By The Old House Web


There are several types and varieties of tomatoes. Most require full sun and any moist, well drained soil. Set out plants in late May after the danger of frost has passed. Seed may be started inside 6 to 8 weeks before planting outside. Space plants 24 to 36 inches apart in rows 36 to 48 inches apart. Tall leggy transplants may be set deeper. Spacings are influenced by the training method selected. Plants trained on stakes are spaced 1 1/2 feet apart in rows 3 feet apart. If the garden wasn't fertilized, work in 1 heaping teaspoon of 5- 10-10 or 5-10-5 in a 1 foot circle where the plants will be set. Repeat the application when the first fruits are set, then once a month while the fruits are developing.

No training gives the most fruits per plant, but trained plants have cleaner, easier to pick fruit with less loss due to rots. If plants are staked, put the stake in the soil shortly after transplanting. Use a 6 foot stake and put at least 10 inches in the ground. Tie the plant to the stake with rags or twine as it grows. Remove all side shoots to get one stem. Leave the lowest side shoot if 2 stems are wanted. Cages are made from a 5 by 6 foot piece of concrete reinforcement wire. Make a cylinder and hook the ends to keep the cylinder together. Remove the bottom rung and push the resulting prongs into the soil. Place the cage over the tomato soon after transplanting. If other wire is used, make sure the mesh is large enough to get a hand and tomato through. Tomatoes need an even moisture supply. Mulching with organic mulches or black plastic is beneficial. If grass clipping are used, don't apply them after the lawn was sprayed with weed killer.

Tomatoes are harvested when the color indicates ripeness. If harvested immature, allow them to ripen in the shade. Allow immature fruit to ripen at 70 degrees then place it in the refrigerator. Harvest tomatoes before a killing frost.

Tomatoes growing in the root zone of a black walnut tree are injured by a chemical in the tree's roots. Some varieties wilt when exposed to saturated soil for several days.

The main symptom of blossom end rot is the rotting of the bottom of the tomato. An uneven moisture supply makes the problem worse. The problem is often accompanied by vigorous growth and excessive nitrogen applications.

The leaf margins roll upward following heavy rains or excessive soil moisture.

Possible causes are low soil moisture during periods of hot dry winds, excess nitrogen, sudden cool weather, and beating rains.

Fruits crack when periods of warm weather and rain follow dry weather.

Distorted growth is usually due to injury from lawn weed killers. The source may be drift or it can be on grass clippings used as mulch.

Catface is distorted fruit with puckering and cavities at the blossom end. Possible causes are injury to the flower from heat, drought, low temperatures, or herbicides.

Sunscald occurs when green tomatoes are exposed to direct sun. Light colored spots develop followed by blistering and invasion of the spot by secondary rots. The problem is most common on plants defoliated by diseases.

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