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Growing Tomatoes

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Growing Tomatoes, Red Tomatoes on White Background

Tomatoes are a very rewarding addition to any garden. They are relatively easy to grow and you won't have any trouble finding ways to use them at the dinner table. This is a guide about growing tomatoes.

Solutions: Growing Tomatoes

Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".

Tip: Wrap Green Tomatoes to Ripen

One year when I had planted my tomatoes late in the season I had lots of green tomatoes left on the vines when I needed to get them off or lose them all. I picked them all and wrapped each separately in newspaper. I layered them in a box only 2 layers high, and stored them in a cool dark place. Check them once a week.

If when you unwrap a tomato and it has started to turn red leave unwrapped put it where you can keep an eye on it. The tomato will finish turning red and ripen and you will have a fresh ripe tomato in the middle of the winter. When I did this I had lots of green tomatoes, I ended up with fresh ripe tomatoes until February of the next year.

There is nothing like a fresh home grown tomato in the winter months. Just be sure and check them all or some may rot and cause others around it to rot. It is a little work, but oh, so worth it. I heard about this from somewhere else but can't remember where.

By Cora from N.C.

Tip: Plant Tomatoes Horizontally

Locals in my area recommend planting tomatoes on their sides rather than vertically for better developed roots systems and healthier, stronger plants. I dug individual trenches for each plant, added fertilizer, compost and a few tablespoons of sugar for sweetening the flavor of the fruit. The young plants went in horizontally with tops only laying on the ground.

In less than a day, the greenery was pointing up to the sun. The plants are so strong that they survived a major deer grazing without missing a proverbial beat! Although I started my garden late this year, I'm very impressed with the health strength and fruit setting on these 29 plants. I thank the N. GA locals for their sage advice!

By Maria R. from Blue Ridge, GA

Article: What To Do With Green Tomatoes

Green tomatoes growing on the vine.Waiting for a late-crop of tomatoes to go from green to red on the vine can seem like an eternity-especially in late August and early September, when fall is looming just around the corner. If at the end of your growing season you find yourself with a bushel of unripe, green tomatoes don't despair, and whatever you do, don't throw them out. You can easily harvest them and ripen them indoors, or make use of them in some great, green tomato recipes.

Ripening Tomatoes Indoors

Tomatoes ripen best between 60-70 F (extended exposure to cooler or warmer temperatures will interfere with the ripening process and affect the flavor). Tomatoes that are ripened for storage should be picked when they are fully mature in size, and have turned pale pink, to light green or white in color. Small fruits and those greener in color will neither ripen, nor develop satisfactory flavor. Save these for your favorite green tomato pickle recipes.

There are two ways to ripen tomatoes indoors:

Harvest them individually. Pick them, lay them in an open cardboard box (one to two layers deep), cover the top with newspaper, and store them at room temperature.

Harvest whole plants. If frost is imminent, the entire plant can also be taken up (tomatoes still intact) and brought inside. Hang the plants to dry upside down from the ceiling in the basement, and the fruits will continue to "ripen on the vine".

No matter what method you choose, check on your tomatoes every few days to toss any that may have spoiled. Mature green tomatoes will ripen in approximately 14 days at 70 degrees F and 28 days at 55 degrees F.

Cooking With Green Tomatoes

Green tomatoes don't have the same bold taste of fresh, fully ripe tomatoes, and that's a good thing. Their mild, sweet flavor (think zucchini) means it's easy to integrate them into a wide variety of recipes. From breads and soup, to jams, sauces, and casseroles, a quick search of the web will yield hundreds of recipes designed to showcase green tomatoes. Here are just three examples:

Fried Green Tomatoes

This traditional favorite is probably the first recipe that comes to mind when cooking with green tomatoes. It's quick and easy. Just dip tomato slices in a batter of flour, cornmeal, and egg before frying in oil. If you want to add a little spice, shake a few drops of hot sauce into the batter.

Green Tomato Pickles

Follow any traditional recipe for making dill pickles or bread and butter pickles and substitute green cherry tomatoes for cucumbers. This principle works for relish recipes as well. Enjoy your martinis with olives? Try a pickled green cherry tomato instead.

Green Tomato Mincemeat

A great alternative to this traditional holiday favorite is to combine chopped green tomatoes with chopped apples and simmer with traditional mincemeat ingredients: raisins, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Pour over vanilla ice cream or use it as a pie filling.

Selecting Green Tomatoes for Cooking

Not all green tomatoes taste the same. Recipes calling for green tomatoes are referring to "unripe" (red) tomatoes, not varieties bred to stay green. Fully grown green tomatoes tend to taste less bitter than smaller ones. Save the smaller tomatoes for recipes featuring stronger-tasting ingredients like pickles and salsa. Before adding green tomatoes to any recipes, "core" them by removing the fibrous, woody stem and the pea-sized inner core.

