We’re giving you 20% off 4” tomato starts this week at D Avenue Nursery, so to get you inspired here’s a few top tips for growing these favorites at home!
- SUN. Tomatoes love sunshine, so make sure that wherever you decide to plant or pot them receives at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. Now is the perfect time to plant these beauties as they like warmer soil and air temperatures!
- Dig deep. You’ll want to plant your tomato starts about 2 feet apart to give their roots plenty of space to grow and spread. If your starts are a little leggy or are still young, be sure to bury plants deeper than they were in the pot, all the way up to the top few leaves! Yes that sounds weird, but planting this way will allow tomatoes to develop roots all along their stems. You can also lay the plants on their side in a shallow trench and cover; the plant will quickly right itself and the same process will occur. If the starts are fairly well established, still make sure the root ball is planted deep enough that the bottom leaves are just brushing the surface of the soil.
- Stake it out! Put your stakes in the ground or cage up the plants when you plant them – this will avoid damaging roots in the future. Just be careful not to stake that stem if you opted for the sideways-planting option!
- Mulching. Once planted, you’ll want to mulch the soil around your tomatoes. This will help conserve water and retain heat, so make sure to put the mulch down when the soil is nice and warm.
- Pruning. When first planting your tomato starts, pinch off the bottom few leaves which are the oldest. Once the plant grows to around 3 feet tall you can remove leaves from the bottom 1 foot of the stem – this will help the plant to put more energy into developing fruit. Suckers, developing in the crotch joint of two branches, can also be pinched off throughout the growth process to encourage more fruit production. Other than that tomatoes do not need excessive pruning.
- Watering. Tomatoes love water and need it regularly! Aim for at least 1 inch of water per week, with more during hot, dry spells. Forgetting to water these guys will result in blossom end rot (which is a calcium deficiency), cracking and splitting so the key is regularity. Once the fruit begins to ripen, watering plants slightly less will allow them to concentrate more sugars into the developing tomatoes, but use your judgement: if the plant is looking wilted throughout the day, it is stressed and needs more water!