Who would disagree that a good crop is the result of regular crop care? However, in today’s gardening world, there are too many tips and tricks that often a good intention to help your bed translates into poor quality and quantity of the crop or prolongs the crop’s maturity. So, let’s take a look at the most common mistakes gardeners make when caring for tomatoes – 5 Tomato Growing Mistakes.
Mistake #1 – Overgrowing tomatoes
Most inexperienced vegetable growers resort to intensive planting to increase tomato production. However, tomato plants need adequate light and nutrients, and ventilation so that they can reach their full potential to establish, form, and produce a good crop.
Growing tomatoes intensively takes all of this away from them, increasing the risk of incomplete plant formation (stretched internodes and fewer flower buds) and increasing the tendency for disease and slower fruit growth and ripening.
How to properly place tomato seedlings on the bed?
The tomato planting scheme is based on many factors at the same time: plant height, the need for brazing, and slinging. Here, the description of the variety becomes a good assistant, according to which you can plan the peculiarities of care for the formed plant. Thus, high-growing tomatoes are placed in the number of 3-4 plants per 11 square feet (1 square meter), low-growing – 4-5 plants per 11 square feet (1 square meter).
The most common planting pattern is: for low-growing varieties – 12 inches (30 cm) between tomatoes and 23 inches (60 cm) between rows; for medium-growing varieties – 14 inches (35 cm) between tomatoes and 27-29 inch (70-75 cm) between rows; for high-growing varieties (determinate and indeterminate with sling) – 15-17 inch (40-45 cm) between tomatoes and 23 inches (60 cm) between rows.
There is a variant of double planting: plants are planted in two staggered rows 31 inches (80 cm) apart in a 10 inch (50 cm) wide bed. However, you can find other suggestions, but whatever you choose, the main thing is not to put the plants too close together, leaving them room to spread.
Mistake #2 – tomato pruning – incorrect shaping
The second mistake is trying to improve tomato yields is thinning out the stems. Sure, there are some varieties. Often early, low shrub forms that don’t need stems, but in most other cases. Too many extra branches on the main stem can also greatly delay crop maturity and thus reduce the amount of quality fruit. In contrast, timely plant formation, combined with the pruning of the tops in August, ensures the fullness and complete ripening of the tomatoes.
Mistake #3 – Incorrect planting time
The next mistake that leads to a reduced tomato crop is planting seedlings later than recommended in this climate zone. Some gardeners justify this practice by claiming that their plants are thus more protected against possible frosts. Still, overgrown seedlings take longer to take root and give up more energy to develop, which affects the number of ovaries, the plant’s stamina, and the final quality of the fruit.
Mistake #4 – Improper watering
Another common mistake in caring for this crop is over-watering the plants. Surface water is particularly harmful. By regularly soaking only the top layer under the tomatoes, gardeners do not allow the roots to penetrate deeper (in the whole plant of this culture, they enter the ground up to 60 inches (1.5 m), which significantly reduces the drought resistance of the tomatoes, stimulates the development of green masses and inhibits the flower buds of the lower inflorescences. However, lack of moisture has consequences abscission of ovaries and flower buds, cracking of fruits, and infestation of root tip rot.
But how do you properly water tomatoes?
Tomatoes need more water, but only in the first few weeks after planting. After that, the rule of thumb is to water less frequently but with plenty of water. There are even techniques using mulch, such as paper, that do not require additional watering. However, the more common tillage technique for this crop is still to water regularly in the morning or evening, twice a week, but from the time of mass planting of the future crop.
Watering should be done under the roots or in the furrow. Otherwise, it can cause leaf scorch or phylloxera. Whether the plants have enough water will be indicated by the leaves. If not, they will turn black and begin to shrivel in the heat. In general, watering should be 0.8-1.3 gal (3-5 liters) per plant.
Mistake #5 – Excessive leaf drop
Many people abuse this method because you can speed up fruit ripening by stripping tomatoes of their lower leaves. By removing healthy leaves, especially immediately after watering, we reduce the evaporative area of the plant, which then directs all the water to the fruit, causing it to crack with too much water. It is good to cut off yellowed and damaged leaves, but no more than three at a time.
What Should We Do And What Should We Not Do?
Because tomatoes are a self-pollinating crop, it’s a good idea to help pollinate them. You don’t have to walk around with a brush and pollinate each flower individually, but simply shaking the plant gently to encourage the pollen to enter the pistil is enough. And the best time to do this is on a warm, sunny afternoon, from 12:00 to 13:00.
A way to positively impact growth and development, and thus on crop yield, is to cover the soil with mulch. The mulch not only cools the soil to some extent (we know that tomatoes like to “stand” in cool places) and saves water but also gives an opportunity for the worms in the bed to develop. The product is manure, a natural fertilizer that stimulates growth, development. And most importantly, the immunity of the plant.