Avoid these 8 common mistakes if you want to grow perfect tomatoes
09/17/2020 / By Leslie Locklear / Comments
Avoid these 8 common mistakes if you want to grow perfect tomatoes

When it comes to providing optimal nutrition, there’s nothing quite like the humble tomato.

A member of the nightshade family, the tomato, known to the scientific community as Solanum lycopersicum, is a vining plant native to the tropical regions of South America and Central America.

Classified by many as a “Superfood,” the tomato is packed full of essential nutrients such as vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K, making it a valuable addition to any diet.

The tomato is best known, however, for its rich lycopene stores.

Lycopene is the pigment that gives tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables their distinctive red color. It is also a phytochemical with powerful antioxidant properties. Studies have linked lycopene to a wide array of health benefits such as optimal cardiovascular health, healthy eyesight and even the prevention of certain types of cancers.

Because of this, it’s no surprise that many have chosen to try their hand at growing their own tomatoes.

There are, however, several common mistakes that many novice gardeners often make when they grow and take care of their first tomato plants. This can often result in poor yields and an unsatisfactory experience for the budding tomato farmer.

Needless to say, avoiding the mistakes listed below will not only fully optimize one’s yield — it will also give aspiring farmers a much more fulfilling experience.

Planting them in the wrong containers

Even if you don’t have a yard, or don’t have enough space for a garden, it’s still possible for you to have fresh tomatoes every day — that is, by planting them in containers.

If you go about this route, however, you have to make sure that you get the biggest containers possible. This is because tomatoes have large root systems and will end up stunted if not given the space to grow.

In addition, tomatoes do not like it when their roots sit for long periods in water, so it is important that you drill enough holes in the containers that you will be using to allow them to drain.

Not giving your tomatoes enough sunlight

Tomatoes are sun-loving plants, this means that they need at least 6 to 8 hours of full, bright sunlight per day between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Keep this in mind when deciding where to locate tomato containers, as moving filled containers can be a back-breaking endeavor.

To make this task just a little bit easier, you can simply use a measuring device like a sun calculator or go outdoors to find a spot that gets the needed amount of light.

Giving your tomatoes too much sunlight

It may sound like a contradiction to the previous example but it is possible to overexpose your prized tomatoes to the sun, which can damage and stunt them.

If you happen to live in an area where temperatures can exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you might have to choose an area that is relatively shaded from around noon to 3 p.m.

Morning sunlight is best for juicy tomatoes since the heat is enough to dry any condensation that may have collected on the plants.

Not giving your tomatoes enough space to grow

In case you didn’t know, tomatoes are big plants. This means that individual plants need a lot of space in order for them to grow and really flourish. To do this, you have to make sure that your containers are around 24 to 36 inches apart.

According to experts, planting your tomatoes closer than 24 inches may lead to the plants competing with each other for vital nutrients, which, in turn, can then result in your crops running the risk of developing disease or not producing fruit.

Not planting your tomatoes deep enough

Tomato seedlings, according to expert gardeners, should be planted quite deep, with around two-thirds of a seedling buried in the soil. The same principle holds true when re-potting the plants: add another inch or so of soil in order to trigger the development of more roots from the covered stem section.

As noted by experts, this is because tomatoes have an extensive root system, meaning that they need a lot of space in order for their roots to grow.

Remember that the more roots the plant has, the healthier, bigger, and juicier its fruits will be.

Not pruning your tomatoes

Pruning, or removing excess leaves and branches from a plant, is an often underrated gardening practice.

This is especially important, however, when it comes to tomatoes.

This is because, aside from mitigating the risk of developing diseases in the plants, pruning allows the tomato vine to use its energy toward developing bigger, juicier fruits.

Aside from that, pruning also allows sunlight and air to reach the rest of the plant, thereby drying excess moisture at a much faster rate.

In addition, pruning tomatoes also helps hasten the ripening process, thus allowing growers to harvest the fruits at an earlier time.

Take note, however, that pruning should only be done when the plants are around 12 to 18 inches tall.

Not fertilizing your tomatoes correctly

Tomatoes are notorious for being heavy feeders. This means that they need to be fertilized on a regular basis in order for them to achieve healthy growth as well as produce large and juicy fruits.

The good thing though is that making organic fertilizer for your tomatoes is relatively easy, and will only require the following components:

  • 1/2 gallon of compost
  • 2 cups of rabbit droppings
  • 1/2 cup of human or pet hair, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups of dried alfalfa leaves or alfalfa pellets
  • 1 cup of dried, crushed eggshells
  • 1 cup of used, dried tea or coffee grounds
  • 1 cup of wood ashes

Mix everything in a one-gallon bucket and add to your tomato plant containers on a weekly basis. You can also add water to the mixture and use it the same way as a typical compost tea.

Be careful not to add too much nitrogen, however, as it may cause the plants to produce more leaves instead of fruits.

Not giving your tomatoes enough water

Tomatoes need frequent watering in order for their roots to fully develop. This is amplified when tomatoes are planted in containers since containers are more likely to heat up faster compared to outdoor lots.

According to experts, a good rule of thumb to follow when it comes to container gardens is to add water until it runs freely from the bottom. This ensures that the water has reached every crevice inside the container.

Take note, however, that while tomatoes will need more water than usual during the flowering and fruiting stage, adding too much water can actually cause the fruits to split. As such, it is important that tomato growers closely monitor their plants — as well as the soil they’re in — during this part of the growing stage.

In addition, watering must only be done directly at the base, in order to avoid getting any water on the plant’s foliage and fruits. This is because excess water can actually increase the risk of diseases and sometimes even cause scorching under the hot sun.

Fresh tomatoes are some of the most nutrient-packed foods on the planet, with the brightly-colored fruits unmatched when it comes to supplying the body with essential vitamins and potent, health-supporting antioxidants.

What’s even better is that they can be easily grown at home, thus ensuring that one can easily experience the health benefits linked to fresh, homegrown organic produce — provided that one avoids the mistakes outlined in this article, of course.

For more stories about gardening, visit GreenLivingNews.com.









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