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There is nothing better than having fresh, homegrown tomatoes any time of the year. You just cannot replace the flavor of fresh tomatoes with store-bought varieties. It all starts with the proper tomato plant care.
Some people find it very easy to grow tomatoes in their garden. They always have healthy and fresh tomatoes, but not all of us have the right information or talent to do so.
In this article we’ll look at some of the mistakes to avoid when you plant tomatoes, to increase their size, flavor, and overall plant output.
Read on to learn more about how to plant tomato plants.
Mistake #1 – Forgetting to Harden Seedlings
Failing to harden tomato seedlings off is one of the common mistakes many people make. In fact, it is one of the most important things to ensure their survival.
The “hardening process” enables tomato plant seedlings to adapt to the changes in temperature or exposure to weather such as wind and rain. Here are some of the ways to help you in hardening the tomato seedlings for the growing season.
- Gradually Increase the seedling’s exposure to the natural environments about a month after germination.
- During the first days of exposure, keep plants out of direct sunlight and do not take them out in the cold. Expose them for a few hours and then take them back to their seedbed.
For the best results, make sure you expose the seedlings to these elements for seven or more days before transplanting tomato plants into the outside garden.
Exposing them to the sunlight, air-circulation, rain, and wind will harden them and make them ready for the outdoors.
Mistake #2 – Not Doing Anything About The Soil
Many new to gardening do not know the difference between soil and dirt. Dirt is just dirt and soil is everything to plants.
Good well-drained soil will feed your tomato crop, promoting healthy tomato plant growth. Well-aerated soil also promotes healthy plant growth.
Remember the best-tasting tomatoes, the plants grow in soil rich in nutrients and well amended with organic compost.
Mistake #3 – Planting Tomatoes Too Close
Some believe that planting lots of plants in a small area will increase the yields of tomatoes. However, this is not the case. When planting tomato seedlings close to each other, you stunt tomato plant growth, causing a drop in fruit production.
Also, since the plants are overcrowded, some of them will not reach the direct sunlight, which they need for optimal growth.
Lack of enough sunlight also makes the seedlings become the perfect breeding ground for fungal diseases and those that love the damp conditions.
- Powdery Mildew fungi
- Fusarium Wilt
- Verticillium Wilt
- Late Blight
- Leaf Spot
- Bacterial Spot
- Bacterial Canker
To ensure that the plants have adequate spacing, please follow this direction.
When planting tomatoes upright in tomato cages, it’s a good idea to give plants at least one and a half feet between them, although two feet is the ideal spacing.
The sprawling tomatoes will require about 3′-4′ feet spacing. It is critical to support plants so that they do not fall on the ground.
Mistake #4 – Planting the Wrong Tomato Varieties
After establishing the right spacing, you also need to make sure that you select the right type of tomatoes for the piece of land that you have. There are two main categories of tomato plants.
Determinate tomatoes only grow to achieve a certain size. These varieties of tomatoes can grow with or without support and do not require pruning. Determinate tomatoes put out all their fruits and then drop and die.
Indeterminate tomatoes will grow to attain the size you want them to. For this reason, they need more space and require you to provide some support from a tomato cage or a stake.
This type of tomatoes will put out fruits all season and sometimes until the first frost.
Picking the right type of tomatoes to plant in your garden will help you produce a healthy tomato crop throughout the season. The tomato variety also helps you to know the space required.
Mistake #5 – Planting Tomatoes in Shade
So, how much sun do tomato plants need?
Similar to other fruit-bearing plants, tomato plants grow best with about seven hours of sun per day.
When you plant seedlings in an area with shade, it will deprive the tomatoes of the sunlight they need thus having an impact on how your plant grows, the ability to set fruit and the tomato crop it produces.
Remember, fruit production requires a lot of energy. The main source of their energy is the sun. For this reason, make sure that the plants get enough sunlight every day.
Also, plants not receiving enough sun will produce a lot of foliage, and bear tiny fruits. As pretty as those leaves maybe, you cannot use them to flavor your food.
Mistake #6 – Not Pruning Your Tomato Plants
If you have plenty of space, we would advise you to go for the indeterminate tomato varieties. However, these plants will require pruning as part of their maintenance. Here are some of the reasons why you need to prune your plants. We like these hand pruners.
- Pruning tomatoes removes unnecessary leaves and suckers that make crowd an area and provides better air circulation. Remember, a crowded garden will make it easier for foliar diseases and pests to spread.
- The foliage on crowded plants dry much slower, encouraging a variety of tomato plant problems
- When you prune tomato plants, the nutrients are directed to fruit growth rather than in aiding the development of leaves.
When you do not prune, plants tend to produce smaller fruits. Also, the overgrowth can provide the perfect environment for tomato diseases and pests.
To avoid infecting other plants, make sure you sterilize your pruning shears after pruning a plant that has disease symptoms.
Mistake #7 – Not Ready For Early Blight
Early blight disease is a severe disease, and if not taken care of properly, it can make plants lose all their foliage. If you are not prepared to handle this problem, early blight spreads to the other plants very fast.
The cause of “early blight” comes from fungi that can overwinter in the soil. If you experienced the same problem the previous season, avoid planting in that area.
Detecting this condition is rather easy. It first appears on the older lower leaves in the form of brown spots that look like the targets, whereby the tomato leaves start yellowing around it. The leaves will eventually turn brown, die, and fall off.
The best way to prevent early blight from affecting your tomatoes is with crop rotation. You can do this by moving them to a different area of the garden with fresh soil.
However, if you note that the plant had already been affected by this condition, try treating it using an organic fungicide.
Mistake #8 – Tomato Plant Care Problems Caused By Over Fertilizing
It is true that feeding your tomato plants with the necessary nutrients is crucial to the plants. However, feeding them too much can have the same effect as not feeding them at all.
If you use fertilizer too frequently, it will build up in the soil causing some serious issues to the plant. For instance, applying fertilizer with nitrogen is important for a healthy tomato plant.
However, excess nitrogen causes the plants to put more energy into the growing leaves than growing tomatoes (fruit).
To prevent these issues, make sure that you use the best fertilizer for tomatoes or opt for natural compost.
Mistake #9 – Not Watering Plants Properly
When you are not consistent in your watering practicing, it can lead to the development of multiple problems for your tomato plants including calcium deficiency causing blossom end rot. Here are the tips to help you with watering the plants properly.
- Develop a consistent watering schedule (soaker hoses). When growing tomatoes plants should dry out a little bit so they do not sit in a pool of water, but be sure that the plants have enough water to sustain them.
- Make sure you water plants early before the sun or after the sun. Damp leaves can get leaf burn or lead to other problems from lingering water.
Mistake #10 – Thinking that Starting an Upside Down Tomato Garden is as Simple as Planting and Hanging the Containers
If you plan to grow tomatoes upside down, you need these tips to do it correctly.
First, select the right tomato variety to plant. If you choose a large variety and it grows first, you are likely to have many problems.
With limited soil space in container gardening, large plants will not get enough nutrients to sustain them.
You should also avoid hanging tomatoes in containers right after planting the seedling. If you hang tomatoes without allowing them to develop some roots, the plant usually dies.
You also need a strong hook to support the container in place.
If the hook is weak, the container is likely to fall on a stormy day. You end up with a broken plant and a lot of mess to clean up. It is also important to keep upside tomatoes plants well-watered.
These tips are useful to ensure you grow big, healthy, and fresh tomato crop in the limited space.
Although they will not help solve all the problems in your garden, they are great when you want to grow healthy plants throughout the spring and summer growing season.
Remember a good garden takes a considerable amount of time, effort, and preventive measure for it to produce maximally.