Sam and Pippen share some quick tomato growing tips from The Beer Garden, where beer is the only inorganic substance that belongs in the garden! See a full list of tomato growing basics below the video.
Tomato growing tips
- Wait to plant tomatoes until overnight temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees. You won’t gain anything by planting early. In fact, it can stress the plant, leading to disease and insect infestations.
- Tomatoes like rich, well-drained soil and lots of sun. They grow just fine in containers that are 5 gallons or greater in volume. Plant tomatoes in a location that gets 6 or more hours of sun per day.
- Tomatoes like to be planted deep. Remove the bottom branches and bury the plant as deep as you’d like — leaving a few branches above ground. All those hairs on the stalk will turn into roots, which makes for a healthier plant in the long run. (It’s a marathon, not a spring.)
- Remove the suckers. Suckers grow at a 45 degree angle in the “armpit” of the stalk and the fruit-bearing branches (see video). The energy they use outweighs the benefit to the plant, so it’s best to remove them to concentrate growth to fruit-bear branches.
- Use organic fertilizer as instructed. Tomatoes need certain nutrients to bear fruit that may not be readily available in the soil. Use organic vegetable fertilizer and follow the instructions exactly, erring on the side of under-fertilizing. Over-fertilizing leads to plant stress, misshaped fruit, and infestations.
- Water slowly and regularly. Tomato plants need regular, deep water. Ideally, this means using a soaker hose to slowly drip water into the soil every week. Increase frequency during hot stretches, and decrease frequency during cool stretches. Tomatoes hate to be splashed! Avoid overhead watering methods that spray and splash the plant’s foliage, as it leads to stress and diseases. Check out this video for a watering demonstration.
- Remove late-season flowers. Pinch off the yellow flowers in mid-to-late August (depending on your growing season) to concentrate growth on the developing tomatoes. Late-season flowers likely won’t have the time, heat, and energy to develop.
- Have fun with it! Don’t expect to live off home-grown produce. Use your garden as a classroom to learn about balance, hidden life forms, and symbiotic relationships. You could do everything right, but without birds, bees, fungi, bacteria, insects and a litany of other unseen actors your tomatoes don’t have a chance.