By Ellen Brown

Tip: Growing Tomatoes, Flowers And Veggies In Potting Soil Bags

If you live in an apartment with only a small balcony, have super-rocky soil, or are just down-right lazy like me, you can grow tomatoes, flowers and other plants in the same bag the potting soil comes in! All you do is poke drainage holes on one side of the bag, then lay the bag flat with the drainage holes towards the ground. Next, cut a criss-cross shaped hole on the side that faces up with a sharp knife or razor blade. Now simply plant your flower or veggie starts into the cross shaped hole or holes, cover with soil and close the criss-cross hole and mulch over the top of the bag to keep the roots cool. Another bonus to gardening this way is you don't have to water very often as the plastic bag helps keep the water in.

Tip: Powdered Milk for Tomato Plants

Powdered milk can also be a fertilizer for your tomato plants. When you're ready to put your tomato plants in the ground, put a handful of powdered milk in the bottom of each hole first.

By

Tip: Growing Big Tomatoes

If you like big ripe tomatoes, stick your tomato or tie it to a garden fence to keep it off the ground. Then when it gets growing good, take all the small branches off, leaving the 4 biggest branches.

When more suckers start to grow, pinch them off of the plant as they will take the nutrients that will make your tomato grow bigger. Keep them watered if it doesn't rain.

You will be proud of yourself when you take off them big red tomatoes.

By mamacrafter from TN

Tip: Use Epsom Salts for More Tomatoes

Place about 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt around your tomato plants! Your plants will be full of tomatoes.

By

Article: Tips for Tomato Growers

Two tomatoes on vine sprinkled with water

Tomatoes are America's most popular garden crop, but they are not necessarily the easiest crop to grow. Even the most experienced gardeners occasionally find themselves at a loss as to why their tomato plants fail. Here are a few helpful guidelines for understanding tomatoes. The more you know about their needs and growth habits, the easier it will be to cope with their sometimes puzzling behavior.

Developing a Fertilizing Schedule

Tomato plants have a heavy workload, so their soil needs to provide them with a good supply of nutrients. To produce a crop of fruit successfully, they require moderate levels of nitrogen and phosphorus and moderate to high levels of potassium and calcium. Before planting seedlings, mix 1 cup of kelp meal and 1 cup of bone meal into the bottom of the planting hole. This will provide your plants with the necessary potassium and phosphorus. As long as you are starting with good soil, no additional feeding should be necessary until fruit is set.

Once fruit is set, feed plants monthly with an organic fertilizer that is low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus and medium to high in potassium. If your plants are starting out in poor soil, water your plants weekly with 1 cup of a fish emulsion solution (1 Tbsp. fish emulsion per gallon of water). Continue this from planting until the first blossoms form.

Uniform Watering is Key

In the early stages of growth, before fruit has set, it is a good idea to put the plant under slight stress by stretching out the length of time between watering. After fruit has set, however, it's important to maintain uniform soil moisture. Fluctuating wet and dry spells can bring on stunting of plants, blossom-end rot and a host of other problems.

  • Fruit crack: If soil moisture varies too much- if the soil gets too dry and then it rains, for example - the fruit can experience a growth spurt, which may cause the skin to split and crack. If droughts are common to your area, plant crack-resistant varieties.

Failure to Set Fruit

  • Prolonged moisture: Rain or prolonged humid conditions hamper fruit set. Gardeners growing tomatoes in cool, humid climates have found that fruit set can be increased by shaking the plant (or tapping the stakes of trained plants) to release pollen. Do this in the middle of the afternoon when the temperature is highest and the humidity is low.
  • Temperature: Tomato plants are quite fussy when it comes to air temperature (especially at night). They won't set fruit when temperatures fall below 55 degrees or rise above 100 degrees F. In many cases the plants will flower, but the blossoms simply drop off before they are fertilized. One way to avoid this problem is to start the season with early maturing varieties, which have been bred to set fruit at lower temperatures.

    Once the weather warms up, plant your main season varieties. Row covers can also provide a bit of protection from weather that is too cold. Use them in the spring until the weather warms up.

  • Too much nitrogen: Tomato plants sometimes fail to move from the growing stage to the fruiting stage of growth if they are given too much nitrogen early on in their development. Excess nitrogen and lots of water encourages young plants to keep on producing foliage at the expense of fruit. You can help the plant switch over to the fruiting stage by pinching out some of the terminal shoots, or by withholding water to check growth.

Sun Scald

When temperatures rise above 86 degrees F and the sun is at its most intense, fruit that is exposed to direct sunlight can fail to develop good, even red color. In climates where high summer temperatures are the norm, try to select varieties known for having a good dense foliage cover that will help protect developing fruit.

Leaf Curl

  • Hot weather: During midday summer heat or after a prolonged period of wet weather, a certain amount of leaf curl and wilt is normal- some varieties showing more sensitivity than others. For tomatoes growing in containers, wilted, droopy top-growth is their way of signaling the need for more water. Heavy pruning also seems to encourage leaf curl in some varieties.
  • Tobacco mosaic virus: This is a disease spread on seeds and by contact - not contact by insects, but by way of contaminated tools or even a gardeners own hands (smokers can spread it because it is often present in cigarette tobacco). Affected plants will have leaves that are curled and/or mottled, with discolored pale green or yellow fruits.

