by Ms. Mary Michaela Parker, MSU Extension Service
There’s nothing more satisfying than homegrown tomatoes. You don’t have to be a gardening expert to grow delicious tomatoes in your backyard. Here are a few tips that will help you grow the best looking (and tasting) tomatoes out there:
First things first, you want to buy tomato plants that are healthy. Check the leaves to makes sure there are no diseases or evidence of insects on them. When buying plants, you want to avoid leggy and overgrown plants. Plants that are small, stocky, and healthy-looking are ideal.
Plant them in an area that does not hold water and receives direct sunlight. When planting the seedlings, you want to plant them deeper than they were in the cell packets. Burying them deeply gives them ideal conditions to thrive and produce several tomatoes. Keep in mind that this practice does not work with other types of plants, only for tomatoes.
One simple step that leads to successful tomato growth is watering. Tomatoes need an inch to inch and a half of water per week throughout the whole season, whether that be through irrigation or rainfall. If you see the leaves wilting, give them a good watering!
As your tomatoes steadily grow, you’ll need to build a wooden stake system for support. Staking is important to help keep tomatoes off the ground and ensure they grow upright. Check out our blog post on how to set up one of the most common staking systems!
Growing tomatoes won’t be a walk in the park. It’ll take patience and maybe even a few trials and errors. One of the most common headaches that come with growing tomatoes is blossom end rot. If you notice black, firm areas at the bottom of your tomatoes, blossom end rot is likely the reason. Blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency and inconsistent watering.
Curled leaves may also cause you to raise eyebrows with concern. There’s no need to worry about it! The curling is caused by high fertility when combined with high temperatures and plenty of water. The best news is that it does not impact the yield or quality of tomatoes.
Extension Publication 2975, “Tomato Troubles: Common Problems with Tomatoes,” is a handy resource that can help solve any problems that may arise. Information Sheet 1797, “Growing Delicious Tomatoes in the Backyard” also gives more information on how to successfully grow tomatoes.