7 Rules Every Tomato Grower Should Follow

The keys to growing these savory fruits from seed can make the difference between a measly and a mammoth harvest. 

August 12, 2015
growing tomatoes
Robert Cardillo

After 30 years growing tomatoes (nearly 2,000 varieties!), I’ve learned a few rules that will serve any tomato gardener well: 

1. Set tomatoes deeply when transplanting. Any part of the stem that is covered with soil will form roots, leading to more-robust plants. 

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2. Well-drained soil is a must for healthy plants. If your ground doesn’t drain quickly after rain, plant in raised beds or on soil berms. 

Related: DIY Raised Garden Beds

3. Mulch the plants to keep the foliage clean. Soil splashing on the lower leaves during heavy rain can lead to soilborne diseases. 

4. Don’t crowd your plants; allowing air circulation and sun exposure all around will reduce the spread of foliage diseases. 

5. Large-fruited varieties need at least 6 hours of direct sun to yield well. Where sunlight is limited, cherry tomatoes are the best option.

6. Pay attention to your plants. Wilting foliage means the plants are thirsty or suffering from disease. The most troublesome critters—fruitworms, hornworms, and stinkbugs—are easily spotted, removed, and destroyed. 

7. Keep it interesting: Choose fun varieties, try new things, and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

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