Learning about tomatoes

First tomato seedling in October 2011

Tomato seedling (October)

Tomatoes are amazing plants.  Ben doesn’t like eating tomatoes, and he often thinks a cat has peed somewhere if I’ve been pruning tomato plants (they have a certain spicy smell to them), but I keep telling him that they’re awesome.  I mean, he loves ketchup.  I wish he’d eat tomatoes!

This year we’re overdoing it a bit on the tomatoes.  There’s a reason though.  We want to make chutney/tomato sauce, and for that you need lots of tomatoes.  Also, I can eat tomatoes at every meal.  Show me the tomatoes!

Last year, I cheated and got some seedlings from the grocery store after my seeds failed to sprout.  They were grafted tomatoes, and were massive producers.  I didn’t prune them or do anything special, just stuck them in big pots out front (the soil at our old flat was shocking) and left them to it.

This year, I’ve learned a few things about tomatoes this year that I didn’t know before.

Firstly, there are actual planting methods for tomatoes that will help them.  Tomatoes are a plant that will grow roots on any part of the stem that you put under the soil, so to get a really good root base, plant them deep.

Same tomato seedling in November

Same seedling (November)

That’s why each time I repot my tomatoes, they go into deeper pots, and I put them low in the pot and pile up the soil (a bit like how you hill up potatoes, really).

When you finally do put them in the ground outside, there are two methods you can use depending on what type of soil you have.

If you have good, easy-draining soil, the straight down method should work for you.  You dig a really deep hole, and pop your tomato plant in, leaving a few sets of leaves above the soil line.

The second method works if your soil isn’t very loose/well draining.  You dig a trench and lay your tomato plant down sideways, leaving a few sets of leaves coming out one end of the trench above the soil line.  You cover almost the entire plant in soil when you fill in the trench, leaving only the top part of the plant visible one end of the trench. Apparently the part you leave above the soil line will start growing upwards from there, resulting in a great root ball for your tomato plant!

Crazy, isn’t it?  I had no idea.

The other nifty thing I learned is that you can grow tomato plants from cuttings!  I seriously had no idea, but will keep this in mind for the future.

Do you know any other neat tricks & tips about growing tomatoes?  Are you a believer in pruning your tomato plants?


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lena Bug
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 21:02:49

    You know, if I ever start doing anything aside from buying potted herbs…and then watch them die, I’m going to ask you for help.

    Yes. My store bought potted herbs die. I’m not sure what I do wrong… :( I’ve always been a plant killer.


  2. Madeleine @ NZ Ecochick
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 22:00:39

    I read that you can put milk powder in the ground before you plant your tomatoes. I put in dynamic lifter. Also I read every week you remove the laterals and water with worm wee every two weeks. It’s only my first year of growing tomatoes so we’ll see how we go. I’ll definitely be planting my tomatoes differently next year! Thanks for the great tips.


  3. Daph
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 00:18:50

    When I have my own garden, I’m definitely planting tomatoes. (think I’ve told you about my love of tomato sauce) So I’m definitely going to keep these in mind! :D


  4. Rebecca
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 01:58:18

    I love ketchup and hate tomatoes too!! it’s a texture thing. I can’t eat an actual tomato. blech!!!

    we planted tomatoes last year in our little raised bed, and they came back this year!! I had no idea tomatoes did that


  5. HippyGeek
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 17:20:49

    This is GREAT – I had no idea you could do this with tomatoes!
    Lena Bug – your comment is months old but on the off chance you’ll see this, those little pots that you buy in the supermarket are apparently made to die. They’re to use fresh, but they will not survive longer than a few weeks and wont handle being transplanted at all. Use them only if you must… they’re a waste of money and I’m sure they should be labelled differently so people know they’re for short term use and not for the garden!


  6. HippyGeek
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 17:22:48

    Woah – I must have been seeing things, Sorry Lena that comment isn’t months old at all!
    Here’s to happy & healthy tomato plants. I still have some to put in the garden so I’m going to try planting them on a lean and pinching out the tops for new plants. Yay :)


  7. Hydroponic Vegetable Gardenig
    Nov 26, 2011 @ 06:00:21

    Hey nice article.. Here are few tips on pruning :- You can choose to prune your plants or let them grow wild. Un-pruned plants will develop many stems and if not supported, they will sprawl across the ground and take up a lot of space.
    Tomatoes that are pruned down to just a few stems will be more compact in size, can be staked, and will produce larger fruit.
    Around the time when your tomato plants start to produce flowers, they will also start producing side branches. Side branches are stems that emerge from the nodes between leaves and the main stem. They are commonly known as “suckers,” and some say that they do not produce fruit. However, this is not true at all. Side branches will produce flowers and fruit just like the original stem. The result of side branches is a bushy tomato plant with many stems, and probably many fruit as well.


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