Tomato Gardening

Growing tomatoes is more tricky than you might think. My father-in-law, John, an avid tomato grower in Orange County, California, explains how growing heirloom tomatoes and organic tomatoes is a better choice than growing hybrid tomatoes. 

1. Work the soil with an organic planting mix containing calcium and a fertilizer with a nitrogen, phosophorous and potassium ratio of about 8:11:10. Too much nitrogen will cause the tomato plants to have leafy greens, but little fruit. 

2. Pruning tomatoes is also important. Be sure to cut off the wild runners that don’t produce and sap the plant.

3. If the weather is too cool, tomatoes won’t set or produce.

4. Rotate your tomatoes in different spots each year.

5. Tomato cages are important for keeping the plant growing tall and the fruit off of the ground.

6. When the plant is new, water it every other day weekly so it doesn’t dry out. Once it is established, back off on the watering. 

7. Don’t get the leaves wet. Use a drip system.

8. Use companion planting instead of insecticides. Cosmos attract wasps that eat aphids and parasitic nemotodes. Borage repels the tomato hornworm.