When it comes to growing tomatoes in the garden, a few simple secrets can make all the difference to grow a bumper crop!

We absolutely love our home-grown tomatoes.

In fact, every year, they dominate nearly a quarter of our entire planting space.

For us, a big crop of home-grown tomatoes means delicious eats for the whole year.

growing tomatoes
There is nothing like the taste of a home grown tomato.

As in salsa, pasta sauce, tomato soup, tomato juice, sun-dried tomatoes and more. And that is above and beyond all that we eat fresh.

So that means growing a big healthy crop is critical!

Here is a look at 5 simple secrets we employ to always ensure a banner crop!

#1 Always Plant In A New Space

Growing tomatoes in the same space year after year is a recipe for disaster.

Tomatoes are extremely susceptible to disease. Especially ones found in the soil.

For instance, tomato blight and blossom rot are both caused from issues in the soil.

growing tomatoes
Moving your tomatoes each year is a huge key to a healthy crop.

But by rotating the crop to a new space each season, you highly reduce the risk of both.

Tomatoes are also heavy feeders from the soil. So moving plants to a new location also assures them of fresh nutrients.

As a good rule of thumb, tomato plants should never be planted in the same location for at least 3 years.

If you grow in pots or containers, the soil should be changed out every season.

#2 Plant Deep

Tomatoes need to be planted deep. We plant ours at a depth of about 6 to 8 inches.

This accomplishes two key things for the plants.

For starters, it helps protect them from the perils of Mother Nature. A deep root structure dries out less quickly. It also provides more support for plants to handle wind and storms.

growing tomatoes
Planting deep in the ground is a big key to growing tomatoes successfully.

But even more, planting deep also allows for additional roots to grow. And those roots are key to helping find nutrients and water for the plant.

And here is a bonus tip we’ve learned over the years. To make the perfect planting hole, use a post hole digger. See : How Planting With A Post Hole Digger Makes Gardening Easy 

It makes beautiful, wide, deep holes. And it does so quickly! Product Link : Post Hole Digger

#3 Feed Tomatoes When You Plant

This is a huge secret to success! In fact, I would say it has been our biggest secret to success over the years.

As we plant each tomato, we put a huge energy boost into each hole.

growing tomatoes
Used coffee grounds are a great source of nutrients for tomatoes.

We start by digging our holes with the post hole digger to about 10″ in depth.

And then we fill them back in as we plant with a mix of soil, compost, a few crushed egg shells, a couple teaspoons of coffee grounds, and a quarter cup of worm castings.

The compost, coffee grounds and worm castings provide amazing nutrients. And best of all, they release them back slowly as the plants grow.

The crushed eggs shells give a boost of calcium as they break down. This helps to prevent black rot and blossom-end rot.

growing tomatoes
Worm castings, our go-to slow release fertilizer for all of our plants and flowers

More than anything else – use those worm castings! They simply work magic.

They are the most amazing natural fertilizer we have ever used. Product link : Worm Castings

#4 Provide Support – Early!

Supporting your tomatoes is a big key to keeping them healthy.

Unsupported vines can easily be damaged. They also are more susceptible to disease and pests when they are allowed to sprawl on the ground.

And all of that tangled mess also keeps air circulation and available sunlight to a minimum. Both big factors in helping to ripen tomatoes.

Growing tomatoes
When growing tomatoes, good support is huge key to keeping plants healthy.

Whether you use cages, stakes, or a home-made contraption like our stake-a-cage, plants need support!

And be sure to put your support in before you plant.

Not only is it easier for the gardener, it keeps you from trampling around the roots. Or even worse, damaging them by driving stakes in the ground.

One final hint – as the plants begin to grow during the first month, be sure to prune out the bottom 3 to 4″ of stems and shoots.  See : Why and How To Prune Tomatoes

growing tomatoes
Clearing space for light and air is important to a plants health

Why?  It allows that all-important air and light to circulate through the plants and rows.  

It also makes it a little more difficult for garden bugs and pests to find their way onto your plants.

And it even makes it easier to water too!

#5 Mulching

When growing tomatoes – don’t forget the mulch!

Mulch plays a huge role in the health and production level of tomato plants.

