Many home gardeners include tomato plants in their gardens, year after year. These flavorful plants thrive in containers, as well as large garden plots. Tomatoes provide vitamins A and C, as well as the antioxidant lycopene. With their many culinary uses, tomato plants provide gardeners with fresh fruit for salads and sauces for canning and cooking. Correctly planting and caring for tomato plants ensures healthy plants and a plentiful and enjoyable harvest.
Tomato plants require large amounts of bright sunlight. Avoid planting these garden plants under trees or close to structures that create shade. Tomatoes often suffer breakage during high winds. Select protected locations with shelter from damaging winds. Tomato plants require plenty of moisture to flourish and produce fruit. Place tomatoes in easy reach of a garden hose.
Tomatoes thrive in well-drained soil with adequate nutrients. Organic ingredients, such as peat moss and compost increase the porosity of heavy soils. Tomato plants prefer soils with a pH level between 6.5 to 7.0. Chemical soil testing provides accurate results in determining the pH level of garden soils. Many gardeners add lime to soil before planting tomato plants. Add about 1 pound of crushed limestone to every 100 square feet of soil.
Tomato plants require average to warm soil temperatures. Tomatoes planted in soils cooler than 50 degrees Fahrenheit frequently fail to thrive. Many cool climates require longer growing seasons. Planting seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last expected freeze provides healthy, young plants for transplanting into garden soil. Even light freezes damage or destroy tomato plants. Wait to plant tomatoes outside until after the final frost of the season.
Many types of diseases and pests attack tomato plants in the garden. Planting tomatoes too close to one another creates the ideal conditions for many mildew diseases. Follow all instructions on tomato seed packages to determine the accurate spacing for each variety to avoid crowding. Avoid splashing water on the developing leaves and stems. Water spots encourage various types of blight in tomato plants. Treating tomatoes with pesticide products removes harmful insects. Select a pesticide formulated for use on tomato plants.
Tomatoes thrive in nutrient rich soils. Nitrogen application encourages healthy fruit production in tomato plants. During the second and third months of growth, feed your tomatoes about one tablespoon of nitrate of soda per plant. Sprinkle this over the soil about 3 inches away from stems to avoid direct contact with plants.