Tips for Healthy, Productive Tomato Plants

Tomatoes are one of the easiest and most rewarding vegetable plants you can grow. Easy that is, if you do a few things right.

First, choose varieties that grow well in your area. Local nursery or garden center experts, experienced gardeners, or your cooperative extension office will have suggestions. Buy healthy transplants and plant them in well-prepared soil and full sun. Tomatoes root deeply, so turn the soil to a depth of at least 24 inches and work in some composted manure.

After planting, water well and don’t let the plants dry out. About 6 weeks after planting, feed with a high-nitrogen fertilizer. After that, feed sparingly or you’ll encourage foliage at the expense of fruit.

As the plants grow, tie them to a stake or enclose them in a wire tomato cage available in nurseries and garden centers. Apply a thick mulch of organic matter and, whatever you do, don’t let the plants dry out. Keep an eye out for insect pests, such as tomato hornworm, and protect your plants accordingly.