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Top Tomato Tips

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February 19, 2020

Gary Bachman: Whether you like beef steak or cherries, your tomatoes this year can be the tastiest on the block following these tips today on Southern Gardening.

Narrator: Southern Gardening with Gary Bachman is produced by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Gary Bachman: Over 35 million people, and this is a low estimate, in the United States grow tomatoes making them the most popular vegetable in the garden. And with so many varieties following these tips may be easier than deciding which ones to grow. Consistent irrigation is one of the best management practices you can have growing tomatoes. Inconsistent water supply can lead to blossom-end rot, catfacing and cracking. Always use a good organic mulch to help slow moisture loss and keep splashes off the foliage. Blight can be one of the worst disease problems encountered growing tomatoes.

Crop rotation is essential but can be difficult if you have a small garden space. Consider growing in containers for smaller gardens. Mulching and staking can also help. Solarizing the soil is a way to destroy some of the disease organisms. Covering the garden soil with clear plastic will raise the soil temperature using the heat from the sun. Of course, you want to do this before planting the garden.

Tomato growers many times harvest more than the family can eat. So how many plants should you grow? Typically, for every tomato eater, you should plant two plants. If you want to can tomatoes, then four plants per person. In the Bachman garden, I usually have 84 tomato plants and I don't like fresh tomatoes. Somewhere my math was off a bit, but having excess tomatoes is not a bad problem. This is a great way to make friends in the neighborhood or contact your local farmer's market to see if you can set a table up every once in a while. I'm horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.

Narrator: Southern gardening with Gary Bachman is produced by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

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