Tomatoes are sensitive to their environmental conditions and respond well to cultural improvements that seek to perfect those conditions to their liking. Tomato plants are stimulated by bright direct sunlight, ample fertilizer, nutrient rich, plentiful water at the roots and mulch to regulate the vagaries of soil temperature and keep weeds away. According to the University of Illinois, tomatoes are the most popular and commonly grown garden vegetable in the United States and garden grown plants consistently produce fruit far superior to market available options.
Remove any plants and trim any nearby trees that may be shading your tomato plants even partially during the day. A full 6 to 8 hours of bright, direct sunlight is needed for maximum fruit production and any shade will diminish fruit production and harvest.
Water your tomato plants consistently to keep the soil moist, but not wet, at all times. Allow the top half inch of soil to become dry before watering again. During the peak fruiting season of summer or when growing in hot or dry climes or in containers, this may translate into daily watering. Water low and slow around the roots only and not over the top of the plant. Make it your goal to have nothing touch the leaves, stems and fruit save the sunlight.
Fertilize your tomato plants three times during the growing season. Scatter a nitrogen-rich, complete 10-10-10 fertilizer alongside the plants once the tomatoes reach ping pong ball size. Use 3 lbs. of fertilizer for every 100 feet of planting soil. Feed a second time three weeks and the third time six weeks later. Again, do not let the fertilizer touch the leaves or stems.
Mulch around your tomato plants to keep competitive weeds away, hold moisture in the soil and regulate the soil temperature around the roots. Mulch will also help keep water and soil from splashing up onto plants which can help to prevent disease from taking hold. Consider coarse compost, shredded bark, straw or cocoa bean hulls and lay them down an inch or two in thickness.