The thing about tomatoes that is different from almost any other plant is they can go very deep in the ground. Tomatoes have the ability to form adventitious roots all along their stem. Not many plants can do that. A lot of plants, if you plant them too deep, their dead. Not tomatoes. The deeper, actually, sometimes the better because your able to make more roots, which means just more ability to get water and nutrients, and a healthy root system leads to healthy, big productive tomato plants. So, I’m going to take this guy, I’m going to dump him out into this deep hole we’ve got here. As you can see I’ve got almost a foot of stem underneath the ground. Now, I’m going to just fill in all around it. This is a good, rich compost as well. It’s important that when you plant tomatoes you can consider using a compost because it has to have a lot of good nutrients. So, whether you use compost or some specific tomato fertilizer, either one is
fine with me, as long as you make sure the plant has an adequate amount of calcium,
because the calcium is what’s gonna stop the blossom-end rot. The blossom-end rot is when the tomato gets that brown or blackish spot and becomes unusable. We don’t want that. So, especially you people in the midwest, I want you to think about adding
a calcium-rich fertilizer or compost as soon as you plant. So the other big question I get about tomatoes is how to maintain them through the year. People have problems sometimes with disease or pests. What you want to do is you want to make sure, first of all, that you stake them well so they have enough air and enough space to spread out and grow the way they should. That’s going to really help prevent a lot of those diseases, like, pottery mildew, from setting in. Secondly, water. When you water, you want to water early. Don’t water late in the evening when it can sit on the leaves and invite pottery mildew and other funguses that come in. Those two things will really help you as far as disease and fungus. When it comes to pests, like aphids in particular, you want to try to plant things with them – herbs, marigolds, all those different things are very good at keeping pests at bay a bit. But of course sometimes you really are going to have an infestation and then I want you to look to treat them the greatest way possible. First, I want you to try to see if you can pick things off with your hand. Once it gets passed that, you can take a spray hose and try to knock some of the aphids off. If that doesn’t work, Safer makes some great products that helps control a lot of those pests and keeps them away the tomatoes. Make sure you spray on the under side of
the leaves because that’s where they’re going to be hiding out. Now you can also try using things like lady bugs and lacewings. Those biological insects are really a good benefit for the garden and they eat a lot of these pests, as well. So, what I want you to do is follow those best management practices. Make sure you water early in the morning. Make sure you stake your tomatoes up. Make sure that you give it a good, rich fertilizer with calcium. And when you have to, take those extra measures and that will keep you in tomatoes all summer long for those salsas and also for those fresh salads. Take care!