Looking for a few secret tips and tricks to keep your tomato plants producing more delicious fruit than ever this year?
Gardeners love their tomatoes. Not only are tomato plants the most popular vegetable plant to grow, they are also the most versatile when it comes to what you can do with them. In fact, it’s actually quite amazing to think about how many foods you can create with tomatoes!
Tomatoes are certainly delicious for salads, juicing and simply slicing and eating fresh. But they are also a key ingredient for everything from homemade salsa and sauce, to ketchup, chili, sun-dried tomatoes and more. And that is exactly why getting as many as you can from your plants is important!
So what does it take to keep your plants strong and productive all season long? As you will see below, proper watering and fertilizing are certainly big keys to success, but there are also a few other key tips and tricks that might just surprise you when it comes to keeping your plants producing.
With that in mind – here are five big tips to get your plants to grow more tomatoes than ever this summer!
5 Tips To Keep Tomato Plants Producing In The Summer
Before we get into our tips and tricks, it’s important to first note that there are two types of tomatoes, determinate and indeterminate. And depending on what type you grow, they may or may not last all season long.
Determinate tomatoes (Roma tomatoes are a great example of a determinate) will produce and ripen all of their tomatoes over a three or four week span. Determinate tomato varieties are actually great for those who love to preserve. They can produce a massive crop over a short time, giving plenty of fruit for saving.
But once they do, no matter how much water or fertilizer you feed them, they will die off. All too often gardeners think their determinate tomatoes have blight or disease – and it’s actually just a determinate variety that has reached its end.
Indeterminate tomatoes on the other hand will continue to produce all summer long. Nearly all heirloom and larger tomato types are indeterminate. And the better care you give them, the more they will continue to produce. And for indeterminates, it all starts with giving them the water they need!
#1 Water Smart – How To Keep Tomato Plants Producing
Tomato plants need water to produce both blooms and fruit. In the summer, one of the easiest ways to have your plant slow or stop producing its fruit is to let it completely dry out.
Tomato plants need one to two inches of water per week. If you are not receiving that with rainfall, hand watering is a must. But how you water is important too. Instead of watering a little every day, water your plants a few times a week – but deeply.
Deep watering every three or four days is best. It makes the roots of your plants grow deep and protects them from heat and drought. When watering, mature plants should be getting about a gallon of water with each watering.
Finally, when watering, always do so at the base of the plants and not directly on them. Spraying water on plants can knock off blooms, bring on mildew and mold – and sun scald your foliage. It also allows evaporation to waste much of your watering efforts.
#2 Fertilize Smart – How To Keep Tomato Plants Producing
Fertilizing your plants in the summer is vital to keep production going. By summer, the plants have used up many of the resources that were available to them from the ground. And without fresh nutrients, production and plant health will fail.
But how you feed them and what you feed them is the real key to fertilizing success. Liquid fertilizers are best for summer feeding. They absorb both through the soil and roots and by into the foliage of plants.
When selecting a liquid fertilizer, make sure to pick one that is higher in phosphorous and potassium than nitrogen. Nitrogen is great for early growth, but phosphorous and potassium are most important for producing blooms and fruit.
If you are feeding too much nitrogen in the summer months, all it will do is green up your plant and produce more branches and leaves – all at the expense of blooms and fruit. Product Affiliate Link : JR Peters 51324 Jack’s Classic 12-15-30 Tomato Feed
Listen In Below To Our Podcast On How To Perfectly Fertilize Tomatoes!
#3 Pick Your Tomatoes Before They Fully Ripen – How To Keep Tomato Plants Producing
Although everyone dreams of plucking that perfectly ripe tomato right from the vine, it’s better to pick your tomatoes before they are fully ripe.
The longer a ripening fruit stays on the vine, the more it becomes attractive to pests and disease. There is nothing more depressing than having the perfect tomato forming – only to watch it go bad. But even more than that, the longer a tomato stays on a plant, the more resources it continues to draw nutrients and energy from the plant.
Believe it or not, as soon as tomato begins to slightly turn, it does not need to be on the vine to mature. In fact, it’s much better to pick it and let it ripen on a covered porch or area out of the sun. It ensures your fruit will be more blemish free – and that your plant can save energy to produce more tomatoes!
We usually pick our tomatoes four to five days before they will fully ripen and let them finish off on a homemade drying rack on our back porch.
We created the rack out of hardware cloth and a few untreated 2 x 4’s. It allows the tomatoes to ripen under a bit more protection and more importantly, off the plant. The hardware cloth allows for good air flow good and lets them ripen fully on all sides. See Our 2×4 DIY Drying Rack Plans
Whatever you do, don’t not put them in the fridge to ripen. They will stop ripening as soon as they hit those cool temps – and it kills their flavor too!
#4 Pick Often – How To Keep Tomato Plants Producing
In addition to picking your fruit early, picking often can play a huge role in just how many tomatoes your plant can produce in a single season.
Not only does excess fruit on a plant use valuable nutrients and resources, it also stops production. When too much produce is left on indeterminate varieties, plants will begin to slow or stop production of new blossoms.
They do this in order to ripen all of that hanging fruit. Fruit that is much better ripening off the plant anyway!
#5 Keep Weeds Out – How To Keep Tomato Plants Producing
Finally, whatever you do, mulch your plants heavily and keep the weeds out! Weeds are one of the biggest detriments to the overall health of tomato plants.
Tomato plants need all of the nutrients and water they can get in the summer months to keep producing fruit. If your plants are smothered in weeds, they lose those nutrients to the weeds.
In addition, those weeds are a great place for pests to hang out and multiply – and to harbor disease as well! Last but not least, remember that if you let this year’s weeds take over and go to seed, they only multiply next year’s problem.
Last but not least, don’t be afraid to prune your tomato plants a bit to help them stay strong and keep them under control. We prune up underneath all of our plants 12 to 18 inches. It makes watering easier and allows for better airflow. See: How To Prune Tomato Plants With Ease
Here is to keeping your tomato plants healthy and producing strong all season long! Happy Tomato Gardening – Jim and Mary
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