How To Grow The Best Tomatoes

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.

12 thoughts on “How To Grow The Best Tomatoes

    sue said:
    May 10, 2014 at 08:38

    can I use Epsom Salt on all my plants? Flower and roses?

    roy said:
    August 28, 2014 at 10:48

    you are sure right about growing tomatoes….i am experimenting by adding tarivita humate to my seaweed…i think it was virginia tech, after 10 yr study stated, mixed together both would be a lot more effective…we’ll see….it is cheap also…roy

    Angie said:
    March 18, 2015 at 08:35

    What does the epsom salts do for the tomatoes?

      The Wisconsin Vegetable Gardener responded:
      March 22, 2015 at 20:11

      Epsom salt helps prevent blossom end root rot. It helps the plants absorb the proper amount of calcium that they need.

    Tami said:
    May 29, 2015 at 10:22

    I am growing my tomatoes in containers and I did put epsom salt in the soil when I originally potted them. My question is, should I occasionally add more epsom salt throughout the growing season and if so how often?

      The Wisconsin Vegetable Gardener responded:
      May 29, 2015 at 21:39

      from what I have found mix 1TSP of epsom salt to 1 gallon of water every other week because it is not known for sure whether excess salts will build up in the soil

    linda zorn said:
    June 11, 2015 at 20:07

    I planted my tomatoes in earth boxes. We seem to get blossom rot every year. Is it possible to add some Epsom salt to the soil now?

    Lachlan said:
    July 6, 2015 at 08:47

    Spot on with this write-up, I actually feel this amazing site needs much more attention. I’ll probably be back again to
    read through more, thanks for the information!

    Linda McAninch said:
    February 28, 2016 at 21:39

    My husband made some raised beds, we filled them with farm fresh dirt it was like red clay only pretty so we put some sand and something like potting soil. My tomatoes do not taste like tomatoes .Each yr they taste odd and when cooked there horrid. Iv tried Better Girl,Better Boy and some other plants that were healthy. Any ideas what we can do ?

      The Wisconsin Vegetable Gardener responded:
      February 29, 2016 at 23:44

      Hi Linda. The reason why the tomatoes arent tasting good is because of the soil base. It would be best to amend the soil with good rotted manure or a good compost. It would also be ideal to add good organic fertilizer, something with lots of potassium. Your soil is not healthy, which ends up giving you bland tomatoes.

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