by Bob Webster
Bob Webster is a Master Gardener and has greenhouses/nurseries in San Antonio Texas. Here are his tips on how to grow the best tomatoes naturally and cheaply…
There are 2 kinds of Tomatoes:
Determinate/Bush: The plant will grow to a determinate height then the plant will put on fruit
Indeterminate/Vine: The plant will grow and put fruit on as it is grows and will keep putting on fruit, until it gets too cold and dies. If in warm areas such as the island of Hawaii where frost is not a problem they will grow for years.
Semi-determinate/Semi-bush: The plant will grow, put on a heavy harvest, and slowly produce fruit until frost
– Always grow tomatoes in cages or on trellises to get the plant off the ground and it will produce 2x more fruit then if it is on the ground.
– Always plant more then one type of tomatoes, plant determinate as well as indeterminate, some will do better than others from year to year. To find out what type of tomatoes you have check the seed package.
1. Once you have decided where you’re going to plant your tomatoes place two hand-fulls of store bought epsom salts on top of the soil where the plants will be planted. If you are growing them in a large area sprinkle a generous amount of epsom salts over the area of where you will be planting the tomatoes. You want to do this about a month ahead of time.
2. In order to double your tomato crop you need rock phosphate. You can find this at your local home and garden center. To use: dig a hole and place one hand full of rock phosphate in the bottom of the hole. DO NOT MIX IT IN THE SOIL. Just plant your tomato plant on top of the Rock Phosphate as you would normally plant tomatoes. If you do not to purchase rock phosphate for environmental concerns or cost, you can substitute rock phosphate with Bone Meal, and follow the same instructions.
3. Early blight is yellowing of the lower leaves of your plant then it goes up the plant throughout the season. To prevent this at planting sprinkle whole grain corn mill around each plant. You can also use mulch – such as dried grass clippings, fall leaves, to mulch to prevent soil from splashing up on the tomatoes. We would still recommend putting whole grain corn meal around as a preventative measure.
4. Spider mites: An early sign of infestation includes yellow spotting on the top side of the leaves and crusty undersides covered with webbing. To prevent this use liquid sea weed. Mix 1 gallon of water with 2 tablespoons of Liquid Sea weed and spray every 2 to 3 weeks throughout the growing season. This does not kill the spider mites, it toughens the leaves and the mites move on and won’t affect the plant. Another optional is to also add 1 tablespoon of molasses to the mix. The molasses is to stimulate the good bacteria.