How to Grow Healthy Tomato Plants
Some helpful tips to help you grow strong, healthy tomato plants
Growing your own fruit and veg is enjoyable and rewarding and one of the best fruit to grow is the tomato and the best tasting tomatoes you will ever eat are the ones you have grown yourself. Yes, tomatoes are a fruit because they contain seeds.
Tomato plants are reasonably easy to grow and care for and they will reward you with a rich bounty of juicy, delicious and healthy fruit 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 that will reward you for the care you give them with lots of delicious fruit.
I have included several photos and a video clip as well. Feel free to leave your comments at the end of this article.
Table of Contents
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 get 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 (yes tomatoes are a 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 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 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 and 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 plant and tomato plants on the day I applied green grass clippings.
The same potato plant and tomato plants 11 days later!
The same tomato plants a few weeks later, bearing fruit.
Another lot of potato and tomato plants on the day I applied green grass clippings.
Another tip I want to share is that you shouldn't water your tomato plants too often because if water comes to them too easily they will not develop deep root systems and you want this in order for them to grow strong and healthy. Water them a couple of times a week to prevent cracks in your tomatoes caused by infrequent watering. Infrequent watering is only one reason for cracks appearing in your tomatoes, so if you water your plants a couple of times a week and the tomatoes are still cracking there might be another reason. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to see the section of links I recommend, there you'll find a link to a great article all about cracking in tomatoes. 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 forecast.
- In the evening following a hot day (temperatures above 30 degrees celsius).
- In the evening, 3 to 4 days apart if you haven't been experiencing a heat wave.
11 Days Later
The same tomato plants a few weeks later bearing fruit
Pruning tomato plants
Pruning tomato plants is a good idea because it will allow your plants to produce bigger fruit and it will 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 the leaves.
Tomato plant runner
A video with tips on tomato plant pollination, pruning and growth stimulation.
Some tomato growing links I recommend written by fellow tomato growers
- What causes tomatoes to crack?
What causes ugly cracks in home grown tomatoes? Splits are an easy, no cost problem to solve. A tomato fruit is 95 percent water, so tomatoes need lots of water to grow and develop fruit.
- How To Start Tomato Seeds Indoors
- How to stake or cage heavy tomato vines
Proper staking or support is required for the big, beautiful tomatoes. See what works best.
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