodegradable sheet mulch. These sheets work by absorbing the heat from the sun.
Once warmed up, you can remove the sheets and plant the seeds. But if you are willing to go the extra mile for greater yield, cut holes between them and plant the seeds through it. Yes, it is tough, but it will help control weed growth better.
Oh, and if you are worried about plastic, note that plastic sheets are allowed by the US National Organic Standards Program as long as you take them off at the end of the growing season.
3: Let the Bumblebees work their magic
Did you know tomato plants are self-pollinating? But only with a little push. Now, you may not like bees in your home garden but guess what? Bumblebees around your tomato plants is good news.
Why? Because their buzzing shakes the pollen off more efficiently than even winds would. This process is commonly known as Buzz Pollination.
But bumblebees don’t simply wander into any garden; you’ve got to lure them. And what better than food to do that, right?
Bumblebees nectar on a variety of flowers ranging from baptisia, blueberries, sunflowers to even lupines, so make sure you have a few of them in your garden.
4: Remove the bottom leaves
One problem with growing tomatoes is that the plant is prone to many diseases, which can result in a lower yield.
But you can cut down the risk by removing the bottom leaves in all the plants. This helps because these leaves are close to the soil.
But to what extent should you cut off the leaves?
I go about 10-11 inches up from the lowest point on the stem. You can even go higher if needed.
Since tomato plants are small, a scissor or pruner is all you need to get the job done.
If you notice fungal or another disease on the plant, remember to rub some disinfectant like Lysol on the tools as well as wash your hands after the cutting so it doesn’t spread to other plants in the garden.
5. Tomatoes need water, lots of water
Do you just sprinkle the top of the soil with water? If you want your tomato plant to grow efficiently, it needs water, a lot of water, enough to wet the soil at least 11-13-inches deep.
Not meeting the water requirements results in a problem experts refer to as Blossom end rot. This happens when there is a lack of calcium.
Wait, what does calcium have to do with water?
While the soil may have enough calcium, it travels throughout the plant via water and thus, low water means the plant is deprived of this important nutrient.
If you cannot have sprinklers installed, simply leave a hose around the plants for 5-10 minutes unless the soil has optimum moisture.
6. Maintain a distance
Physical distancing is the norm these days and remains true even for tomato plants. Not because your plants or the tomatoes are prone to Covid-19 but because they are large and require ample space to breathe.
Plus, it also allows for better air circulation. This, in turn, helps prevent fungus and mildew on the plant or tomatoes as they dry quickly after rain.
7: Provide them the right support
Apart from spacing, you also need to give the tomato plants solid support. The tomato plants have vines but these don’t hold strong against strong winds or even foot traffic.
So whether you put up cages, stakes, or trellises, make sure you do it before planting the seeds.
Setting up these support structures also gives the plant some breathing room and improves air circulation.
Plus, since the vines won’t intertwine, the entire plant gets better sunlight ensuring they ripen quickly and are less vulnerable to diseases caused by moisture.
8: Don’t forget about mulching
One of the most well-kept secrets of growing tomatoes is when to mulch. Mulching around the base of your plant as soon as you plant the seeds can be a game-changer (something everyone should do).
That is because mulch can increase the plant’s productivity and also improves overall health. But how?
Firstly, it prevents important nutrients from being washed away from the soil after heavy rains. It also helps maintain the right soil temperature. But more importantly, it keeps weed at bay. Weed, that feeds into the soil’s nutrients thus depriving your plant of it.
I’d recommend using organic mulch like straw compost, shredded leaves, or untreated grass clippings. The mulch layer should be about 2-4 inches thick and should be added before you water the new tomato plants.
Pro tip: You also need to consider soil temperature. Once the mulch is added the soil will stop heating so make sure you give the heating process at least 14-15 days.
9: Feed the tomatoes as you plant
Another secret you won’t easily find is feeding the tomatoes right at the time of planting. Yup, as you cover up the holes, feeding the plant provides an instant boost. But what should you feed it with?
Well, you already know your plant needs calcium, and what better for calcium than eggs, right? 2 other powerful sources of nutrients for the plants are worm castings (1 cup) and ground coffee (2-3 teaspoons).
Mix these up along with some of the dug up soil and compost and voila, your plants will be primed for a bigger yield right from the get-go.
One of the reasons this combination works so well is because the nutrients are released over a prolonged period (1-2 weeks). Plus, the ingredients are great combatants of black rot and blossom-end rot.
10: Plant the tomato seeds deep into the soil
I mentioned you dig a hole 10-inches deep above. But you can go even deeper at 12 or 13-inches.
That is because with tomato plants, it is important to plant them as deep as possible since deep-rooted plants do not dry up quickly.
They also remain strong in the face of strong winds and rains rather than getting uprooted easily (you do not want all your hard work undone in one night, right?).
More importantly, you’ll see additional roots grow off the stem. This ensures better delivery of nutrients throughout the plant, thus resulting in a better yield.
Yes, burying the seeds so deep means you might sacrifice some of the lower leaves, but hey, those additional roots will do the plant more good than you’d think.
Also, if you aren’t a seasoned gardener or do not think you can dig deep enough, I would recommend using a post hole digger as it creates wide, deep holes in minutes without you having to break your back.
Are you worried about pests? The solution is simple, interplant. Some plants that go well with tomatoes include carrots, dill, fennel, and sweet alyssum.
That is because these plants provide the nectar for the pests, thus keeping them away from the tomato plants while also being one of the best tomato growing secrets.
12: Changing the soil can help
Have you been planting your tomatoes in the same space over and over again? While that might sound like a great idea, it is anything but that.
By now, we know tomatoes are plants prone to diseases and require a lot of nutrients. Changing to a new soil can help with both.
It reduces the risk of new plants catching any existing disease from the soil but over the years, the old soil has been depleted of a lot of the nutrients that the new plant will now benefit from.
So if low yields have been a concern and you have been planting tomatoes for 3+ years in the same soil, you know where the problem may lie.
That’s it from us. Here are all the tomato growing secrets to grow big yields in our kitty.
While tomatoes need a little care, they are one of the most useful plants for any household and are worth the time and effort. And we are sure with these tips; you will have a higher yield than ever.
If you have any questions or have any of your tomato growing secrets that you’d like to share, drop in the comments section below.
Till then, happy gardening.