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12 Tomato Tricks and Tips

Separate fact from fiction with tried-and-true tomato growing tips.

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‘Mortgage Lifter’ Heirloom Tomato

A fantastic tomato harvest starts with proper planting and care. When it comes to growing tomatoes, it seems that everyone has a go-to trick for yielding the biggest and tastiest tomatoes. Learn the truth behind some of the most popular tomato tips and finesse your growing techniques.

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Photo: Photo by Julie A. Martens

Bury Eggshells

Does this trick work? Yes. It’s best to break up eggshells as you toss them into the hole. Use three or four crushed eggshells per plant. You can also soak eggshells in water for several days and use that water to water plants. This works well with potted tomatoes. What do eggshells supply? Calcium, which helps defeat blossom end rot. Some gardeners bury a piece of chalk in planting holes to supply calcium. You can also sprinkle crushed eggshells around tomato seedlings to keep slugs, pillbugs and earwigs at bay.

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Photo: Photo by Julie A. Martens

Give Plants an Asprin

Does this trick work? Yes. Some gardeners dissolve one 325-mg aspirin per gallon of water and spray seedlings a few days prior to planting. Other gardeners toss two aspirin in the planting hole. Both methods jump-start a plant’s immune system. Why? Tomato plants produce salicylic acid (found in aspirin) in response to microbe attacks. Giving aspirin to plants prior to planting and/or at planting time kicks the plant’s immune system into high gear, which helps it to fend off early attacks. Use the cheapest aspirin you can find—uncoated tablets dissolve easiest.

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Red Mulch for Tomatoes

Does this trick work? Yes. Red mulch increases tomato harvest by up to 20 percent. The red color reflects far-red light wavelengths up into tomato leaves, which causes plants to produce a protein that speeds up growth and development. The result is faster-growing plants, faster-yielding plants and more, tastier fruit. Red mulch also works with red peppers, melons and strawberries.

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