Misshapen Fruits, Dropped Leaves, & Other Evils

Tomato problems are usually caused by nutrient deficiencies, viruses, fungi, or insects. Some tomato varieties are more resistant to problems than others, and as always, good cultural practices can go a long way in reducing or eliminating many problems.

  • Blossom-end rot: Blossom-end rot appears as a large, leathery scar (rot) on the blossom end of the fruits. It can occur at any stage of development, and is usually caused by a lack of calcium. The calcium may be present in the soil, but it's not being transported to the fruits where it's needed, usually as a result of uneven watering. Blossom-end rot can also affect the inside of the fruit. When this happens, the outside of the tomato appears normal, while the inside is rotten and fuzzy.
  • Catfacing: The fruits are misshapen with bulges, crevices, scars or holes at the blossom ends. Catfacing is caused by anything that damages the fruit as it begins to develop within the flower. This includes heat, dry soil, excessive nitrogen, and especially, cold temperatures.
  • Fungal diseases: Early blight and tomato late blight are fungal diseases that are active during periods of warm, moist weather. The spores are usually spread by wind, splashing water, or contaminated tools. Early blight appears as irregularly shaped spots on lower leaves with a subtle bull's-eye pattern, and then gradually infects higher sets of leaves. Eventually, the infected leaves turn yellow and drop off, and the fruits develop dark, sunken blemishes.

    Late blight appears as dark green or brown patches on leaves and stems. Gray fuzz may appear on the undersides of leaves, while the stem ends of the fruit develop slimy brown patches.

  • Wilts: The other two major tomato diseases are fusarium or verticillium wilt. Plants may become affected early in the season, while the symptoms show up later - often just as the fruit starts to ripen. One day your tomato plants look fine, and the next day they are suddenly yellow and wilted.

The best ways to avoid tomato problems is to follow good cultural practices and start with disease-resistant plants. In catalogs and on plant tags, initials given after the variety name indicates kinds of resistance. Double initials indicate resistance to more than one strain of that type of disease.

V = verticillium wilt; F = fusarium wilt; T = tobacco mosaic virus; A = alternaria (early blight).

By Ellen Brown

Tip: Speed Up Tomato Growth with Tablecloths

Red tablecloths over soil.Instead of spending $12 on a roll of red plastic to put around our tomato plants (to speed up growth) we purchased 2 red plastic tablecloths from a Dollar Store. They worked great!

By Ellen from Ware, MA

Article: Supporting and Training Your Tomato Plants

Tomato With Cage Supporting ItFor many gardeners, tomatoes are one of the most prized vegetables in the garden. Whether you grow them in pots on your patio, or directly in your garden, staking them and training them to grow on supports will help reduce the potential of fruit loss due to sunburn, insects, and disease.

Pruning

When properly pruned (suckered), tomato plants will produce larger fruits and produce them much earlier in the season than similar varieties that have not been pruned. Pruning tomatoes simply involves pinching off the small shoots (suckers) that develop where each leaf joins the stem. If not removed, energy that could be used for fruit production is wasted on growing suckers. The shoots should be removed when they are less than 4 inches long to prevent injuring the plant. Pruning is done throughout the lifespan of the plant, as suckers will continue to grow.

Determinate vs. Indeterminate Varieties

Determinate (self-topping) tomato varieties tend to grow in compact bush forms and produce most of their crop at one time. These varieties are heavily branched so they adapt well to staking and caging, but not to trellises. Prune them once to remove weak suckers.

Indeterminate tomato varieties set their fruit clusters along vines that continue to grow throughout the season. These varieties need to be heavily pruned when trellised (pruned to one main stem and strong sucker below the first bloom cluster), moderately pruned when staked (limited to 2-3 fruit-producing branches), and lightly pruned when using cages (limited to 3 to 5 fruit-producing branches).

Types of Supports

The primary benefit of providing tomato plants support is to prevent of fruit loss from soil rot. Tomato plants grown on the ground and without supports can suffer as much as 15-50 percent total fruit loss depending on the variety and the growth habit of the plant.

Staking: Staking is done using a single metal or wooden stake at least 3 to 6 feet long and 1 inch thick. The stakes should be driven 12-18 inches into the ground. The stem of the plant is then secured to the stake with a soft tie. The advantage to using stakes for support is that they are inexpensive and take up very little room. They are also suitable for both determinate and indeterminate varieties of tomato plants.

Caging: Most gardeners are familiar with the circular metal cages made for supporting tomatoes. There are two main advantages to using these pre-made cages. They are quick and easy to maintain, and the fruits from plants grown in cages tend to suffer the least amount of sunburn. As far as disadvantages go, tomato cages are typically the most expensive type of support and take up the largest amount of space per plant. Caged tomatoes should be set at least 3 feet apart in a row. As plants continue to grow, turn the ends of the branches back in toward the center of the cage. Determinate varieties grown in cages require no pruning.

