Much to my grandmother’s dismay, I didn’t quite inherit her green thumb. She could grow amazing tomatoes – the big, juicy ones that are great on salads and sandwiches. Whether she planted them in her garden or experimented with container planting, the result was always the same. In the summertime, we had tomatoes coming out of our ears.
My foray into replicating my grandmother’s bountiful harvest has not been a success, to say the least. No matter how much I plan and consult with Pinterest, my summer tomato yield is measly at best. And don’t get me started on the squirrels.
But I remain committed to honing my vegetable gardening skills. I have not given up on growing perfect tomatoes. This year, I’ll be taking advice from the pros and incorporating these seven tips to elevate my harvest from paltry to bountiful.
1. Give your plants their space. By not overcrowding, you allow air circulation and sun exposure all around. The result? A reduction in the spread of foliage diseases.
2. Keep the soil drained. This factor is a must for healthy plants. If you find that your ground doesn’t drain quickly after a heavy rain, try planting in raised beds or on soil berms.
3. When setting new plants in soil or transplanting, the rule is the deeper the better. Any part of the stem that is covered with soil will form roots, which will give you more robust plants.
4. Mulch, mulch, mulch. This practice will keep the foliage clean. When soil splashes on lower plant leaves during rain, the moisture can lead to soil borne diseases. Mulching takes care of that problem.
5. Check in on your plants to see how they’re doing. If you find wilting foliage, the plants are either thirsty or suffering from disease. Troublesome critters like fruitworms, hornworms, and stinkbugs can be easily spotted and removed.
6. Let your plants soak up the sun. Large-fruited varieties need at least six hours of direct sun to produce a good yield. If your plants will get limited sunlight, try planting a smaller variety, like cherry tomatoes.
7. Keep your garden interesting. These days, unique and unusual varieties of tomatoes abound. Consider mixing in heirlooms with more traditional plants. Give new things a try, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.