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How to Get Lots of Tomatoes

I have enjoyed gardening for at least 30 years and enjoy sharing my experience with others. Gardening is my time to meditate and unwind.

Tomatoes Are a Garden Favorite

Tomatoes are a gardener's favorite plant to grow in the vegetable garden. Here you will find some hints and tips to help your tomatoes do better than ever before.

Juicy tomatoes that are ready to eat.

Juicy tomatoes that are ready to eat.

Choosing the Variety of Tomatoes

How well your tomatoes grow will depend a lot on the variety you choose. You need to pick one that will do well in your growing zone and will mature early enough that most of the crop has been picked before your area starts having frost. Southern gardeners don't need to worry about this so much. I usually grow some Better Boys here in Zone 5.

For early tomatoes in the North, many grow Earl Girls. Early Girls are good for early fresh eating but have a high liquid content for canning. This year, I am trying a new variety called 4th of July, and I'll share how they do. Check the days to maturity before purchasing seeds or plants.

The more disease resistant the plants are the better. Most seed catalogs and the sticks you find at greenhouses will give you this information. You need to be sure to check them. The new hybrids are resistant to most diseases.

Paste tomatoes are best for canning things like spaghetti sauce or even for making juice. You will be able to cook down the tomatoes quicker. If you have ever canned sauce, you know it can take hours if you choose a juicy tomato variety.

Lush tomato vines

Lush tomato vines

Planting Tips

I have been growing tomatoes for years. Since I have read lots of gardening magazines, I've picked up a few tips that do help tomatoes do better.

Method One

My favorite one and the one with the best results is to take the plant and strip all of the bottom leaves, leaving about six leaves on the plant. Leaving four is fine if it is a small plant. Either place this in the ground sideways in a trench you have made or deeper than you would otherwise. Cover the stem to within just around an inch of the leaves. It will look like you have a tiny plant, but it will give you big dividends in the end. Your plant will grow quickly, and you will have a big plant in no time.

Why does this work? The plant will grow more roots along the stem. The better the roots, the bigger your plant will be. The bigger the plant, the more tomatoes you will get.

Method Two

I have heard by using this method, you can get giant tomato plants with unbelievable numbers of tomatoes. This technique is one I haven't tried myself, but plan to in the near future.

Once you plant your plant, put a small PVC pipe right next to it and place it deep enough in the ground that it won't later topple and it will reach the deepest roots. Then when you water the plant, pour the water right into the PVC pipe. You can do this when you fertilize also. The roots will get all of the water and nutrients right where they need it.

When the plants are young, you may need to water from the top since the roots aren't that deep yet.

Combining these methods should give you enough tomatoes to share with the neighbors and still have plenty for fresh eating and canning.

Amend the Soil

If your soil is sandy or has a lot of clay, you will need to add some type of organic matter. The best product to use is fresh dirt from the compost pile. If you don't have this, get some composted manure from the gardening center. Don't worry, the manure is already composted and smells fine. Work it into the soil before you plant.

Growing in Pots

After moving, we did not have a garden worked up yet and I tried growing tomatoes in pots. I learned that the bigger the pot the better. Let your plant have plenty of room to root.

I also learned not to put the tomatoes on the deck near the light. The moths that develop into tomato worms are attracted to the light at night. You will end up with tons of tomato worms. Luckily, I had a Springer Spaniel that loved to eat them. These things grow huge fast and will eat your entire plant within a day or two.

Another secret I learned is to place the pot on cement. This works here in the north, but may not be a good idea in the south. Tomatoes love heat. The cement would heat up in the sun and keep the pot warm. Water often when planting in a pot.

Caring for the Tomato Plants

Your tomato plants should get full sun for at least six hours of sun. Plant in an area that gets good drainage.

Be sure the plants get enough water. Two inches a week is good. Keep the watering consistent. Until the plants are established, you may need to water more often. If they show the slightest sign of wilting, get out the watering can immediately.

Dealing With Tomato Pests

Keep your eye out for tomato hornworms. I consider these the worst pest a tomato can have. I would check every day if possible. These worms can strip a plant in a day or two, and they'll look just like skeletons afterward. The worms are the same color as the plants, so they may be hard to see. If you don't want to remove them with your hands, just use a stick and knock them to the ground and stomp on them.

There are many other pests that your tomatoes may get. So many, that entire sites are dedicated to dealing with them. This government site has a long list that you can check if your leaves show any damage from insects or disease.

Comments

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on June 09, 2018:

Peggy, I've only tried a heritage tomato once and it put on plenty of tomatoes. It was suppose to be purple and it looked more brown, not too appealing. I hope my hints work out well for you next season.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 09, 2018:

I only planted two tomato plants this year and always plant them deeply into the soil as you mentioned. The PVC pipe idea is a new one that I had not heard. My one plant that is producing like crazy is a grape sized tomato. My heritage variety so far does not yet have much on the plant. Both are new varieties that I am trying this year that are supposed to do well in the Houston climate. Thanks for your good advice with regard to how to plant and care for tomato plants.