Trellises: This type of support system is limited to indeterminate varieties. Posts or stakes at least 4 feet high and 4 inches thick are set into the ground approximately 10 to 25 feet apart (depending on the number of plants being grown). A heavy gauge wire is then stretched from one post to around another and back again to create support. Three rows of wire supports strung at 1-1/2 foot, 2-foot, and 3-foot intervals up the post should be adequate for most tomato plants. The advantage of using this support system is that once you set it up it will last for years. Other vine or climbing crops can be routinely rotated in and out of this area to avoid insect and disease problems.

H Supports: This type of support system works especially well for determinate varieties of tomatoes, because it keeps the fruit off the ground without the need for pruning or tying. Create two wooden H supports (think of a capital H) that are 2-3 feet wide and sit 8 to 10 inches off the ground. Place these supports 10 feet apart from each other in the garden so they are centered over your young tomato plants. Lay a piece of wide gauge fencing (like hog wire) across the supports and secure it at both ends. As the plants grow, simply pull them through the opening so the fence supports them.

By Ellen Brown

Tip: Use Pool Noodles to Protect Tomatoes

Use Pool Noodles to Protect TomatoesWhen I plant tomatoes, I put the wire rings around them. They invariably grow over the top of the metal rings and since they get heavy and there is no cushion, it cuts the stem almost in half. I solved this problem by buying the noodles at the dollar store, slitting them in half but only the first layer. Then I cut them to fit the metal ring.

By Elaine from Belle Plaine, IA

Tip: Planting Tomatoes in Milk Jugs

Growing tomatoes in a milk jug.I plant my tomatoes in the bottom of milk jugs, with another plant on top such as peppers, and eggplants. I also made two milk jugs into a self watering planter for my strawberries, and used drink bottles to make a self watering, mini green house for the rose cuttings I'm propagating. I fed my plants used coffee grounds, and they loved it, their stems and roots seemed to double in size! Here is a recent picture of my garden.

Article: Growing Tomatoes

Ripening tomatoes.

Botanical Name:

Lycopersicon esculentum

Description:

Tomatoes are members of the nightshade family. Originally from South and Central America, today the tomato is grown worldwide for its brightly colored, edible fruits. Red tomatoes contain the pigment lycopene, a well-known antioxidant thought to help prevent some cancers.

Planting Time:

Sow seeds outdoors when air and soil temperatures reach 60F. Set transplants out when nighttime temperatures stay above 50F. Sow seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before transplanting.

Exposure:

full sun

Soil:

loose, well-drained, nutrient-rich soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.8.

Planting:

Plant seedlings in large holes supplemented with kelp and bone meal to provide plants with the extra potassium and phosphorus they need. Allow at least 2 to 3 feet between staked plants in rows spaced 3 feet apart. Sow seeds directly 1/2 inch deep and 2 inches apart. To plant tomatoes in trenches, strip all but the top sets of leaves from plants and place them on their sides in a 2 to 3 inch trench. Firm the soil around the plants and as they grow, the plants will turn upward while the buried stems produce roots. Use this method if transplants are tall and leggy at planting time.

Containers:

Tomatoes are also well suited to growing in containers. Look for cultivars that are specifically bred to be patio' plants.

Watering:

Keep soil evenly moist (not wet). Water from the ground and early in the day to help prevent disease. Keep plants watered well during dry periods.

Maintenance:

Support plants with stakes or cages if necessary. Snap off any suckers (off-shoots) that appear between the main stem and the stems of the leaves to focus the plant's energy on producing fruit. If your soil is poor in nutrients, feed plants a solution containing fish emulsion once per week until the plants flower. If plants are growing vigorously with dark green leaves, they do not need nitrogen. Too much will increase leaf production and decrease fruit production. On the other hand, yellowing leaves may indicate a need to add nitrogen. Areas with extremely warm summer temperatures may need to protect fruit from sun scald and prevent blossom drop.

Harvesting & Storage:

Tomatoes are ready to harvest when they have developed their full, mature color. Harvest them ripe or while still slightly green and let them ripen at room temperature out of direct sunlight. Cold causes flavor loss so do not refrigerate them. Harvest all remaining tomatoes before the first hard frost. Freeze extras, or if still green, store them in a box filled with newspaper in a dark room (at 55 to 60F) and they will continue to ripen over several weeks.

Diseases and Pests:

Unfortunately, tomatoes are susceptible to damage from a wide variety of insects and diseases. Purchase seeds or plants that are resistant to common tomato diseases and don't plant in areas that have had tomato troubles in the past. Keep soil moisture consistent to help prevent fruit from cracking and water plants early in the day (from the ground) so leaves have time to dry before nightfall. Check for worms and caterpillars that can be picked off by hand and for signs of aphid infestations that can be sprayed off with a hose.