Mulching helps to regulate soil temperature. It also helps keep soil and nutrients from eroding during strong rains.

But most importantly, it keeps competing weeds out of the picture. Weeds that rob plants of the vital nutrients they need to grow strong.

growing tomatoes
Mulching plants keeps weeds our, and moisture in!

We actually double-mulch our plants.

First, we place a 1 to 2″ thick layer of compost around each plant. Within that mulch, we mix in another quarter-cup of worm castings.

We finish by adding a 4 to 6″ thick layer of straw around each plant.

Together, they create a 6 to 8″ wide compost / fertilizing circle around each stalk.

Of more importance, it acts as a slow-release fertilizer as nutrients strain through it during watering or rainfalls.  

growing tomatoes
When growing tomatoes, a few simple tips can lead to a bountiful harvest.

And remember, as you work in your garden, stay off the ground directly around your tomato plants.

Stepping on and around a plant’s root zone compacts the soil. And this can plant a huge role in keeping roots from developing to maximum capacity.

One last note on mulching : If the season and soil are still a little cool, hold off.

Tomatoes love warm soil. And mulching while it’s cool can actually keep the soil from heating up.

There you have it. Our 5 simple secrets to growing tomatoes.

Happy Gardening! Jim and Mary.

To receive our 3 Home, Garden, Recipe and Simple Life articles each week, sign up below for our free email list. 

Growing Tomatoes – 5 Simple Secrets To A Great Crop!

9 thoughts on “Growing Tomatoes – 5 Simple Secrets To A Great Crop!

  • January 28, 2019 at 12:12 pm
    Permalink

    We’ve lived on the same 1/5 acre little plot for over 50 years. Over the years we have sought out different places from the previous year’s; I’ve tried growing tomatoes in the back yard, in the front yard, on the south side of the house, you name it. Regardless where we plant our tomatoes, we get hit by the blight. Is there no hope? We love homegrown tomatoes.

    Reply
    • February 5, 2019 at 9:30 am
      Permalink

      It can be tough when it keeps happening. I would start by trying to grow varieties that have some resistance. Then, where you plant, I would also try planting a few of your tomatoes with this mehtod – dig down about 12 inches down and 12 inches wide and fill the hole with new soil, compost, egg shells and some coffee ground. Keep the plants mulched with straw heavily, and keep the plant trimmed up at least 8 to 12 inches off the ground as it fully develops.

      Reply
  • January 27, 2019 at 11:23 am
    Permalink

    I follow you weekly and am always impressed by how neat your garden looks. I have a question about the straw. Where do you get yours? Most farms around here make the huge round ones. Even if I could figure out a way to get one over here, then what? I don’t have any way to handle it. In the past I have managed to get a few old, rotten, wet square ones but they are nasty to work with and don’t look nice and fluffy like the straw pictured in your garden. Thanks for the help.

    Reply
    • January 27, 2019 at 6:09 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Elaine – and so glad you enjoy our articles! We get our straw from a local farm store down the road. They do keep theirs covered, so it does stay really nice. We have had those “nasty’ wet bales that you speak of and they are no fun! There are a lot of farmers here who still use the rectangular bales, so we are very fortunate. Good luck with your garden this year!

      Reply
      • January 27, 2019 at 8:09 pm
        Permalink

        A farm store that sells straw, wouldn’t that be nice! Thanks.

        Reply
        • February 5, 2019 at 9:30 am
          Permalink

          Elaine – I know, we are so very fortunate to have a great farm store with great people right down the road from us!

          Reply
  • January 27, 2019 at 9:15 am
    Permalink

    Hello! Would you please tell me exactly what kind of seed starting trays you use? I know you mentioned using larger ones so the plants could remain in them til planted outdoors. Where do you find the ones you use? Thank you!! ~Karen

    Reply
    • January 27, 2019 at 6:13 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Karen,

      We get ours on-line from a place called bootstrap farmer. You can find them on Amazon too: Extra Strength 32 Cell Seedling Starter Trays w/Inserts, 10 Pack, for Seed Germination, Plant Propagation by Bootstrap Farmer. Hope that helps! Jim

      Reply
      • January 27, 2019 at 8:05 pm
        Permalink

        Thank you, Jim. ~Karen

        Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: