7 Truths About Tomatoes

Sauce. Salad. Salsa. Sorbet. There's no denying tomatoes are often a key ingredient in some of your favorite dishes, but achieving a healthy, succulent tomato can be tricky.

There are a lot of do's and don'ts surrounding this garden favorite, so here are seven truths about tomatoes that will help you grow the perfect tomato.

1. Rotate. It's recommended to avoid planting tomatoes in the same location where tomatoes and other members of the tomato family, such as peppers and potatoes, have grown in the last few years to prevent disease. Rather, rotate tomato plants with unrelated vegetables like lettuce and beans and don't forget to use a cultivator like the TB146 EC 4-Cycle Garden Cultivator to turn soil. Doing so helps keep the soil fresh and controls weeds.

2. Plant deeply. Establish strong, new roots quickly by planting your tomato plant deeply, up to its first leaves. This will also increase your harvest, as burying the stems creates more roots.

3. Companion planting. Consider companion planting to encourage healthy growth and prevent disease. Plant marigolds next to your tomatoes to help ward off pests and bugs, and plant near basil to increase flavor.

4. Use rocks. In the event of a drought, place flat rocks next to your tomato plants. This will help your plant retain water, as the rock prevents moisture from evaporating and escaping the soil.

5. Remove bottom leaves. To encourage growth of your tomatoes, simply remove the bottom leaves of the plant. Usually, these leaves are a brown shade or are already dead, and can develop fungus.

6. Deep watering. Water deeply and infrequently, and be sure to water directly onto the soil. Watering on the leaves can scorch them and hinder the plant's growth.

7. Prune & pinch. Continue your tomato plant's growth by pruning and pinching the "suckers," or new branches, that start to form on the stem. Doing this will help direct your plant's energy to growing healthy, plentiful tomatoes.


The Dirt from Troy-Bilt®

July/August 2014