Tips to Success:

Tomatoes cultivars are either determinate (grow to a specific height, flower and produce in short time) or indeterminate (grow, flower and fruit over a long period of time). Determinant tomatoes are good for large crops used for canning. Indeterminate varieties are best if you want to pick tomatoes to eat fresh.

Many of today's tomatoes are hybrids and won't breed true if seeds are saved and planted the following season. If growing plants with the intention of saving seed, choose heirloom varieties for offspring that reproduce true to their mother plant. Mixing some lime into the soil adds calcium that will help balance soil minerals, helping prevent some types of fruit deformities as well as blossom end rot.

By Ellen Brown

Tip: Growing Tomatoes In Black Plastic Bags

Question:

Another poster on here mentioned using black plastic bags as containers for growing tomatoes. I was wondering if anyone could elaborate on that method?

Hardiness Zone: 6a

Tami from MO

Answer:

Hi Tami,

Some folks swear by this method, while others swear at it. Essentially, growing tomatoes upside down in bags or buckets is an inexpensive do-it-yourself version of some of the more expensive systems, like the Topsy Turvey planter, that are now offered to consumers in garden catalogues. The theory is that growing tomatoes this way produces bigger yields and affords fewer problems with insects and disease. In addition, no pruning, no weeding, and no staking is required and the plants benefit from increased air circulation. As long as you have a sunny spot, it's a great way to save on garden space, or for apartment dwellers, to maximize the limited space of a balcony or patio. The bags can be hung from S hooks attached to eaves or railings, or by suspending them from shepherd's hooks, or even clotheslines.

I have never tried it, but the idea is simple. Get yourself a sturdy plastic bag (it needs to be able to hold a large amount of wet soil) or a 5-gallon bucket with a metal handle. Carefully slip the tomato plant into the hole (roots first) so that the leaves are sticking out the bottom. Holding the plant in place, start filling the bag (or bucket) with a lightweight soil mix (try a mixture consisting of 50% damp sphagnum peat moss, 30% compost, and 20% perlite). Fill in evenly around the plant and tip the bucket carefully upside down to test whether or not the plant is securely anchored into the soil. Some people place a paper towel around the plant's roots or place a sheet of newspaper on the bottom of the container before pushing the tomato plant through. This helps keep it from slipping out of the hole while you're adding soil. Fill the rest of the bag to within an inch or so from the top. Hang in a sunny spot and water as needed from the top.

Keep in mind that small fruiting varieties will be lighter. Also, tomatoes like heat. Cover the top of the soil with a layer of mulch or fasten a dark-colored cloth over the open end of the bucket. This will hold in moisture and heat, and help keep insects out. I've also heard of people planting annuals on the topside of their buckets to help hold in moisture and make the apparatus look more attractive. Double duty! Other container ideas include large plastic nursery pots, burlap sacks, or 2-liter soda bottles. Make sure you water frequently, like you would with any container-grown plant.

Have fun!

Ellen

Tip: Tomato Planting Tips

Tomatoes are touchy about getting too much rain or water overhead. First of all, plant the tomatoes as deeply as you can but not with the leaves touching the ground. In between the plants, bury 4 pint plastic milk containers. However before burying them, punch holes all over well spaced holes. Fill them with water so they are watered from below. Make a teepee shaped clear plastic cover and stake on one side so you can refill water and early fertilizer.

By Bev from Chilliwack BC

Article: Tomato Growing Secrets

Photo of three tomatoes.Tomato growing secrets submitted by the ThriftyFun community.

Tips For Cracking And End Rot

The number 1 secret for growing great tomatoes is water control. A tomato is 90% water. It needs a constant supply of water measured out on a consistent basis. This helps maintain growth and keeps the skin pliable. Split tomatoes usually occur after a dry spell, and a deluge of water, such as a hard rain or a long overdue watering. Easiest method to prevent this is by mulching after the soil has warmed.

The next most frequent problem is end rot. The best solution is staking and tying up the tomatoes and getting a soil test. The usual problem is Calcium deficiency. Laying on the ground just accelerates the problem.

By Christopher07

Water Often

Tomatoes need lots of water. When young, water every day. When more mature, use a sprinkler for 10-20 minutes every other day or so depending on heat. This deep waters them. When they are almost ripe (orange) cut down on watering them, as this makes them ripen. Early Girl, Big Boy and Beefsteak are good varieties here, but you might want to check with feed stores, garden centers or neighbors to find the best variety for your area.

By Laramay

Epsom Salts And Watering Tips

I agree with the others. I've found a handful of Epsom salts in the planting hole also helps a lot.

Mulch will stave off lots of problems. Deep watering will also help. Here in zone 7, we sometimes dig a hole beside the planting hole and set a 2 liter pop bottle with holes punched in the bottom into that hole, and backfill the dirt. Keep the cap. Fill the bottle with water and adjust the cap to allow the water to flow out the holes-- works well. However (isn't there always one of those!), this spring we were rained upon. Like I was asking folks if they'd started their own "ark" and some of my bottles floated out of the ground, funny!

