How to Grow Healthy Tomato Plants

Updated on August 24, 2019
sleepylog profile image

Nothing beats home-grown tomatoes, but they can be tricky to master. Here are my best tips for successfully growing delicious tomatoes.

Growing your own fruit and vegetables is enjoyable and rewarding. One of the best fruits to grow is the tomato, and the best tasting tomatoes you will ever eat are the ones you have grown yourself. Tomato plants are reasonably easy to grow and care for, and they will reward you with a rich bounty of juicy, delicious and healthy fruits if you tend to them correctly.

In this article, I'll share several tips with you to help you grow some very happy tomato plants. I have included several photos and a video clip as well. Feel free to leave your comments at the end of this article.

Feeding

If you're growing tomato plants and they just don't seem to want to grow, it's probably a case of them not getting enough nitrogen. You see, tomato plants just love the stuff. It helps them grow lots of nice green healthy foliage. For new plants, this is important because the more leaves they have, the stronger and faster they will grow.

The first batch of tomato plants I ever grew did well as seedlings, but once I transplanted them, they just didn't want to grow anymore. Then I found out that they require nitrogen in order to grow and develop lots of leaves. Once I started giving them what they needed, they grew in leaps and bounds.

Nitrogen supplementation should be stopped once your tomato plants start flowering, or they might not produce as much fruit as they could. They will now start to require more carbon in order to produce healthy and plentiful fruit.

It's easy to give your tomatoes nitrogen when they need it and carbon when they need it. Great sources of nitrogen include green grass clippings, diluted human urine and nitrogen-based fertilizers. If you choose to use urine, be sure to dilute it in water and place it on the ground at the base of your plants, not on the plants—as it could 'burn' them. Also avoid using urine from a person who is taking medication or uses recreational drugs to prevent adding toxic substances into your soil.

Sources of carbon include old garden clippings that have gone brown. So if you have put green grass clippings on them while they were growing, they will eventually go brown and start releasing carbon into the soil. Grass clippings definitely get the thumbs-up from me, because I only have to apply them while the plants are growing. I keep applying them every time I cut the grass in my garden. Once I start to see flowers appearing, I stop and just leave any grass on there that's already there. It will eventually go brown and release lots of carbon into the soil.

Other sources of carbon include compostable kitchen scraps—just drop them straight onto your tomato beds.

Potato and tomato plants on the day I applied green grass clippings.
Potato and tomato plants on the day I applied green grass clippings. | Source
Here's the same potato and tomato plants 11 days later!
Here's the same potato and tomato plants 11 days later! | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
The same tomato plants a few weeks later, bearing fruit.
The same tomato plants a few weeks later, bearing fruit.
The same tomato plants a few weeks later, bearing fruit. | Source
Source

Watering

You shouldn't water your tomato plants too often. If water comes to them too easily, they will not develop deep root systems. You want this for them to grow strong and healthy.

Water them a couple of times a week to prevent cracks in your tomatoes. Infrequent watering is only one reason for cracks appearing in your tomatoes, however. So if you water your plants a couple of times a week, and the tomatoes are still cracking, there might be another reason.

If you have mulch around your plants and their roots go deep underground, you should not need to water them more than a couple of times a week. The best times to water them are as follows:

  • The evening before a hot day is forecasted.
  • In the evening following a hot day (temperatures above 30°C).
  • In the evening, three to four days apart if you haven't been experiencing a heat wave.

Another lot of potato and tomato plants on the day I applied green grass clippings.
Another lot of potato and tomato plants on the day I applied green grass clippings. | Source
Here they are again 11 days later.
Here they are again 11 days later. | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Here are those same tomato plants a few weeks later bearing fruit.How to Grow Healthy Tomato Plants
Here are those same tomato plants a few weeks later bearing fruit.
Here are those same tomato plants a few weeks later bearing fruit. | Source
Source
How to Grow Healthy Tomato Plants
How to Grow Healthy Tomato Plants | Source

Pruning Tomato Plants

Pruning tomato plants is a good idea, because it will allow your plants to produce bigger fruit. It will also help to prevent fruit rot, as it will allow more sun to reach the fruit by removing excess foliage.

Pruning can be done as early as when the first runners (see image below) start to appear. Simply snap the runners off with your fingers. Runners don't tend to produce much fruit, and they only divert the plant's energy from parts that need it.

To prevent infections, don't use a knife or blade to remove the runners, just use your fingers. It's best to remove a runner as soon as you see it appear so that the plant never has to spend any energy on it.

To help keep your tomatoes free from disease, you should remove any limbs whose leaves come into contact with the ground where viruses and bacteria can contaminate them.

The limb growing between the branch and the stem is known as a runner. You can safely snap those off with your fingers.
The limb growing between the branch and the stem is known as a runner. You can safely snap those off with your fingers. | Source

Tips on Tomato Plant Pollination, Pruning and Growth Stimulation

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Sleepylog

    Comments

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      • sleepylog profile imageAUTHOR

        Sleepylog 

        6 years ago from Australia

        All the best with your tomatoes, please let me know how they go :)

      • ketage profile image

        ketage 

        6 years ago from Croatia

        Thanks for the information Sleepylog. I just planted some tomatoes in my garden, they are still small, but seem to be growing well. It's my first time planting.

      • jocent profile image

        jocent 

        6 years ago

        So full of information, I will apply these things on my concrete farm project. The tomatoes I planted were cherry variety, they were very good but I like to try bigger ones to get more profit. Your tips will surely help bringing my profits up, thanks!

      • RTalloni profile image

        RTalloni 

        6 years ago from the short journey

        So informative. Thanks for helpful information on taking care of tomato plants!

      • phdast7 profile image

        Theresa Ast 

        6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

        What a godsend your article is. I am trying to grow tomatoes for the first time this year. Thank you so much. SHARING.

      • Thelma Alberts profile image

        Thelma Alberts 

        6 years ago from Germany and Philippines

        My new tomatoes are having cracks. Maybe it´s caused by over watering or I have put lots of nitrogen on them. I have to experiment this in order to know the real cause. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and useful. Pinned.

      • midget38 profile image

        Michelle Liew 

        6 years ago from Singapore

        Valerie, this was most enlightening. I think I will be looking for nitrogen based fertilizer now. Thanks for sharing! Shared!

      • sleepylog profile imageAUTHOR

        Sleepylog 

        6 years ago from Australia

        You're very welcome. I hope that one day you'll get to enjoy a huge organic garden again, because you're right, there is nothing like picking your own fresh food from your garden and it tastes so much better than the store bought stuff.

        Thank you muchly for the votes, they're very much appreciated.

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        6 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Thanks for all of the good advice. I remember that my grandfather always snipped off the runners (as you call them) from growing on his tomato plants. Will remember your tip about using our composted items around the tomato plants after I see the first blossoms. That way I will not get a gargantuan tomato plant with few tomatoes to show for the effort. Nothing quite like picking your own fresh garden produce! I once had a huge organic garden in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. Wrote a hub about it and have photos. That was fun! Wish I had that kind of space now. Up and useful votes.

      • sleepylog profile imageAUTHOR

        Sleepylog 

        6 years ago from Australia

        Thank you so much :) There's nothing quite like growing your own is there?

      • Lilleyth profile image

        Suzanne Sheffield 

        6 years ago from Mid-Atlantic

        It is hard to believe, but it almost time to start tomato plants from seed. Love looking at the garden catalogues beside the fireplace. Thumbs up.

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