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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.
Tomato growing secrets submitted by the ThriftyFun community.
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.
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 Beth - MA
By Joyce Wis
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 foe 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.
We keep having rain everyday, so I'm only watering these every other day, as the afternoon showers really don't give them enough rain. I will have some ripe pear shaped tomatoes soon! I also use toilet paper rolls to make peat pots for my plants that I started from seed, which I wish I had started sooner.
Love tomatoes - Live in North East
I use gallon milk jugs - buried between every 2 plants or plant tomatoes stagered on wide rows and 1 jug will cover 3 plants. Fill jugs every other day or as needed. Add a little fertalizer every other week times 2 or 3 times . I like wire cages to stake with.
I also use manure. You can add a bit (like a plop!) to a 5 gallon bucket of water, and you have fertilizer for the whole season! Watering is the trick. I use black plastic under all my tomatoes, and when it's dry I water at the roots. Tomatoes need huge amounts of water, I like to count to 10 when pouring water at the root of the plant. Also, having black plastic under all my plants seems to cut down on over watering when it rains a lot. Don't forget to snap off the bottom shoots that grow near the ground, even if they have already sprouted green minis! This will cause the plant to produce better fruit on top. Staking is important, support those stems, especially when using natural fertilizer!
I purchase my plants when they are about a foot tall then pull about the first 8 inches of leaves off before planting. Then i bury the stem and root ball on its side with just the last 4 inches sticking up above the soil. When the plants grow to about a foot above the soil i put about 8 inches of mulched leaves which i gather with my bagging mower. As a result my plants produce more fruit and grow to about 8 feet tall without the aid of fertilizer.
The pepper plants are ready to put out their flowers!
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.
That is a wonderful Idea! Thanks!
That sounds like a good idea but my only concern is: I want to plant several things and potting soil is not cheap is it?
Hey, I think I'll try that. I can plop the bag into a container, poke it from below, and then it would look nice too. Thanks!
Yep...wonderful idea! I'm definitely going to try this one with the addition of the container tip! Thanks to both of you for sharing that one!
Sheila in Titusville, FL
Awesome idea! I have Fibromyalgia and haven't been able to garden like I used to and this seems easy and a good way to not have to dig around. I'll have my hubby put the bag of potting soil where I need it and go for it!
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.
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!
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.
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.
I stirred in a slow release organic veggie fertilizer, crushed egg shells (and/or oyster shells), along with peat moss, vermiculite, compost, and a bit of potting soil. The shells will slowly release calcium which prevents blossom end rot.
Place about 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt around your tomato plants! Your plants will be full of tomatoes.
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!
Use your fingers to quickly and easily remove these suckers before they start to compete with the main plant for nutrients. This is a guide about how to remove tomato suckers.
If your tomatoes grow up and over the tomato cage, sometimes the stem can get so heavy that it cuts the vine where it hits the top of the cage. A good solution to that is to cut lengths of pipe insulation to go around it.
When planting tomatoes add some dry milk into the planting hole to add calcium and prevent blossom end rot.
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.
Before transplanting your tomato plant seedlings outside, make your planting hole a bit deeper than usual, and drop 2 teaspoons of epsom salts in each planting hole. Sprinkle some dirt in the hole, and then add your seedling.
Tomato suckers are really easy to root and expand your plant count and thus your harvest. This is a guide about reroot tomato suckers as new plant.
If your tomato plant is not setting fruit and the blossoms are falling off, there are several possible causes you will need to investigate, including temperature, pests, and soil deficiencies. This is a guide about blossoms falling off tomato plants.
Some gardeners have good luck using buried PVC pipe with holes drilled in it to water their tomatoes. This is a guide about watering tomatoes underground with PVC pipe.
This is a guide about starting tomato plants from cuttings. Tomatoes are easy to grow from cuttings if you start early enough in the spring.
This is a guide about troubleshooting tomato problems. If your tomato harvest is disappointing due to disease, pests, or growing conditions there some easy solutions to your gardening issues.
This is a guide about growing tomatoes from slices. Try this quick and easy way to plant tomato seeds from your store bought produce.
This is a guide about growing tomatoes in hanging planters. We have seen the upside down planters for growing tomatoes, but you can also grow them in normal hanging planters.
This is a guide about supporting tomato plants. Tomato plants generally need to be trellised or supported in some way.
This guide is about growing cherry tomatoes. An abundance of these bite sized treats can be grown on the patio or in the garden.
This is a guide about growing tomatoes in containers. Container gardening is a great way to grow vegetables if you have limited space. Tomatoes are a good choice for this style of gardening. There are a few easy steps you can take to have a successful gardening experience.