Tweaking Your Tomatoes

Tips for keeping your tomato plants on track.

By: Marie Hofer
'Defiant' Tomato

'Defiant' Tomato

Late-blight a concern in your area? Turn to 'Defiant' tomatoes, which are highly resistant against light blight and also have good resistance against early blight. 'Defiant' produces a high-yield of deep red fruits with a classic tomato flavor in 70 days.

Photo by: Image courtesy of JungSeed.com

Image courtesy of JungSeed.com

You've got them in the ground — your favorite varieties and maybe some trial balloons. They're in a spot where they'll get at least six hours of sun a day. And, of course, you planted them well — deep, preferably — in a loamy, well-enriched soil. 

What can you do now? 

  • Give your tomatoes a regular supply of moisture — about 1-1/2 inches of water per week when they're fruiting. When first planted, a tomato transplant — depending on your climate, humidity and type of soil — will need to be watered every couple of days. After it settles in, water less often. Tomatoes in containers may have to be watered every day or two. Inconsistent watering can lead to such problems as blossom end rot. The best advice is usually to water less often but deeply. 
  • Feed lightly with a low-nitrogen fertilizer when the plant starts to flower; top dressing of compost and/or a hit of compost tea is great too.
  • Regularly pinch off the new growth in the angle of the main stem and side branches; this keeps the plant open.
  • Stake the plant to keep the foliage and fruit off the ground. You'll absolutely have to stake the indeterminate types (the types that keep growing), but even determinate types benefit from staking.
  • Keeping your plants healthy will help minimize disease. Know what to look for: Tomato troubles and what to do about them.
  • Root a few cuttings of a healthy plant in water, pot up in a container for a week or so, then move into the garden to extend your harvest.
Keep Reading

Next Up

Q&A: Tomatoes That Fail to Ripen

Identify the cause for sunken spots on tomatoes and how to treat the problem.

How to Grow Tomatoes in a Raised Bed

Are your tomato plants not getting enough drainage? Follow these steps on growing tomatoes in a raised bed.

Growing Tomatoes Indoors

Learn how to get started growing tomatoes indoors — even in the winter.

Fun Facts About Tomatoes

Delicious, nutritious find out more about the versatile, intriguing tomato.

How to Ripen Green Tomatoes

Extend the season by ripening year-end crops indoors.

Troubleshooting Tomato Plant Problems

Master gardener Paul James lists some of the most common problems with tomato plants.

Short-Season Tomatoes

Enjoy the fruits of your labor early in the season with these tasty, fast-growing varieties.

Tomato Cages 411

Learn how to select and use the proper cage for your tomatoes and keep your plants producing all summer.

Growing Tomatoes From Seed

Tips for producing vigorous tomato seedlings for transplanting outdoors.

Tomato Cheat Sheet: Grow Tomatoes Now!

Don’t let the challenges stop you from growing the most popular edible.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.