Tomatoes are a favorite vegetable for many people and are one of the most popular vegetables for home gardeners to grow. Juicy tomatoes sweet and bursting with flavor may be eaten fresh, used in cooked dishes, made into sauces and even sun dried for use in pasta dishes. All varieties of tomatoes require eight hours of sunlight per day, warm temperatures and rich soil.
Tomatoes grow root systems up to 5 feet deep. Prepare the soil before planting by digging to a depth of at least 2 feet, adding compost, organic matter and fertilizer to get the plants off to a good start. If soil is poor, consider growing tomatoes in raised beds with imported top soil or commercial potting soil. Raised beds have other advantages as well. The soil isn't compacted by being walked on. It gets warmer and stays warmer which speeds the formation of roots. In early spring place clear plastic around the plants to warm the ground even more.
Tomato plants will produce roots from the stems if the stems are underground. A strong root system developed early in the plant's life means bigger and better tomatoes. Remove all but the top three sets of leaves from a transplant that is no taller than 12 inches. Dig a hole big enough for the root ball of the transplant. Lay the transplant on its side. Bury the root ball and the stem up to the leaves. In a day or two the plant will right itself.
Consistent Deep Watering
Inconsistent watering is one of the causes of blossom rot where the end of the tomato turns brownish and leathery. It causes blossom drop as well. One of the most recognizable signs of inconsistent watering is tomatoes that are cracked on the top. The cracking is caused by the tomato fruit giving up water when the plant is too dry and then absorbing extra water when it's available, expanding too fast.
Compensate for Low Humidity
Many areas of the country have low humidity. Ideally, tomatoes require humidity between 40 to 70 percent to set fruit. If the humidity won't reach that range, spray the flowers so the pollen won't dry out.
Curly top virus, which is carried by the beet leaf hopper, causes the top leaves of the tomato plant to curl and yellow. The entire plant will eventually die. Remove infected plants as soon as you notice them. Birds love tomatoes and will peck out holes in every ripening tomato on the vine. Cover the plants with netting to keep them out. Tomato hornworm munch on tomato leaves and can strip a plant in a day or two. Keep an eye out for them and remove by hand.
Lots of diseases live in the soil. Rotate the tomatoes and other crops in different spaces from year to year.