Tomato Growing Tips
When thinking about homegrown produce, you can't quite go past the humble Tomato! Tomatoes are one of the most satisfying crops to grow, providing an abundance of fruit in very little space. Nothing beats the taste of a homegrown tomato, its intense flavor undoubtedly surpasses anything you can find on your supermarket shelf.
While extremely rewarding, tomato growing is not without it's challenges and the tomato is definitely not at the top of the easy to grow list! Tomatoes are prone to an array of pests and diseases which at times, can be quite difficult to manage.
The good news is, there are some simple steps that you can follow in order to give your tomato plants the best possible start and help prevent some of these issues from arising.
Tomato Growing Tips:
1. Plant tomatoes in a full sun position. Tomatoes require a minimum of 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily.
2. Prepare the soil well. Tomatoes require well draining soil that has been enriched with good quality compost.
3. Mulch the soil around your plants to prevent the splash back of wet soil onto the leaves. This will prevent soil borne diseases from colonizing on your plants.
4. Provide adequate support for your tomato plants. There are many methods for supporting the weight of a heavy tomato crop, including stakes and tomato cages. If using stakes, be sure to place them in the ground at the time of planting, so not to damage the root system.
5. Ensure good airflow between plants. Trim off any overlapping leaves as they may trap moisture and lead to diseases such as blight and powdery mildew.
6. Water tomato plants regularly and deeply. Many issues can arise from inconsistent watering.
7. Cut off any leaves that are close to the ground, this is another way of preventing soil borne diseases.
8. Take extra precaution. If you would like an additional preventative method against blight and powdery mildew, you can spray your plants fortnightly with a Baking Soda solution. Baking Soda works by creating an alkaline environment, so that powdery mildew and blight cannot colonize on the surface of the leaves.
How to apply:
1. Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 gallon of water.
2. Mix in 3 tablespoons of cooking oil of your choice. This helps the spray stick to the leaves.
3. Mix in a few drops of mild dish soap to help emulsify everything. It is important to use a gentle dish soap so that you don't burn your plants or harm the fragile soil life.
4. Spray the entire plant until the leaves are dripping, don't forget to spray the underside of the leaves.
Spray in the morning or evenings, as spraying in the heat of the day can harm your plants.
It's beneficial to do a spot test on a few leaves before spraying the entire plant. Do not spray newly germinated or newly transplanted seedlings.
If overused, baking soda sprays can harm your plants, causing significant damage to the leaves. Baking soda sprays can also have negative effects on dry or drought-stressed soil and should only be used in gardens that are watered on a regular basis.
Always do a patch test on your plants before spraying.
Happy Tomato Growing!