Growing tomatoes that ripen enough to be juicy, sweet, and flavourful is ideal for every tomato lover. Sometimes, certain conditions in the late spring months prevent tomato plants from reaching their full potential””that’s why it’s essential to check up on them and give them the care they need to grow well. Whether you’re new to planting tomatoes or are a seasoned veteran, keep these tips in mind to grow perfect tomatoes this May. Once you’ve read through this guide to tomatoes, you’ll be ready for a successful growing season!
How to Care for Your Tomato Plants
Many tomato gardeners realize that it takes much more maintenance than watering your plants and providing sunlight to grow the perfect tomato, but just because they take a bit of effort doesn’t mean it’s time-consuming or tedious! The more care you provide, the better the tomatoes will turn out. The following are the best tips to follow when checking on your tomatoes.
Now that it’s warm enough to bring your newly-sprouted tomatoes outdoors, it’s time to harden off your seedlings and get them in the ground to start growing! If you started your seeds indoors, you can harden off your seedlings by bringing the plants outdoors for an hour one day, then increasing that time incrementally over the next week or so to ensure your plant leaves don’t scorch in the sun. On average, planting your seedlings 20-24 inches apart is an ideal range for the plants to grow.
Give Them Lots of Light
To grow healthy and ripe tomato plants, they need at least 6 to 8 hours of sun. Even though tomatoes need extreme heat and thrive in these temperatures, there’s a point where it can be too hot and lead to heat stress. You can place the tomatoes in a spot where the morning sun hits it best, and the afternoon will provide some shade.
Prune or Pinch Plant Tips
With warmer months in early summer, suckers can develop on tomato plants’ joint branches. The best way to remove suckers from these joints is to simply pinch the bottom of the sucker off to remove it. If you prefer pruning, cut at the base of the sucker. Be sure not to prune any other parts of the plant, as it can reduce the sweetness of the growing tomatoes.
Add Mulch Around Tomatoes
During the month of May, the soil will heat up. Allowing this heat is good for the soil to grow a healthy plant. After all, tomatoes thrive in heat! Adding mulch is a great way to preserve moisture but not cool down the soil completely since you’ve given it time to heat up. To prevent cooling it down, add one layer of mulch around the base of the sprouting plant.
Bury Plant Stems Deeper Than You’d Think
Plant the tomato seedlings deeper than usual so that they can develop more roots up the stem, stabilizing your plant for stronger and better fruit. You can bury your plant up to the first set of healthy leaves or higher if you’d like! The deeper you plant, the more surface area it has to grow roots and stabilize. Be sure to pinch off the leaves you plan to bury.
Remove the Bottom Plant Leaves
Removing the bottom leaves is an important step, as fungi can develop on old leaves, which are typically susceptible to this disease. Removing them will prevent soil borne pathogens from spreading on the leaves since they lay close to the ground, thus increasing the impossibility of fungus damaging your tomato plant.
If you want to graduate from beginner to expert this season, check out our guide to tomatoes! You can also visit us at Salisbury Greenhouse in St. Albert and Sherwood Park for all of your tomato growing needs. With so many different tomato varieties to try and endless ways to use them, you’ll love growing these juicy gems in your garden.