Carol Morris on May 17, 2016:

Thanks for the information. I'm looking forward to growing my own veggie garden next year.

Margie's Southern Kitchen from the USA on May 16, 2016:

What a great article, I have heard of planting tomatoes like that but have never tried it! Thanks for the tips!

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on March 09, 2016:

Martie, Good luck! It is easy and I'm sure you can do it. Thanks for reading the hub.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on March 09, 2016:

I promised myself that one day I'm going to have my own vegetable garden, but this hub encourages me to plant a couple of tomato plants in pots. Thank you, Barbara!

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on September 13, 2015:

SmartRunner, Our tomato season is coming to an end right now as fall approaches. I'm happy to see you can use the tips. Thanks for reading.

Nivas from Salem on September 12, 2015:

Hello Barbara Kay,

Greetings from Smartrunner,

I am growing tomatoes for the very first time and I saw sprouts coming upward. when I saw sprouts, I felt joyful at that moment. I love to grow flowers and veggies... I love gardening...

Thanks for the post and especially the video" Grow tomatoes not foliage"

Nivas from Salem on September 12, 2015:

I am growing tomatoes for very first time in pot... Just now I saw sprout from seed...felt so happy on that moment.... I love Gardening...!!!!

Thanks for the post and especially the video " Grow tomatoes not foliage".

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on July 22, 2015:

Nell, Growing your own is a great idea. Thanks for reading the hub.

Nell Rose from England on July 22, 2015:

Hi Barbara, I would love to grow tomatoes, I love them! this was fascinating, and I never knew about that worm, how horrible! I usually eat the small cherry tomatoes but love all sorts, maybe I should start growing them on my balcony! lol!

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on June 24, 2015:

North Wind, Best of luck. I hope it works this time.

North Wind from The World (for now) on June 24, 2015:

I have to say that I live in an area that is supposed to be perfect for tomatoes. As we speak I have tried a few different varieties and I think that I will try plum next because I was told that they should do well. We will see.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on June 24, 2015:

North Wind, Growing tomatoes has been easy for me, but one year I tried a variety I hadn't tried before and they did terrible. Be sure to choose a variety that is good for your area and has lots of disease resistance. Cool summers aren't as good as hot ones. If you live in a more northern zone, that may be the problem. Thanks for commenting.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on June 24, 2015:

AliciaC, I hope you get a great harvest. Thanks for commenting.

North Wind from The World (for now) on June 24, 2015:

I have no manner of luck at all with tomato plants and they are one of my favorite foods! I am still determined and will continue to try. Oh to have an abundance of tomato plants!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 23, 2015:

Thanks for sharing the useful tips. I haven't grown tomatoes for many years, but I'm going to try soon. I'll remember your suggestions.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on June 23, 2015:

Tomatoes are so useful. Mine often self-seed and just come up where they want to and I need to move them, but this seems to make them more sturdy. Love you photos, too.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on June 23, 2015:

Minnetonka Twin, You need to get a variety that only needs a short season and then use a pot you can bring inside in case they aren't quite ready. I tried wrapping the green ones in newspaper one year and they ripened beautifully, in case they don't quite make it. I'd say it is well worth giving it a try. Which part of Minnesota you live in makes a big difference, but like I said, you can always bring them indoors.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on June 23, 2015:

purl3agony, Maybe your tomatoes aren't getting pollinated. Try using a Q-tip and place it in the center of a blossom and then twirl it in another blossom. Some varieties are better than others and that could be the problem. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on June 23, 2015:

Tomatoes and Green Beans are my favorite veggies to plant. I am really glad I just read this hub as I've been thinking about growing tomatoes in pots. I live in a new place and don't have a garden started. Can I grow them at this point in Minnesota if I buy a already started plant? Thanks for the great tips and hub.

Donna Herron from USA on June 23, 2015:

I have never had any luck growing tomatoes, but I'm willing to give them another try by following your suggestions. My problem is that I get lots of flowers, but no fruit. I might try your Method 1 for planting and see if I get better results. Voted up and pinned. Thanks!

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on June 23, 2015:

FlourishAnyway, You are welcome. I'm happy that I could give you some new ideas

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 23, 2015:

Your tips are some I haven't heard before. Many thanks.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on June 22, 2015:

My Bell, Once you try, you'll find it is easy. Thanks for commenting.

Marcelle Bell on June 22, 2015:

Nice hub, Barbara! I was thinking about trying to grow tomatoes for the first time and now I'm sold. Thanks so much for the useful information.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on June 22, 2015:

mary615, I'm sure you will get some. That is my favorite way to grow them now. Thanks for your comment.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on June 22, 2015:

I am growing tomatoes for the fist time this year in pots. Mine now have blossoms, so I'm hoping I will get some to eat!

Good info here.