Tips for Thriving Tomato Plants

1. Bury them Deep!

Cut off all lower branches and plant deep enough that only top-most set of leaves are above ground.

Fill hole with 50:50 mix of your garden soil and compost; plus 1/2 cup of lime (agricultural or dolomite).

2. Keep them Warm!

Aim to keep plants at 75-85F at all times

Cover plants anytime temp will be below 55F

Use clear plastic bag or drycleaner plastic, or build a low tunnel with pvc pipe bent into hoops and covered with plastic. 

Metal/wood cage or stakes to hold plastic around the plant

When outside temp goes above 70F, lift edges of bag to allow air to get in around the plant

3. Water the Roots - Not the Leaves!

Water tomatoes evenly and regularly. 

Periods of drought/excess water can lead to cracking of tomato skins.

 Plan for 6 gallons of water per week per 10-square feet of tomato growing space. Plan 2-square feet per tomato plant. So that’s 1.25 gallons of water per tomato plant per week. If it’s a really hot week, increase to 2 gallons per tomato plant.

Drip irrigation systems with timers are a great time saver and allow you to get away for vacation! Supplements can be added using an in-line device. Check out

4. Feed with Phosphorus

Choose a fertilizer with high phosphorus content (the middle number, N-P-K) and feed regularly (every 2 weeks). Follow product instructions but stay on the lighter side of the recommended range. Examples of reliable, organic fertilizers that are easy to mix with water for regular feeding:

5. Supplement with Calcium

Supplement with calcium to prevent blossom end rot (black/brown ends on tomatoes). Liquid calcium mixed with water every 1-2 weeks during growing season (June-Aug). Examples of liquid calcium supplements:

5. Prune them Often!

Start pruning when first flowers appear. Repeat every 2 weeks

Remove dead or yellow leaves

Pinch off suckers at crotch angles of branches

Remove all except 4-6 main fruiting branches