By 2oma

Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes

If you like cherry tomatoes, I recommend Sweet 100. I've never had a problem with them (I'm in Northeastern Ohio, I think we're zone 5) and I eat them right off the vine!

By Maryeileen

Use Cuttings

I have a friend who SWEARS by cuttings. So much that she'll buy the plants already grown or start them from seed, only to pinch off the top 6-8 inches and replant it in the ground. I've tried this, and it does work well. I'm not great with tomatoes, though, so I'm not going to be the best judge on whether or not this is THE way to go. I've had pretty good luck with this method, so she may be on to something. When you replant the cutting, though, be sure to water the heck out of it the first week or so until it stands back up. It looks really sad when you first stick it in the ground.

By Beth - MA

Water And Manure "Tea"

I water them every other day. I did get a hold of some horse manure and I made tea out of it and also I put some all over my garden. Just make sure it is dry. The wet stuff I made the tea with. Here is a picture of one of my tomatoes.

By Joyce Wis

RE: Tomato Growing Secrets

Tip: Irrigation Jugs for Tomato Plants

It will soon be time to plant tomato plants. This is a great way to make sure they get water all summer long.

After your soil has been prepared to planting, and you have your tomato plant or plants ready to put into the soil, do this. Take a 1 gallon plastic milk or juice jug, poke or cut a small hole near one corner (be sure to save the cap). Plant your tomato plant and bury the jug (with the hole toward the plant), up to the neck next to the plant. Then fill the jug with water. Make sure you plant after the last frost. If another frost is suspected, cover both plants and jugs to protect against freezing.

Planting the jugs filled with water cuts down on the daily watering and ensures that the tomatoes are big and healthy. Be sure to check the jugs periodically to refill with water.

By Connie from Oden, Arkansas

Tip: Tomatoes Until December!

Cover your tomato plants with newspaper in the fall and they will survive the frosty nights. You will be able to pick tomatoes until December!

By Dee

Tip: Tomatoes in a Small Yard

I have a small garden and most of it goes to tomatoes. I can a lot of different kinds of sauces and also sun dry the tomatoes. So to get more tomatoes than green leaves, I do this.

When I put my plants in the ground I lay them on their sides and put the dirt all the way up and over the roots and bottom leaves. Pat the dirt down good. It grows more roots and builds up the plant. They turn up towards the sun in a matter of a day or two. I found I double my yield of tomatoes in my small garden.

By Sue

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Questions

Here are questions related to Growing Tomatoes.

Question: Tomato Leaves Turning Yellow

The leaves are turning yellow on my tomato plants. What should I do?

By Paula B.

Question: What's Eating My Tomato Plant?

I purchased a tomato plant, about a foot tall, put it in potting soil and even added ground eggshells. This happens every year. Something just eats away at the leaves (like a moth eats at fabric). I put Sevin dust one year, that just killed the plant. This year I put marigolds around it. I did see two caterpillars, dark brown with white stripes, on the ground a few mornings ago. I brought it into the patio (screened in) yesterday. What seems to be the problem? Since I don't have bees/insects to pollinate it will it produce tomatoes? The leaves do have a brown black outer color. I use rainwater and Miracle Gro. It gets at least 5 hours of sun. Help for the 5th year in a row.

By monroe95 from Kissimmee, FL


Most Recent Answer

By Victoria V.06/20/2013

Well I had a tomato plant once and it was in my front yard. Every day when I came out in the morning there was snails all around it. So I put a thick layer of salt on the ground around the pot and replaced it every so often. It worked really well!

Question: Small Offshoots on Tomato Plants Dying

My tomatoes are producing well, but a lot of the smaller vines coming off the main stems seem to be drying up and dying where they come off the larger vine. I have been pruning them away, but it just continues.

I feed them Miracle Gro Tomato plant food every 2 weeks and I have no problem with the blossoms setting and growing just the smaller stems drying up and turning brown.
I have the tomato plants growing in oak barrel halves and used potting soil to grow them in.

By Debbie R

Question: Knowing When Tomatoes Are Ripe

I have large green tomatoes on the vine, planted from pots. How can I tell when they are ripe or will they turn red? I am a beginning gardener.

By Frank W from Anaheim, CA


Most Recent Answer

By Cindy07/23/2012

When they are bright red - they are ripe! (But don't fail to look up great recipes for fried green tomatoes if some fall off the vine or you pick a few too early). Pluck and enjoy!

Good luck with your new gardening venture. You'll go through valleys and mountains for several seasons of learning curves, but you will never be disappointed with a great harvest. :) Just keep asking questions if you don't know the answers! Good luck and great eats!

Question: Blooms on Tomato Plant Keep Dying

My husband brought home a healthy plant. After about 2 or 3 weeks there were small black bugs. Which I thought was from the heat. I rinsed the plant with treatment, those stems that had yellow flowers dyed. So, it looks very healthy, yet every time a flower blooms the stem holding (small flower stem) turns yellow and dies. I just can't get any tomatoes. All leaves look healthy, never experienced anything like it. Help us please.

