How to Look After Tomato Plants

Overview

The United States is second only to China in growing tomatoes, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Three-fourths of the tomatoes eaten by Americans are processed. Growing and eating fresh tomatoes, using them to create sauces from scratch and canning them for winter use doesn't require much garden space. Tomatoes bear repeatedly throughout the growing season, are low in calories and high in vitamins A and C. Lycopene, the pigment that makes tomatoes red, is an antioxidant that may help prevent cancer and heart disease.

Step 1

Water tomato plants frequently. Soak the top 6 to 8 inches of the ground twice a week. Even watering will prevent the plant from developing blossom-end rot.

Step 2

Hoe between the plants and in the rows until the tomatoes are established. Cover the ground between the plants with organic mulch like straw, or black plastic. This will eliminate weeds and keep the soil moist.

Step 3

Remove some or all of the suckers. Suckers are shoots that develop where the stem and a branch meet. Remove all of the suckers if you want to produce very large tomatoes. Leave some of them for a bushier plant with a higher yield. Remove them by pinching them between your thumb and forefinger.

Step 4

Fertilize the garden one week before planting tomatoes, and again the day you plant. Fertilize again when the fruit sets and then once every week, or 10 days.

Step 5

Support the tomato plants with cages or stakes, or train them to climb a trellis. Unstaked tomatoes will thrive and produce fruit, but they take up a lot of room in the garden.

Step 6

Cover the plants at the first frost. Encourage them to finish producing by removing any blossoms and leaves to expose the remaining fruit to the warmth of the sun.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't use a fertilizer that's high in nitrogen when the plants are blooming.

Things You'll Need

  • Hoe
  • Fertilizer
  • Cages, stakes or trellis
  • Covering

References

  • Texas A&M University: Tomato Production Q&A
  • USDA: Sustainable Production of Fresh-Market Tomatoes

Who Can Help

  • NC State University: Tomato Growers Information Portal
Keywords: grow tomatoes, tomato plant care, fertilize tomatoes

About this Author

Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than three decades. She specializes in home improvement, cooking and interior decorating articles for online venues like Webs, eHow and Photosharingnuggets. Her offline credits include copy editing two full-length books and creating marketing copy for non-profit organizations. Jernigan attended the George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.