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Growing Terrific Tomatoes

Unknown Master Gardener

Growing Terrific Tomatoes

1)  Purchase Healthy Plants

  • Buy from local grower

  • Bushy, disease free plants (no yellow leaves, no spots on leaves, stems)

  • Disease resistant.  Check tag:  VFH.  V=Verticillium, F=Fusarium wilt, N= Nematode resistance.

  • Select local varieties, buy more than one variety

2) Good Soil

  • Have soil tested.  Call:  612.625.3101

  • Add good amount of organic matter - well-rotted manure, compost

  • Watch PH

  • Plant in pots?  Change soil every year to prevent diseases

  • Go to  and click on GARDEN for more information

3) Location, location, location

  • Minimum of 6 - 8 hour of sun ideal

  • Near water source

  • Rotate crops every year on a 3 year cycle

  • Keep good records

4) Plant Correctly

  • Don’t rush the season (plant 10 days AFTER the last frost date in your area)

  • Harden off plants

  • Don’t plant when soil is wet – stay out of garden when wet

  • Pinch off lower branches, leaving few at top of plant, all fuzzy hairs of stem will become roots.

  • Plant sideways in trench

    • Dig out a shallow trench

    • Remove lower stems and branches

    • Lay entire plant down in trench on side

    • Cover with soil

5) Don’t Crowd Plants

  • Tomato plants get very large

  • Need air circulation which will help dry leaves and prevent disease

  • Will have more tomatoes when given adequate space to grow

6) Fertilize Plants

  • Feed with balanced fertilizer

  • Beginning after first fruit set

7) Mulch Soil

  • Mulch is fabulous garden tool:

    • Helps prevent weeds

    • Will hold moisture in soil

    • Helps prevent water splashing on leaves which helps prevent disease

    • Mulch soil a few weeks after planting

    • Types of mulch:  wood chips, newspaper (not color), straw, grass clippings (no chemicals)

8) Water Plants regularly and deeply: Tomatoes require consistent moisture to produce a crop of smooth and unblemished fruit

  • A tomato is 95% water!

  • Need lots of water to grow and develop fruit

  • Should receive 1 to 2 inches of water a week.

  • No overhead watering…no sprinkler.  Water splashes on leaves and causes soil to splash on leaves.

  • Soaker hose is best

  • Water plants at base

  • Soak the soil thoroughly when watering.  Frequent light watering will encourage weak root system.

  • Watch container plants…anything in pot.

    • plastic heats up quickly

    • may need to be watered twice a day

9) Keep Plants off the Ground

  • Staking plants will help reduce losses due to leaf diseases

  • Keep fruit off the ground

  • Round metal cage (heavier metal the better)

  • Metal stake in ground/ Metal cage

  • Use twisty ties to hold up branches to cage…be gentle

  • Easier to pick tomatoes when ripe…do not let over ripen.

10) Clean Up Garden Area after Harvest

  • Some pathogens over-winter on infected plant debris

  • Important to dispose of:

    • rotted tomatoes

    • infected plants

    • infected leaves

    • infected weeds

    • Leaf fungus can persist in soil

Tomato Dictionary

Determinate: Tomato plants whose vines make little or no growth once fruit is set.  Most of the fruit develops at the same time.

Indeterminate: Vines keep producing new shoots, blossoms   and fruit throughout the growing season.

Heirloom Tomatoes are open pollinated plants.  They often do not produce as many tomatoes as hybrids, but typically taste better.

Hybrid Tomatoes are plants that have been controlled breeding and have some good qualities such as disease-resistance bred in them.



UMN Extension – Disorders of Tomatoes

UMN Extension – Growing Tomatoes, Peppers & Eggplants in Minnesota Home Gardens


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