By Tracy from Manchester, PA

Question: Tomatoes Not Getting Very Large

My tomato plants are loaded with fruit and blooms, but the tomatoes are not getting large enough before turning red. They are about tennis ball sized.


Most Recent Answer

By teresa07/13/2012

It depends on what kind of tomatoes you planted they may just grow to that size and some are cherry, roma, beefsteak and who knows which one you planted?

Question: Tomato Leaves Curling and Turning Brown

Something is wrong with my newly planted tomato plant. I planted them in Miracle Gro potting mix. The edges of the leaves are turning brown and the leaves are curling up. The center of leaves are still green. I need help fast. What is wrong and how to fix?

By Bonnie from Eastpoint, FL


Most Recent Answer

By Vicki06/13/2012

Tomato leaves rarely just stay bright green all the time. They will have some leaves that curl up and turn brown. Mine are doing that right now and are producing tomatoes as fast as I can pick them. Hope your plants are still alive, that you did not "fear the worst" and stop watering them.

Question: Tomato Leaves Turning Yellow

I am not sure if it's a disease or what? Not all my tomatoes' leaves are yellow. They are brown at the end of the leaves, too.

By ruby1 from Augusta, GA


Most Recent Answer

By Grandma J06/02/2012

Forgot to mention. Sometimes too much watering can create this yellow leaf effect. There are products to put iron back into your soil when it gets washed out. This is esp pertinent for tomatoes, peppers, etc.

You see this mostly when doing container planting of peppers and tomatoes. I had to switch to ground planting. But I have above ground 4 x 8 and have my soil checked for what is planted there. We can leach out many important minerals if we don't pay attention.

Another thing, our plants filter out pollution. Do you live near a high way, busy street, industrial area which send out negative air borns that your plants filter?

Question: Growing Cherry Tomatoes in Containers

How do I grow cherry tomatoes in a container? I travel by RV and I was wondering if I can grow cherry tomatoes in one of those plastic (20 gallon) containers? Do I have to fertilize often? Your input will be much appreciated.

By araucano from FL


Most Recent Answer

By Denise02/20/2011

I grew cherry tomatoes in a container with basil last year. They are good companion plants and protect one another from insects.

Question: When Should I Plant Tomatoes?

When is the best time to plant tomatoes?

Hardiness Zone: 9a

By Anthony from Riverside, CA


Most Recent Answer

11/20/2010

Here is a link to a planting chart for zone 9:
http://www.thevegetablegarden.info/ ... hedules/zones-9-10-planting-schedule

Question: Tomato Plants Set Fruit Then Shrivel and Die

I'm having so much trouble growing tomatoes. Just when the plant is bearing lots of them, it seems to shrivel up like it's not getting enough water and the leaves turn yellow then black. The tomatoes are smaller in size, split open and rot on the vine.
This is the second year the same thing occurred. What is going on?

Hardiness Zone: 6b

By Marie from Hampton, TN


Most Recent Answer

By Grandma J08/30/2010

Get a package of Epsom salts at the local Walmart, drugstore, grocery, farm and home. It is great for the tomatoes. When they start blossoming they are short of the magnesium sulfate and this is the easy way to do it. Follow instructions on package or go to Google for gardening with Epsom salts. This ends the blossom end rot as well.
Also, when planting your tomatoes, cut away the bottom 10 inches of leaving when they get growing about 2 feet. This makes the upper healthy, gets air to the bottom and also keeps slugs/snails away.

Question: Harvesting Sweet 100 Tomatoes

How do I harvest Sweet 100 tomatoes? Do I cut the whole bunch of tomatoes off the vine or do I pick them individually?

Hardiness Zone: 7a

By grifft from Levittown, NY


Most Recent Answer

By grifft07/21/2010

Thank you guys I appreciate the input.

Question: Curling Tomato Leaves

My tomatoes are curling up, but I don't see any signs of disease. What does this mean? Also on the stem, there seems to be bumps, not disease bumps either. They are almost like water or something. What is this and what can I do?

Hardiness Zone: 8a

By Lamar from NC

Question: Use Epsom Salts on Your Tomatoes and Peppers

Do peppers like lime and Epsom salts?

Hardiness Zone: 6a

By Robert from Brunswick, OH


Most Recent Answer

By bkvander04/16/2010

Tomatoes crave magnesium - which is what epson salt is. Peppers - I don't know

Question: Watering Requirements for Yellow Pear Tomatoes

I just planted a few Yellow Pear tomato plants and don't know how much water to give them. How often, how much, and when do I need to fertilize them? Thanks.

Hardiness Zone: 9a

By Carole Lyn from Cuero, TX

Question: Growing Tomatoes Inside

Is it ever possible to grow tomatoes inside your home? Has anyone done this? What were the results, problems, etc?


Most Recent Answer

By Selah (Guest Post)10/02/2008

I start my 'inside' tomatoes late in the season, about a month ago, and just brought it inside tonight. It's about three feet tall or more and blossoming. I will have to pollinate it myself with a paint brush. I have a large 'shop' light over my long dresser for the light which I leave on at least 14 hours. I just started doing 'indoor' gardening last year but it's a lot of fun and I enjoy pampering my plants. I also have two dwarf lemon trees with fruit, an olive tree and an avocado tree inside in pots! [Pix below] I also have a greenhouse outside.

RE: Growing Tomatoes Inside

Question: Growing Tomatoes in Thailand

I live in Thailand and the nights are a little cooler than the days. I am told that Tomato will not do well in this climate because they need cool nights. Also, what type of Tomato would you recommend? We are in the same latitude as Miami, FL.


Most Recent Answer

By Phil. (Guest Post)04/16/2007

OK thanks for the encourgement

Question: Growing Tomatoes Under Lights

Why are the tomatoes I am growing under lights so gangly and have so little fruit?


Most Recent Answer

By Jill03/13/2007

My guess is that the lights are either not strong enough, or placed too high above the plants, or both. (They should be as close as they can be without burning the plants--and moved up as the plant grows.) I don't know the exact numbers, I suspect a little online searching can get you the wattage you need, as well as the distance they should be from the plants.

As for no fruit--unless you have pet bees, they may need a little help pollinating! Use a clean small paintbrush to collect some pollen from the blossoms and move it around inside the blossom. I also know nighttime temps. must be above 65 for fruit to set, so if the room they're in gets colder than that at night, you may want to move them.

Good luck; winter tomoatoes would be nice! Maybe someone who knows more will add more!

Question: Planting and Growing Tomatoes

Tips for planting and growing tomatoes. Post your ideas.


Most Recent Answer

By Vince (Guest Post)07/21/2008

If your tomatos have black spots on the ends, it's called "Blossom End Rot" and is apparently caused by low calcium levels. Either you need to amend your soil with some calcium source OR you're watering is too inconsistent so that the amount of calcium that your plant takes up (it can only get it when it's drawing water from the soil) varies too much, with it dipping low. Apparently the plant robs the necessary calcium from the tomato.

I'm sure I'm not explaining this properly, so just do a search on "Blossom End Rot"

Photos

Below are photos related to this guide.

Hanging Tomatoes

I recycled my milk jugs by planting tomatoes in them upside down, and fed them used coffee grounds, they are thriving!

By Sharon

Hanging Tomatoes

Hillbilly Tomato

Here is a really odd loooking tomato from our plants. My son Steve is the gardener.

By Marty D. from Knoxville, TN A tomato with an extra growth on the side.

Gigantic Tomato Plant

My husband planted this one tomato plant he received from my sister as a birthday present and it grew to over 9 feet tall and had a span of at least 16 feet. The plant yielded an abundance of tomatoes and there are many on the plant to still ripen. No special care was given to the plant it just seemed to thrive when planted in this spot.

By Patty from WV

Man Standing Next to Gigantic Tomato Plant

Archives

Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

Archive: Growing Tomatoes Inside

I have some tomatoes which I started a bit late in the season. They are doing well in outdoor pots but I'm worried now that the weather is changing. Does anyone have any tips on bringing them inside so I can keep them? Thank you.

Linda


RE: Growing Tomatoes Inside

I am at the end of the growing season and mine are just giving me tomatoes now. I will take them as far as I can to the frost cycle and then they are done. If I don't pull them up, they will be volunteers in the garden next year. The wear and tear on the tomato plant might not survive the indoor season.

If the foliage does, it may not give you fruit. Indoor green houses have a different schedule, temps they are kept in to keep them going. Also, rain water is the best for watering, so you will have to come up with something other than chlorinated city water. Too many variables for vegetables that flowers don't have. (08/28/2008)

By Grandma J

RE: Growing Tomatoes Inside

Brown paper bag with an apple inside and don't overcrowd the tomatoes in the bag. (08/29/2008)

By sherri

RE: Growing Tomatoes Inside

I would think that the crucial factor will be the amount of light that you can give them. If you have a very sunny spot, you should be able to keep them going for awhile until you get a few tomatoes off them. (08/29/2008)

By louel53

Archive: Growing Cherry Tomatoes in Containers

Has anyone grown cherry tomatoes in large pots? Any luck growing them this way?

Hardiness Zone: 7a

By Betty from Lubbock, TX


RE: Growing Cherry Tomatoes in Containers

Last year I purchased a cherry tomato plant from a family owned nursery/roadside stand. The tomato plant was in a small plastic pot so my husband transplanted it into a large plastic pail. First he drilled holes in the bottom of the pail for drainage. Filled it 3/4 full of dirt and then used potting soil. We harvested the tomatoes and they were delicious.

Remember to fertilize your tomato plant twice a month. They need both food and water to grow. (04/09/2010)

By MCW